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!

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Garden (Jungle?) 2013

It’s time for a garden update! With pictures! Basically, we’re going to talk a lot about this today:

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And this:

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And this:

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As you can see quite clearly, Jonathan has a green thumb. Heck, he has a green hand. Two of ’em.

We have been practicing with different gardening techniques since 2011; this was our third garden. Jonathan has got some kind of natural gift for gardening that I surely don’t have. I think a lot of it has to do with his perseverance and his ability to observe. He notices when creepy crawlies start to invade, and he works hard to do what it takes to get rid of them (non-pesticide). He is much more patient than me. I start getting all worried each year around June, freaking out when things haven’t started to grow yet. He just laughs at me and tells me to wait. So I weed and do my part to contribute but mutter under my breath about how it’s going to be a failure this year. By the 4th of July, however, everything is green and lush. Funny how that works out.

Anyway, this year we decided to incorporate a lot of things we’ve not done before in a garden, and we’ve been quite pleased with the results. We used beneficial insect-attracting flowers. We used pest-repelling flowers. We planted less peas and green beans and more watermelon, corn, and kale. (Mmmm, kale chips. I need to pick some kale for tonight’s dinner! I think kale chips would be a great accompaniment for crock pot macaroni and cheese! Who’s with me!?) We ordered all organic seeds from my aunt’s seed company in Willits, CA. Here’s their website.

And do you know what? We learned even more about ourselves and our gardening needs and wants. But that will be another post. For now, let’s take a peek at what we’ve got growing out there! Jonathan takes pictures almost every morning. Here are some of my personal faves, mixed in with some food shots, just to keep it real. And don’t forget my gnomes.

Sunflower! Isn't the center detail insane?

Sunflower! Isn’t the center detail insane?

 

Cinderella's carriage- not quite ripe yet!

Cinderella’s carriage- not quite ripe yet!

 

Mint blossoms. Yes, we know you're not really supposed to let your mint flower. But we have about 20 mint plants (not exaggerating), so we figured we'd let the one in the hanging basket do its thing. Pretty!

Mint blossoms. Yes, we know you’re not really supposed to let your mint flower. But we have about 20 mint plants (not exaggerating), so we figured we’d let the one in the hanging basket do its thing. Pretty!

 

Oh, Fumwallikin. Gettin' old.

Oh, Fumwallikin. Gettin’ old.

 

These flowers are really cool. See how the petals start out as small spiral-shaped spears poking out of the center of the flower?

These flowers are really cool. See how the petals start out as small spiral-shaped spears poking out of the center of the flower?

 

Then they start to open up and a new set of petals pushes its way out...

Then they start to open up and a new set of petals pushes its way out…

 

Then more petals, and these pretty yellow star-shaped stamens...

Then more petals, and these pretty yellow star-shaped stamens…

 

And they just keep on going! Petals after petals after petals! They are SO lush to behold; from the sides they look like soft pink pinecones!

And they just keep on going! Petals after petals after petals! They are SO lush to behold; from the sides they look like soft pink pinecones!

Zzzzz.... introducing our newest gnome! He has yet to be named. Hula Girl suggested calling him "Counter" but I countered. I'm thinking "Lolly" might be part of his name.
Zzzzz…. introducing our newest gnome! He has yet to be named. Hula Girl suggested calling him “Counter” but I countered. I’m thinking “Lolly” might be part of his name.

 

Watermelon!

Watermelon! Don’t you just love the curly curly vines?

 

Festivity corn! This stuff is pretty tasty, and the kernels are super cool. They're a mix of red, blue, and yellow . Quite festive!

Festivity corn! This stuff is pretty tasty, and the kernels are super cool. They’re a mix of red, blue, and yellow . Quite festive!

 

Good ol' peas.

Good ol’ peas.

 

Aren't these pretty?

Aren’t these pretty?

 

I think I'm going to have this one blown up on canvas for my bedroom. It's just beautiful.

I think I’m going to have this one blown up on canvas for my bedroom. It’s just beautiful.

 

Lookin' good, Elmwinkle.

Lookin’ good, Elmwinkle.

 

 

 

 

Hula Girl’s Art Table

Hula Girl and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to “projects.” I tend to have a finished vision in mind and she couldn’t care less. She is much more interested in the process and discovery than the actual product. She LOVES to paint, color, tape, glue, and make a mess. A huge mess. There is some innate sense of hatred of paint that resides deep in my soul. Every time we pull out paints (water colors, tempera paints, finger paints, doesn’t matter), I end up a stressed-out ball of frayed angry nerves and I don’t tend to mother with very much gentleness or grace. I don’t know what it is about paint that does this to me.

And it’s not just paint. Hula Girl puts everything in her mouth. I mean, EVERYTHING. (I’m actually looking into this from a more medical/psychological point of view right now because I mean it when I say she puts everything in her mouth.) She knows that she’s not supposed to, but she does it. From the very first of our art endeavors, when I handed then-10-month-old Hula Girl some crayons and a piece of paper and proudly posted pictures of the scribbles all over Facebook, to our most recent watercolor masterpiece at the easel encounter, she has had her supplies taken from her for putting them in her mouth. I am not kidding. I have had to stop the activity or take supplies each and every time we have ever attempted art, because she is always tasting and sampling and chewing and licking and spitting. Drives.me.crazy. (My poor mother-in-law has had to hear all about this over and over. Sorry, Momma C.) Thank goodness kids’ art supplies are generally considered non-toxic (although you’d have to pay me a LOT of money before I’d admit that maybe the artificial dyes aren’t so bad after all…)

Anyway.

I have been wanting to test a theory. I have been pondering the idea that perhaps Hula Girl has been so obsessed with putting art supplies in her mouth partially because she knows it makes me so upset. What if I just gave her free access to them and didn’t care about what she actually does with them? What if I just let her go for it using whatever supplies she wanted to use to create anything she wanted to create? Would we still have the mouthing issue? I have been talking it over with Jonathan and he said we could create an art space for Hula Girl somewhere in the house.

Then, last Friday we were given a free “art table” for children. It looks like this. Some random neighbor we’ve never talked to before chased me down when I was out on a walk with the kids (actually, I was terrified about this random person running behind me!), and she offered the art desk to us since she doesn’t have any kids. I said we’d take a look at it, and once we did, we knew we had to have it.

Since it was used, Hula Girl and I spent some time on Saturday afternoon washing it and making it a bit more presentable (we removed the white board section before we soaped it up). It wasn’t in really bad shape, but it had some writing on the white board that was done in permanent marker, and it was a bit dusty. Hula Girl was a great help when we were washing it. I gave her a sponge and let her go for it. She ended up with mud all over her feet, a trend that continued throughout the weekend. (Mud messes I can handle; paint messes, not so much. Weird?)

I ran to Walmart (our favorite store, duh) and stocked up. Like, STOCKED UP. Hula Girl now has access to white board crayons, regular crayons, markers, watercolor paints, colored pencils, regular pencils, erasers, tape, glue, scissors, paper, and stickers. I am planning to add playdough (homemade), 3-D supplies (like egg cartons, etc.), and chalk. I will also add other supplies, and specialized supplies (like glitter crayons), as she gets older.

She has been busy. She has spent 2.5 hours total over the past three days just cutting. My floor is covered in little tiny scraps of paper. But she is busy and happy and she feels that the work she is doing is very important. She keeps putting stickers on paper and cutting them in half so that Jonathan and I can “learn what happens.” She has painted, colored, taped, and written the letter “N” over and over. Absolutely nothing I would have wanted to do in my supplies-hating heart.

And do you want to know something else? She has not put any of her supplies in her mouth, with one exception. She put the glue stick on her lips because it reminded her of chapstick. She hasn’t done that since. 🙂

 

We’re having another Toddler Party

Yup.

Since our Christmas party wasn’t the rollicking success we’d hoped for, I was pretty bummed. Jonathan actually convinced me that we need to do this again, though. We really want to build community and reach out to those around us. And plus, it’d be great to make friends. 

So, we’re doing a Valentine’s Day party! Wahoo! 

We’re inviting some of the same people, and some different ones. All girls this time. The two older girls who couldn’t make it last time because they were in Texas, the same shyish girl who did attend, the one who was sick and so couldn’t make it, and a set of twins who are AH-DORABLE! Ages 5, 3, 2.5, 2, 2, and 2. Plus Hula Girl is 2.5. So we should have a fun time. 

I plan to do the sensory table again- the only one who’s seen it before didn’t really get a chance to play in it because the boy was being so loud. 🙂 I am going to dye half of the rice reddish-pink and fill it will all things Valentine-esque. 

We’ll make a craft. I am thinking nothing TOO Valentine-y. My reason for this is that we’re going to have the party on Valentine’s Day and therefore the parents probably wouldn’t want to display a pink/red/hearts galore project for another year. I think we’ll make something like picture frames or tissue paper flowers or something like that. I’ll have to scope it out on Pinterest. 

I don’t think I’ll plan too many games. Last time the kids were really not interested in any games or activities outside of the sensory table and the cookies.

OOOOH! We’re going to make puppets. And then the girls can put on a puppet show. I will have a theatre ready for them. What a good idea. Now to decide whether to use paper bags or socks…

I am going to have chocolate-dipped strawberries, heart-shaped Jell-O (don’t mind my previous post about eating organics- holiday treats don’t count), and I’ll probably have some kind of fruit and veggie platter or something that’s a not-so-make-you-sick-to-your-stomach alternative. Of course we’ll drink pink punch. And I’ll have strawberry syrup in case someone wants to make strawberry milk instead. (GROSS.)

Overall, the party will be less ambitious. But hopefully more people will be able to make it this time and it will be a bit more relaxed (the moms of these particular girls are already storytime-chat-friends; you know, we cluster around afterward while our kids run amok playing with puzzles and puppets and banter about the insignificant details of life that we for some reason feel comfortable sharing when we don’t even know each others’ first names). I did extend the time frame on the invitation by 30 minutes. Maybe if they see that the party ends so close to lunchtime they’ll actually leave on time! 😉

Wish us luck! We’re handing out invitations tomorrow! 

Going Organic

(or at least as organic as we can go right about now)

I finally got Jonathan to watch Food, Inc. about a month ago. He FINALLY saw why I wanted to do all organic foods for our family. He got all gung-ho about it. I like that about him- when he commits, he commits.

Anyway, it is rather difficult to find organic food at a relatively-not-going-to-kill-your-budget-or-force-you-to-lose-15-pounds-because-you-can’t-afford-much-of-it cost where we live. Colorado isn’t exactly known for its thriving vegetation in the middle of January, you know? So, we’re taking small steps to get there and making (even better) choices until we’re 100% organic. (We already eat hardly anything processed, even less with GMOs, and so on. My one vice- Halloween pumpkins- the Brachs mellowcreme ones. You know that phrase, “to die for”? Well, if I die because I’ve been eating too many of those delicious cavity-enhancers, it will have been worth it. They are simply to die for. Ahem.)

I’m also REALLY excited about the idea of me actually cooking most of what we eat from raw ingredients. Sure, you can go buy a can of soup that’s organic… but them you’re eating a ton of BPA. Plus my cookin’ skillz need work, so why not start practicing now? Maybe by the time my kids are old enough to remember my cooking, it’ll actually be something they remember in a positive way! 🙂

So last week was our first trial with 100% organic ingredients, and 75% home-cooked-from-raw-ingredients meals.

I baked a loaf of bread on Monday to start the week off right. That day I also cooked a whole chicken in my crock pot (thank you, Kirbi, for the recipe!) and used the dark meat, veggies and stock plus some wild rice to make… chicken and wild rice soup (so creative, I KNOW!). Then I made MORE broth from all the chicken bones plus some more veggies that I cooked in the crock pot overnight.

Tuesday night we ate turkey chili and cornbread. I did not make the cornbread from raw ingredients.

Wednesday night was a leftovers night. We all have ’em.

Thursday night we had shredded chicken tacos. I took the chicken breasts (from the crock pot chicken), shredded the meat, added some spices, and there was the meat. We had tomatoes, avocados, rice, black beans, and spinach to accompany the chicken.

Friday we went to my parents’ house, so that is as far as I got. 🙂

This week I have a LOT of fresh veggies (and other ingredients) to use. I went shopping when we were at my parents’ house, so there was actually a good selection and it was decently priced. We’ll be eating red kale, green kale, acorn squash, pears, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage celery, carrots, chicken, onions, apples, oranges, rainbow chard (Hula Girl loves to eat the hot pink ones!), 10-bean soup, black rice, and lots and lots of spinach.

Anyway, it makes me feel great to feed my family wholesome and delicious foods. I am so glad I can! If you have good recipes involving lots of vegetables and grains, let me know!

BIG FAT FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

a.k.a. CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE!!!!!

So, to begin the season right, take a little listen to my favorite favorite favorite Christmas Season Song. (I actually have a different Favorite Christmas Eve Song, so be prepared for that one in a few weeks.) And yes, I only like this song when Nat King Cole sings it.

What is Big Fat Fabulous Friday?

Well, it’s the day that begins the most wonderful time of the year, of course.

Sure, many people are out being crazy and mauling each other in order to gain possession of that one special item. That’s not exactly the most wonderful time of the year. I will admit that I have participated in Black Friday deal hunting, and that I look forward to it again in the future. But I am not a die-hard, get-there-at-the-crack-of-8:30-p.m.-on-Thanksgiving-and-shop-all-night kind of girl. No, no. I prefer getting up around 5:30, stopping by Starbucks, loading up on caffeine and FAR too much sugar, hitting a few fun stores, feeling absolutely sick by 7:30, stopping for breakfast, getting out to a couple more stores, and then heading home by 10. That’s the extent of my Black Friday. And I like to leave it that way.

But Black Friday is NOT the same as Big Fat Fabulous Friday.

Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when we bust out the ol’ Christmas decorations. Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when Jonathan spends FAR too much time on the roof putting up lights. Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when our little family piles in the car and gets our CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

So, it’s safe to say that Big Fat Fabulous Friday is awesome.

This year, Hula Girl is old enough to understand and participate in some of the rituals. She will be outside with us when I help Jonathan string the lights on our outdoor trees. She will be inside with me, jamming to our favorite carols and sipping hot chocolate, while I put up the few decorations that last year-to-year. She will get to help Jonathan choose the very best tree while I carry Gelato around the tree lot. And she will be able to help me water the Christmas tree every morning and afternoon until it stops drinking water or January comes.

Can I tell you how excited I am to be sharing some of these things with my kiddo!?!?! I mean, this is the first year we will actually start traditions with her! She gets to hang her own ornaments! She gets to make cookies for Santa! She gets to leave cheese for Santa Mouse and a carrot for Rudolph! (Her current thinking on Santa/reindeer is that Santa will come wake her up in the night when he gets here so that she can come downstairs and feed an unpeeled carrot to the reindeer. Yes, she specified that the carrot will not be peeled. ??? She has also expressed concern that Santa Mouse will need to hide her present in the MIDDLE of the Christmas tree so that she can crawl under the branches and look up to find it. No joke. She is hilarious.) 

Another tradition we’re SO excited to begin is one I heard of somewhere out in blogland- we’re going to set out a small empty manger and every time someone in our family shows kindness, joy, or love, we’ll add a piece of straw. We hope to make a nice, soft bed for Jesus for his arrival on Christmas Eve.

I have come up with a Christmas-related topic for every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and have planned 2 activities to go along with each topic. Hula Girl will LOVE Christmas by the time December is over. And not just for the toys. We’re focusing on things like the characters in the Christmas story, the advent wreath, and Christmas traditions like candy canes and stockings. I plan to keep it quite simple (duh, she’s 2) and not try to hit on EVERYTHING this year (we do have several Christmases ahead of us, after all), but I also want to try to give her a bit of an understanding of the miracle and why we celebrate so very much. I mean, 1/12th of our LIVES are spent in celebration of this one event… she may as well understand why we go so crazy over it (especially if her understanding diminishes the importance of TOYS and emphasizes the importance of…oh, I don’t know… SALVATION)!

So, back to our plans.

We’ll get up, have an awesome Christmas-themed breakfast (I’ll post about that when it happens), and start up the carols. Hula Girl and I will start reading a few Christmas stories that we have here at home (we have, like, 1000 books-no joke- so I’m sure we have at least 20 books about Christmas). Then Jonathan will bring in all the Christmas decorations and lights, and we’ll figure out what goes where and which strings of lights need replacing, etc. Next, we’ll head outside to watch Jonathan start putting up lights. When Hula Girl tires of that, we’ll head inside and start decorating the inside of the house (because, of course, we’ll have taken down all Remnants of Fall on Thanksgiving night). I can’t wait to show her the special decorations we have and tell her what they mean to us. I’m thinking particularly of a little statue we have that has 3 snowmen. I got that for us when we learned we were pregnant with Hula Girl. She will ADORE having a snowman self. Of course, lunch will be Thanksgiving leftovers. While Hula Girl naps, Jonathan and I will finish up with the lights and decorations. I will also start some turkey soup so that when Hula Girl and Gelato get up from their naps in the afternoon, we can head out as a family and choose our TREE! When we get home, we’ll set it up in the garage to let its branches fall a bit and we’ll enjoy turkey soup for dinner. Once the kids are in bed, Jonathan and I will plan this year’s extra-special decorations… I plan to go crafting-crazy, and I will have to shop on Saturday to purchase all the extra supplies I need. 🙂

Wahoo! Welcome to the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

Learning About Colors

 

This morning I was reading a story to Hula Girl about mixing colors. It’s called The Color Kittens. I was therefore inspired to do an activity with Hula Girl that showed her the same concept. Since it was so cold outside today, and I don’t yet have a nice winter coat for Hula Girl, we did a longer experiment than we normally would have done. This ate up about 40 minutes. Nice! (In Toddler Time, 40 minutes is like an eternity. Keeping her focused on one activity for this long was amazing.)

So this little activity is all over the internet in Mom Blog Land. Baking soda + food coloring + vinegar = fun foaming way to entertain and teach your toddler about colors. I was particularly fond of doing this “project*” in muffin tins as it really worked well to keep everything contained.

*Hula Girl refers to every single thing we do requiring supplies or materials of any sort as a “project.”

Anyway, we started out just learning what happened when we dropped vinegar in baking soda. Then we saw what happened when we added each of the colors separately. Finally, we used the second tin to do our color mixtures. She was STUNNED by the results! I had her make guesses to see what colors she thought would result from the mixtures. Her guess for red + yellow? Green. Surprise! How about blue + red? Pink? Surprise again! She was very excited to announce the color of the foam as soon as it appeared each time. We documented our color findings very carefully on a separate sheet of paper so we can use it again as reference when we’re mixing colors in the future. She will also be psyched to show Daddy her discoveries when he gets home!

But her very favorite part: squirting the vinegar out of the medicine syringe, of course. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things are “Falling” into Place

This weekend was great! I feel like I’m nesting. I didn’t do any nesting when I was pregnant with Gelato, so I guess now’s as good a time as any. Better, in fact! It’s fall, for one, and therefore I can light my pumpkin spice candle and bask in the scent of autumn goodies all day long without feeling like it’s forced. And I feel better than ever since Gelato was born, so I will be able to actually keep up the tidiness, cleanliness, and accomplished-ness.

Here’s what I did this weekend: got all the laundry done; deep cleaned the whole house; took Hula Girl on a “girls’ shopping adventure” (gotta get those groceries!); got Gelato kind of on schedule again; read a lot of a new book from the library; watched Dance Moms, America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway (what can I say? I like quality entertainment); and went with Jonathan to get the car. Woohoo! The only thing missing was that I did not get to do Hula Girl’s curtains. I have been wanting to sew her actual curtains to the blackout liners that are currently hanging in her room (yep, we’ve lived here over a year- I really need to get on this!), but I didn’t feel like busting out the ol’ machine. Guess that will have to be a later-this-week-or-maybe-next-month project.

This week we’re having several different dishes for dinner. Different in our house means anything that’s not been frozen for a month. So, no lasagna, no casseroles, no macaroni and cheese. Okay, we are having mac’n’cheese next Sunday night… but it’s comfort food! Anyway, some of the things on this week’s menu include turkey chili, creamy chicken penne, and manicotti. Of course, I won’t be able to actually eat any of these dishes… but at least Jonathan and Hula Girl will appreciate the change.

It dawned on me today as I was nursing Gelato that I haven’t wistfully thought back to the days of having only one child in a while. Having two kids is my new norm, and it feels pretty darn normal! We’ve made it through almost seven weeks now, and Hula Girl is starting to show signs that she’s not going to be messed up for life by the addition of a brother. Gelato is starting to show signs that he might actually sleep through a nap again someday, and maybe even continue to stretch out his nights! Jonathan is starting to show signs that he’s learning to balance work/family/gym (let’s hope he gets to go to the gym more than a couple times this week, for his sake). And I’m feeling just pretty optimistic about our little family’s future. As hard as it has been to add a second child to our family, I have been much more able to just enjoy him than I was with Hula Girl. A short nap or a quirky schedule doesn’t send me into a tailspin the way it did with her. Let’s be honest here- of course these things bother me, but I am much better equipped to just let it go and try again the next time. I have seen evidence that one faulty day is not going to ruin every part of my child’s future. 🙂

I think this weekend was just really good for me psychologically. I feel caught up. I feel organized(ish). I feel like I’ve struck on a healthy balance of control and go-with-the-flow. And now I have some extra time to plan fun activities with Hula Girl, my in-laws’ visit and the festivities surrounding that, and my Christmas decor. Yes, I like to plan my Christmas decor months in advance. I will be making a lot of new decorations this year. I had planned them for last year but was too sick with morning sickness to follow through.

YEE-HAW! Jonathan just brought in another box of fall decorations. I gotta go.

“Whoa, I LOVE the Floor!”

Our Fall Wall Hanging

Today I woke up with autumn in my bones. It’s currently 90° outside, but it was only 56° at 7:00. So Hula Girl and I had a fallish morning.

We started with a harvest breakfast: strawberries, peaches, banana bread (for her), maple & brown sugar oatmeal (for me), and hot peach tea. Hula Girl even got to drink her tea out of an adult mug- what a treat!

After breakfast, we headed outside to create the wall hanging you see above. This thing is huge. It’s 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. So it’s not just a painting. It’s a wall hanging. And it’s hanging in our hallway because I haven’t gotten around to putting up a gallery wall like I want to do eventually. This will suffice for now.

And yes, her feet are huge these days! (I did take the picture at an angle, though, so the bottom footprints are not likely to give the most accurate scale.)

She had so much fun! I put the red, yellow, and orange paint on a paper plate, had her step in it (which she was very tentative to do at first but when I encouraged her more, she wanted to JUMP in it!), and then I spun her around in the paint a few times just for good measure. She loved that part! She also loved walking in the grass and getting the blades all red, orange, and yellow. (We watered the grass afterward to wash the paint off.)

So she was barefoot outside. I allow this. What kid should not be allowed to go barefoot? Yes, I know there are “dangers” around our house- fire ants, super sharp “pokies” (grass seeds/burrs), lots of rocks, etc. But our backyard is pretty tame- cement, grass, 1″ granite. Hula Girl is quite adept at carefully making her way across the rocks without hurting her little feet. She also knows to avoid the ants.

However, Gelato started crying and wanted to eat. I decided to nurse him outside since it was a beautiful morning and I wanted to let Hula Girl stay outside playing. But… as soon as the baby got settled into nursing (which took a while because I have a super super super powerful letdown and he sometimes struggles to stay latched at the beginning of a nursing session- imagine trying to comfortably drink from a fire hose), Hula Girl started screaming. She had a “poky” in her foot. I told her to sit down where she was, but in her panic she decided to run on tiptoes to where I was nursing Gelato. I reached down to pull the poky out of her foot, causing Gelato to get a)squished, b)unlatched, and c)angry! Then of course the poky did not come out cleanly and she had two supersharp needle thingies left in her foot. I jumped up, told her to stay put, and ran inside to get the tweezers. I set Gelato on the floor, booked it to the bathroom, and returned to find her screaming bloody murder at the screen door (she’d hobbled over) and him just chillin’ like, “Oh, hey Mommy, the floor’s pretty comfy!” I got her inside and used the tweezers to extract said sharp objects, and her foot began to bleed. That did not make her screaming stop. Quite the opposite, in fact. Gelato was looking at her quizzically, probably thinking, “Shrieking sister-thing has got to be crazy. How could she be so upset about the floor? I love it here!” 

Gelato is going through his four-week growth spurt. He is normally very predictable on a 3-hour schedule, which is why his wackiness yesterday threw me off-guard. I kind of thought he had already gone through his 3/4 week growth spurt, because a couple days ago he woke early to eat a couple of times. But yesterday and today, his feedings have been closer and closer together. Today I have been feeding him every 2.5 hours. It’s funny though, because I expected to have to feed him more at night during a growth spurt, but last night was one of his best nights of sleep ever! He just ate and went back to sleep every time I woke him! And today he’s been hibernating- he’ll wake up enough to eat, but then he’ll fall back asleep immediately afterward. Even when he’s with Hula Girl and she’s screaming her head off because she has a bleeding foot. How he did not get overstimulated like mad is beyond me.

The adventures continue. I was just talking to my mom about how I am working to keep everything in perspective. Once Gelato is Hula Girl’s age, things are going to be CAKE around here. For real. They will play together constantly, they will have nap/rest time at the same time, they will eat meals at the same times, and she will be much less inclined to get “into” things. An example, just for humor’s sake- my little girl is growing up so fast! She learned how to do a good job of sweeping today. She practiced her skills on a whole pile of baking soda that she dumped on the kitchen floor while I was upstairs getting Gelato’s diaper changed. Ummhmm. I want to chronicle all these things so I can look back on them and laugh. I had a hard time laughing about it this morning. But I do think I handled it well. Her only consequences were that she had to clean it up (she was very dependent on my help… but a few more episodes like this one, and she’ll be a master at sweeping!) and she had to apologize to me for being wasteful.

I want to mention that this whole parenting-two-children-thing has come as a surprise to me. Honestly, I expected it to be hard. But I couldn’t have predicted the ways in which it is hard. I feel like it’s similar to having our first child- I expected to be tired, but I didn’t know quite how tired the human body can be. I expected my life to change, but I had NO idea what that really meant. Now, having my second child has been easier in many ways. I knew how to handle newborns. I knew how to feed, burp, change diapers, give baths, settle a baby for a nap, etc. But it has been SO hard in other ways- I am having to learn to balance the needs of two very needy little people. I am having to learn how to be flexible in ways I’ve never had to be flexible before. I am learning how to cherish the few moments of true “me” time I have each and every day. It’s not like Jonathan can come home and just “handle it” anymore. I still have to be actively involved in parenting 24/7 because he can’t nurse Gelato. It kind of makes me feel stuck.

But then I have to step back and regain perspective. One month down, eleven to go until I am no longer breastfeeding. One month down, five to go until we start solid foods. One month down, one or two to go before he’s sleeping through the night. Seriously, I’m halfway to having a baby who sleeps 8 hours straight! And a third of the way to 12 hours! So really, this is truly a super super short season.

Something else that has given me perspective is this blog post. I ran across it on facebook today and it’s really helping me feel like my struggles with Hula Girl’s behavior in the past couple of days are normal, and that I’m dealing with things the best I can. I just need to remember to ease up on my expectations of her (she’s only two!!!) and keep a more eternal perspective. If she’s still getting into the cupboards and drawers next week, I have not failed as a parent. 🙂

Hokay, have a good afternoon. I have about 5 more seconds before Gelato’s due to wake for his next feeding.

 

 

 

 

We Got out of the House! (and we weren’t thrown out the window.)

Well, library storytime has started back up again after our August break. As you may know, storytime is Hula Girl’s absolute favorite outing. She looks forward to Tuesdays all week long. In fact, when we’re in normal “storytime routine” (meaning we haven’t taken a month off), she will ask me daily, “When is Tuesday? When is storytime?”

So of course we couldn’t miss the opportunity to see our favorite friends.

Also, I am determined that Gelato will have more flexibility in his life than Hula Girl had.

With those two goals in mind, Hula Girl and I took our time getting ready for storytime this morning. We worked around the house, putting dinner in the crock pot, putting the clean dishes away and reloading the dishwasher, putting away some laundry, stocking the diaper bag, and cleaning the kitchen counters. She is such a little helper these days! (I can’t wait to write her 27-month summary post. That will be up on Saturday.)

Once we were dressed, had hair brushed and styled, had our “faces on” (I wore mascara and lip gloss; Hula Girl stuck to the lip gloss only), had our shoes on, went potty one last time, and filled our water bottles, it was finally time to wake up “Edoo Buh-buh.” Hula Girl came upstairs with me and “helped” by rocking the car seat by the handle while I grabbed some diapers out of the drawer.

Gelato does not like his car seat. I mean, if you think of it from his point of view, you probably wouldn’t like it, either. Every time he has to go in it, he is woken early from a nap, too early to eat again, but far enough from his last meal to allow his tummy to be slightly empty. He is denied food. He is denied the comfort of his warm blankets swaddling around him. Then he is shoved into this crazy contraption that wrenches around his shoulders and belly and snaps really loudly and keeps him in a semi-upright position. And this thing, we might mention, is so hot it feels like it might be a pizza oven. So of course he starts sweating the second his head hits the padding.

So of course Gelato cried. All. the. way. to. the. library. And all the way into the library, and all the way through the library, until we finally got to the storytime room. Then I nursed him, and he got distracted by the lights, and he was quiet for a minute. Or two. Then he was unhappy again because “someone threw off his groove.” (“I’m sorry, but you’ve thrown off the Emperor’s Groove.”) He’d like to have me thrown out the window. (By the way, has anyone else noticed that the little old man’s voice is the same as Piglet’s?!?!) “Beware the grooooooove…”

Anyway, storytime wasn’t the greatest outing for the three of us. But Hula Girl did get to see all her regular friends, and I got to see all their moms. I really enjoy these ladies! There is just one more mom who’s pregnant, and once she has her son, there will be FOUR baby boys in storytime with their older siblings! I can’t wait! It really is fun to finally be around some real people who have children nearly the same ages and stages. (Even though I do NOT regret having virtual friends one bit!)

When we got home, I put Hula Girl in roomtime and then nursed Gelato to sleep (another no-no in our normal daily life, but hey, live a little, right!?). Then Hula Girl painted a masterpiece while I made her lunch. All in all, a good morning.

I can’t wait for the day when Gelato outgrows his hatred of his car seat. I hope it’s soon!

 

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