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! 🙂

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.

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.

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. 🙂

Sudden Snuggler

Gelato at thirteen months plus a week and a half or so:

Oh my goodness, is Gelato a snuggly little guy these past two days!?!?! This is a HUGE exciting thing for me because that little boy does.not.stop.moving.or.hold.still. Ever. But the past two days he has been clinging to my leg and burying his face in my shoulder and giving my arms huge sloppy kisses and trying to bonk his head into my face at any spare moment. It’s SO cute. Yesterday it wasn’t so cute because he was also crying and whining a lot. He’s getting a couple of teeth. But today they weren’t bothering him so much, so I got a lot of goofy grins and happy squawks instead.

He has also been really cuddly with Hula Girl, which she EATS UP. Girlfriend is HUGE on touch (Pretty sure it’s her #1 love language), and it’s killed her that he doesn’t like to snuggle very much. She just wants to hold his hand and cuddle him like she did when he was little- but he doesn’t want anything to do with it. But the past two days, he will literally run into her and topple both of them over just so they can roll around and cuddle. He even came over to her bed at her naptime just to give her giant kisses on her eyes and nose. She about died out of sheer bliss.

Gelato’s second favorite activity is talking. Little Man talks all day, every day. He greets me with, “Mo-neen!” when I walk in his room. He wants to “wa! wa! wa!” everywhere we go. He grabs his “oos? oos?” and wants me to put them on his feet for him. He brings me “boo!” and wants me to “read-ee? read-ee?” He tells me when he’s “Hun-ee,” and wants to “EAT! EAT! EAT!” He hears a “doggy” saying, “Woof. woof. woof.” He tells me when he wants some water to “dink, dink, dink.” He can mimic anything we say and he spontaneously says new words every single day. Along with the words listed above, here’s what I can think of off the top of my head: [sister’s name], door, closed, open, ball, truck, car, toys, dance, happy (SO cute), night night, nurse, cup, spoon, rock, horse, phone, bye, banana, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, apple, applesauce, did it!, help, Mommy, Daddy, Riley, gentle, tickle, peek-a-boo, Ama, Papa, fan, noise, shh, climb, up, down, swing, swim, inside, outside, potty, tub, teeth, stop, and go.

Gelato is ACTIVE. He is a huge climber, and I tend to let him climb. If he can get up, he can get down. It takes a lot more time and infinitely more coaching to get down. But I let him do it. Two days ago, he climbed up to the top of our inherited playset in the backyard. Just wait until I show you a picture of that one. The rock wall (?!?!?) he climbed is over six feet tall. Kid’s thirteen months old. And he climbed to the top of a sixish foot rock wall. Ridiculous. (I need to point out that even though I LET him do this, I was also holding my hands about 2 centimeters from his body the entire time. I didn’t touch him, but I was READY. He does not get to adventure out on his own… yet.)

We’re still nursing. Gelato actually skipped two nursings one day when we were in California because Jonathan and I had taken Hula Girl to the beach (another post) and we left Gelato with Ama for the day. He did really well with it. Didn’t drink any milk, drank a ton of water, but still took good naps. I am pretty sure he’s never going to really like milk that much. Fine by me. He LOVES yogurt and cheese. And there’s always ice cream….. ha!

Gelato is still not much of an eater. Although I say he has foods he LOVES, he only eats a small amount of them compared with the amounts his sister ate at his age. Some days he surprises me, like yesterday when he ate two whole adult-sized pancakes plus a cup of blueberries for breakfast. That’s like a week’s rations, folks. Even when he’s acting cranky and whiny and says he’s hungry and wants to eat, he usually eats about a 1/2 cup of food altogether and then he’s done. He’s a pretty small little guy, I guess, but to see how much he does and compare that to how much he eats makes me worried he’s not getting enough. But I don’t push it. I just offer whatever we’re having and if he doesn’t want a lot, he doesn’t eat a lot. He sits at the table with the family and we wait until everyone is done. He has good manners and doesn’t fuss to get down. Usually.

Everyone always comments on how happy he is. He truly is happy, and he has this little squint wrinkly nose thing that he does when he’s trying to get people to smile back. It makes him look like a total goofball, but it’s adorable. Everyone smiles then and comments on how cute he is. Even when we were traveling to California and we’d been up since 5:45 am and he had to sleep in his car seat on the airplane and in the car, he didn’t cry once all the way through the shuttles, trains, cars, airplanes, airports, rental car offices, or on the drive to Ama and Papa’s house. (He also met and wooed a Swedish girl who looked the part- white blond hair, slim, beautiful. She was about 25 years old and she let him play with some animal app on her iPad. It had music [his third love] and he thought that was GREAT. The only word she knew in English was “dance” and boy did that come in handy. Gelato danced to the music and she laughed and cooed away in Swedish. They kept each other company for an hour in the rental car office. Thank you, Swedish girl!)

Gelato in three words: energetic, opinionated, happy

I love having a son.

Gelato Is One!

Here’s the long-overdue 1-year-old update post! I’m actually kind of glad I waited since he’s just started doing a lot of really cool things in the past week or so, and I would have missed talking about them in real-time if I had been on my game. Yay for procrastination! To be fair to myself, I did choose to wait because we couldn’t book his appointment until today. So yay for back-to-school checkups??

Anyway, before I proceed, here’s my OLD post describing Hula Girl at the same age. So fun. But let’s get on with it!

Current Schedule:

6:45 up, nurse (he wakes anywhere from 5:45-6:15 but plays in his crib until it’s actually time to wake up)
7:30ish breakfast, then play
8:45 go for walk in stroller
10:15 nap
11:00 up, nurse
11:15-11:45 independent playtime
11:45 walk
12:15 lunch, then play
2ish nap
3:30 up, nurse, play
5:15/30 dinner
6:15 bedtime routine (bath, lotion, jammies, nurse)
6:45 bedtime

Sleeping:

Naps:
Gelato has become a napping extraordinare! After months and months and months of crazy naps, it is nice to see him sleeping a nice long time for both naps. I can count on 90 minutes, at least, for every nap. Ahh. He still likes his room to be nice and warm and he naps in fleece jammies with a t-shirt and diaper on underneath.

Nighttime:
Gelato is a bit of a touchy night sleeper. We live in a duplex right now and anytime our neighbors move or breathe he startles awake, whines a bit, and goes back to sleep. I might be exaggerating a bit, but he has always been like this. I wonder how long after we move he will stop waking in the 10:30-11 time frame (usually when our neighbors get home and open their garage door, which is almost right under his room). Other than this normal disruption, he sleeps through the night every night with no issues.

Nutrition:

Nursing:
Still nursing 4 times per day, with no end in sight. He has broken the skin a few times, so we’ve had to get creative about nursing positions. Otherwise everything is normal.

Weaning:
Ha! Boy will never wean. Maybe. Or maybe I will finally lose it and MAKE him wean. I am pretty done, myself. He made it this far, and I’m ready for the freedom of going to IKEA with my mom for a day. He does drink water from any kind of cup or bottle now, which is encouraging. Maybe we’ll get somewhere this time around. Last time I tried introducing milk in a cup, he drank about a half an ounce and then smiled at me. We’ll get there. We’ll get there.  I mean, we’ve gotta get there. Right?!?!?

Eating:
He’s a good little eater. No complaints. Faves: bananas, peas, plums, cheese, and eggs. Dislikes: nothing.

Milestones:

Locomotion:
Gelato learned how to walk walk in the past few days. He toddles across the whole room, leading with the right side of his body like a tall crab. He puts his little fists up next to his ears, squinches up his nose, and smiles while he goes. Devious little look, actually!

He is a climber. Much more so than Hula Girl ever was. Jonathan was a climber, too, and man, it’s TIRING. Gelato is constantly climbing on anything he can scale- couches, chairs, me, shelves, the stairs, you name it. Yesterday he climbed on top of Hula Girl’s picnic table outside and fell off, landing on the top of his head on the rocks. He didn’t even cry more than about 10 seconds. Then he got up and went and climbed the chain-link fence that’s around the backyard.

Gelato does not stop moving, ever. Ever. And he’s speedy. And brave. It is a lot of work to monitor his movements, especially since our house is not 100% baby-proof (intentionally so- I like to train my kids to obey when they hear “no”). Fortunately, Gelato has a big sister who likes to watch and tattle just a lot bit. 😉

Language:

Gelato is a talker. He is not a listener. But he learns a lot, too. I think he’s a great example of a child who absorbs information without being explicitly taught, but who is also self-confident enough to really interact with his environment. Things don’t happen TO him- he makes things happen. That kind of kid. A lot like his Daddy, actually- gregarious, funny, charming, and very outgoing. 

I have recently detailed his talking and a lot of the things he likes to say.

I almost forgot to mention something else that’s so adorable- Gelato LOVES to sing! If Hula Girl and I are singing a song, he will join right in! Lots of “Yaaaa, baaaaa, daaaaaa, maaaa, dadada!” So adorable. Hula Girl’s ballet music includes a song with the words, “Ho, ho, ho, here we go, galloping and galloping away we go!” Gelato loves that song and sings, “Ho, ho, ho, eeee, yaaaaaaa, go!” He wavers his little voice to try to match pitch and his tone isn’t half-bad. It’s really cool to see him love music and singing the way he does.

Interests:

 Gelato’s favorite activities include:

  • playing under the dining room table- if he finds a few crumbs, score!!!! snack time!!!!
  • pushing the back door open and shut
  • walking around the house pushing his walking toys or boxes
  • tossing balls all around the room
  • clambering from one  end of the couch to the other
  • munching on rocks, leaves, sticks, and grass outside
  • swinging (any time he sees the swing, he gets a really sad puppy dog look on his face and says in a sad voice, “Wing? Wing?”)

Doctor Visit:

This morning’s checkup was pretty ho-hum, in a good way. Nothing to be concerned about, nothing abnormal. Gelato is actually on the very small end of the spectrum for boys his age. He’s in about the 10th percentile for all three measures. He’s gaining appropriately for his age, so we’re not worried.

We discussed possibly starting him on goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. The doctor suggested soy milk for him, and I said, “Um, I wouldn’t ever give soy to a boy.” She thought I was nuts.

We also turned down vaccinations again (I’ll do a post on this soon), and the doctor (thankfully) didn’t push the issue this time.

She reminded me to keep him rear-facing until “he squirms and kicks and throws a fit about it.” I told her we rear-face until the weight limit is reached and that our carseats’ weight limit is 45 pounds. She was delighted.

Having a boy is so much fun. It is way different than having a girl, but neither is better. Gelato is such a sweet guy- always happy, always laughing, always talking and singing. I am so grateful for his little self and I can’t wait to get to know him better as he really develops in the next year or so! 

The Downstairs Bathroom is Filthy- What Joy!

Hula Girl and I have been outside pretty much the entire time she’s been awake for the past several days. And when that girl goes outside, she GOES OUTSIDE. Dirt, mud, dead grass remnants, dandelion stains, scrapes, sunscreen, sweat, and bruises cover her entire body when she comes back inside. It is awesome.

There is something innately glorious about a child outside. When children are allowed to roam and explore to their hearts’ content, it makes a very satisfying mess. Call me weird, but a hot, sweaty little girl’s head resting on my shoulder while I read a calming story to her is one of the most beautiful things about summer. To let her play, to let her exercise, to let her be a child outside- well, I wouldn’t trade it for much.

When we go out, Hula Girl usually spends her time digging in the mud, walking barefoot over the rocks, following ants, lackadaisically riding her tricycle in slow purposeful circles on the driveway, and getting absolutely covered in outdoor grime of all kinds. Mostly the kind that sticks to her superthick and insanely-difficult-to-rub-in sunscreen. Small rocks, insects, and tidbits of dead grass sink into the creases in her knees, elbows, and neckline. Dust and shreds of leaves stick in her hairline. And her fingernails are ever-caked with mud and gunk from her latest dig in the garden, the sandbox, or the empty field next to the house. Her face is always sporting some kind of debris, the kind a kid can only get when her hand unconsciously swipes at the gnats buzzing in her ear. And her hair- well, her hair is always matted down to her forehead with sweat and water from the hose. She is a picture of the grandeur and joy of childhood.

And then there is the smell. The hot, sweaty, absolutely disgusting little child smell. But since that child belongs to me, it’s one of the very best smells in the entire world. Healthy, you know? I love a child who smells healthy in the summer.

We can’t manage a bath every time we come back inside, so we stop in the downstairs bathroom and use a washcloth for a full-body sponge bath. She laughs and laughs when I sit her up on the sink and stick her feet in the cool water. She giggles with glee when I splash the back of her neck and she gets a thrill of delight when I scrub her toes with the washcloth. I so cherish the time I get to spend washing her little not-so-chubby-anymore-but-rather-muscular-now arms and legs. She squeals, “I’m cold! I’m cold!” But five seconds later she insists she needs a drink of water because she’s hot from being outside. So I slip her off the sink and dry her little hands and feet and marvel at the way she is growing.

What joy.

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. 🙂

 

Self-Sufficient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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