Thursday, October 16, 2014

As the Leaves Fall

Surprise! Another post and it's barely been a month since the last one!

Everyone is well. The girls have settled into the school routine. Cali has surprised me how well she's adjusted to the routine and environment. I went to observe their classes this morning and was tickled by how community minded Cali was. She handed items to other kids and picked up a dropped toy and handed it to her classmate. She sings along with her friends and really gets into circle time.

Ellie has struggled a bit with her new class. Her new teacher is less inclined to coddle and cave as Ellie has become accustomed to. Once she stops trying the tactics she employs at home, I think she'll have more fun. However, she is still trying to bend everyone to her will at least a little. Her favorite days are those when she gets to be a bell ringer or some such role with authority. Her Directress was not at all surprised that she likes to play teacher at home and went so far as to have us install a temporary tape line on the rug so she could instruct us all to sit on it. She has learned to write her name very well, although she currently likes to give her E's extra "legs" so they look like vertical centipedes.

P spent all last week at the site of Valplayso building the new playground with hundreds of other volunteers. He said it was the most rewarding thing he's ever done. The schedule was brutal (6+ 14 hour days), but the community was incredible.

I was essentially a single mom last week, but had some spontaneous visits from friends and family that helped get me through without losing my sanity. Parenting really is nicer with two. I found that the girls like bathing together, but Cali chased Ellie out of the tub a couple of times. Apparently, Cali has a shocking lack of respect for her sister's personal space. I have no idea where she learned that :}

That's about it. We decorated for Halloween, although the jack-o-lanterns are still TBD. We're experiencing peak fall colors this week. The trees at Montessori looked like flames. Very pretty. Check back in a few weeks for Halloween pics.
Sisterly love.

Someone just discovered she likes yogurt. Apparently it tastes better when it's Mom's.

We lurve the new whirligig at the park.

Making pizza. And, yes it was a little floury.

Both girls have been enjoying the bumper crop of raspberries this fall. Cali likes to take advantage of the fact that she gets home earlier. And yes, she can eat a pint in one sitting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back to School!

For all those of you who were waiting with bated breath, Cali made her walking deadline by about 14 hours. She started walking across the room the night before school started. Talk about timing! We're a few weeks into school and she is loving it. I think she's BFF's with both Toddler teachers, which is saying something because she only sees Mrs. K for about 30 minutes a day. Ellie "says" she doesn't like school, which prompted a call with her teacher, just to make sure she wasn't having any trouble. She seems to enjoy all the activities, but we've determined (with the teacher) that maybe she wasn't getting challenged enough. She is beyond typical 3-year-old works mostly, and doesn't nap anymore (unlike all the other 3-yo's in her class), so she seems to be identifying mostly with the 5-year-olds in her class. She's relishing the fact that she isn't a "napper", as apparently they are the bottom level of her preschool class pecking order.

Cali is 18 months old now. She was 21 pounds even at her last appointment. That puts her in about the 25th percentile. She is also in a big hurry to grow up. She's started drinking out of a cup with some success and increasingly less mess. She likes to use utensils when eating. And, now that she wears shoes, she is a little obsessed and seldom wants to be without them. We can see some of the effects of Montessori already in that she is much more willing to put things away. Otherwise, she's still mostly non-verbal apart from "yeah", "no" (mostly by nod), something like "graham" that is her word for all food, "mom", "dad",  and the beginnings of "sister". She has said "bye", but only once (to my parents), so I think she's holding back on us. I swear she also has used "grandma" (to P's mom), but again, only once. She loves music, tries to sing, and is an enthusiastic dancer (aka head bobber). Today she had some sassy little hand moves going in the back seat. She likes pop music and the Frozen Soundtrack songs, although sister introduced her to "Let it Be" today and she dug it too.

Ellie prefers to listen to stories. Right now, we* can't get enough of "Jack and Annie" of The Magic Treehouse books. She requests it constantly. I have several other books on cd ready to go, but I have to wait until I get my phone upgraded as those first 16 Treehouse stories are hogging all my memory. When she does concede to listen to music, she prefers the Frozen Soundtrack (no words), The Barenaked Ladies "Alphabet Song", or now, "Let it Be". At least she's over "Gangnam Style".... She certainly has eclectic taste though :) We've been taking Ellie to a once-a-week gymnastics class for almost 3 months now. She still has to master the somersault, but she seems to enjoy it. One of her best friends is in her class, so that helps keep her motivated. For some strange reason, once she stopped taking naps, she became super active, climbing on furniture and jumping around more. So, this seemed a good thing to try. And, we're hoping it will make her forget her request to take ballet when she turns 4. Although she did mention it the other day. But, I'm pretty sure it's a word her friends at school use and she has no real idea what it means. I showed her some "ballet" (i.e. very rusty 1st position and 5th?) and she just looked at me like I had something on my face.

Cali is pretty bright. She's milking the baby thing, but still managing to get to do big girl things her sister didn't at the same age (hello, crayons!). She plays pretty well with Ellie and will even come up with her own pretend games with little dolls or pretend food. Or, at least she appears to because she has seen Ellie do it. She is attached to her sleeping rattle(s) and drags them everywhere we'll let her. Somehow the spare rattle has made it into the regular rotation, so I'm gonna have to sneak them into the wash separately soon. She has started to drink cow milk instead of coconut milk, although iced water still seems to be her favorite. She also out-eats her sister 2:1 most meals. If I can get her interested in yogurt, I'll need to buy stock in Choboni.

Lately, Ellie has taken to "lecturing" us at dinner based on conversations she and I have in the car when I pick her up from school. See tonight's mini on babies. She thinks the coolest thing about having a baby is that you feed them with milk from your boobs. I have to agree. There's also watching them turn into little people before your very eyes. That's pretty amazing too. Other recent topics have included birthdays and the pollination process of apple trees (thanks Montessori). Apparently, she is shooting for age 14. At that point, she will have just 1 candle on her cake because there would be too many. I had to convince her that maybe 14 was a little early to have a baby in her belly (nightmare!) and that maybe she could babysit other peoples' children instead.

P and I are just trucking along enjoying the girls. I've started a more ambitious fitness plan of yoga, Circuitfit and strength training. It was derailed by a nasty cold after the first full week, but I've been substituting yoga for Circuitfit and hope to be back in the saddle soon. I'm investigating what to do once Cali is at school for longer next year. I'm not sure if I want to go back to school or start working from home part-time. I'll definitely have to get better at managing my time (and my kindle habit). I've been flying through books lately. If you want to see what I'm reading, check me out on Goodreads. With the girls both in school, I've been able to have lunch with P about once a week. It is rare we go out without the girls, so it feels deliciously adult. And, we have some great restaurants :)

P has begun playing World of Warcraft again. He has a double monitor set-up down in his basement lair where he can play while monitoring the water softener and his dueling 3-d printers. On nights he isn't down there, he is in the workshop putting the finishing touches on a solid maple workbench. Next, he'll be working on a learning tower for the girls and then starting on his office furniture for his new office in the new plant. He is a dedicated Crossfitter now. He tries to go 5 mornings a week and rarely gets to sleep in past 8 anymore.
Yes, it is August, but Ellie sleeps with socks - sometimes 4 at a time.

Safety first.

Foreshadowing. Having two parents with bad vision, it's only a matter of time. But, if she can wear cool frames like these....

First full week of school, she fell asleep mid-sentence on the way to gymnastics.

First day of school.

When Ellie's at school, all the things are Cali's!

New rain boots and umbrella by Grandma getting a trial run.

*That would be Ellie. The rest of us are over it.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Update

We're well into summer, with Fourth of July here already. At 16 months, Cali is *just* about to walk. Or, so we've been saying for 3 months now. We're hoping she is upright by the time school starts in August. I'm not sure if Montessori has had a crawler before.... Ellie is getting more grown-up by the day, which translates into extremes of teenage sass and mature helpfulness. She also is much more physically active AND has 95% given up naps. Luckily, we've worked out an understanding called, Quiet Time, so I'm lucky enough to get a couple hours to do stuff around the house (or take a nap) most days. I'm looking into getting her involved in gymnastics or dance this fall. She definitely needs an outlet.

This spring, we bought a trailer camper to take the girls camping and foster a love of the outdoors. P had a run backpacking pre- and early parenting. However, we realized we are not up to backpacking with wee ones, so we decided on deluxe camping. So far, we've been to Potato Creek, Turkey Run and Clifty Falls in Indiana and Fort Custer in Michigan. Slowly, we're learning our way and preferences in this new field of recreation.

The garden is coming along. I even have an empty spot or two, so I know I didn't plant as many tomatoes. My seeds were decimated by cut worms, except for the zucchini (go figure). So, I will endeavor to try the tomatoes I intended this year, next year. I was really looking forward to trying them because a friend leant me a fabulous book about heirloom tomatoes that I used in making most of my selections. The biggest difference, is that I've finally given up on okra and tomatillos and am trying several varieties of carrots this year. The deer and I have compromised for now. They top one section of my bush beans and I get to keep whatever is leftover. As a lazy gardener, this works for me. I still have plenty of beans for now. It has been an incredibly moist and cool summer. I've barely had to water at all, which is no doubt helping to keep the deer and bunnies sated for now.
Dad, Ellie, and Zeus hiking at Turkey Run, Trail 7.

Stopping to point out where a beaver had started to take down a tree.


Ellie's favorite part of the hike, the "purple waterfall".

Ellie ready for fancy dress-up day the last week of school.

Crazy hair day, last week of school.

My other child.

Mom and Cali at Ogden Gardens.

Ellie sporting "Elsa/Anna" hair. I still can't believe it's long enough finally!

Isis Glamping. She's really not into roughing it.

At the splash pad.

Lake Michigan on possibly one of the coolest mornings.

First Spa Day with Grandpa.

Final effect after Spa Day. Grandma made the special request Elsa dress. This picture gives me goosebumps.

Hiking through the creek up to Clifty Falls. FYI, creek bed hiking is tough! Ellie was a trooper.

Cali slept through it.

Matching summer dresses by Grandma.

Green bean thief.

Paris Market carrot that got pulled by accident.

Just a selection from the cutting garden.

Patient dog. Cali has also done this with the cat.

Sisterly love.

Keeping this for when they start fighting.

Apparently she was hungry, or just needed a chew toy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cali's First Year

My baby is one. In honor of that, this post is all (mostly) about her.

She is crawling now. She started just a couple weeks before her birthday. She's already working on pulling up, but her little legs need more strength. Still, the elation on her face when she gets help standing is just priceless. It won't be long.

She eats EVERYTHING. I know there are one or two things she hasn't been crazy about, but I can't for the life of me think of one right now. Oh yeah, cow milk. Not a fan. Favorites include cold water, frozen peas, congealed oatmeal (better finger food), scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach, blackberries, beans, cheese, cheerios, fruit of any kind, tomatoes, avocado, you get the point.

She has a great laugh. Her sister is the funniest person on the planet. She likes to be upside down (although not in utero :p). The most common comments she gets are, "Wow! Look at all those teeth!" and "What pretty eyes she has." I think her eyelashes make her look more feminine. She doesn't get mistaken for a boy nearly as much as other babies I could name (but won't because this is about Cali). 

She is not anemic and is about in the 30th percentile (WHO chart), except her head, which is in the 50th. She is wearing a mix of 12- and 18-month clothes because her legs are long and the 18-month pants are the only ones that don't seem to hike up to her knees. Of course, they swim around her tiny waist.

** Warning, this paragraph is about poo. Skip ahead if you aren't interested. ** She is a wiggler. And a prolific pooper. She must have some powerful intestinal muscles because at least 2-3 times a week, she squeezes poo out the side of her diaper. Luckily, it's winter and she's wearing pants. I will move her up to size 4 diapers just as soon as I work through the 200 or so size 3's I've stockpiled *face palm*. When that warm weather hits, we'll be implementing stage 2 of potty training (i.e. running around without pants so we can whip that diaper off and sit her on the potty to catch her obvious poops). I have a feeling she'll be able to outwrestle me before too long, so the sooner she's pooping in the potty, the better.

She has begun weaning. She's down to 2-3 nursing sessions a day. My goal is to have her weaned by early May since I'm going out of town for a few days. She's still waking in the middle of the night though, so I'm a little worried. Especially since I read that night nursing offers more and fattier milk. I think we'll try to cut that one out next because Dad will not wake up if she cries at night. The teeth that I mentioned earlier have succeeded in puncturing me in a rather tender place and I'm not sure how I'll heal since she puts her teeth in the wound every time she nurses and applies a significant amount of pressure when suckling. It is like 2-4 minutes of excruciating pain each time. I've taken to breathing heavily (like lamaze breathing) just to get through it.

Cali LOVES water. She is a splashy little fish in the tub. We'll be doing swimming lessons during the next session if we can get signed up. And, we are all looking forward to summer. She'll be crawling all over eating sand and picking up dog poo in no time. Maybe I can get her to walk by May too :/

Cali's mom is fail-sauce on the photography. These are all the photos (of her) I have taken since the last post. And, 90% of her photos are in her high chair. Like I said, she likes to eat. I will endeavor to have photos and possibly crawling video next time.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sassy New Year

Wow. These posts are getting further and further apart. This one will be short since I have four stitches in my left index finger. Typing is a challenge with 9 fingers.

So far this year I have learned:

1. The ER is a wonderful break from kids. However, the recovery period is not worth the 60-90 minute break.

2. If you really want to get antibiotics so you can nip a virus in the bud, cut your finger and go to the ER.

3. Other parents are just as awkward as me sometimes.

4. Three is a truly challenging age that may have decided the size of our family once and for all.

5. Snow can really be a pain. I knew I didn't like being out in it much, but now it's making mountains at intersections, encroaching on driving lanes, making parallel parking darn near impossible, and then when you do, you can only get kids out on the traffic side and then you cannot access the sidewalk…. Argh!! We'll just stay home till it thaws.

6. You cannot simply decide to train your child to stay dry at night.

7. I have to ban my phone from "Mom" time so I can be truly present (and on my toes) for the wily preschooler.

Here are some cute pictures of the kids. I'll try to check in before May :D

Taking a break from sitting

6 teeth and counting - upside down is her favorite position (ironic since she was breech)

She is trying to blow across the top of the bottle (and it's root beer)

Making cookies for Santa

Favorite Present

Making tortillas like a boss

She already eats more than her sister