Monday, October 29, 2012

october 29

Dear Ellie,
Today is your first birthday.
So much has happened this year, but as I think about the day you were born, as I remember holding your squishy warm body wrapped tight in the hospital blanket,
I can't believe that was only a year ago.
And yet, when I think about how much I love you, Ellie-girl, I can't believe I only met you a year ago.
 This last month you've started talking.  First it was "Hi!" with the accompanying wave--you'd say "hi" to anyone and anything--Nicholas when he'd wake up, Mama as I'd come into your room, and the flock of ducks that would walk past us at Grandma's house.  Then came "mama" and "dada."  "Uh-oh" and "no."
And the Sunday I baked cookies and gave you a taste you pointed emphatically with the most adorably sweet "More!"
I gave you almost three cookies that night, nibble by nibble, because I just couldn't resist your darling little voice saying "more?!"  
When we tell you that it is time to take a bath, you get a little wiggle and climb up those stairs as fast as you can.  You splash and splash and splash the entire bath, not even caring when the water gets in your eyes or mouth or nose.  We have to spread out towels across the floor and our laps to try and keep the rest of us dry while you bathe.  

And after your bath, you are a wild thing, grunting and wiggling and screeching as I try to put on your diaper and pajamas.  One night after bath you were so wired that you actually let go of my knees and took ten steps across the room, then sat down as if nothing happened.  
You still love to eat, but you are definitely getting more opinionated about it.  You'll eat anything, as long as I give it to you in the right order.  If I give you cottage cheese or bread before your veggies and meat, you'll decide you are only going to eat cottage cheese, and you'll point to the kitchen and say "more?" until we either get you more cottage cheese or we end the meal.

You are still a determined soul; I doubt that is ever going to change.  And you are a fast learner. You watch us and you pick up on things I never thought you even noticed.  The other day I found you sitting in the shoe closet, trying ever so hard to put my shoes on your feet.  

You try to put the bows back in your hair when they fall out.  You fold your hands when we say it is time to pray, and then applaud yourself through the whole prayer with a big proud smile.

At Church a few weeks ago you leaned in and gave me one of the biggest sloppiest loudest open-mouthed kisses right on my cheek.  The ladies behind us giggled, so you did it three more times.  

I sat next to you on the stairs one afternoon, and I tried to show you how to go down the stairs backwards, safely, but you weren't too interested (or so I thought), and we moved on to other things.  A couple of days later, you went down the stairs, backwards, safely, all on your own, just like that.   
I expect you'll learn to walk like that too--we've done a little bit of practicing here and there, but I'm guessing that one day you'll just let go and walk, all over, all the time.  Just like that.  Because that's how you do things.

You've figured out that having a big brother has its ups and downs.  You two can play together, laughing and laughing, but if there's a toy involved, you both want the exact toy that is in the other childs' hands.  And when Nicholas takes your toys, instead of fighting back, you tip your head back and wail, big tears streaming down your face.  

When you hear Nicholas's voice in the mornings, though, your eyes pop open and you sit straight up, leaning around me on the bed to try and see him, waving "Hi!" with all your might.  

You've stopped nursing completely now.  Little by little you decided it just wasn't your thing anymore.  And when I tried to feed you in the early morning last Monday, you just weren't satisfied until I got you a bottle instead. So we're done, and I'm missing it, but I'm going to need to get used to you making your own decisions about a lot of things.  You have a mind of your own and you know what you want, Ellie-girl.

You love books, and I'll often find you upstairs next to the bookshelf with a pile of books around you.  Sometimes you make a beeline for the books in the middle of a diaper change, plop yourself down, and "read" like it's the most important thing you could be doing right then.

I love to see how you are learning and becoming a little person more each day.  You communicate with us, showing us things you find, smiling proudly with your little lips pursed.  You reach out and wiggle your fingers when you want something.  You snuggle up to us with a sweet little sigh that means "I love you."  You walk around the house hour after hour after hour, pushing the shopping cart or the wheely bee, turning and backing up and acting like you're just one of the big people.   
I love you ever so much my sweet Ellie.  You're growing too fast, but I'm going to squeeze you close and kiss your cheeks and wash the blueberry juice off your fingers and read you books as long and as often as I can.

You bring us joy, you make our lives sweeter, and we can't remember what we ever did without you.  I'm glad you're ours, Ellie.
Happy Birthday.

My sweet girl

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

potty party

Because I just have to remember this.

We've been potty-training for eight weeks.  It's a process, for sure.
Actually, it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be...
We started out easy, letting him take the lead.
At first he only wore underwear for a couple of hours a day.  It was good for him to feel the success without us pressuring him.
Once he started, though, he caught on pretty quick.
(we rewarded him with a "Potty party" of chocolate chips, then fruit snacks, then oreos, and now we're back to fruit snacks but only when he remembers and wants one),
except for when it comes to going #2...

Every day he tells me how excited he is to go poop on the potty and how he's going to get a poptart and how he gets to play his fishing game and he's going to do it! 
And up until five or six days ago, he had yet to earn a single poptart...
Even with all the laundry I'm doing, though, it still feels SO much better than changing two kids' diapers all day long.  He'll figure it out eventually. He gets better every day.
 And he's the king of "holding it,"
so we can go out and about without me ever worrying about him having an accident.

And there have been a few memorable incidents.
Like the time that Nicholas most obviously needed to go to the bathroom but was refusing to go.  He was doing the potty dance for an hour and screaming at me that he didn't need to go.
So finally, because I would rather clean up the tile than the carpet, I took the gate off the stairs and trapped him in the bathroom with me.

But instead of making it onto the potty, he went on the floor--#1 and #2.  Awesome.

So I scoop him up (he's screaming, of course), and stand him in the sink. Then I start to clean up the mess.

Meanwhile, Ellie discovers that the stairs are now unguarded, and she climbs up halfway, then falls down and bonks her head.

So Nicholas is screaming at me from the sink,
I'm standing in his puddle,
and Ellie is screaming from the stairway.

As Kent said when I told him about it,
It was just one of those Kodak moments.

He's getting better and better at it every day, and he's always so excited about using the potty-he does a little dance when he finishes and sings while he's washing his hands.
I love this kid,
and I'm more than a little glad he's not in diapers anymore.

eleven things, revisited

Shannon tagged me on the "eleven things" post.  I was tagged back in February by Katie, here.  But Shannon's questions were so awesome that I thought I'd play along again.

Quick Reference: I wrote this earlier this week, added a few last things today.

1. Do you plan, or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

  Well it really depends on what it is about.  Kent and I are both "by the seat of our pants" kind of people with day-to-day stuff; we love to just get up and go do something fun or have someone over or make something delicious!  But I am a list-maker and always will be.  I make lists about things I need to make lists for.  I love making lists.  In fact, when Kent wants my help with something, he knows he can get me excited about it just by saying "how about we make a list?"

2. Today was amusing because_______

Today was amusing because it took me three (3) hours to get Nicholas to go potty and put on his pants so we could get out the door to go to the park.  He turns into a sloth when we're trying to leave the house.
"Nicholas, get your pants!"
His voice low and slow "Look--Mom---there--are--two--crumbs--on--the--floor."
"Don't you want to go to the park?!"
 And when he'd finally let me put pants on his skinny shivering legs, we couldn't leave because I couldn't find the keys.  
An hour of searching and Kent-texting later, Kent finally remembered he'd left my keys upstairs in Nicholas's room because he'd used them to open an orange for Nicholas before bed last night.  
Of course.

I'm feeling super sure that someday I'm going to laugh about these crazy parts of my current everyday life.

3. How hungry are you right now?

Nachos sound good. I made sausage and kale soup for dinner, though, and it was delicious.

4. Bad news: sugarcoated or straight-up?

Oh sugarcoat it please. I am a person who needs reassurance and comfort-talking.  I need to know that my brain shouldn't immediately fly to worst-case-scenario-what-is-going-to-happen?!

5. How do you get out of a rut?

I turn on Pandora, loud, jump around and dance like crazy with Nicholas, and get to work cleaning.  Or I strap the kids in the car and go somewhere to do something.  

6. What are you a geek about?

Kent pointed this one out for me.  I am really particular about making sure we have the correct pronunciations of the names in the Book of Mormon.   We're reading in the book of Ether right now, and every night I flip to the back of the book to look up a name or two in the pronunciation guide.  
7. What do you crave?

A full, uninterrupted night of sleep. Wouldn't that be glorious? (Update: Ellie has slept through the night for three nights in a row now!)
Also, a good can't-put-it-down book and the energy to stay up until 3 am reading it.

8. What was the last bad movie you watched?

The second Twilight movie. So painful.  We watched the third but quit there.  Enough was enough. 

9. Do you have any new friends?

Yes yes YES!  After a year in Utah, I finally am making new friends. I have a walking and craft-doing friend, a friend-couple who likes to go on outings with us, a few new-old friends from college, and a lot of people that I'm excited to become friends with.

10. You want a new____

Carpet!  To date, I've found (usually by stepping on them) eight sewing needles, one fishing hook, and one long sharp wire in our carpet, left-overs from the people who lived here before.  Dangerous and disturbing.
In short, I am NOT a fan of this house's long fluffy carpet.  If we had the money, we'd be replacing it tomorrow.  

11. What makes you feel wonderful?

The first three things that come to mind:
Compliments from Kent.  The real, thought-out ones, more than just the simple "you're hot."  Like when he tells me how impressed he is with the things I do for the kids, or how he's proud of me for an accomplishment.  
Also, these two kiddos-I like when they're close by. I love feeling like my "chicks" are all gathered close.

And friends. My friends make me feel wonderful.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

piano room update

We've been giving Nicholas a late afternoon nap lately. 
Our evenings have been so much happier. 
He's dancing bouncing put-things-on-his-head-and-laugh-wildly silly until much past his usual bedtime,
but we'd rather have silly than screaming before bed.

a few days ago Nicholas was napping and Ellie and I were playing in the front room.
I have the longest list ever of things I want to get for this room:
-big cozy snuggling/reading/napping chair
-round, white, tufted ottoman
-cute little round side table
-and new carpet (I found/stepped on my eighth sewing needle in the carpet tonight-left overs from the previous owners--not happy about that. Why is new carpet so expensive??)

just to name a few...

And because I just can't get all of those (or any of them...) right away, I needed something to pick up this space a bit.

Thanks in a big part to inspiration from Kent's mom Teresa, I decided to use what I have and make something new.

My Great-Grandma Hortin was a very talented musician, and I inherited a lot of her piano and organ music books.
I found one that had piano preludes in it, all of them only one page long, so the music wouldn't be ruined by tearing out the pages.
I had the frames already--they were piled on the ledge in my stairway with France pictures in them.

All I needed was to put the pages in the frames, do a bit of measuring and marking, then hang them up.  

They're not exactly precisely straight,
but I don't really mind.
That's just how I do things here.  If you can't tell from across the room then it's good enough for me!

So in only about ten minutes, I had something meaningful, beautiful, and free!  

And a few pictures of my crazy-haired, drooly-faced, darling little helper.  (who is going to be one years old at the end of the month. Ack!!)

Friday, October 5, 2012

the three.

I've had a three-year-old for a month and a half now.

At first, he turned three and I was thinking,
"yay!  He's not two anymore. Now life is good.  Now we can just have happy days all the time!"

Silly me.

Three, you see, looks like this:
(just so you know, these pictures were actually taken within 90 seconds of each other)

Three is rough. 

The screaming.  He screams at me.  Whenever anything doesn't go quite his way.  It's ridiculous and tiring and my "calm voice, calm reactions, gentle face" is pretty much all worn out.  Ellie is tired of it too, and every time he screams she starts to cry.  Sometimes I want to join her.

Nicholas is strong-willed and independent and sometimes defiant.
He wanted chocolate milk (ovaltine) the other day so I got out a sippy cup, poured the milk, and added the ovaltine powder.
And he screamed. He wanted to add the chocolate himself.
But this boy must learn that he doesn't get what he wants when he screams. (my mantra, every day, all day.  Someday he'll learn, right??)  So I put the lid on and shook the cup to mix it together.
He screamed again. He didn't want it shaken.  
So I gave him the cup and he screamed. 
And then he yelled "I'm going to drink it and I'm going to say Yuck!"
And he did. After every sip. "Yuck!" Another sip. "Yuck!" Another. "YUCK!" until he'd finished the entire cup.

It would be funny if it weren't so crazy. 

But he's creative.  He's silly. He's imaginative. Every night as we tuck him into bed he says this:
"Good night, Have good dreams, Merry Christmas, Adios, Do some paint!"  
Exactly like that. Every single night.

He plays pretend.  All through the day I listen to his cars have conversations, his toy animals eat his breakfast with him, his "Baserman" adventures. 
When he's happy, he's oh so adorable and I cuddle him close and smell his hair and tell him how glad I am to be his Mommy and he tells me I'm cute.

He really is trying to be good.  We spend a lot of time every day talking it through. "When Mommy says it's time to go home Nicholas will say 'Okay Mommy!' Right?"
And he always answers with his happy face, his happy voice, his eyebrows high--"yes Mommy! I will be happy and I will say 'okay' and I won't scream!"
And then, when it's time to go--he screams.

But I know he's trying to be good. 
I know he's just feeling crazed because he is old enough to do some things on his own, but not everything, and it's confusing.  And he wants control but he can't have the control he wants. And when he has a plan in his head of how something should go, he feels discouraged and upset when Mom or Dad have to tell him that it can't be that way.

So we'll just keep calm, keep teaching him that he does NOT get what he wants when he screams, keep talking it out, and keep praying for a good day every once in a while-just enough to get through.
Oh, and we'll make sure to never take him shopping ever again.
Or at least until he's four.