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Friday, November 29, 2013

Peaceful

If I have to wake up in a place other than my own home, I would choose my parents' house any day of the week.

There is something so peaceful and calming about morning time in their home.  Coffee brewing, a breakfast with some sort of meat, and always - always! - a dish of fresh fruit.  Sunshine pouring through the kitchen windows.  My mom bustling around the kitchen, offering us way too much food, and my dad playing with his grandkids and telling corny jokes.

Fuzzy phone pic but sweet moment

It is never a chore to wake up early while visiting my parents. Earlier this week, we spent a couple days at my parents' home.  One morning, after feeding Abby, I crept into my parents' room after hearing their voices and footsteps.  I plopped myself down on their bed and told recent anecdotes about parenting and relished both their laughter and the moment we shared.

In some ways, I was keenly aware of how things have changed since the days when I actually lived with them.  Yet somehow, at the same time, it felt like things had not changed at all...like I was back in elementary school again, climbing into my parents' bed in the wee hours of the morning.

One thing was for sure: it was peaceful.  I can only pray that my own kids will feel the same way about our home as they grow up. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Best Things About Two-Year-Olds

Gonna be honest here.  This past week, my patience has been tested more often than usual by my little boy.   While we have our regular ups and downs with behavior, several days this week were harder than usual to remain patient and calm.

During the most difficult moments of parenting (thus far), I have to stop and remind myself that one day I will miss these times...that one day he will be old and grown and out of the house.  And I will be sad.

So in the midst of the hair-pulling and in between the time-outs, I decided to stop and focus on all of the wonderful things that come with being two.  I owe that much to my future self.

*Please note: this is in no way a comprehensive list :)  Also, all of the items listed are observations based on my own two year old.  I apologize if the generalizations are bothersome.


1.  The way they talk.  I've already mentioned here about the way Jonathan pronounces "animal crackers").  I love this age because (for Jonathan, at least) he's got the intonations and rhythm of conversation down, but just lacks some key vocabulary.  So he'll relive a story with me (e.g. Samantha getting scared by a goat at the petting zoo) but his story will sound more like: "Samantha...goat...cry..."with filler intonations in between that sound like "dadadadadada." :)
I could listen to a two year old yammer on forever.  And when two year olds talk to each other?  Oh man, I die of the cuteness.


2.  They forgive and forget so easily.  They say that toddler tantrums are like summer rainstorms - they come on suddenly and pass just as quickly.  The best part about it is that they don't hold grudges.  I can learn a lot from my two year  old.


3.  They are easily distracted.  (Think: Dug from the movie Up)  Except instead of "squirrel!!!" the magic word can just as easily be "balloon!!!" or "garbage truck!!!" or "airplane!!!"  But the most powerful and potent of all is something you likely have to spell out when they are around. Like C-A-N-D-Y or I-C-E  C-R-E-A-M.


4.  They love babies.  Even though they aren't too far from being one.  Jonathan just adores babies and takes extra care to be gentle (for the most part) around them.  I can tell he thinks they are cute by the way he smiles and gently strokes their cheeks.  That, and the fact that he says, "cute" when he sees them...
Love is allowing your baby sister to pull your hair and grab your face...and actually enjoying it.
I'm especially grateful because one thing we prayed about (every day of my 2nd pregnancy) was that Jonathan would not be jealous of his sister; that instead, he and Abby would be good friends.  The bond they have is like nothing I've ever seen. He will drop everything he has to go to her side if he hears her crying, and comforts her by saying, "Shhhh, 's OK Abby- don't cry..."  It's enough to melt this mama's heart.

This happens during nearly every weekly photo shoot.  Superman swoops in to kiss his baby sister...

5.  They are fascinated by the little things.  Grown-ups, with our places to go and people to see, tend to stop noticing the small wonders of everyday life.  But when you're two, everything is amazing and new.  Jonathan could sit on our front walk and be entertained for hours - with dirt to be stirred, rocks to be found, flowers to be picked, bugs to be examined, and butterflies to be chased, how could he not?


6.  They are keenly observant.  Jonathan will often talk about and point to a tiny detail in a book's illustrations that I would have otherwise overlooked.  He's been known to point to the bright blue sky and shout "moon!" only to hear me tell him, "No, the moon is what you see at night...oh wait, you're right, buddy - the moon IS out!"  He is also the best at finding things we've misplaced, which is awesome for someone like me who's constantly losing things.  We make a good pair. :)


7.  They are (often) willing to help.  I won't deny the fact that I've taken advantage of this now that I have two kiddos.  When he is willing, Jonathan has fetched many a diaper for frequent changes.


8.  They LOVE repetition.  I know this is not unlike babies ("peekaboo," anyone?) but the funny thing about two year olds is that not only will they revel in the repetitive game during the moment, but they will remember it and request it over and over again the next time they see you (or the object you were playing with)
video
Ever since this day, he insists on doing this to his buddy - Every. Time. He. Sees. Him.


9.  They know when they are being misunderstood and will try very hard to effectively communicate what they mean until you get it right.

10.  They want to be just like you.  Jonathan loves wearing dress clothes and dress shoes (and his backpack) - all because his father does.

It is simultaneously eye-opening and amusing when you witness your two year old doing or saying exactly what you do.  Like when someone knocks on the front door and Jonathan scurries toward it, yelling, "I'm coming!!!"  Or when he sits in my room and calls for his daddy, "Aug!  C'mere!"

But when he smothers Abby with kisses, whispers "I love you," and calls her "baby girl" or "girlie"(the way I do), or imitates this strange lip thing I apparently do when I take a sip from my coffee thermos, I have to smile.

And *poof* - all of the frustration, stress, and irritability from the moment disappears.



These are the things I want to hold onto and remember from this year - the supposed "Terrible Twos."  And (I already know) these are the things I will miss, years down the line when he is old and grown...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Off the Blog Wagon

It seems that I've lost some steam in blogging these days...so I thought I would just ease myself back in (not unlike the way I used to get into swimming pools) with some random thoughts and photos.

1. We've had a number of milestones around here lately.  Abby recently started rolling over, so now if I lie her down on a floor mat, she's rarely in the same spot a minute later.  To be specific, she's usually on the other side of the room...

Abby turned 5 months last Friday, which is difficult for me to believe!  Tonight she had her first taste of "solid" food.  I think her expression says it all. :)

"Um, what IS this you're feeding me?"



2.  I've always expected the most significant milestones/changes to occur in the first two years, so this third year has been a pleasant surprise.  I think it's mainly because I notice nearly every day the new words Jonathan is picking up.  His sense of humor cracks me up, and so does his laugh.

Reading Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton  (Admittedly, it is a pretty funny read)



3.  A couple weeks ago (right before sickness struck our household), Aug and I explored a new (to us) restaurant for a lunch date.  My fortune cookie at the end of the meal:

When you're in the business of raising kiddos, this can be encouraging to hear.

I actually love the taste of fortune cookies and think the fortunes can be really amusing.  The funniest one I've ever opened said, "Smile if you like this fortune cookie." Ha!



4.  Jonathan has been really into looking through our photo albums lately.  He calls them "books," and I have to smile at the sight of him "reading" our history via photographs.

His favorite thing to do is point to someone and ask, "Who's DAT?"



5.  I love baby cardigans.  And this baby in a cardigan.
What, you don't laugh wildly whilst wearing sweaters?
My brother's mom-in-law, Sherry, is one of the sweetest, craftiest people I know. She's constantly creating things for other people and this little sweater is one of the many gifts she's made for Abby and Jonathan.  I'm so inspired by her thoughtful and generous heart!



The end.  :)


And what about you?
What's the best fortune you've ever gotten from a fortune cookie?

Friday, November 1, 2013

DIY Dalmatian Costume

Since her older brother dressed up as a firefighter this year, I got the idea that Abby should dress up as a Dalmatian.  Jonathan really adores his sister, so I knew that he would approve of their coordinating costumes.

After jumping onto Pinterest, I discovered that this wasn't such an original idea after all - in fact, tons and tons of search results turned up with siblings (or couples) dressed like this duo.  Oh well, I shrugged and continued on my merry way.

My first thought was to paint little spots all over Abby's white clothes with black fabric paint.  However, I hesitated because I didn't like the permanence of the idea, especially for just one night.  Then I was inspired by John (of Young House Love)'s costume as featured here.  Duct tape!  So genius.

I loved the idea of using duct tape because it meant easy-peasy clean-up and a fresh outfit that could be worn "spot-lessly" (har har) for the rest of the year.  And, admittedly, I was curious to see if the duct tape would really:
1.  Stay on for the duration the evening (which I doubted)
2.  Not harm the fabric at all

So I guess you could say that this costume was an experiment of sorts.  (This is as science-y as I get!)  Let's dive in, shall we?

This is what I started with:



Here's the breakdown:

Hat
Thrifted for a dollar.  My plan was to add black felt ears, but I realized too late that we didn't have any.  Instead I grabbed white felt (pink or beige would also have worked) and covered one side with a layer of black duct tape.  (I free-handed the ear shape by looking at pictures of Dalmatians online).

Then I cut them out and secured them to the hat using a small safety pin from the inside of the hat.  After closing the pin, I covered it with a piece of duct tape (on the inside) so it wouldn't accidentally open and prick Abby's head while she was wearing it.


Shirt
Long-sleeved cardigan we already had.  It didn't bother me that it had little bows on it because I knew that they could be easily covered.  I purchased a roll of black duct (brand name "Duck Tape") tape from Target for less than $4.  Then I began the task of cutting out various-sized circles/spots from the tape.  Let me tell you, this is easier said than done.  What I thought might take about an hour ended up taking an entire afternoon (at the expense of a severely-cut thumb, too).

The main issue was that the gummy [note: not a good kind of gummy ;) ] nature of the duct tape hindered the effectiveness of my scissors.  In short, it kept making the scissor blades sticky, so I had to pause between every couple of spots to wipe down the blades (thus resulting in my cut thumb...but I am a klutz, so this may not happen to everyone). 

Be mindful not to make the spots too large (I kept worrying that the costume would be mistaken for a cow).  I read somewhere that keeping the spots about the size of coins (quarters, nickels, pennies) is the key.

**In the above "Before" picture, I included a short-sleeved onesie as well.  My original intent was to cover both with spots, but it proved to be too labor-intensive (and possibly unnecessary).  I kept the onesie plain and simply tucked in the cardigan.


Pants
Long-sleeved pants we already had.  I was pretty pleased that they had feet because I didn't have to worry about socks or shoes (or her toes getting cold, for that matter!)  I covered these with random spots of duct tape as well.


**You might notice that only one of the photos above contains a little doggy collar and tag.  I added some adhesive ribbon under the collar of the cardigan and wrote "Dotty" on an oval piece of yellow vinyl.  It had some trouble sticking to the shirt in some areas, so I secured it with little bits of duct tape.  However, when it came time to put the costume on Abby, the whole thing fell off.  I figured it wasn't worth the battle to put it on again (especially if it would fall off again sometime during the evening) and kept it off.



And here are my "scientific" findings:

1.  Did the duct tape stay on for the duration of the evening?
To my great surprise, none of the duct tape spots seemed to budge at all during the evening.  Abby contentedly was passed from arm to arm all evening, and even took a small snooze for part of the night, but none of the spots were transferred to other people's clothing.
Pretending to be an animal is exhausting!

Since they were stuck pretty well, the frugal-mom in me thought it would be great if I could SAVE the spots on wax paper (for whatever situation that might call for spots in the future)...especially after painstakingly cutting out so many.  I did this, but unfortunately it seems that the duct tape is for one-time use only.  It did stick to the wax paper, but with less confidence :)

Sooo many spots! If you can count them all, I will give you chocolate.
 2.  Did the duct tape harm the fabric at all?
Admittedly, the duct tape again surprised me with its ability to peel off so easily after sticking to fabric so well.  I did remove the tape as soon as we got home, so time might have been a factor.  Both the shirt and pants still felt soft and had no traces of stickiness from the tape, with the exception of one bow on the cardigan that had a little sticky residue.

The cardigan did fare better than the pants - it looks virtually the same as it did before the project.  The pants, however, have traces of black outline (which don't feel sticky).  Both the cardigan and pants are made of 100% cotton, but are different brands (Carter's and Kyle and Deenie, respectively).  I'm thinking the faint black traces on the pants will come out in the wash, but we'll see!

All in all, I was pleased with this simple, low-budget costume.  Two thumbs up for duct tape crafting! :)

Update:  After one wash, all of the clothing looks great! No permanent damage from the duct tape.

What other things have you crafted (or heard about crafting) with duct tape? Please share! (I have a large roll of leftover duct tape just calling my name...)