Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Noah the Gnome

Today I hopped over several piles of laundry and other junk, made it to the dining room table with the girls, and had craft time. If I wait until after cleaning is done, all I ever get to do is clean--and that's depressing! Ivey was so accommodating, watching us from her bouncy seat. Suzi drew pictures and stuffed gnome hats with me, and we ended up finishing two gnomes. We already made one at our parent-tot group. Here you see Noah, Lil Buddy, and Prince Phillip. Yup, Suzi named them all. She loves the gnomes almost as much as I do. They're just so cute!

And yesterday at our Morning Glory parent-tot group we did wet felting. It was so much easier than I expected, and fun! One of my favorite parts was the sheepy scent of the wet wool. I love the smell of farm animals. Yeah, I'm a little weird! I ended up making this ball for Suzi, but she hasn't gotten to play with it yet because I only just pulled it out of the dryer (I tied it in a sock and threw it in with a couple of loads). This is a craft a child could easily do. Suzi tried it in our class, but didn't finish a ball. I definitely want to order some wool batting and roving to do it at home with her.

Another thing I learned yesterday? While we finished up our wet felting, Miss Ashley was playing with the kids and sang a little song about a rooster living on a hill. At the end of the song the kids had to guess if the "rooster" (just about any small object will work) was in her top (upstairs) or bottom (downstairs) hand. It's kind of hard to explain, but Suzi loved it. She was practically jumping up and down and saying "do it again, Miss Ashley!" I paid close attention and now we do it at home.

At least partly thanks to our class, we have been doing more creative activities and watching fewer movies during the day. Suzi is asking to watch movies less and less, and we can often go all day without turning the TV on. She is filling her days with painting, drawing, creative play, and books, with less and less direction from me. I'm looking forward to getting outside a lot more when the weather gets warmer!

We've been reading/talking about rhythm; mostly daily rhythm, but seasonal as well. I know this is something that needs improvement at our house! Long before we started the class we noticed how much better Suzi felt after a regular early bedtime and an afternoon nap, and we do have a pre-sleep routine she looks forward to. Mealtimes are not so great, though. Although I'm getting better, I'm not the best cook and sometimes, especially with a baby, it's easier to not have a formal sit-down meal at the table. In my imagination, I have a tidy little dining room and a table set with flowers and candles. At 7:00, 12:30 and 6:30 I put breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table in a relaxed, unhurried manner. Everything is planned ahead and done at the right time and we pray and Ivey doesn't cry. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Is this what all of you do every time? Sometimes I think everyone else but me has a neat, organized life. I'm hoping most of them just clean right before I come over. Anyway, definitely room for improvement!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A girl who speaks her mind

The other day I discovered a beautiful thing, depicted in the above photo. Here you see Suzi watching a movie and Ivey sitting with her as they enjoy one another's company. I can't leave the room with them sitting together like this. Suzi might just decide to jump out of the chair and Ivey would fall down, or something like that. It makes Ivey so happy to sit with Suzi, though, and I can fold laundry or do other right-there activities. I just ran upstairs a few minutes ago to turn Suzi's Twilight Turtle back on and she told me "I love my sister." Awwwww!

Ivey also enjoys sitting up in the floor to play now, and Suzi sometimes joins her

I love this one :-)

Ivey had her first taste of food on Thursday. We bought an avocado and squished it up for her. She mostly just played in it, but I think she may have actually ingested about a teaspoonful. Most of it ended up on her clothes. We could have pureed it and mixed it with breastmilk to make it easier for her, and we may yet. I just thought we'd try it by itself first. I tried it too for the first time (my parents never ate avocados) and it had an interesting nutty taste that I imagine might grow on me if I keep eating them. Not sure I will though. There are so many other things out there I like better.

We went to yard sales yesterday and got some cool stuff. Lots of colored pencils, crayons, markers, and paper products for Suzi, a tiny model skeleton, one of these (an "expanding sphere," I discovered after a bit of searching), an educational kit of optical illusion activities, and more, and that was just from one sale. Also got some clothes, a little fabric, and a little stable for Suzi's horses to live in. We love our yard sales.

The funny thing is that Ivey loves the "expanding sphere" more than anybody. We make it bigger and smaller in front of her and her eyes get big, she smiles, and she flaps her little arms. In general, Ivey has started showing a serious interest in toys. She loves Sophie the Giraffe, and I'm so glad because I hate to say it but when I received this toy in the mail I thought, did I just pay $20 for a squeaky dog toy?!? Now I can confirm that it is worth the money. Ivey loves how soft she is and her ears, feet and neck are just the perfect size to chew on. Plus, Sophie is cute. I'd buy another one if we lost this one. (No one gave me anything to say this. Which is unfortunate.)

Over the weekend we've noticed how... independent and strong-minded Suzi is becoming. She doesn't hesitate to stand up for herself. Yesterday we stopped for lunch on the way to Jordan's parents' house and let her play in the play area at Chick-Fil-A. She yelled at some boys (between 4-8 years old, I'm guessing). Apparently they were in her personal space, but this sort of thing can't be helped in a crowded play structure. Later at Nana and Papa's she scolded one of the cousins, wagging finger and all, because she thought he'd stolen her Mardi Gras beads. He was just an innocent bystander though. Her social skills might need a bit of work, but honestly I don't mind too much. I think in time she will begin to recognize when this behavior is appropriate and when it's not. Besides, I wonder if anyone would even blink at Suzi's reactions if she were a boy. I don't want Suzi to ever withhold her true feelings because she's trying to be a polite, proper southern girl. She needs to be able to assert her independence if someone tries to talk her into something she doesn't feel is right. If this trend continues into the teen years, I definitely won't worry about her being pressured into trying drugs or sex! Therefore, when she mistakenly gets after someone this way, we gently explain what is really going on and sometimes she apologizes. We don't try to make her guilty or embarrassed over it.

There is now a goal date at which time I am going to leave Ivey home with her dad for several hours, and it's April 6th. I have always wanted to learn to make pottery (mugs mostly) and my mom and I are going to take a beginning wheel throwing class together at our local arts center. My brother Paul makes gorgeous pottery and I've always been kind of jealous. I would love to one day be able to make that perfect mug that is just the right color and size and shape. I have one I love that my brother made but it is often dirty. I also use different mugs depending on what mood I'm in. This one is my favorite.

Anyway, Ivey will be staying home with Jordan for three hours one or two evenings a week for five weeks. I am already pumping here and there so Jordan will have milk for her, and she'll probably be eating solids too (she'll be 8 months old). We'll go ahead and introduce a cup at this time, as we don't really see any need to start using a bottle this late in the game. She may even decide to wait and breastfeed when I come home, but I want there to be options just in case. I'm excited about doing the class with my mom. We might suck at making pottery, but at least we'll have fun trying. If we do suck at it, they also offer a basket weaving class and I'd love to learn that too!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking Suzi to school... well, sort of

As I've said before, I plan to homeschool. It's a little overwhelming though, especially as everyone else's kids seem to be starting preschool. Suzi is my first child so I honestly haven't a clue (yet) what I am doing. This is why I was so happy to read this on Julie's blog. A mom in our area, teaching a small group of children between one and 3.5 years and their mamas at the same time. Exactly what I needed! We've been to two meetings so far. It's totally worth the somewhat long (~45 min) drive.

The day begins with a short nature walk and the children are encouraged to pick up things to place on the nature table in the classroom. Picking up rocks and things while on a walk is Suzi's specialty. Then we go in to have circle time and sing songs. The first time, Suzi was enchanted by the lambskin rug and lay in the floor rolling in it during most of circle time. The second time she participated a bit more. Ashley is cool with kids electing not to participate, but encourages the moms to take part because at this age, it's the best way to teach our kids.

My favorite part is the (adult) craft time. She teaches us to make things that will benefit our children in learning and creative play. Last week we did a finger-knitting project. The end product was a long, soft rope which can be used as play horse reins or any number of other things. I finished it at home and Suzi wanted to be a horse when I was done. She galloped around the house for at least 20 minutes, with Jordan following behind her. Then she let Daddy be the horse. I need to get pictures of this!

This past Tuesday I was so excited because we got to make gnomes and I am in love. They are adorable and honestly I just want to make one for everybody I know. I am a sucker for anything cute and colorful! My gnome is finished and I'll share a picture later.

Ashley serves a healthy snack for the kids (and us, too) and the children help us with set-up and clean-up. It's a good reminder for me that Suzi is capable of much more than I realize or give her credit for. If you let your two-year-old do something, it probably won't be done perfectly. However, it will give the child a sense of accomplishment and help in skill-building that will be valuable for years to come.

We are sent home with songs and crafts to share and articles for parents to read. I am learning far more than I could from simply reading a stack of books.

Watching Suzi in this environment interacting with other children makes me glad I'm there. I'm not quite ready for her to be out in the world (even a little preschool world) without me. I'm glad to be there to guide her and to experience what she's experiencing. It helps me know her better. Our little "school" has also put homeschooling a preschooler into context for me. Suzi doesn't need a bunch of drilling and forced exercises on letters and counting right now. She needs stories, a good example, meaningful activities, and someone to nurture her creativity and enthusiasm: Me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WW: Way too many snow pictures

Friday night, we let Suzi go out while it was still snowing (with her umbrella to keep the snow out of her face)

She ventured out into the yard

Close-up snow is so beautiful

Building a snowman was at the top of our to-do list, so we all pitched in

Our Mr. Potato Head parts came in handy

Suzi was really into eating the snow, which she said tasted just like cupcakes!

This is what our little snowman looked like the next morning

Bought these boots in college. Worn them maybe 10 times.

She was so cute trudging through the snow in her little snowsuit. It's a good thing these suits sell for about $10 in like new condition at consignment sales here in SC. She could roll all around in the snow and not really get wet.

One of Jordan's favorites

In our neighborhood, looking out at the trees

Looks like little hills of granulated sugar. I love it!

She learned to throw snowballs, and I threw them at her too. She'd squeal every time one hit her and then she'd run up and squish one on me.

"I don't want to make a angel anymore!"

And there are still more pictures, but I don't have time to put them up right now.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy half-birthday to Ivey!

Ivey sees snow for the first time

A self-portrait of me and my girls today

Julie's post about Cedar (who is just three days older than Ivey) reminded me not to let this day pass without blogging.

These days are so busy and often frustrating, as I think I've mentioned, but those feelings melt away with time. Eventually I will forget most of them. It's funny to me now how impatient I was feeling six months and three days ago. The last couple days of a pregnancy pass ever so slowly in August in South Carolina. Especially when you hear that your friend who was due about the same time has already had her baby.

Anyway, a (written) snapshot of Ivey at six months:

No teeth yet. There are hints of two bottom teeth, but there's no telling when they'll pop through. Teething has been rough, and Ivey hasn't been wearing her teething necklace because it gets caught in her short, chubby neck and aggravates her. I am going to try it on her again soon. I just have to find where I put it...

A couple of months ago I was the lucky mom whose baby slept through the night until about 5 am. Not anymore! Ivey's sleep is erratic and seems to depend on how she napped the day before, how her gums are feeling, and what mood she's in. She is a happy girl in the morning though, and I love to see her smiling face when she wakes up.

Yesterday we rediscovered our Ellaroo Mei Tai. I was thinking of selling it and I'm so glad I didn't! Jordan uses the Ergo and it's so aggravating to keep adjusting the straps back and forth, so I decided to stop using it. Ivey rides happily on my back for an hour or more at a time, so I can get a lot done. The Mei Tai is getting to be our new lifesaver, as the bouncy seat is almost ready to be put away for the next baby.

Ivey long ago mastered hair pulling, but in the past few days she's started working on her pinching skills. Her fingernails are like little razors. It hurts! She pinches me on the back of my arms when I'm wearing her on my back in a carrier. It's probably because I've taken to wearing my hair in a geeky side-braid and she's gotten bored. The good news is that this skill will serve her well when she starts picking up food to eat.

Technically, today is the day the "experts" say to start solids, but we have no plans to do so. I have been extra careful this time to protect my milk supply and I'm just not ready. Now that we've waited so long, I want to pick the perfect first food for her. I don't want to give her rice cereal, so what should I start with? Certainly it will be something fresh that I cook (if needed) and mash up myself. Suggestions?

Ivey's #1 pet peeve is when we put her down and try to walk away. Usually this means on her quilt on the floor with a toy or two. If we want to sit next to her and keep her company, that's fine, but stand up and start walking away, even for ten seconds, and WAAAAH! It is so not worth it, and that's why our house is a mess most of the time! She likes her Jumperoo, but she prefers when one of us is standing or sitting right there in front of her. When she falls asleep during the day (always while nursing!) I stand up and lay her in the recliner. About 1/3 of the time she wakes up and looks at me with angry, accusing eyes and screams at me. The rest of the time I do a silent victory dance and get to work on the piles or laundry and dishes that await. Then I blog, like I am doing now.

Although Ivey has learned to sit up, she gets tired and leans forward after a while. She can't quite crawl yet, but she flops like a fish trying. It's cute. If she's anything like Suzi, the inching along on her belly will start soon.

Most of Ivey's hair has fallen out and it's growing back lighter. We think it'll probably be straight, and I'm glad. I want some hair to play with and Suzi's is too short with those curls. Ivey has one little tuft of straight, dark hair right in front and I brush it into a little mohawk curl after her bath. All the rest of her hair is too short and fine.

Ivey loves her big sister, and Suzi loves her back. She makes Ivey laugh, brings her toys to play with, and kisses her goodnight. It makes me so happy.

There is beautiful, abundant snow outside and we went out for a little while already. We are about to go back out and build a snowman (pictures later). It's been a wonderful half-birthday for my little baby :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's your opinion of TMI?

The coveted double-nap. It is happening here right now--for how long, I don't know.

I woke up this morning to sunshine on my pillow and the brilliant slate blue eyes of Ivey.

(Sometimes they are slate. Sometimes they are more like frosty blueberry. I could never, ever capture them in a picture, but I am a crappy photographer.)

It was 9:00 AM, because Suzi spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa's and Jordan got up to hold and rock our crazy baby until she went back to sleep. I have a cold. It's a bad this-side-works-but-this-side-doesn't kind of cold, and sometimes neither side works and I can't sleep when that happens. I owe Jordan a serious nap.

Anyway, I've been struggling with the issue of how much info is TMI on my blog. Some of the most important things people have to say might fall into that category of is this okay to post or not? I know I've read some incredibly personal things on other people's blogs, particularly regarding pregnancy and childbirth, which have guided me in my own journey. I'm glad they posted them. But should I? I don't mean things like address and phone number, but rather anecdotal, personal information which some would argue should be kept private. Writing is my preferred method of communication. The words flow here in a way they usually don't in person. Perhaps this is why it's tempting for me to say things that don't necessarily belong on a public blog.

If you post personal stuff (detailed birth stories, intimate descriptions of your everyday life, your innermost thoughts), why do you do it? If you don't, why not? Where do you draw the line on things you're not willing to share?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Waking up before 5:00 is just wrong

I don't know if I've ever gone this long between posts, but I haven't felt like blogging lately. It might have something to do with Ivey waking up for the day between 4:30 and 5:00, and not going to sleep at night until 9 or 10. I used to sometimes wake up early to get a head start on my day in peace, but that would put me waking up at what, 3:45? We think Ivey is teething, but it's frustrating to keep saying that while there is no tooth to show for it. I thought I saw the top corner of one the other day, but it apparently retreated. Can that happen? She has been needy and fussy like never before. During the day she nurses more often than she did as a newborn and barely lets me take my hands off her. I really want to do things! Yesterday I wanted to add a room onto Suzi's cardboard box house and there was a bunch of cleaning to do too. I spent the whole day playing with, holding, and nursing the baby. She even got angry when I sat her on her blanket to run and wash my hands after changing her diaper. I tried putting her in the Ergo once but she wasn't happy with that either. At least I got to read a little of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves while I held her during her nap. I love it but for some reason it's hard for me to get past the first two or three chapters of parenting books. I keep zoning out and falling asleep.

Suzi and I are attending a local Morning Glory parent-tot group today and every Tuesday for the next six weeks. It has me driving a little out of my comfort zone, but I'm glad. I need to get over my driving phobia, and exposure is the only way it'll happen. I am excited about this group, hoping Suzi and I will both make friends and learn things that will help us in homeschooling. Jordan and I took Ivey to the adult orientation Saturday and she had a great time. She is a different baby when she's around a bunch of people.

Well, I'm off to get ready. I'm hoping it'll be a fun day for my Suzi!