Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anabelle's Birthday

Yesterday, August 29th, was Anabelle's first birthday, and we celebrated her big day today. Nicki and Laurin; our cousins, Jerry, Terri, Rachael, Schuyler, and John; and Aunt Shirley joined us for the party. Although she has been teething for the last few days, Anabelle had a great time. She especially enjoyed the cake!

Emma Rose was a diligent big sister and made sure that everyone would "sing happy birthday to my sister." Anabelle wasn't quite sure what to make of the undivided attention from everyone in the room, but she smiled and just wondered what we were doing.

We had to get her started with the cake by making sure she tasted a little bit of it. Once she she knew how yummy it was, she used her little fingers and hands to shovel it in her mouth . . . . and in her ears, and on her head, and under her dress. She shared her cake with her sister and her daddy. She had so much fun eating her cake that we had to strip her down and put her in the kitchen sink before we opened gifts! She received wonderful gifts: toys that I'm sure she'll enjoy for years to come and clothes that she'll wear until she grows out of them.

After the party, Anabelle took a much needed nap, and Emma Rose and Laurin played. The girls chased each other and played a little "hide and sneak." They ran around so much that a lot of my pictures are blurry! Laurin decided the party should get a little risque and took off her clothes. She must have learned that from her father. Nicki and I made sure to put her clothes back on before the trip home!

Both Emma Rose and Anabelle continued to be obsessed with the balloons the rest of the day. It's wonderful to see them having so much fun. At least in the near future, the girls' birthdays and birthday parties will continue to be one of the best times of the year. I'm not anxious for adolescence to kick in and kick mommy and daddy out. Just as Connie Ambler said upon our high school graduation and growing up in general, "It's bittersweet." I never imagined what it would be like to be on this end of it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Play Dates

On Wednesday, Emma Rose, Anabelle and I had a play date with Nicki and Laurin. We started off having a great time. The girls started out playing together. After going through the toys in the toy basket, Nicki brought out the special crayons, stickers, and construction paper. Little did we know we had entered into the downhill slide. Emma Rose was being a little too rough with crayons, and both Nicki and I told her to be more gentle. Emma Rose adores Nicki, and when she heard no from Nicki, she exploded into tears. I tried talking to her and explaining things to no avail. We had to go to her room, and I thought she had finally calmed down. No such luck: the downhill slide was really an avalanche that lasted more than an hour. That is no exaggeration.

From that experience, I learned that my child is persistent, determined, and has tremendous lung capacity. If she decides to pursue an acting career, she may very well fill her home with Oscars. I learned about myself that I despise crying, especially during a tantrum. Thank goodness Nicki was here so that she could assure me I was being a good mommy by not responding to the tantrum and Emma Rose would not be emotionally scarred for life. The mark of a good and loyal friend is one who can stay in the same house with your screaming three year old. Laurin also continued to have a great time despite the absence of her BFF.

The next morning, Emma Rose told me this: "Nicki and Laurin were here. We were playing. Then, I was crying and crying." We had another talk during which I assured her it was OK to cry, but crying only to get what you want doesn't work. I'm still recovering from the cry fest and so glad that Emma Rose is OK, too.

These pictures are from a happier play date with Nicki and Laurin. Emma Rose and Laurin are really learning to play with one another rather than next to each other, and it's so cool to see how they are growing and developing into little people and great friends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Emma Rose & Anabelle

Emma Rose's Imagination

Last night right before bed time, Emma Rose 'found' a baby tiger in the dining room. It was tiny enough to fit in the palms of her hands. She told me, with a very sad look on her face, the baby tiger was alone without his mommy or his friends. She asked me to hold the baby tigers - one had now multiplied into two. She very carefully transferred the tigers from her hands into mine. I held the baby tigers while we walked upstairs for bed time.

As we brushed her teeth, I put the baby tigers beside her. They had to have some milk as they were hungry. Emma Rose cupped her hands again, picked up the baby tigers, and carried them into her room. She very carefully put them in her bed, and they curled up by her pillows, Baby Lambie-pie, and Baby Tigger. They cuddled with her as we read bedtime stories, and when I tucked her in, all 10 of them were laying right next to her. Yes, there were now 10 baby tigers.

This morning, the 10 baby tigers were right next to her, and they came downstairs with us. They played a little with us this morning, and they are taking a nap with her right now.

Anabelle Knows Nose

I was so impressed that Marlee was recognizing facial features that I have started to identify them to Anabelle. (Auntie Cathy and Marlee were such good influences on us!) When I asked her where Mommy's nose is yesterday and today, she was able to point to my nose. It was very exciting! But don't make the call to Mensa yet, Auntie Cathy. When I asked her about Mommy's eyes, she also proudly pointed to my nose. She likes to poke her finger in my mouth, so I'm considering working on helping her identify mouth next.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gardening, the Birds, and the Girls

John, Emma Rose, and I have planted some strawberries, tomatoes, roses, and sunflowers in the yard. Although Anabelle doesn’t help, she enjoys being outside and watching us! Emma Rose and I go out just about every morning to check the flowering and fruiting plants. We dead-head the roses, count their blossoms, check and count the tomatoes, and see if the sunflowers are blooming. We had about 4 strawberries several months ago and none since. The sunflowers came from a little kit from Nicki. There must have been about 30 seeds, and most of them germinated. We planted 6 of the plants, and 5 have bloomed. Emma Rose was delighted! She has really grown to love seeing the plants grow. Here are some pictures of what we’re growing.

Last week, we had a bit of a scare. I guess the scare was mostly mine. Emma Rose recovered pretty quickly.

We were walking through the kitchen, and Emma Rose suddenly said, "Mommy, there's a dead bird on the deck!" I did a double take, and there was indeed a bird lying on its side on the deck. Emma Rose was upset, and I tried to explain to her that the bird went to heaven. Well, I said, the bird's spirit went to heaven and its body was still here. I stumbled over all of it quite a bit. For goodness sake, a three year old doesn't know what a spirit is. After she seemed OK with what happened, I took Anabelle upstairs for her nap while Emma Rose stayed downstairs. When I came back, Emma Rose was peering at the deck and the bird was gone. After I asked where the bird was, she told me it flew away. I looked everywhere for that bird. It was gone. I guess it had slammed into the door and knocked itself out. Emma Rose was there to seee it get up and fly off. I wondered how I was going to explain death now and am glad she hasn't really asked.

Later that day, she told our cousin Rachael there was a dead bird on the deck, and its leg were out like this. (She held her arms straight out with her hands in fists.) Then, she said, the bird flew away. She loves to tell that story.

Anabelle is now saying "cat" almost every time she sees Jasper. It's really exciting to see her recognizing an object and vocally identifying it. She will occassionally say "dog" when she sees Hobie, but I think she might be getting a little confused about the difference between dog and Hobie. I also learned that every time I say, "I'll be right back," Anabelle understands and speed crawls to me. Emma Rose and I tested it, and even when Emma Rose would say it, Anabelle practically turned on a dime to get in my lap. Anabelle has also been consistently "dancing" everytime she hears music. She opens her mouth slightly, occassionally pokes her tongue out, and bobs her head from front to back. She is also wanting to test out more and more how it feels to stand independently. She gets the biggest grin when she makes eye contact with me as she is standing. I think she knows she's growing up, too.

Anabelle has continued to crawl up and down the stairs. She hasn't mastered going down the stairs. She tries to go head first.

Emma Rose Crawling up the Stairs and Trying to Figure Out How to Get Back Down

The girls have been playing kitchen in Emma Rose's room pretty often. When John got home Friday, we all enjoyed some wonderfully prepared pretend meals together. I think Anabelle is going to start enjoying kitchen more and more!

Emma Rose & Anabelle are Growing Up

Wednesday, Emma Rose had her first independent play date. We went for a walk after lunch, and on the way back, we ran into our across the street neighbors, Jeremy (the dad) and Harrison (the 3 year old son). Harrison is 2 months older than Emma Rose, and they play really well together. Harrison also claims that Emma Rose is his girlfriend. It’s cute . . . for now. Emma Rose went inside their house to play, and Jeremy told me he had to leave in 15 minutes to get his kids from the school bus and would bring Emma Rose back home if it was OK. After having a little, tiny pang of anxiety, I said OK.

After 16 minutes had passed, I began to get a little more anxiety. I went outside to put something in the car and just happened to look at Jeremy’s house across the street. Seventeen minutes had passed, and I had to take out some trash . . . Well, Jeremy walked Emma Rose back to the house a few minutes later, and she was fine! She had a great time playing with Harrison and never had any separation anxiety at all, which is amazing because almost every time I leave her, she cries. I think she must have been proud of herself because she told her cousin Rachael all about playing by herself with Harrison.

I told her how wonderful it was that she played without Mommy and let her know that it was OK to be places without Mommy. We’ll see how she does at ballet next week.

Very early Thursday morning (5:20 am), Emma Rose got out of bed with Baby Tigger to come in my room for anti-itch medicine. She has a couple of mosquito bites on her elbow. I got up and gave her the medicine. (She insists on putting it on by herself. If I do it, the medicine has to be wiped off and she must re-apply it.) She rubbed it in, collected Baby Tigger, and went back to bed. There was no request to be tucked in or to crawl in bed with Mommy. I stood there, listened to her door close, and picked up my chin from the floor.

Emma Rose Asleep with Baby Tigger on her Chest

Her language is even getting more grown up, too. She told me yesterday, “Mommy, you’re welcome to use my bathroom.” At dinner if we have a guest, she’ll sometimes ask, “How do you like your pasta?” and “Would you like something to drink?” I’m always a little surprised that my 3 year old is saying these things, and I'm so proud she is so polite! She is also still enjoying being with me in the kitchen, and we try to bake at least once a week. One of her favorite things to make is banana bread.

Chef Emma Rose making Banana Bread

To top it off, she woke up this morning with dry pull-ups! She is totally growing up.

Anabelle is still doing the crab-crawl: using hands and feet, no knees. She's also walking with us holding both her hands and is standing independently for short periods of time, maybe 30 to 45 seconds or so. I’m not rushing her to walk, but I think these things are the prelude. Thursday she climbed all the way up to the stairs. She stopped mid-way to look at me with a huge smile on her face and then kept going. She must have been really watching Marlee very closely! While she was here, Marlee would make a bee line for the stairs ever time she heard the baby gate come down.

Anabelle using her Tip-toes, Standing at the Easel, & Crab Crawling

Anabelle is much more responsive to subtle facial expressions, mostly to those that make her laugh. She gets a big grin when she toots, and I act surprised. She will often try to duplicate it to get the same reaction.

Late last month, she started to use a spoon. During the third week of July, my friend, Nicki, asked me if I had tried the spoon with her. I hadn’t because I didn’t think she was quite ready. I put the spoon on the high chair tray, she picked it up, put food in it, and shoved it in her mouth. Surprise!! I’ve been offering the spoon to her occasionally, and while she can’t scoop food, she certainly knows what to do with it once the food is on the spoon.

Anabelle is also occasionally saying “Mama” and “Dada.” She has said “cat,” especially right when Marlee arrived and repeated cat over and over. She had stopped saying it until today, and now she seems to be back on top of it again. She's also said “duck” and “quack,” but I haven't heard those words in a bit.

I’m not rushing anything as I know this time will pass all too quickly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Auntie Cathy & Marlee's Visit: Part 3

On Sunday, we all hung out around the house. Cathy, John, and I sat out on the front porch and watched the hummingbirds during the girls' afternoon naps. It's really fun to watch them act so territorial with one another. Even though we have two feeders in the front, one will often fight off any other that tries to land on either feeder. We rarely see two hummingbirds sitting on a feeder together anyway. Still in competition with John to out-do his hummingbird picture, I was snapping pictures for a little while. While taking the pictures, we realized that we have baby hummingbirds in the yard! We could tell because the males have just the beginning of the red patch on their throats. Now it makes sense that I thought I was seeing an awful lot of females lately!

Hummingbirds at the Front Yard Feeders

Juvenile Male Hummingbirds: Look at the Tiny Patch of Red on the Throat

Auntie Cathy gave a cute, mini Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) doll to Emma Rose and a play telephone to Anabelle. They loved their gifts! After we said good-bye to John, Auntie Cathy and I played with the girls. Emma Rose had a great time playing Belle and "hide and sneak" (her interpretation of hide and seek) with Auntie Cathy. As a side note: if you ever need someone to do a voice over for The Beast, Auntie Cathy should be on your top 3 list. Anabelle and Marlee really liked the plastic packaging the Belle doll came in.

Monday was our last full day with our wonderful house guests. After morning naps for the babies and playtime with Emma Rose, we loaded up the car to take Emma Rose to ballet class. During Monday's class, the teacher had the girls jumping like frogs, something Emma Rose really enjoys anywhere, and she fell and busted her lip. It was sad, and she cried. She told me she "never, ever wanted to go back," but she was OK enough to change from ballet slippers to tap shoes for part 2 of the class. She ended up missing the very last part of the class because she needed a potty break. That was also very sad for her. I guess "never, ever" lasts about 7 minutes.

After we returned from ballet, all the girls had afternoon naps. Thank goodness becase the mommies needed a little break. That afternoon, Auntie Cathy was very brave and watched both of the babies by herself, and I got to go to the store with Emma Rose. I had the better end of that deal!! When I called from the store and there was no answer, I was afraid the babies had risen up against her. They were way too sweet for that!

That night, we went to dinner with all three of the girls, and they were pretty good. Our dinner was as relaxing as it could be with three children! When we left, there was a pile of tiny food particles and shredded cheese surrounding Marlee's and Anabelle's chairs! The girls played a little after dinner, and then went off to sleep! Cathy and I had another nice evening after the angels were asleep.

Tuesday morning was our last morning with Auntie Cathy and Marlee. Emma Rose entertained Marlee by blowing raspberries at her. Marlee giggled and giggled and then started to blow them right back at Emma Rose! It was very cute and a bit messy. After breakfast, Marlee and Anabelle played with the little house. Several times, Anabelle would try to go through the door, and Marlee would scream at her. Anabelle would back up, stare and try again. It was so funny! The morning was too short. Emma Rose, Anabelle, and I were sad to see them go, but we had a great visit with them while they were here.

Marlee said 3 new words while she was here: hat, lamp, and night. I was so excited to be able to hear them. So was Emma Rose! Did I mention that she LOVES Marlee?? The best part of the visit was seeing the girls play and laugh together. I already miss Marlee calling everything "cat" and "cheese." I can't wait to do it again.