Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Can Do It Myself

This seems to be Leah's three year old mantra: "I can do it myself." She is very independent and tries her best to be self-sufficient. When we change into pajamas at bedtime, she wants to be the one to take off her clothes. If we're playing outside and she wants her sidewalk chalk, she'll go back inside and get it on her own. When we come inside, she refuses any help to take off her shoes. As long as her cup is on a shelf inside the fridge that she can reach, well, she can get it herself. And so on. It's really rather nice!

Leah is becoming a great helper as well. When she sees me unloading the dishwasher, she always comes over, grabs the utensils, and neatly puts them away in the drawer. She'll also set her plates, bowls, and cups on the counter. One day, a couple weeks ago, I shook out our small kitchen rug before washing it. Before I could sweep up the dirt that had fallen out, Leah grabbed her own broom and told me, "I can do it. You don't sweep." When she was done, she even grabbed her little dustpan and threw all the dirt in the trash! I could get used to this!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

At the Sandcastle

A couple months ago, Dan & I were still figuring out what we should do for Halloween. Did we want to trick-or-treat in town (as we ended up doing), go to a church's trunk-or-treat, go the library for their activities? I told him that a friend of mine from my mommy board was going with her family to Disney World right around Halloween because apparently, they do a trick-or-treat type of event right in Magic Kingdom. We were curious, so we looked it up on their website. And yep, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is held on select nights throughout September and October. It sounds spectacularly fun and age-appropriate for Leah...

So, that is what we're planning to do next Halloween. :D

However, we may have made the mistake of already telling Leah this. Naturally, she was curious about what we were looking at on the computer since we seemed rather excited by the whole thing. So, we showed her some pictures of Disney World, telling her it was "Mickey's House", and showed her Cinderella's castle. We told her we'd like to go there sometime, where we could see so many of the characters she knows and loves from her favorite movies.

And now, every single day, she talks about who we're going to see "at the sandcastle" (because, yes, ever since going to the beach, every castle is a sandcastle!). Here's a sampling of what we hear regularly:

  • "Are Bolt, kitty Mittens, and Rhino going to be at the sandcastle?"
  • "I want to hug Cinderella and Snow White."
  • "I want to sit next to Miss Piggy."
  • "The Wiggles won't be at the sandcastle. They're at their house."
  • "I don't want to see the mean ones, just the nice ones." (the mean ones are the villians - Scar, Jafar, the Wicked Queen, and so on)
  • "Simba, Pumba, and the meerkat - they'll be at the sandcastle?"
  • "Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder - they'll be at the sandcastle?"
  • "Woody, Buzz, and Jessie - they'll be at the sandcastle? And Rex and Slinky Dog and..."
You get the picture, I'm sure. ;)  Whenever we put on a different movie or she remembers a different character, she asks about whether or not they'll be there and tells us if she wants to hug them or sit next to them. It's awesome she's so excited (and frankly, so are we!) yet it's obviously difficult to convey to her that it's going to be a loooooong time until we go. It may be a long year...

...but on the plus side, when I asked Leah if I could hug Flynn Ryder, she said yes. ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Family Art

Oooh, posting two days in a row. ;)

Like I mentioned last month, Leah's drawings are getting better and better. Lately, she is all about drawing faces, people, and animals. I think we sit outside with the sidewalk chalk nearly everyday, unless it's raining. Dan and I usually draw too, as have other relatives when they come to visit. I tend to repeat the same objects - flowers, birds, trees - and I can sometimes sketch a decent drawing of an object that is in front of me. Dan is much more creative and artistic, able to draw various Disney characters and objects from memory.

This is best illustrated with pictures.

Here are a couple of Leah's recent drawings, a smiley face (which looks like it's in a lightbulb!):

and what she described to me as "a bear with sneakers":
Cute, right? :)

Here is a sketch I did of Mickey Mouse, while looking at a toy that Leah brought outside:

And here is Dan's drawing, from memory with NO visual aids, of The Little Mermaid:

What a show-off. ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Fairest of Them All

We had a really nice Halloween yesterday! As you can see, Leah dressed up as Snow White this year. Over the last month or two, she's been working her way through many of the classic Disney movies and really loves the princesses. So, it became inevitable that she would choose one for her Halloween costume. After looking through a few ads and going to the store, Snow White was the clear winner in her eyes. The sunglasses give her a modern twist, yeah?

Yesterday's trick-or-treating was the best one we've had yet. Since our neighborhood is too spread out and rural for traditional trick-or-treating, we went to a small town just north of us (same place that Leah's dance class is held). They do a trick-or-treat the local businesses type of event. It was more crowded than I expected, though it was very organized, with local police directing traffic and guiding all of the kids & parents in a clockwise direction for a decent flow. Such a pleasant experience compared to the high-end neighborhood we visited in the past. I also liked that it was held from 4-6pm, before it gets dark (which is great for young children) and before all the teenagers really come out. Then, we could relax at home for the rest of the evening!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Time!

Last weekend, we visited the pumpkin patch! Leah had such a blast walking around, trudging through the vines, picking up the smaller pumpkins, and taking a ride in the wheelbarrow courtesy of Daddy. We ended bringing home three larger pumpkins to carve, two little ones that Leah wanted to paint, and a jar of apple butter. Yum.

We spent Saturday evening cleaning out the seeds and pumpkin guts from the ones we wanted to carve. Leah dug her hands right in to help out just as she did last year. She seemed to enjoy squishing it all through her fingers.

These are our final products:
Momma carved the traditional jack-o-lantern face as well as what is supposed to be an owl on the far right. Daddy carved Stitch on that middle pumpkin, and Leah painted the small ones yellow and red. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Activities

Autumn is here! Well, somewhat. We're still wearing sandals and t-shirts here in the South, but the summer humidity is gone and has been replaced by lovely breezes. And though it gets warm in the afternoon, our mornings and evenings are cool and relatively crisp. October is my favorite month here!

Naturally, we're spending a lot more time outside. Leah loves walking through the yard with her hunny pot collecting acorns, pinecones, and leaves. She gets very focused on her work, as you can see. Leah is such an outdoorsy girl and loves tramping through our wooded areas and exploring.

We've also been doing a LOT of chalk drawings on the driveway. Leah's abilities are always improving and lately, she's very interested in drawing faces or people. Or, if I draw something like a jack-o-lantern, she'll come up and add some arms and legs to him. She even added a face to the rainbow I drew last night. Super cute!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sweet Ballerina

Time to get caught up; it's been nearly a month since I last posted.  What's new?

  • Leah is potty trained! She hasn't had an accident since August 22nd. Woo! She still asks for and uses a pullup for, ahem, #2, but I'm fine with that for the time being. I've heard from several other moms that it can take awhile to get comfortable with that. No worries.
  • We were supposed to begin the next round of her parent/tot dance class tomorrow, but apparently, not enough people signed up for the weekday slot. Fortunately, a Saturday class starts next month, so we're all signed up for that one.
  • Leah is in love with the dress-up tutu she found in her closet last week, as you can see from the photo. She's worn it every single day since Friday, even if only for an hour. She calls it "my ballet" and insists she can put it on herself. :)
  • She is becoming more and more of a Disney fan, working her way through the Disney princesses and discovering Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the gang thanks to Dan's collection of all the old cartoons from the 1930s. Leah's current favorite is Snow White (though we skip through several scary scenes), but she also dearly loves Cinderella, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and of course, Rapunzel from Tangled. Mulan was another recent favorite in our house too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

All Aboard

This past Sunday, Leah was treated to a choo-choo ride at the mall, celebrating five days in a row of using the potty!

After the initial potty success that I posted about, Leah seemed to backtrack a little and wanted nothing to do with the potty for the next week. Then, last Wednesday evening, we sat with her in her room for close to two hours, near the potty, playing, talking, tickling, running water, anything. We finally succeeded in making her laugh so hard (at a somewhat inappropriate word!) that she relaxed and peed on the potty again. That began our five-day stretch of using the potty at least once per day!

Monday was a no-go, but for the last two days, Leah has used the potty twice each day, which is an improvement! For now, the trick seems to be recognizing when she has to go and making it to the potty on time, which I know will get better with time. I am just SO thrilled she is using the potty at all. She wants to wear underwear all the time and only asks for a pullup when she has go #2. It is wonderful! I have been looking forward to this for months and I'm so glad we're finally at this point.

For the record, the Pez dispensers have all been cashed in and some have since been refilled. ;) Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Potty Success!!!

Last night was a BIG night in our house: Leah peed on the potty for the first time! WOO!!!!

If you've kept up with our blog, you know that this is a huge milestone after all of Leah's potty fear after her UTI. For months upon months, we have suggested and encouraged her to sit on the potty, though nothing would happen. We allowed her to follow us to the bathroom whenever she wanted, so she could see it wasn't scary. We bought a bunch of Pez dispensers as incentive, which have sat untouched on top of the bathroom shelf since winter. We promised her rides on the choo-choo train at the mail. I bought special Pixar character underwear. I've tried to bribe her with every sweet imaginable - cake, cookies, ice cream, lollipops. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Until last night. :D

Dan asked her if she wore any underwear yesterday, to which she replied no. I told him I suggested just sitting on the potty a couple times and she had refused. We both just sighed and shrugged. I decided to try again. I sat in the bathroom with Leah for a little bit, but again, nothing happened. However, she decided she didn't want to put her pullup back on, nor did she want underwear. Just her shorts. OK, whatever. We went outside to play and on a whim, I brought the potty out there with us.

After a short time, I asked if she could sit on the potty again for a few minutes before she chased a ball with Dan. While she sat there and Dan chatted with her, I walked over to her water table and began pouring water from one cup into another to make that trickling sound, trying to trigger something! Soon after she noticed this, she said she wanted me to pour some water on her. I poured it on her hands and feet. Then, she wanted the cup herself and began dumping it all over her body - all while sitting on the potty. It was hot, so Dan took the dogs inside during this. Soon, the water table was just about empty and Leah asked for more water.

I figured, Oooh, maybe the sound of the water filling the table will do it, so I went to grab the hose. It was kinked up and as I finally got it untangled, some warm water that had been sitting in the hose dribbled out, partly on Leah. Then, I hear, "Momma! Momma!" in the tone of voice that usually means she has to pee. I ran over to her and made sure she stayed seated on the potty and sure enough, SHE WAS PEEING IN IT!!!!

I exclaimed, "Leah! You're doing it! You're peeing in the potty!"

As soon as she was done, I went crazy cheering and clapping and giving her TONS of praise. She got a huge grin on her face, got up and looked in the potty, and told me she wanted to show Daddy. So, we ran in the house and got Dan and we had a mini cheering section going on! We immediately told her she could have some candy and remembering the Pez, she told us exactly which one she wanted. :)

I am so relieved. I know this is only the first step, but this is a HUGE one. She wanted to wear underwear to bed, which was fine with me because she wakes up dry nearly everyday. I was hoping to get her to pee on the potty first thing this morning, but unfortunately, we had a couple accidents. No big deal, though. I am going to spend the next few days encouraging her to sit on the potty every so often and hopefully, we can repeat this success and get her trained. I just feel ten times better knowing that the big hurdle of the first time is done! We will get there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Letters Everywhere!

For the last couple months, we've been working on letters with Leah. We write them with chalk, we play with the magnetic letters on her easel, we play with an electronic Sesame Street letter game, or we sometimes watch Leapfrog's Letter Factory. She is doing so well! Lately, she loves when I write a letter and ask her what it is, or similarly, ask her to point to a particular letter on the Sesame Street toy. She clearly loves the praise when she's correct and is proud of her accomplishments.

There are only a few letters (N, V, Z) that stump her. I found that one of the best ways for her to remember her letters is to give her a familiar word or person/dog she knows that she can associate with it, such as C is for Cookie or H is for Hud. So, if anyone has any fun suggestions for N or V, let me know! I'm trying zoo/zebra for Z.

The other thing I really love about her interest in letters is that she notices them everywhere now. On storefronts, on posters at the library, on someone's shirt, etc. Last summer, she did the same with her colors. She pointed out various ones she saw, which gave her a lot of practice and helped her master them. It's really awesome to see her doing the same with the alphabet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wiggly Party & Winnie the Pooh

Last Tuesday, we took Leah to see The Wiggles perform in Atlanta! We all had so much fun. Dan took the day off of work and we went to their 2:30 show. From watching The Wiggles' live concert DVD, along with info from friends, we learned that many kids bring roses for Dorothy the Dinosaur (Dorothy's favorite thing in the world) and bones for Wags the Dog. Naturally, we decided we must do the same. ;)

When we arrived at the theater, Leah was a bit apprehensive. For the couple days before the show, I believe she thought she was going to meet The Wiggles; she told us who she wanted to hug when we saw them. So, I think as we walked inside, she expected them to be right there waiting. We checked out the merchandise table, where Leah decided on a plush red guitar with the line, "Play your guitar with Murray" embroidered on the strap.

Our seats for the show were amazing - 5th row! Again, Leah got a bit nervous as each Wiggle came out onstage. I pulled her onto my lap, started singing along with the songs, and pointed various things out to her and within no time, she relaxed. She did a few dance moves to various songs and overall really enjoyed the show. I was so glad!

Truth be told, I had an excellent time as well. I've enjoyed watching The Wiggles on DVD or YouTube with Leah and was really looking forward to the show myself. They are so talented and put on such a fun show for kids and parents alike. I think I snapped a gazillion pictures!

This past week held another new experience: Leah's first movie in a theater. We took her to see Winnie the Pooh! She really did great. When the previews began, and a few were super loud and intense, I noticed that she grabbed Dan's arm and was a little freaked out. Then, when the lights dimmed way down for the start of the movie, she came and sat in my lap again and remained there for the duration of the movie. About halfway through, she asked me if we could turn on the lights. ;) Other than that, she seemed to enjoy the movie and was so excited as each character appeared onscreen. Once we got home, she immediately gathered up all her Pooh stuffed animals to play!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bethany Beach Trip

Leah is a beach girl!  She & I spent nearly a week at the Delaware shore with Grammy, Grandpa, Laurie, & Ryan. :)  First, we traveled to PA on the 9th of June. We mimicked our road trip from last August and left early in the morning (before dawn) so we could be at Grammy's by dinnertime. The trip took just over 12 hours, which is pretty excellent for traveling with a toddler. Leah is an awesome road tripper. She naps, chats, hums & sings, and plays with toys. We didn't use the portable DVD player once!

We stayed in PA for just under two days. We swam in Grammy's pool, visited with extended family on my side, visited with Popel & Grandma for an evening, and went through a bunch of old toys at Grammy's house. Leah now has a bunch of Ryan's old Toy Story toys, my favorite Barbie & Ken dolls, a bunch of Barbie furniture, Annie dolls, some odds & ends, and her favorite: Ryan's rubbery figures of Shadow, Chance, & Sassy from the movie "Homeward Bound". Leah plays with them every single day and clearly adores them. :)

On Saturday, the 11th, we packed ourselves back in the car and drove to Bethany Beach, Delaware. Ah, it was wonderful! Leah LOVED the ocean this year. Once she got her feet wet a couple times, she could not get enough. She giggled, squealed, splashed, and jumped around in the waves. It was a blast. I am so grateful she enjoys the beach and can play out there for hours, because it is truly my favorite place to be.

One day during the week, our friends Rachel & Ethan came to play with us! Rachel & I belong to the same mommy board, and Ethan & Leah were born just two days apart. We met up at their home in Delaware last summer, so this year, they joined us for a beach day. The kids played SO well together and they both love the water. A few times, Leah ran away as Ethan chased her, and she even tried to boss him around a bit. Silly girl. It was really such a fun day and Leah totally conked out for a late nap after they left for home.

We spent one evening in Rehoboth, where we took Leah to Funland to play some boardwalk games (and where Ryan was determined to win Leah a prize). We left with an armful of stuffed animals, thanks to prizes won by everybody, even Leah herself!

It was a big week, with lots of excitement, lots of play, lots of sunshine, and lots of new experiences. Leah had her moody moments, where the stress of being out of her routine got to her and all she wanted was Momma. But all in all, she handled herself pretty well for such a fun-filled week. Leah & I returned home on Friday the 17th, where we were greeted by two very excited dogs and a very happy Daddy. She spent most of Friday's road trip and the remaining weekend catching up on sleep! :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


"Don't touch my toys. EVER!"

"Don't look at me. EVER!"

"You don't do that. EVER!"

Ah, yes. This is the latest thing out of Leah's mouth lately. Leah knows what she wants and now, she can (try to) demand it. The way she yells it is kind of amusing and I seem to giggle every time she says it, which is probably why she continues to do it. (Yes, negative attention. I know. Ooops. It just comes out like "EVAH!" and I can't help myself. She's like a teeny little dictator.) I've been trying to piece together how she picked this up. Last summer, she was very much into the movie, "Lilo & Stitch". In one scene, Lilo tells Stitch, in reference to a precious item, "Don't you touch that. Don't EVER touch it!" That was my first thought, but up until recently, Leah hadn't watched that movie in months. Did that really stick out in her mind?

Then, I realized I sometimes say it when disciplining her. "Don't ever throw things at the dogs!" "We never, EVER hit anyone!" Etc, etc. And of course, she imitates nearly every phrase I use on a consistent basis, so that sort of made sense.

And then, we have "Tangled". Leah has been in love with this movie lately and while paying attention to it one day last week, I noticed that Mother Gothel scolds Rapunzel for wanting to leave her tower. "You're not leaving this tower! EVER!" Ah-ha! Ding, ding, ding!

Truthfully, it's probably a combination of all three of these influences. I, like any mother, simply choose to believe it was from a nasty character in a movie and not me, of course. ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Classes & Things

Dance class began again today! There are only five little girls in this summer session, and Leah is the only "veteran". She was SO excited when we walked into the lobby area and we were greeted by our instructor - it was that sense of familiarity and Leah began dancing around and chatting up a storm. All the other girls are adorable and I think it's going to be such a sweet group for the next six weeks.

Last week, Leah had her first gymnastics class and it was a BLAST! She jumped on trampolines, did somersaults, walked on balance beams, and generally ran around and had a great time. She's been talking about it ever since and cannot wait to go back. I am thrilled it's a success!

Leah also has a brand new bedding set and pillow for her room. For months - maybe even a year now - I've been asking Leah if she wants a pillow for her bed and she's always refused. Recently, Dan was asking her again and she seemed interested this time. So we decided that if we were going to buy a pillow & pillowcase, we may as well pick out a whole new "big girl" set. She had been simply going to bed with the big Pooh crib blanket and her special blankie. Now, she's got a pretty floral set that still matches her yellow & green room, but definitely tells everyone she's a big girl and not a baby. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's New

A few weeks have slipped by since our last update, so here's a little rundown of what's going on:
  • Leah is learning letters! She knows F, O, and L everytime. She recognizes D, X, and Y most times. And every once in awhile, she gets E. There's a Wiggles song where they sing about each of their names and what sound/letter they start with. F for "Feathersword" is why she knows that one so well. ;)
  • She is still very comfortable with bathtime, thank goodness. In the past few weeks, there have only been a handful of nights where we haven't taken a bath. Yay! And for the first time in months, Leah wanted to sit on the potty last night. Nothing happened, but at least she sat down! Baby steps.
  • Leah is becoming more social with other kids. I got together with some girlfriends and their kids a couple weekends ago, and she played so well with everyone. I was so impressed. She even had her arm around my friend's daughter! Also, she's starting to strike up conversations with other kids at stores & such, with her popular question, "What 'cha doing?"
  • We signed Leah up for another round of dance class, beginning in June. It's another six week session and Leah asks me several times a week if we're going to dance yet.
  • We will also be joining a gymnastics class later this month! It lasts for two months, and is a Mommy & Me class. I hope this little monkey enjoys it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


If you remember, when I posted about the potty rewards, I mentioned that Leah had finally been enjoying bathtime again after a couple months of pure agony. Ha. Not so fast. She quickly began hating it again. Anytime we started the faucet and declared it was time for a bath, Leah burst into tears. When I pressed her on what was wrong, she would tell me the tub was dirty - she'd see a dog hair or a piece of fuzz and it was the end of the world.

Truthfully, I think that was a cover for the real issue: the feeling of having to pee when she saw and/or heard the water rushing. I noticed that she would keep her legs closed tightly, crouch over, and practically do a little dance. Yeah, you know the one. Clearly, this was still an issue.

And when Leah had her three year checkup a couple weeks ago, she FLIPPED OUT. There were no vaccinations that day, nothing seemingly scary or out of the ordinary. But as Leah screamed and cried over the simplest actions (getting her height measured, the nurse sticking a thermometer in her ear to check her temperature, the doctor wanting to look in her ears or listen to her heart), it because obvious that her brief catheter experience at the hospital in December intensely impacted and frightened her. :(

However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Leah has asked for a bath three nights in a row now and has not shed one tear! Granted, I've sat in the tub with her upon her asking me to, but if that means a calm experience, I'm all for it. I am not sure if something has just clicked in her mind or what, but I'm grateful. One step at a time.

Also, for the last week and a half, Leah has woken up dry every single morning. So, at the very least, I know when she finally does overcome her fear and relax enough to go potty, she will be a rock star. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Leah's 3rd Birthday

Leah turned 3 this past Sunday! We had a fun, busy weekend with grandparents, Aunt Laurs, and Uncle Ryan here to celebrate. Leah was her typical bossy self, summoning people to her bedroom to play and telling others they weren't allowed. Truthfully, I think Leah was overwhelmed with so much attention focused solely on her from eight people instead of just Dan & I. Still, she did pretty well considering all the excitement! We were shushed from singing "Happy Birthday" though. ;)

Leah's party theme this year was, of course, The Wiggles. I ordered two Wiggles balloons from Ebay and got a bunch of other latex balloons, streamers, plates, and napkins in the Wiggles' colors: blue, purple, red, and yellow. Originally, we were going to do a Big Red Car cake, but Leah's favorite Wiggles' character is Dorothy the Dinosaur, so we did that instead. I baked it from scratch and decorated it free hand, and I think Leah really enjoyed it.

Dan stayed up late the night before her birthday to put together her kitchen that we gave her. Poor Daddy was so exhausted! Leah was very excited that morning to see it. A big grin spread across her face and she said, "I wanna play!"  Leah received a lot of other awesome gifts: play food and dishes for her kitchen, gardening tools, puzzles, some plush characters (Curious George, Miss Piggy, and Bert from Sesame Street), a see-saw, clothes, and other toys and items that I'm forgetting! We are so thankful that Leah is so well taken care of by her relatives. :)

Another exciting piece to the weekend was the delivery of a new wooden playset for the backyard. Dan & I purchased this with part of our tax refund and it was not necessarily intended to be a birthday gift; just something fun we wanted to do for Leah with the summer ahead of us. But because of the delivery schedule, it ended up being installed last Friday, just in time for her third birthday. So, I suppose she's a little spoiled. Ah well. We love this monkey. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What 'cha doin'?

All day, everyday, this is Leah's favorite question. "What 'cha doin' Momma?"

"I'm washing dishes, Leah."

Two minutes later... "What 'cha doin' Momma?"

"Still washing dishes, Leah!"

Rinse and repeat. All day long. Even as I'm changing her diaper... "What 'cha doin', Momma?" Seriously, kid? Having the time of my life. Wishing like heck you'd potty train already. Good grief.

There are variations as well. If we're watching a movie, it's "What's he doing? What are they doing?" Sometimes, I answer. Sometimes, I say "I don't know." Sometimes, I turn around and ask Leah, "What are they doing?" and she TELLS ME WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Ah! I'm starting to think that she's simply quizzing me to see if I'm paying attention.

I suppose this is my payback. When Dan and I first began living together, it used to drive him nuts that I would sometimes ask what he was doing when it was really obvious - like changing clothes or getting something to eat. I have sincerely apologized to him because now, I GET IT. It is maddening. Ha!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Year as a SAHM

Today marks the one year anniversary of my first day as a stay-at-home mom. This has been the most satisfying, most challenging job I have ever had. No other job, no other experience has filled me with such purpose and such joy. And no other job has ever required me to be so constantly ON.

For me, life with Leah...
  • ...is being there to watch her grow, learn, and figure things out in her own way. To cheer her on, to be amazed by all she picks up.
  • ...is deciding to bake cookies on a Tuesday morning, just because.
  • ...is enjoying Storytime at the library, spending an afternoon at the park, or meeting for a playdate with a friend.
  • ...is piling a toddler and the dogs in the car and struggling to keep them all under control in the vet's waiting area.
  • ...is a constant up and down. Literally. For instance, I give her cereal and then sit down. A minute later, she wants a sippy of milk (why, when there's milk in her cereal, is beyond me). Give her the sippy, sit down. Another minute or two passes and she needs a napkin. I don't think I'll have a meal with zero interruptions until she moves out.
  • ...is having an excuse to do cheesy things, like making heart-shaped pizzas for Valentines Day or wearing green shirts and making green frosted treats for St. Patty's Day.
  • ...is singing and dancing around the house, to the tunes of The Wiggles or simply what's on the radio without a care about how you sound or look.
  • ...is losing your patience, yelling too much, and making mistakes. And then apologizing and explaining that Momma probably needs a timeout.
  • ...is being so grateful for her forgiveness, her love, and her snuggles. Nothing melts me more than, "I love you too, Momma".
  • ...is realizing what's important and what I can let slide or do without.

Some days are hard, some days feel terribly long, and sometimes we're both so happy to see Dan walk through the door in the evening. Still, this has been one of the greatest years ever in my life and I am thankful that I have this opportunity to simply be a mom.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Monster at the End of this Book

This story starring Grover from Sesame Street was one of my favorites as a kid, and one of my favorites to read aloud when my brother was young and now to Leah. It seems to have become one of Leah's favorites as well and she asks me to read the book nearly everyday, sometimes multiple times per day. This past Saturday, I noticed her flipping through the book and "reading" the story herself; we both have it memorized now. :) I grabbed the camera and asked her to start again at the beginning, and she gladly obliged! I love it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Potty Rewards

These Pez dispensers and additional candy refills sit atop a high shelf in Leah's bathroom, eagerly anticipating the day she finally uses the potty. We purchased them last weekend, from a fun, eclectic store in town, selecting characters she loves from the whole lot of Pez they sold. Leah absolutely loves Pez; our theory on that is because she has control over how much candy comes out. ;) So, last week, Dan suggested that Pez be our potty training reward.

Still, the Pez sit. And wait. And remain full of candy.

In Leah's case, it's the urinary tract infection at Christmastime that set her back. When the incompetent nurse inserted the catheter to obtain a sample, urine went everywhere and to this day, Leah still talks about how the "pee pee fell down". She hated that sensation and so, without a diaper, she just doesn't relax enough to allow anything to happen on the potty, though she certainly doesn't mind sitting there to "try". Even bathtime had been a nightmare for the past two months, because there was no diaper safety net and Leah didn't want the experience of anything trickling down her leg. She would scream and cry and beg to get out as soon as I finished scrubbing her. Thankfully, within the last week or two, Leah has begun enjoying bathtime again, playing with her tub toys, and remaining tearfree.

So, there is hope.

Physically, she could do this. She only has a few wet diapers throughout the day, and can clearly hold it for extended periods of time. She tells me everytime she needs a diaper change, and sometimes even tells me before she's done anything - so I know she recognizes the sensation of having to go. I truly believe if she'd let anything come out in the potty, and saw the enormous fuss Dan and I would make, we would be - for lack of a better word - golden.

It's just this darn mental block.

 We have a lot of excitement on the horizon, with her third birthday coming up and family visiting, so I'm not going to do much more than encourage her to try and remind her of the Pez that waits for her. Once the celebration is over, however, and warm, spring weather is abundant, I might try the whole "no diaper, lots of liquids" approach and see what happens. I'm not 100% sure yet.

As with most things, we usually just have to follow her lead. Or come up with a better reward. ;)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Longer Days

Naps are no more.

About a week after the crib became a toddler bed, the novelty did wear off and Leah began napping again. Not every single day, and not always for the full two hours, but at least half the week (or more) she'd rest for awhile. Success!

However, by the end of last week, Leah started showing more signs that she really didn't need all this sleep. On the days she would nap, she wasn't very sleepy at bedtime (and we would hear her chatting away in her room) or she would wake extra early the next morning. Or sometimes both. :P Even when I tried shortening her nap to one hour versus two, it didn't matter.

So, this week, I did away with naps altogether. She seems fine with 10-11 hours of sleep. Bedtime is 8-8:30pm and she tends to wake between 6:30-7am. She goes strong all day, with the occasional ten minute snooze in the car if we've been out at the park or something similar. I suppose that's that! Since the clocks will be springing forward in another week, we'll probably be outside most evenings after dinner and her bedtime may get pushed back like it did last summer. In that case, we may find it necessary to try a short nap or rest time in the middle of the afternoon, if it seems as though she needs it. But as of right now, it looks like Leah has crossed another item off the "growing up" checklist. Now, if we could just get rid of these diapers...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Fever!

Spring seems to have arrived early here in the South - or at the very least, we're having a very extended preview that is so welcome! Our highs have been in the 60s for a couple weeks now, with days here & there that climb into the 70s. It is refreshing and joyous!

About a week ago, a Friday, Leah told me she wanted to go to both a park and the Botanical Gardens. It was one of those 70 degree days, so I packed some snacks and juice and off we went! She and I were gone for nearly four hours. Leah loves running and exploring wherever she can.

We've also been spending a lot of time in the backyard, writing with sidewalk chalk, kicking her "Cars" dodgeball, and going down the slide.. The days are also getting longer so we're starting to be able to go outside to play after dinner, like we did every night last summer. It's wonderful, and a nice way to get more of that endless toddler energy out before bedtime. ;)

Also, you may notice a new look here on the blog. Thanks to Makin' Cute Blogs, I have discovered some free photo editing websites that are allowing me to create the header you see at the top of the page, and to overall have fun with photos and graphics. I enjoyed this hobby several years ago and it's been nice to get back into it with the help of these free resources... so if you see the blog style change here and there, it's just because I'm having fun. :) Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jump, Jiggle, & Jive

I keep meaning to write about Leah's dance class! At the beginning of January, Leah began a toddler class titled, "Jump, Jiggle, & Jive". It's for ages 2-4 and parents must participate as well. There are about 10 kids or so enrolled in the class, mostly girls and one boy. We meet every Saturday morning for about 45 minutes, and it is so cute!

Our instructor, who owns the dance studio, is very upbeat, cheerful, and encouraging. She leads us all in some nursery rhymes that we perform motions to, adds props like shakers and scarves, teaches the children how to bow, blows bubbles while the parents take a breather, and stamps every child's hand at the end of class with a dance-related image. Mostly, it's a lot of jumping, swaying, and being as active as possible. Very age-appropriate and fun.

I think Leah & I were both excited at the first class when one of the songs that was played was "Shimmie Shake" by The Wiggles. ;)

One thing I've noticed is that other than the little boy in our class, Leah is the only other child not dressed in a leotard or tutu. It's not required; the kids are simply supposed to wear something that's easy to move in. So, we do leggings & long-sleeve t-shirts. While Leah does own a couple tutus, I think she finds them uncomfortable and doesn't ask to wear them. Our instructor even has a bin full of dress-up clothes for the kids to play with and Leah could care less. I love that she does her own thing regardless of what everyone else is doing, even if she's only 2. ;)

The class only runs for six weeks, and so our last class is a week from today. I have a feeling Leah will really miss it; she sometimes asks to go to dance during the week. There are more sessions in the summer and fall, and there are various gymnastics classes out there too that we might try at some point. This was definitely a successful beginning!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Puzzles and Pictures

One of Leah's new favorite activities is doing puzzles. We bought her a few for Christmas, two of which feature favorite movie characters from Toy Story and Cars. At first, when Dan & I tried to sit down and show her how to put together a puzzle, she grew very impatient and frustrated. She would pick up two random pieces and expect them to fit together; when they didn't, and we tried to explain how to try another one, she got mad. Eeek.

However, not one to be deterred by a new challenge, Leah again tried to wrap her brain around these puzzles. She began listening and paying attention when we shared how to match up a character's head with his body, or to look for a similar color, or to flip a piece around so it would lock into place.

Within the course of a week or so, she showed SO much improvement. And now, she loves the puzzles and is a pro at her two favorites. We tried a different puzzle a few nights ago - one that we hadn't touched too much since the holidays - and though she wasn't as quick at matching as she is with the character puzzles, her patience had improved and she was able to focus and work through it with me.

Another milestone Leah recently reached was drawing her first real picture! She was messing around with some markers and she showed me the paper and said, "It's a dolphin!" I looked and sure enough, I could see it. I was super impressed. After she moved on to another activity that day, I saved the picture, wrote the date and "Dolphin" above it, and hung it on the fridge. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011


Last weekend, Dan converted Leah's crib to a toddler bed. As you can see, that simply meant taking off the front side. In the week or two prior to this, Leah finally attempted to climb out of her crib a few mornings as I came to greet her. She managed to get one leg swung over the side but couldn't quite get the other. Still, that's close enough before we had any injuries. We had been prolonging this step for as long as we could. With the removal of that front side of the crib comes more freedom for Leah to test. And test it she has.

She loves being able to get up, walk around, and open her bedroom door. Or get up and play with her baby dolls. Or get up and look through some books. Noticing a trend here? Yeah, getting up. Not sleeping. At least not at naptime anyway.

On Tuesday, when she was sick with a cold, she did nap for an hour, thankfully. And on Wednesday, even though she never slept, she did stay in her room for an hour just playing quietly. It's only been a week so it's hard to tell if this newfound freedom is still just a novelty and will wear off... or if naps are truly being given up. Yeah, she looks a bit sleepier by early evening, but she hasn't been cranky or showing other signs that a nap is being missed. It's possible we needed naptime more than she did. ;)

For all the wakefulness in the afternoon, bedtime and overnight have been outstanding thus far. She doesn't get up or try to play; and she's even going to bed earlier. I suppose because at that point, she really IS tired from a whole day being up. Hey, if that's the trade-off, that's OK. Still, if she decides in a week or two that she's willing to rest in the middle of the day, Momma certainly won't fight that one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Growing Up

Leah is blossoming into a little girl more and more everyday. This photo was taken yesterday when she let me pull her hair into pigtails - and actually left them in most of the day! (The trick was letting her choose what color bands she wanted. ;) ) She looked so much older and truly like an almost-three year old.

Just an hour ago, when I was getting ready to put her down for a nap, she started singing that Wiggles song, "Rock-a-bye Your Bear". It's always been one of her favorites and she's known the hand motions for about a year. But this time, with absolutely zero prompting from me, she sang the entire thing! I was extremely impressed. For the past two days, she's also been singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (another favorite) and she's actually saying, or very much attempting to say, every true word in the song - not just adding babbles or skipping parts like she was doing just a month ago. It is so exciting to hear and observe.

Leah was a rock star at Storytime this past week as well. I've been letting her choose where she wants us to sit and for the past month or two, she always chooses front and center. In the past, she would choose the back corner, sit on my lap for much of Storytime, look through my purse for snacks, or gawk at other children. Every once in awhile, we'd get a week where Leah would really engage and try to do the nursery rhyme hand motions. But wow, a few months' time has REALLY made a difference. Perhaps a combination of her age and her familiarity with Storytime and our favorite librarian, Leah interacts and imitates nearly everything that the librarian does now. I am so thrilled watching her, seeing her grow into a confident little girl.