Zach's grandma said it best when she told us, "You have a beautiful family. Kinda loud, but a beautiful family." How right she was! And we sure love our loud, crazy, fun, active, silly, loving, chaotic, beautiful family.
There are many things that I love about toddlerhood. I love the imagination. I love the growing independence. I love the funny things they say. I love the unbridled enthusiasm about life. I love the wide range of interests. What I don't love? How LONG it takes us to get out the door.
This morning I was contemplating this as I was trying to get the girls out the door for music class. According to the clock, we should have had plenty of time to get ready, but each step of the process takes so much longer with a toddler. And as we were inevitably rushing out the door five minutes late once again, I thought back to our morning, to see if I could pinpoint what kept us from walking out the door on time. And that's when I realized that, as much as I would like us to be moving along on my time line, we now operate in toddler time.
1. Staley has to pick out her own outfit. She has to shoot down the first 2 or 3 outfits I offer, look through her closet and drawers, inevitably choose something inappropriate for the weather or the situation, and then start again. She also has to take her time choosing the perfect pair of undies, socks, and shoes. It's exhausting.
2. Once the outfit is chosen, Staley often wants to get dressed by herself. She is able to do it. And although it takes longer, she is able to get herself dressed in a relatively timely manner. (We do need to factor in the time for a few both-legs-in-the-same-hole, undies-on-backward, arm-through-the-neck hole situations.) But the real problem? She gets side tracked so easily. If I leave her to get dressed while I get Adelie up or get myself dressed, I often return to my daughter with her pants half on, no shirt, reading a book. If I stay to supervise, there are stories to tell, requests to be made, a baby sister to play with. I can't really win.
3. If getting dressed were the only slow thing about our morning, we could still make it places on time. Unfortunately, we also have to do hair. And although it takes a little while for Staley to decide how she wants her hair done and to pick out her bows, the real lull in the action comes when Staley insists on doing my hair first (using a pick, brush, comb, and bow) and when she needs to 'help' do her own hair.
4. Once dressed with hair done, we have to eat breakfast. Once I can get Staley to the table (again with the easily side tracked problem) and a decision on what to eat, breakfast is generally pretty smooth. And I'll admit, depending on how long getting dressed takes, sometimes I just give her a fruit squeeze and some dry cereal in the car.
5. Two final hurdles before getting out the door: 1.) The good ole potty try, inevitably dealing with the arguments about why she doesn't want to try or how she doesn't need to go OR when she realizes that she really needs to poop before leaving the house. There's no rushing that. 2.)We also have to pack up what we 'need'. "Where is Yellow Bear?" "Can I bring a blanket?" "I want to take this movie, this book, this train, this mermaid, these twist ties in the car." (Yes, this morning we did take a handful of twist ties in the car.)
6. When we're finally out the door, you'd think the hard part is over. Quick and easy now, right? Oh no. Staley has to climb into the van, getting side tracked again by leaves in the yard, toys in the garage, or just playing with whatever it is that was necessary to bring on this given outing. She has to put Yellow Bear and any other specific toy she brought into their respective seats. Yellow Bear always sits in the center console between the driver and passenger seats. Other bears, books, toys, or blankets have to be put in the back seat with a seat belt on. Then and only then is Staley ready to climb into her carseat and, of course, buckle herself in.
If any of these above steps are skipped or rushed along, then there is often the emotional fall-out to deal with. And so, my friends, the next time we tell you that we will be somewhere to meet you at a certain time and we are inevitably late, at least you'll know why. It can't be helped. We're operating on toddler time.
This past week-end, our girls spent time with their Walles cousins. Staley and Elliott were playing with empty squirt guns, calling them 'blasters.' They both pointed their blasters at me. Elliott said, "This is going to hurt." Staley said, "I'm going to turn you into Tiana."
So Elliott's blaster was going to hurt me while Staley's was going to turn me into a princess. Given the choice, I'm definitely going with the princess blaster.
We went to Ackerman Farms and got pumpkins last week-end. Staley was very excited about the prospect of carving pumpkins. That is, until she realized 1.) scooping out the pumpkin is very messy and kind of gross and 2.) she wasn't able to carve the pumpkin by herself. After those two realizations, she just decided to paint her pumpkin instead. (And lost interest in the pumpkin painting pretty quickly too.)
Staley's final product
Zach, on the other hand, had a great time carving our pumpkins. I'm sure the 'theme' for his pumpkins won't surprise anyone, but I'll admit, I was a little surprised at how well they turned out. Definitely the best pumpkin carving this household has ever produced!!
Adelie now has a full compliment of top and bottom front teeth as we welcomed tooth number 4 (top middle left) on Friday. It doesn't make for much of a blog post, but it helps me keep track so one day when I have a baby book for Adelie, the "when you got each tooth" page won't just sit blank.
Lately Staley has been really interested in learning about how cars work, and Zach has been having a great time teaching her. Tonight he quizzed her about her car knowledge.
Zach: "What does an engine do?"
Staley: "Burns gas to make the pistons go up and down."
Zach: "And when the pistons go up and down, what goes around and around?"
Staley: "The crankshaft."
Zach: "And what opens and closes?"
Zach: "And what makes the valves open and close?"
Staley: "The camshaft!"
As Zach was telling me this and I was typing, he thought it was funny to stop and see if I could answer the questions before he told me what Staley said. And I'll be honest. I couldn't.
Adelie is seven months old. How quickly seven months can fly by!! Adelie is growing and changing and moving, moving, moving. She remains my happy, easy, active, lovey girl. She weighs over 16 lbs and is wearing her 6-9 month clothes and transitioning into size 3 diapers. Adelie nurses 5 times/day, eats 2 meals, and takes 2 naps. Her nighttime sleep is inconsistent, ranging from 5-9 hours at a time. She has 3 (working hard on the 4th) teeth. We've had to move her crib mattress down to the next setting. Adelie sits up like a big girl in her bathtub, rides in the grocery store cart, and sits in restaurant high chairs.
Pretty pleased to be emptying the toy shelf
Likes: Adelie remains happy and easy. She likes music, baths, being outside, and exploring. Her favorite toys are her activity table, Little People, monkeys in a barrel, stacking cups, mardi gras beads, the stethoscope from Staley's doctor kit, and anything that is new, different, or that Staley is playing with. She still loves her play mat and her mobile. But her favorite toys are not really toys--water bottles, Desitin tubes, wipes packages, spoons, tags, shoes, and church bulletins are great fun. Playing with (aka grabbing and pulling) necklaces and earrings that people are wearing is another favorite activity. Adelie loves looking at herself in the mirror. Peek-a-boo always makes her laugh. She gets excited about the cats. Adelie likes to eat and so far has liked everything she has tried, except avocado. Her favorites are squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, and pears. But more than anything, Adelie loves her big sister.
Two of Adelie's favorites: Staley and eating.
And one of Staley's favorites: Being a big helper.
Dislikes: Adelie gets fussy when she is hungry and tired. She doesn't usually like getting her nose wiped.
Skills: Adelie is my little mover. She rolls, sits, commando crawls, and transitions into and out of sit. She will crawl on her hands and knees for about 3-4 feet. She is trying to pull herself to stand and loves to stand holding onto things. Adelie activates cause and effect toys, bangs toys together, and empties containers like a champ. She enjoys dropping toys off her high chair tray and her carseat. She opens and closes books, rolls a ball back and forth, and is starting to pick up small things with her thumb and finger. Adelie makes lots of noises ranging from her low growl to her high-pitched squeal. She seems to understand routines, opening up for her spoon and her toothbrush. Adelie continues to brighten all our days.
Yesterday I told Staley that I wanted her to go potty before we left for music class. Very seriously, Staley told me, "Mommy, if you go potty too much, you get a headache." I decided to take my chances with the headache and have her try anyway.
Today Staley, Adelie, and I were rolling a ball back and forth in the basement. While we were playing, Staley commented, "I'm the medium. Adelie is the small. Mommy, you can be the large." Ummm...thanks?
Adelie is not yet 7 months old. She has mastered rolling. She has mastered sitting. She commando crawls like a champ. And in the past few days, she has figured out how to transition into sitting by herself and is working really hard on crawling on her hands and knees. Watching her just makes me tired. She is on her belly. Then her hands and knees. Then her hands and feet. Then she lies on her side, holding her leg up like some kind of aerobics thigh-master pose. Then she's back on her hands and knees. Then she's sitting. Then she's down again. It's never ending. And it makes me a bit concerned about what her activity level will be when she's a toddler. But since I can't stop her from moving, I'll just settle for being proud of my mobile little gal.
Staley has recently gotten interested in telling jokes. She has memorized a handful of jokes that she enjoys sharing with family and friends. A few knock-knock jokes, a few simple puns. But there's something about a roll-your-eyes-laffy-taffy joke coming out of the mouth of a toddler that makes it truly funny. So when Staley asks, "Why is Cinderella not a good basketball player?" and answers with "Because her coach is a pumpkin," it makes me laugh every time. Staley seems to like the laughs she elicits with her jokes, so last night she decided to make up a few of her own.
Q: "What does your hair do in the shower?"
Q: "What does you shirt do in the shower?"
A: "Goes in the hamper."
And I'm not sure that it mattered to Staley that I didn't find her original jokes quite as funny as her Cinderella joke or her knock-knock jokes. She apparently thought her new jokes were hilarious. And really, if you can make yourself laugh, does it really matter what anyone else thinks?
Adelie's top right tooth has officially joined her bottom two. And since I still don't have a baby book for her, I need to document it here so I can write it into the baby book that I intend to one day have for her. But I'll add a cute picture to spice up this post. So here you go...
Yesterday our neighbor friends gave Staley some candy. While I was at the store, she and Zach had this conversation:
Staley: "Here Daddy. You can have this sucker."
Zach: "Thank you for offering, Staley, but we are going to have dinner soon so I'm not going to have a sucker right now."
Staley: "It's okay, Daddy. You can have one. Mommy's not home."
Staley's definitely got us figured out. I was not home and yes, she and Zach ended up having suckers before dinner.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the St. Louis curse where multiple attempted trips to St. Louis for my sister-in-law and her family had to be cancelled due to illness. I thought we had inherited the curse as our planned St. Louis trip at the end of September got postponed when Staley got sick.
We decided to try our trip again this week-end. Fate tried to warn us. Tried to intervene. But we didn't listen. We decided to go despite all the reasons we were given not to.
Zach had tickets to a concert on Saturday night that he had forgotten about until Thursday. We decided to go anyway.
There was a big Cardinal's play-off game in St. Louis this week-end. Our favorite hotel was sold out. We had to book a hotel way out by the airport. We decided to go anyway.
Staley fell face first off a 2 ft platform at the park on Friday morning. We decided to go anyway.
Adelie usually goes to bed at 8. She didn't fall asleep until 10:00 on Friday night. We decided to go anyway.
Staley usually wakes up around 7. She got up Saturday morning at 5:40. We decided to go anyway.
Our plan was to leave Saturday morning, spend the day at the zoo, forego Staley's nap (that she doesn't take everyday anyway), stay in our hotel Saturday night, either go back to the zoo or to the Botanical Gardens Sunday morning, and then come home during nap time Sunday afternoon so that the girls could sleep on the way home. Such a nice plan. If only it had worked out that way.
The drive down was fine. Staley looked at books, listened to music, and watched some videos. Adelie played and napped. Everyone was happy.
Reading in the car
We got to the zoo around 11:00, ate a quick lunch, and then Staley wanted to ride the train to start our zoo day. Unfortunately her 5:40 rising coupled with impending nap time resulted in a hard-core meltdown on the train. Why? Because she wanted to sit by herself instead of sitting on Zach's lap. She became THAT child. Our first 'I'm-so-glad-that's-not-my-kid' all out public tantrum. Crying, screaming, writhing. So instead of riding the train to go see the sea lion show, we got off the train and did this:
Staley's battle scars on full display
An hour later, our well-rested girls were ready to enjoy the zoo.
Staley's first of 5 carousel rides
Like her sister, Adelie thought the carousel was pretty great too.
Much happier on the train ride this time
Checking out the animals
Always happy to be a part of the action
We stayed until the zoo closed, but Staley requested coming back the next day as we had plenty of things we didn't get to see and do. We headed to our hotel for dinner and a good night's sleep so we could return in the morning for more zoo fun. There was only one problem with this plan. Staley didn't sleep. And this isn't a figure of speech or an exaggeration. She simply didn't sleep. We put her to bed at 8. She fell asleep around 11 and woke up at 1. At 4:30 when she was still wide awake, we were out of ideas. We packed up, loaded the car, and headed for home. Staley was asleep before we were out of the hotel parking lot. (Of all the things we tried to get her to sleep, why didn't we think to put her in the car 8 hours earlier???)
So our first attempt for a St. Louis trip was foiled by Staley's illness. But our second attempt provided us with 3 fun hours at the zoo...and 1 massive public tantrum, 6 hours in the car, 8 frustrating hours trying to get Staley to sleep, 2 tired parents, and 1 very convincing case for avoiding week-end family get-aways for a long, long time.
Staley has always been very verbal and a great communicator. However, she still has some toddler pronunciation errors that interfere with understanding everything she says. Her 'l's are 'y's, her 'r's are 'w's. If you were to ask her, Staley would tell you that she 'yikes her wain boots.' Last night, Staley wanted to give Zach 'five'. Zach held out his hand and Staley gave him five. Then she hit his hand 3 more times fast. They then had this conversation:
Staley: "Those last 3 were quick fives."
Zach: "Quick fives?"
Staley: "No. Quick fives. You know, like when you have a strap and it quicks."
So apparently her 'l's are 'y's, her 'r's are 'w's, and her 'cl's are 'qu's. Sometimes it's hard to understand her with some of these little nuances, but once you figure it out, it all quicks.
Adelie has 2. Now Staley has 20. Staley has just cut her final baby tooth. It took her a little over 2 years from her first tooth to her last, and in a few short years they'll start falling back out. It seems a little unfair, doesn't it?
There is so much to love about fall. From football season and pumpkin farms to apple picking and fall festivals, fall is my favorite season. And one of my favorite things about fall? Fun fall pictures. So to catch you up on all the fun things we've been doing this fall...
We always enjoy spending time at the Morton Pumpkin Festival. The highlights this year? Meeting some princesses, listening to Julie K., riding carnival rides, eating pumpkin ice cream, and watching the insanely long Pumpkin Festival parade.
Staley and Snow White at the Pumpkin Festival
Ackerman Farms is always a fun way to spend a morning. Staley and Adelie enjoyed spending time with Aunt Jill and Lila at the farm a few weeks ago. Staley especially liked the 'funny pumpkins', playing in the play house, petting the baby goat, and trying to make the turkeys laugh by saying 'banana pants' (which is a scene out of a Dora episode). Adelie especially liked playing with the grass while I tried to get a cute picture of all three girls together.
Staley with the 'funny pumpkins'
Our little pumpkins
Rader Family Farms is my favorite pumpkin farm. So we enjoyed some family time yesterday morning there with Aunt Melissa and Liam. It's hard to pick a favorite at the farm because there is so much to do. From playing in the corn bins to the duck races to the train rides, Staley loves it all. And Adelie is happy to go along for the ride.
Pumpkins are always a great picture background.
Pretty serious about driving her train car
Liam and Staley racing their ducks.
Liam and Staley posing for pumpkin pics.
Adelie just hanging out.
To cap off a fun day of fall fun yesterday, Aunt Melissa watched Adelie for the afternoon while we took Staley and Liam to the State Farm Yee Haw Fall Festival. The kids made necklaces, decorated pumpkins, ate cookies, got their faces painted, and rode ponies...over and over and over again.
Liam and Staley checking out their newly painted faces.
I doubt it's the highlight of the day for the ponies, but riding around in circles was high excitement for the kids.
We've had a full, fun fall so far. And we still have at least another month (hopefully) to enjoy some beautiful fall colors, cool sunny days, outdoor fun,...
Unfortunately, Staley has been back to her no napping antics over the past two weeks. She stays in her bed, but keeps up a constant stream of talking and singing. I've found that if I can give her incentive to lie quietly (like "if you aren't quiet, you won't get to go ride horses"--glad she didn't try to call my bluff on that one), then she usually falls asleep. One day last week, I went up to remind Staley (again) that she needed to be quiet and sleep. She told me, "I'm being quiet and closing my eyes and trying to go to sleep, but the snake keeps hissing in my ear." When I told her that there was not a snake in her room, she replied, "Yes there is. It's right here" (as she pointed at her blanket). Just a few days later, when she was again not napping, my reminder visit to her room revealed yet another excuse. Staley told me, "Yellow Bear was telling me there is a fire in my room. But I told Yellow Bear, 'That's not a fire. It's Thomas' smoke stack.'" And I realized that it's not her fault. How can I expect Staley to nap when her room is filled with hissing snakes, smoke, trains, and talking bears???
My dad often asks Staley for a hug. Sometimes she obliges and sometimes she doesn't. So my dad taught her a phrase that she now consistently uses. When he asks, "Can I get a hug?", Staley answers, "Not likely, Grandpa."
The other night, Zach was talking about his Fantasy Football team at dinner. After listening for awhile, Staley asked, "Who were you playing fancy football with?" I can just imagine Staley's vision of football players in princess dresses and lacy gloves.
What could be better than getting new cowboy boots that have pink, sparkly stars on them?
How about wearing said boots to ride an actual horse? My little horse-loving girl was THRILLED to be invited out riding by our friend Libby.
Staley spends lots of time brushing her plastic horse in the basement with a shoeshine brush from Zach's shoeshine kit. So brushing a real horse with an actual horse brush...well, that in itself was a special treat.
Staley thought she was big stuff leading Kracker out into the pasture.
Staley rode and rode and rode. She learned the sound to make Kracker go and how to pull the reign to make Kracker stop. With each circle around the ring, Kracker would step over a pole that was lying on the ground. Staley called it 'jumping'.
My little cowgirl
Thank you, Libby and Kracker, for fulfilling my little cowgirl's dream.
...she's on the move. As I've frequently shared, Adelie has been a mover since birth. She never stays in one place. But last night, she officially figured out how to use her legs AND her arms together to move herself forward. It's not yet pretty. It's not yet efficient. But it's definitely forward mobility.