Friday, July 31, 2009

The Guinea Pigs

This week we have been pet-sitting our neighbor's guinea pigs. We watched 3 of them, the Dad, Cocoa, and two babies who are not named. It was great fun for the girls who just adore the little piggies. Hadleigh is very careful with them, but I am afraid Annelise terrorized them a bit. She reminded me of Darla from "Finding Nemo". As far as I can tell everyone lived through the experience, but here is a fun little clip of the girls.
video

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank Goodness for My MH

Last summer either me or one of my crazy mommy friends came up with the great (or not so great) idea of doing a kid swap. There were 4 of us so we rotated hosting the four 2-year olds at our home from 9.30-1. After my first week watching all four kiddos and Annelise (who was 6 months) I thought it was truly the dumbest idea ever! And having 3 mornings off from Hadleigh was certainly not worth the pain of those 3 hours. We then enlisted the help of a couple mother's helpers. There were 3 or 4 girls who helped us out. The girls were under 12 and it seemed really enjoyed helping us out, and it was cheap labor.

Now, I will give my rant on babysitting. When I begin to babysit at 12 years old I made $1.50 an hour. Big money! Even when I was in high school I never made more than $3.00, and when I was in college I made $5/hour and that was when I could drive. I never made more than minimum wage as a babysitter. I am not sure at what point it became a norm to pay babysitters so much. Now, I have no problem paying an adult a decent wage to watch my children...but the thought of paying a 13 year old $8-10 an hour...it almost makes my stomach turn. I know, I am cheap...but ugh! I think it is especially difficult because our girls go to bed so early that generally I am paying someone to make sure the house doesn't burn down. Ah well...anyway...what to do...one day I will not have to pay a babysitter.

So, anyway, about my mother's helpers (MH). I had such a great experience with these girls last year, that I thought I would forgo the kiddo swap this summer, and just get a mother's helper one day a week. It is the most fabulous idea ever! I have two girls who come over and help me once a week. The fun thing is that I have known both girls since they were about 2 years old, and one of the gals, Alex, was my flower girl...ah...

Honestly, I think, this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot begin to tell you the things that I manage to get done in 2-3 hours while the girls play with my MH. My pantry is organized, my refrigerator is clean, baseboards are dusted, I even vacuumed underneath my bed (not sure that I have done that since we moved). And the girls are so happy. They love Alex and May May, and ask for them regularly.

The one hard thing is that if the girls, particaularly Annelise, see me they really want me to come and help them with something, but the MH is generally good at distracting them. But I try to stay upstairs or in the back rooms away from the girls. Trust me I have plenty to do in those rooms.

This week is my last week with my MH. We are almost in August and school will begin for them, and that means I loose my help. But I am looking forward to my month of August, and then after Labor Day my girls will be in preschool. HC will go for 2 days and Annelise will go for 1 day. I now have a great idea of what I can accomplish with both out of the house. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

News from the Potty

Annelise is amazing. We have come a LONG way since her first crazy days. While we were in Colorado, Annelise decided that diapers were over-rated and were not necessary anymore. Seriously. My crazy 19 month old continually told me when she needed to use the bathroom. What? So, the Monday after our trip I got her up, put her in some of Hadleigh's Elmo panties and thought, "let the fun times begin!"

She has done amazingly well, and I am in awe. She has had about 1 accident a day, some days she has had two and some days she has had none. Usually the accidents occur when there are some decent distractions...shocking. She doesn't even use her diaper when she sleeps, I cannot mention how many times I have gone in to get her to find a dry diaper...even when I get her in the morning!

Today we had a busy day out of the house. First to the salon, then to pick up Jess and Amy and take them to the airport (25 minute drive) and then of course drove home. I did decide it was a good idea to put her in a diaper before we drove the airport...hard to pull over on the fwy. But it was not until the way home that she mentioned she needed to pee, and she actually was able to hold it until I could pull off into the Publix shopping center. I was shocked!

Now Annelise is addicted to skittles, so we might have to go to something else, like frozen grapes or blueberries. I am just amazed at my crazy, determined daughter. This morning at the salon my hair dresser remarked at how far Annelise has come. She said, you could market her! "Hell for 6 months, but then she potty trains herself at 20 months." Who knew!

The best part about the whole thing is, well actually there are several, so I will list them.
1. Whenever Annelise goes potty, HC is right there cheering her on. HC is the first tell Annelise that she has done a great job, and accepts that she will not get a treat for Annelise's accomplishments. I love the sister-love there.
2. Annelise's expression whenever she sits on the toilet and actually makes something is the best. She gives a huge grin of pleasure that is so sweet and makes me want to grin and celebrate too, everytime.
3. I just love that I can communicate with Annelise. She is amazing, and it so fun to see more of her little personality come out, even in potty training...only she would demand to do this now.

On a separate note, we are making progress with HC and the poop situation. I think we have had 4-5 poops on the potty in the last week. That is MAJOR progress, and I love it! I think Annelise is helping to motivate HC.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On Hitchhikers and the Army

If you know Dave this will not surprise you...he likes to pick up hitchikers. I could probably give a million reasons why he would do this kind of thing...and I can give you a million reasons what I would never consider doing this kind of thing.

This past Saturday we went to a party and on the way home stopped to get some Starbucks. We pulled back onto the main road and while we were sitting at a red light a pedestrian crossed the road and stopped in front of our car. He yelled at Dave and asked if he was military. This is not too strange, because Dave still has his military plate on the front of his car, so anyone who at least has been to Europe with the military would recognize it. Dave, of course yelled back he was a contractor and wouldn't you know, this dude said he was army and needed a ride. Always willing to help out humanity and especially a stranded veteran was happy to pull into the gas station to pick him up. I jumped out of the car and was greeted by "Col. Carter" with a hug. The Col. then jumped into our car and proceeded to tell us his life story as we drove him to his hotel.

Col. Carter is an infantry Col with the 101st out of Ft. Benning. A couple days ago he flew from Iraq to Shannon, Ireland, to Ft. Carson to outprocess and retire after 22 (glorious) years in the Army (special ops). Saturday he flew from CO to Atlanta, and when he got to the gate they made him check his bag...apparently it was gate checked, but when he arrived in Atlanta he found out that his bag went to Athens...Greece. On and on the story went until he finally ended up at this hotel with no clothes and no money. As he was about to get out of the car he asked if we wanted to go and get something to eat with him because he had no money. Dave politely declined and thankfully "Col. Carter" got out of the car and we headed home. Hmm...it was a nice story...that sounded decent. He was probably was with the army...and he definitely had been to Europe with the army because he knew the plates...but there is NO WAY dude is a retired Col. Sorry. And what retired Col. doesn't have any money? And what recently retired Col. stays in a dump of a hotel on the outskirts of Atlanta, far away from Marta and far from the airport (while waiting for his bag to return from Greece)? It might be a possibility, but highly doubtful.

The whole thing ended up being mildly amusing...only after I realized he was not going to shoot us. I made Dave promise he would not do that again...don't know if I can hold him to that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Colorado

The Fam on the deck of our rental
Last week our girls added another state to their list, Colorado! I think we need to start a talley on their travels, because I cannot keep it all straight. I'll work on that one.
Colorado University- Boulder
My family lives in 3 different states, CA, GA and OR, and we have decided that every couple years we should all get together. Ya know, sometimes families do that kind of stuff. Two years ago we rented a house in Sonoma County and did some wine tasting. And this year I hunted a house down near Estes Park, CO. I actually was hoping for Banff, Alberta, but ran out of options, so moved down to Jackson Hole, WY and then settled on CO. It is hard to find a house that is big enough to house 12 people, AND is wheelchair accessible. Don'e believe the hype either, just because some crazy yo says it is wheelchair accessible does not mean it is. I cannot tell you how many times I asked to find out that all the bedrooms were on the second floor...Oh, I am sorry you see when I say someone is in a wheelchair, I mean they cannot walk up a flight of stairs! Duh! OK, let's move on.
The Fam after hiking at Hall Ranch
Walking toward main street Estes Park
We flew out a day early and stayed in a little hotel in Estes Park, which is SO cute. We had such a blast walking along the river and chilling out with the girls before the rest of my family arrived. These are the times when Dave and I look at each other and are just glad to be together as a family. We loves lots of fun adventures.
The Cousins- Hadleigh (3), Matt (4), Jack (22 months), Annelise (20 months)
The rest of the week was pretty low key. We hung out in the house, which was amazing! 7,000 square feet, 3 levels with an elevator, it was on the top of the cliff and we could see the lights of Boulder 30 miles away. Awesome. We spent a morning in Estes Park, a morning in Boulder, one morning we went on a family hike. The rest of the time we played Phase 10 and Mexican Train, read lots of books, played with the kiddos and sat around chatting about this or that. The girls had a great time with their cousins, Matt (4) and Jack (22 months), their Papa and Nana, and their Uncles and Aunties.

Uncle Chris and Hadleigh Claire

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Miss Hadleigh Claire is 3.4

I have had so much fun with little Miss HC this month. It is so amazing to watch her transform into a little girl before my eyes. More and more she seems to be aware of herself and those around her. She seems to be getting our family and how we do things around here...and of course insisting that Annelise pick up the slack. Today she reminded Annelise to "take her hand out of her mouth!" My husband is a dentist, there will be no sucking of hands, thumbs or pacifiers around here! Actually it has little to do with teeth and everything to do with, wondering where her hand was before it went into her mouth? Yikes...
I know at any moment all bets are off, but overall we have had a wonderful time this month, with no major battles...just waiting for tomorrow to hit! For the last several months as we have worked through issues of sharing, I have encouraged Hadleigh to seek peace and not stir up trouble with Annelise, and to seek Annelise's happiness, and that as sisters they need to stick together. Of course I have heard Hadleigh remind Annelise, "Annelise, may I have that yellow car? Please Annelise! Annelise, don't stir up trouble!" Normal kid stuff, right? But in all those conversations we have been having and times we have spent praying and asking the Lord to give us strength to obey him, I have seen her grow. I know HC is a pleaser, so it is hard to see if she has grown in her ability to share and seek peace, or if she has grown in her ability to do things that she know will please me. I have my eyes wide open, always looking for ways to show her that I love her no matter how she acts, and yet to remind her how much our obedience truly pleases God. It is such a hard balance to walk...not only as parents, but also as a believer in my relationship with the Lord. That is another matter entirely.
Music is one of Hadleigh's loves. During bath time Dave always plays some classical music for the girls and HC will listen to it and name the different instruments she hears. So sweet! Now sometimes she insists on hearing a trombone when it really is a guitar solo, but hey I can't always distinguish the difference between different horns (not that a guitar is a horn, ah well). She sings constantly when alone. Last week were in CO with my family and Rubie always got a chuckle from waking up to Hadleigh's singing. Yesterday she was up in her room and sang everything from "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder" to "There is a Redeemer" to the "Doxology" to the "Gloria Patri". Hilarious. As much as she will sing around us, she is shy to sing when she knows others are watching. One of the reasons we have taught her songs like the "Gloria Patri" is so that she can sing them with us in church. But this Sunday when we did sing it, she just listened and refused to open her mouth. I hope that will change. But in the mean time it is so fun to listen to her sing the day away.

Hadleigh always helps Dave work around the house and the car. She was helping replace one of my headlights on Sunday, she is going to have great mechanical skills! I am sure this will be useful because she loves cars, trucks, bulldozers, airplanes, helicopters, etc. I need to get a book that will instruct me in all the various dirt pushers because today as we drove behind one she insisted on knowing what it was. I now think it was a backhoe, but the only thing I could think of at that moment was a bobcat. So...what do you do?

Of course we have been working on the ever present poop issue. Will it ever die? Two steps forward and three steps back. I do not know what to say. We were getting somewhere, but seemed to have lost some ground due to our trip to CO. Blast!
Have I mentioned bugs before? Hadleigh loves them. She loves to come and pick up all the wiggly worms in my garden. Before our vaca in CO, HC was outside playing with one of my mother's helpers, Alex. They came inside and HC said, "Mama, I saw a worm". We then had a funny conversation that ended in Alex explaining that indeed they had not seen a worm, but a snake. No worries, it was not a poisonous snake, not that I would know, but apparently Alex is an expert in snakes and thought it was harmless...now I am thankful that my mother's helper is so knowledgeable about snakes and is not frightened of them. Anyway, she loves bugs and all other slimy animals. On a hike out in CO, Uncle Chris continued to find bugs to point out to HC. She was amazed and excited. She was able to pet a grasshopper, and see a ladybug, a butterfly, a caterpillar. She LOVES bugs.
I think that is about all I have time for at this point. What a fun little girl to be around, I cannot wait to see what more I will learn about my little girl.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Elf is 20 Months

One of the weirdest things about this month with Annelise is that I will look at her and think, this is how old HC was when Annelise was born. Wow, that is shocking! I am certainly glad I am not about to pop another baby out anytime soon.
In some ways Annelise seems little, but in some ways Annelise seems big. She has always been a decent communicator and really knows what she wants. That continues to develop with every passing day it seems. She has been calling things by the sounds that they make, so a sheep is "baa" and a train is "choo choo" and a horse is "neigh". Two of my favorite words right now are "sorry" which she says as she puts her head down, and then "meuw" which from all I can tell means "yes, ma'am".
This past month she has been working on some potty skills. She will say "poopoo" and then when I take her to the potty she will actually poop in the potty! What? I have been avoiding doing the full potty training because of our many trips this summer, but last week in CO she was keeping her diaper dry and basically just telling me when she needed to go potty. What the... So, this week we are hitting potty training boot camp in full force. I am hoping for the best, and so far so good. I do not understand how a 20 month old can potty train herself, but mine basically did.

She hasn't thrown many tantrums this month...which is a relief. We'll see if that is really over, or just a quiet month.

She is still a little daredevil. I caught her wanting to jump off a ledge whether I was standing there or not. Yikes! We need to watch this one. She loves being tickled. She loves saying hello and waving to everyone we pass. She gives great big hugs and kisses which is the sweetest thing ever. She is my girl and I am so happy that I have had these last 20 months with her.