Monday, March 31, 2014

Second Birthday

I made pancake pops for Elaina's birthday breakfast. The girls both thought they were pretty awesome, and wanted to know why I don't just make pancakes like that all the time.

For dinner that night, we went out for Mexican food, because that's where the birthday girl's pregnant mama wanted to go. Elaina had seen the big sombrero and heard the birthday song a few times during past visits, so I asked if she wanted to wear the special hat and hear the special song.  She insisted that she did, and I was really impressed with how well she handled all the attention.

A few days later we had a little party, with family and friends in attendance. She was excited to show off how old she was, and even did pretty well opening all of her presents in front of everyone.

When I asked Elaina earlier that week what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, the only thing she requested was that it be purple. So purple it was. By means of a buttercream frosting that I gradually dyed darker and darker as I piped it on to the cake. These sorts of projects always take twice as long as I think they will. But she had a purple ombre cake for her birthday, and it even tasted alright.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two Years Old

Elaina is 2 now!  I've been sifting through photos and videos from the last few months, picking out the best ones, and smiling at every one of them.  She is smart, creative, affectionate, helpful, ambitious, stubborn, sneaky, and hilarious. She is my snuggly little firecracker, and I am so thankful God saw fit to bless us with her life.

I know kids are constantly growing up and maturing, but it seems like Elaina has really hit a new stride in the last couple of months.  Her vocabulary is full and well rounded, and she has no trouble letting us know exactly what she needs-or thinks, or wants, or enjoys, or imagines, or thinks maybe should happen someday.  Last week I put Elaina to bed, and about 60 seconds later, she came running out of her room, pretending to gasp for air, as if she'd just run a mile. "The bad guys are coming!" she exclaimed dramatically. Then, just to clarify, "...just for pretend."  She is constantly joining her sister in whatever make-believe scenario they've come up with for the moment.  There are lots of mommy and daughter scenarios (I'll answer to her calls for "mommy!" just to have her explain, "no, pretend mommy"), sometimes husband and wife, and even master and pet.  Elaina makes a very good doggy, sitting, and staying, and obediently eating her treat.  It's hilarious. 

Her actual human nature, on the other hand, is very much human, and very much that of a two-year-old.  She has been testing the waters on what she can get away with, and how stubborn and independent she can be.  Sometimes I am amazed at things she finds to be stubborn about.  We know stubbornness is something to be shepherded, and not crushed, and so we are trying to figure out how best to do that... and what sorts of things are appropriate for a two-year-old to be stubborn about.

She can be very kind and gentle and affectionate when she wants to.  I was in bed reading a couple of weeks ago, when the girls came to give me hugs and kisses before going to bed. Elaina kissed my tummy, and then leaned over it and said, "I want to snuggle Baby Sister." She snuggled up close, resting the side of her head on my belly. Then she looked up at me, somewhat confused, and slowly  said "I hear something." I told her it was the baby singing, then laughed and told her it was really just my tummy making funny sounds.

Bryan usually puts the girls to bed in the evenings, and one night, he did so after they had a nice little snack.  After being all tucked in, Elaina sat up and said, "Oh wait!  I was hungry!  I was not going to bed."  She pulled her blankets off and stood up in her bed. "No, honey, is IS time for bed; you just ate," Bryan explained. "Oh.  Right." Elaina said, as she laid back down and pulled her blankets up. "Of COURSE."

A couple of days before her birthday, we removed one of the sides from her crib, and turned it into a toddler bed.  She loves it. She transitioned well, staying in bed most of the time, and hasn't rolled out of bed at all.

Way back in January, we were eating dinner together, and Elaina was, as usual, wearing a long sleeved shirt.  "Roll up my sleeves. Will you roll up my sleeves?" Elaina said, in her whiniest voice.  "You need to stop fussing, and take a bite, and then you may ask politely for help," I said. Elaina, chewed and swallowed a bite of dinner, and then looked at me.  "Did you want to ask me something?" I asked.  She paused, and then in her sweetest voice asked "can we watch a movie, maybe?"

She loves wearing dish towels like capes.  She loves it when we wrap her up in a blanket, and hold her "like a baby," meaning in our arms the way we would hold a newborn.  And the strange kid has developed a special attachment to the pair of toy plastic kitchen knives we have.  Sometimes she even takes them to bed.

As you can tell, both the girls like to sing.  In fact, they like music of all sorts.  I don't actually play music in the house that often, but they always make up for the silence with their own singing. 

Sometimes Elaina's bossiness surfaces and she makes it clear that she wants me to sing with them.  "Sing it LOUD, Mama!"

(Notice their location for their pretend tea party.  For some reason, 3/4 of the way up the stairs is their favorite stop to have a little picnic.)

There is always dancing.  Even when we're at someone else's house.

She and Aaron have a lot of fun together.  Even at Costco.

She's just a silly little Ham Bone, we call her sometimes.  It couldn't possibly be hereditary.

Chloë is a very tidy eater, not wanting food to get on her hands or face.  Elaina, on the other hand, thought bean dip would be perfect for hair conditioner and a facial.   

Elaina, like her big sister, is somewhat accident prone.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Aren't all kids?  But she is a runner, and often times her feet move faster that the rest of her body, and she just splats forward.  There is usually a great cry of dismay, more for being offended that her feet failed her, than that of actual pain. Sometimes she makes sure to lay there for a few seconds, being offended at the floor, or her feet, or whatever it was that caused her to fall.  And then she hops up and is on her merry way.  What a character.

But sometimes I am amazed at how much harm she manages to escape.  A few weeks ago, I was watching two extra kids. The 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and 3-year-old were all downstairs, watching a movie while I was cleaning my kitchen after a busy weekend. There was a crashing sound, but y'know, kids are pretty creative with hauling buckets of toys around, and sending them flying off the couch or wherever. I listened for a moment, and everything was quiet, so I wasn't too concerned.

The one-year-old, just being potty trained, came upstairs, and I took the opportunity to sit her on the toilet for a couple of minutes. Chloë came upstairs, and I asked her what the crashing sound was. "Oh, there's some broken glass," she said calmly. Everything was so calm, I wasn't sure if she knew what she was saying. "Like, glass that got broken?" I asked. "Yeah..." she replied casually.

As I neared the bottom of the basement stairs, I saw our huge 3x4 ft picture leaning against the wall. Next to it, Elaina was sitting, surrounded by a hundred shards of glass, happily loading the smaller pieces into a little plastic bowl. She had 20 or so pieces neatly in the bowl, the longer shards hanging over the edge. "Elaina, NO! What are you doing?!" I moved quickly and smoothly, being careful not to grab anything too suddenly. I turned her hands over, expecting them to be covered in blood. Nothing. Chloë practically ran through the pile of glass. The one-year-old was coming down the stairs. The other two-year-old was a couple of feet away, interested in the new pile of stuff that was apparently for playing with. "Kids, no, stop!" I almost yelled. I picked up Elaina, brushing glass shards off her clothes. I got everyone upstairs and closed the door. 

I considered calling Bryan, but everything was fine. No one was hurt. I just had a big mess to clean up. I put a show on my laptop, and instructed everyone to watch it while I went back downstairs. The glass was crazy. Some of the shards were a half inch wide and a foot long. How was there no blood?? How was everyone alive??? I carefully picked up all the pieces. There were thousands of microshards everywhere. The stuffed cat covered in shards went to the trash. I vacuumed the same small area for at least 10 minutes. I guess that picture wasn't framed with plexiglass after all.

After everything was clean, I checked all the kids again. Triple checked Elaina's hands. Everyone was fine. I almost couldn't believe it. I felt like I should have won some sort of Worst Mother and Babysitter Award. And yet, God is so merciful.  And I can't believe I don't have any gray hairs yet.

Elaina also loves technology.  Meaning, my iPhone and the iPad, of course.  She easily maneuvers between games and movies, and sometimes like to use the camera to take some sweet selfies.

And of course, as all little sisters do, she wants to do whatever Chloë is doing.  It's pretty sweet, as long as you aren't the older sister being constantly pestered.  She loves counting, and singing the ABCs, and drawing, and trying to do puzzles.  Although she is easily frustrated at her lack of instant perfection, and will moan "I can't DO IT," if something is taking her longer than a second to accomplish.  But at the same time, she is stubborn, and longs to do things without out help. "I can DO IT," she will say, almost arguing with our offer to help her with something.

She loves playing Hide and Seek with anyone who will play with her. 

And she loves being tickled. We also play "timber" and "buh BOOM bah" on our bed, which both girls thoroughly enjoy.

It seems like she's learning new things every day.  We started working on memorizing Bible verses a couple of months ago, and she took right to it.

The sweet girl had a Well Child doctor's appointment yesterday.  Chloë just had one last week, so I thought Elaina would do pretty well, having watched how brave and cheerful Chloë was. I encouraged her to be brave, and told her if she could be strong and courageous, we would go get ice cream when we were all done. The nurse weighed her, and measured her, and then I let her sit on the exam table all by herself, because I thought she was enjoying the independence of being such a big girl.  She sat patiently and stoically while we waited for the doctor to come in, and we even practiced sticking our tongues out and saying "ah."  After the doctor came in, he very kindly said hi and made a little conversation to both the girls.  Then he and I began discussing Elaina's health.  I glanced up after a minute, and she had the saddest little look on her face.  "Oh honey, are you kind of scared sitting there all by yourself?" She nodded, and the sad look got sadder, and she started choking back tears.  It was so sad. I jumped up and held her, but then of course it was time for her brief exam; the otoscope for her ears, eyes and mouth, and the stethoscope for her lungs and heart.  And I think by then she was just in such a sad state of mind, that she had a hard time transitioning out of it.  I held her, and the doctor asked if we should do the otoscope or the stethoscope first.  She chose the stethoscope, and bravely choked back tears while he listened to her heart and lungs.  Poor kiddo.  I know it's a very strange and vulnerable thing to have strangers invade your personal space, but it was obvious that she was just trying so hard to be tough.  So after that was over, the nurse came in to give her shots, and of course then she lost it.  And then Chloë did, too.  She hates seeing her sister cry.  So I had two sobbing children on my hands.  We eventually pulled it together, and went straight to Baskin Robins, but the tears kept resurfacing.  What a rough experience. 

She is such a joy and delight.  We sure do love our little Lainey Pants.

Oh, and just for fun, here's what Chloë was up to at this age.