Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ups & downs

I think that any parent of a toddler would agree that the experience of raising a young child is full of ups and downs. Heck, life in general is full of ups and downs. But while the parents experience many highs and lows, the toddler probably feels them more. Olivia is just learning how to communicate what she needs and wants to us, but we occasionally hit bumps in the road filled with frustration and anger. Temper tantrums have been a more common occurrence in our house lately. Actually most of them tend to occur when we are not home. Most of the time they occur when Olivia is tired or when she is told not to do something she wants to do. The typical kicking and yelling take place, but her main defense is to hit. I have been at the receiving end of quite a few slaps which will not be tolerated in any form! So little Miss Olivia is now familiar with the consequence of a time-out.

That is Olivia's naughty stool. She must sit here for 1 minute when she has been naughty. So far the time-outs are working very well and I think that she is starting to understand that hitting Mommy and Daddy is a BIG no-no. I am hoping that after a few time-outs she will stop using her hands as a way to express her frustrations. She is fully aware of the purpose of the naughty stool and even tells me what it is. She sometimes sits on it for fun announcing that she is sitting on the naughty chair. It is quite funny! But don't let that sweet and innocent little girl fool you. She does have a bit of a nasty streak. Overall she is very well behaved but she has her moments. What toddler doesn't?

This past weekend Todd and I decided to take a little road trip. His birthday was on Sunday (Happy Birthday honey!) and we thought it would be fun to get away for one night as a family. We decided to take Olivia to the Battle Creek zoo, hearing it was nice and not very far. We like to visit different zoos, especially since Olivia loves animals so much. It was an exhausting little trip, but fun. After rain nearly ruined our day we were able to see the zoo in the afternoon. One of the biggest attractions at the Binder Park Zoo is the giraffe exhibit. You can feed the giraffes (for a hefty price), and get up close and personal with these tall creatures. What fun that was! I wasn't sure if Olivia would be scared of this activity, but just like everything else she was as brave as can be!

She stuck her little hand right out there with the biscuit, waiting for that long tongue to scoop it up. As soon as he took it from her she started giggling like crazy! She kept wanting to give them, "more, more", but we ran out. Of course that did not make her very happy so we had to deal with one of her little episodes. It was a really cool experience though and I am so glad she enjoyed it!

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We tried to plan our trip so that Olivia would sleep in the car during our drive to Battle Creek. We wanted her to be rested so that she would enjoy the zoo. Things did not go as planned and she hardly slept during the trip. So by the end of our zoo trip she was wiped out! She was so tired that she was begging for her blankie and paci, which she knows she is only allowed to have at nap times. It was hard to say no to a face this tired.

We stayed in Battle Creek that night, played at the hotel pool and went out for dinner for Todd's Birthday. It was a fun day! The next day we attempted to do some shopping but Olivia had a different plan. She is not very interested in hanging out in her stroller while Mom and Dad browse the racks. I can't say that I blame her but it makes it nearly impossible to take her shopping with us. Well at least we know from now on that if we want to shop we should do it alone! It was a fun little road trip, but it is clear that Olivia is much more comfortable in her own environment. Toddlers are creatures of habit and it is so apparent how lost they are when you take them out of their environment. We will be traveling again next month and although it will be fun I know it will be exhausting!

In other news, Olivia is growing like a weed! Her weight is about the same, but her feet keep getting bigger and she seems to be getting taller. She looks more and more like a little girl each day. She came home from the sitter last week with a cute little pony tail. The sitter's granddaughter was successful in getting a ponytail in her hair without a fight. I have been trying to get cute little barrettes in her hair for months. She will have nothing to do with it. It is nearly impossible to get them in her hair, and when I finally do she pulls them right out! I had never attempted a ponytail because I figured I would be unsuccessful with that as well. It makes her look very grown up and I must admit it is stinkin' cute!

She is still very interested in her books. She loves to read with us, but also enjoys flipping though her books all by herself. I caught her in her room last week reading in her rocking chair. She was enjoying some quiet time with her books...so sweet!

So yes, being the mother of a toddler can be challenging...but it can also be so very rewarding! I guess no one ever said this Mom thing was easy. I do think that Todd and I are handling these changes in behavior the best we know how. She is a very polite little girl who says thank you, love you and gives out tons of kisses and hugs. She has her ups and downs, but that is all a part of growing up. But for the time being she just may become quite familiar with the naughty stool!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

daddy's turn

After celebrating Father's Day this past weekend Todd has something he would like to share...

Hello...Olivia's daddy here. It has been one year since I last had the privilege of contributing to the blog. Wow, what a year it has been! Since becoming Olivia's daddy, I have watched this little baby grow into a wonderful little girl. I could not have hoped for a more perfect child (most of the time anyway). She is a walking, talking bundle of energy. I just love watching her discover new things in her world. I never imagined I could love this child as much as I do. Every day is a new adventure with her. I find myself missing her when I am at work. The best part of my day is hearing her yell, "daddy!" when I get home. So on my second Father's Day I want to tell her that now more than ever I feel so blessed to be her Daddy and be a part of such a wonderful, loving family!

Those are his words...not mine. Last year he wrote a post of his own and wanted to keep up the tradition. Speaking of traditions...last year Olivia and her Daddy sported matching outfits on Father's Day! This year was no different. As a gift for our last anniversary I gave Todd a yellow Polo shirt accompanied by a yellow Polo dress for Olivia. So on Sunday they wore their matching colors during a family trip to the zoo. Aren't they cute?

To start our Father's Day celebration Olivia and I took Todd out for breakfast. It is not something we get to do very often so it was really fun. After a nice long nap Olivia was ready for her trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect on Sunday so it made for a great zoo day! The big news is that Olivia finally got over her fear of the big, white horse at the zoo. From the first time we visited the zoo this season she has been terrified of that horse. I think seeing one, up close and personal was overwhelming at first. But when we asked her what her favorite part of the zoo was, each time she would say "the horsey". So each time before going to the zoo we would ask her what animal she wanted to see first and she would always say, "the horsey". But once she would actually see the horse she would panic. Well she changed her mind about the horse this weekend and decided that she is no longer frightened of him. She went as far as to even pet him! I am proud of her for getting over her fear. What a brave girl!

That night we were invited to a relaxing Father's Day cookout. Todd was able to enjoy a nice big, juicy steak...which was a great way for him to end the day. Olivia seemed to enjoy spending lots of time with her Daddy, which is what the day is all about. I think Todd would agree that it was a perfect daddy's day! The only disappointment was that it was nearly impossible to get Olivia to sit still for a picture with her daddy! What what do you expect from a 19 month old?

Our weekend also included a super fun birthday party for Olivia's cousin Nathan. On Saturday evening Olivia had a blast playing with her big boy cousins. The fact that there was a big water slide made things even more exciting for her. She loves nothing more than watching her cousins act goofy. She got so much joy from watching them fly down that slide. Each time was as funny as the time before...

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Olivia even took her own turn going down the slide...with the help of cousin Jake of course. She seemed to like it but when I asked her if she wanted to do it again she declined. She was content just splashing around in the little pool at the bottom of the slide. It was hours of entertainment for her and that is all that matters! I think she would have played in the water all night, but the fun had to come to an end because of bedtime. It was a really fun party!

It was another busy weekend. It seems like we have had a lot of those lately. We have another one coming up with Todd's birthday this weekend. There are lots of other things to report but I just don't have the time. Needless to say, sleep is welcomed by all of us in this house after all of our running around. I think busy is the way Livie likes it!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

cooling off

Where to begin...well let's start with the fact that summer has hit us very early this year. I don't think we were expecting to be dealing with temps in the high 90's already! And since Uncle VJ's pool is not quite ready we had to find other ways of cooling off.

Last Thursday Olivia came home from the babysitter's all sweaty. I decided that we should give the good ol' sprinkler a try. So we headed outside, sporting only a swim diaper, and gave it a shot. At first she was a little apprehensive. She put her hand in the stream of water, then her arm and before I knew it she was running through head first. In case you don't already know, Olivia is an extremely brave child. There isn't much that scares her, and if she is unsure of something at first that quickly changes into pure fearlessness. It was hard for me to decide which pictures to show you, so I am going to post them all!

I could not stop smiling watching the joy she got from this activity. She would squeal as she ran back and forth, soaking herself to the bone. Once in awhile she would stop and say, "Mommy try". So of course I had to run through the sprinkler too. I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking. Oh well, it made Olivia laugh like crazy, so I don't care! Here is a short video showcasing her bravery and excitement.

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On Friday we took a break from the water sports and went out for dinner after work. We made it home right before the storm hit. It was a quick storm and had a beautiful end result. I wish Olivia was still awake to see the gorgeous double rainbow that graced the sky.

The rest of the weekend was scorching hot. We pulled out Olivia's baby pool from last year. I came up with a brilliant idea that I knew Olivia would love. We filled up the pool and placed it at the bottom of Olivia's slide, so after sliding down she would be greeted with a refreshing splash! Once again she looked at me with trepidation, but after one slide down she had a new favorite activity. It was hard for her to choose between this and running through the sprinkler.

I am blown away by how bold Olivia is. I am always thinking that she is not going to be fond of certain things and she always proves me wrong. Sometimes her bravery scares me so I have to keep an extra special eye on her. But I guess I would prefer that than having to convince her to try everything. Here is another little video of "Olivia the Brave".

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When she wasn't sliding down into her pool she would just sit in it and splash around. I found myself wishing I could fit in there with her. I had to settle for just soaking my feet. It sure felt good though. After going down the slide about 6 times in a row she decided it was time for a rest. We made our way over to the shade to enjoy a refreshing popsicle...Olivia's latest discovery!

As she was enjoying her yummy treat I tried to get her to talk to me and tell me what she was eating (it is so cute when she says, "pop-sickle"). Crazy me for thinking she would give me the time of day. She was an orange sticky mess when she was done, but no worries, she headed right back for the pool and washed off. It is much easier enjoying these foods outdoors, where it does not matter what kind of mess is made. One last video...check out how she totally ignores me.

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When we weren't outside playing in the water, we were inside trying to stay cool this weekend. Although we have a blast outdoors with Olivia I am just not ready for this heat yet. I was hoping we would have a little more of a Spring. Oh well, I have a feeling the heat is here and not going anywhere. So I think we will be spending a lot of time in the water this summer. By next weekend we should be floating around in VJ's pool!

In other news Olivia went on the potty four times this week! I'm sure you are all thrilled to hear that, but I am pretty proud of her and think it is a pretty good start. We make a big deal out of it every time and she thinks that is pretty neat. Hopefully if we stay on this path we could have it down in a few months...we will have to see. She is also starting to do a lot of singing. She knows lots of songs and enjoys finishing my sentence for me when we sing together. This little smarty pants knew more than I thought. She even has the theme to Elmo's World down pat. I will have to try and catch that on video soon. Have I mentioned that she is the light of my life? Well, I am exhausted from the heat and playing with Miss Olivia all weekend. Time to head off to bed and get ready for the week ahead.

Monday, June 02, 2008

it's potty time!

I don't want to speak too soon but I believe we are in the beginning stages of potty training! I told myself that I was not going to force the issue. I have always been told that it works best when the child decides they are ready. I think Olivia may be ready...maybe. And if you don't mind a little potty talk I will explain why I think so. Last week while playing outside she looked at Todd and said, "poo-poo di-dee". Todd thought she was telling him that she had gone so he checked her, but she was clean. A few minutes later he smelled something and sure enough she had gone. We thought it was just a coincidence. Well about an hour later she did the same thing. She looked at me and said, "poo-poo di-dee". I checked her and she was clean. A few minutes later, sure enough she had done exactly what she informed me she was going to do. She went poo-poo in her di-dee (the word she uses for diaper). I was shocked and decided that it was time to whip out the potty chair.

When I first showed it to her she said, "Wow!" Since then she has shown quite a bit of interest in the potty chair. She continues to tell me "poo-poo di-dee". Sometimes she has already done the deed, but that is OK because then I know she needs to be changed. Up until now she has never much cared about having a dirty diaper, so I am pleased that she is finally choosing to tell me. And when she tells me before she has gone I take her to her potty chair and plop her down. She sits there for a couple of minutes and then asks to get off. Up until this past weekend the potty chair had not gotten any action. I think that most of the time after I put her on it she holds it in until I put her diaper back on. But I think that she has taken the first step by informing us of her actions. I think she is starting to recognize the urge to go and that is a big step.

Well Miss Olivia took the second step this weekend by actually using her potty for the first time! She told me she had to go so went into the bathroom and sat on the potty chair. We usually pass the time by reading books and looking at our new number and letter flashcards. Before I knew it she was actually going potty! Todd and I made a huge deal out of it so she would feel special. After she was done she stood up, took one look at what she had done and said, "ICKY!" I burst into laughter! She was right...what she had just done was very icky! But we are super proud of her and hope that this is the beginning of the end for diapers in this house. Although I am dying to get her out of diapers I realize that she is only 18 months old and that it may be awhile before we say good-bye to diapers for good. So for now it's baby steps. I told her that big girls use the potty and then asked her if she was a big girl. She looked at me, put her arms up in the air and said, "big gurl". What a sweetie!

So it was another busy weekend for us. Aside from the huge potty achievement, we attended a retirement party and Olivia took another trip to the zoo while I attended a baby shower for my friend Leslie. The retirement party was for one of my Mom's very close friends, whom she has worked with for years. Normally we would not have brought Olivia to a function like this, but we were informed that there would be other kids there as well. I am glad we went because Olivia had a good time. After chasing her around the clubhouse many times she discovered a piano in the other room. It was her first time seeing a piano and she was awestruck!

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This occupied most of her time, which allowed for us to mingle a bit. She was putting on a show for anyone who would watch. She would pound on the keys and then clap for herself...over and over. She even got some of the other little girls to sit down with her and play. Check out the way she is looking at this little girl...so curious...

She just cracks us up! The next day while I was attending the baby shower Todd took her to the zoo...yet again! She loves going. Each time we ask her what she wants to see first and she always says the horsey. Well we always take her to see the horsey...she takes one look at him and freaks out! Can't quite figure that one out. The only thing I can think of is that the horsey is huge in person and that scares her a bit. Aside from that she loves seeing the monkeys, kangaroos and penguins. She was lucky enough to see a peacock spread it's feathers for the first time on this trip. It is so great to be able to take her to the zoo whenever we want. The zoo pass is the best! (Thanks again Aunt Sue!)

Lots of exciting stuff happening in our house lately. Although Olivia is an angel most of the time she still has a naughty streak that comes out on occasion. Yes, my child is a hitter. Not sure where that comes from but I know it must be nipped in the bud immediately! Next time I promise to tell you about the naughty stool and how we have had to implement time outs. Yes, I know it is early but it is better to start now so she understands there are consequences for naughty behavior. Thank you Super Nanny...you have such great advice!