Sunday, August 31, 2008

me and my girl

Just wanted to share my new favorite picture.

I have a TON to update everyone on but it is late and I need to get to bed (check back again tomorow). I could not go to sleep without sharing this sweet picture taken today by Todd.

It's just me and my girl...enough said!

Monday, August 25, 2008

a day in the life

I've always wondered what Olivia's days are like while she is at the sitter's. We are blessed for Olivia to be able to spend her days at Mama Kay's house...just next door. All of the kids call her Mama Kay, even her own grandchildren, who spend quite a bit of time with her and the kids that she watches. Not only are we lucky to only have to walk Olivia next door each day, but we are so comforted by the fact that our Livie is in good hands. She has grown to love Mama Kay like a grandparent and Mama Kay has grown to love Olivia as one of her grandchildren. Each day Olivia runs next door and screams with delight as she runs through the front door. It is such a good feeling to know that Olivia is so happy there.

Now Olivia is not alone at Mama Kay's house. There are four other children keeping her busy. Olivia's closest pal is Jordan, who is only four months younger than her. Jordan has an older brother Justin, who is five. There is an 8 month old little boy, Bryce and his older sister Madison, who is 5 as well. So Mama Kay definitely has her hands full, but the older kids help with the younger ones and she seems to manage just fine. Over the summer I had Kay's granddaughter take some pictures of Olivia during the day so that I could see "a day in the life of Olivia".

As you can imagine her days are full of playing, playing and playing some more. After breakfast each day starts with time outdoors. Kay has a wonderful backyard full of exciting things for the kids. She also has more toys, books and kid equipment than you could imagine. You need a lot of stuff to keep kids occupied for an entire day! A little imagination doesn't hurt either!

After all of that hard work, a drink break is necessary! This is a bunch of very active kids. But they all have so much fun together. It is so cute that Olivia has a nice group of friends that she gets to spend each day with.

Before lunch the kids come inside for some quieter activities. Olivia is a huge fan of books and spends lots of time looking through the pages, attempting to read them to herself. She loves books with textures and flaps and anything interactive. She also loves to point out objects that she knows. She always impresses us with her knowledge of things we did not know she knew. That's the power of books!

After a nice long afternoon nap there is usually an hour or so before I pick Olivia up. Just enough time to tackle a few more toys. What's a day without coloring?...one of Olivia's favorite activities right now. She has created many pieces of wonderful artwork for us to enjoy. It is even more fun for her now that she is learning her colors. She likes to announce what color she is using before she starts to draw.

As you can see there is so much for Olivia to do each day at Mama Kay's house. Olivia is the type of child that likes to stay busy. This is easy to accomplish at Mama Kay's, which is one of the reasons Olivia loves it there so much! We so are blessed to have such an amazing baby sitter for Olivia. Mama Kay is not just Olivia's babysitter. She means so much more to us than that. She is like family and she treats Olivia like one of her own. That's a good feeling to have when you have to leave your child each day.

Olivia is about to embark on another big adventure this week. Tomorrow Olivia starts Montessori school! I cannot believe that our little girl is going off to school! She will be attending school three days a week in the mornings. We are so excited about this opportunity because it is amazing school with a wonderful teaching method. I have no doubt that Olivia will thrive at the school. I am sure it will take her a little while to adjust, but she adapts to new situations very quickly so we are not worried. It will be a busy week, but a week full of exciting new things. A day in the life of Olivia just keeps getting more exciting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

afternoon delight

We had another wonderful weekend with delightful weather! The summer days are slowly coming to an end so we are trying to squeeze in as many outdoor activities as we can. We were looking for something different to do with Olivia on Saturday so we thought she would enjoy running through the dancing water fountains at Headwaters Park.

Olivia is thrilled with any activity that involves water so we had a feeling she would enjoy this too. After a nice long afternoon nap and a good hearty lunch we headed downtown. It was late afternoon so we were hoping that the fountains would not be very busy. It is a very popular place for children in the summer because it is public and a great place to cool off! We were excited when we arrived and saw that there was only one other family there. At first Olivia was very hesitant to approach the shooting waters. I lead by example and got right in myself! Hey, having a little one is a great excuse for acting like a kid again! After showing her that there was no reason to be scared she started making her way a little closer.

The waters start out very low and gradually make their way higher and higher until they are full blast. They can be a little intimidating to a small person so I totally understood why Olivia did not want to get to close when they were full blast. Plus, they are quite forceful and could hurt I think. But she was smart enough to move out of the way once they started to get higher. The cutest thing was when the waters would disappear completely. She would go stand on top of the grate and say, "Where waters go?". Needless to say she was beyond excited when they would start to come back and the first time was just as exciting as the 20th time! I included a few videos below of Olivia's experience with the foutains.

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After a few rounds of watching the waters with hesitation she was ready to get right in the middle of the action. Her screams of delight as she would run through the water were priceless Her bravery still amazes me. It makes me so happy that she is an adventurous little girl. There isn't much she is afraid of or won't try.

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There is nothing better than watching your child enjoy something to it's fullest. It really was a delightful afternoon! Why didn't I think of this earlier in the summer? As you can imagine all of that running around made Olivia quite tired and hungry, so we had to stop for a quick snack before finishing up our water play. Have I ever mentioned before how much this child LOVES bananas? When she was first starting to talk she called them "badas" and within the past couple of months she started saying "bananas". It is one of her favorite words to say and probably her favorite fruit to eat!

But on most hot days you can find us running through this sprinkler in the backyard. This has been Olivia's favorite thing to do this summer. No matter how many times we do this activity she still cannot contain her excitement! The perfect afternoon for Olivia is a little sprinkler action followed up by a refreshing popsicle. Life can't get much better than that!

One week from today Olivia starts Montessori school! Today we went to meet Olivia's teacher and let Olivia take a look around her classroom. After spending a few short minutes in the room I have no doubt that she is going to LOVE going to school! Is my baby really heading off to school next week? How is this possible!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

little girl, big changes

This past Monday our little girl turned 21 months old! Is it possible that we are going to be celebrating Miss Olivia's 2nd birthday in just three short months? Although she is not officially two we are definitely in the middle of some two year old actions and attitude. We have seen a lot of changes with Olivia recently.

With the fun changes, the challenging changes come as well. We are noticing a lot of resistance from Olivia when it comes to things that are associated with "babies"...like sitting in the stroller, car seat and high chair. I guess she thinks that being almost two qualifies as no longer being a "baby". She would prefer to get out and run than sit in a stroller. Aside from when we are taking a walk she does not want to be stuck in there. She also would prefer to sit next to the car seat in the back of the car than be strapped in. I had to tell her that it was illegal for her to sit there and she had to sit in her special seat. She looked at me funny, but agreed...thank goodness! She has also recently decided that it is much more fun to sit in the "big girl chair" at the dinner table, than to sit in her high chair. Although she does not give me much trouble about getting in her high chair when it is actually time to eat, I did allow her to eat her lunch in the "big girl chair" recently and she did great! Look at my little/big girl...how cute!

Although Olivia has been giving us some resistance lately she has also been cuter than ever lately! Her vocabulary continues to grow. She now says many short sentences. They usually contain two-three words but I can clearly understand what she is trying to say. What is amazing to me is how she figures out what words go with one another. The other day we were riding in the car and I started sneezing. As soon as I finished I heard a little voice from the backseat say, "bless you, mommy". How sweet is that? Not only is she super smart to have caught on to what you say after someone sneezes, but she is also very polite! The best thing about having such a big talker is that she can always tell me what she needs and wants. It can also be a bit annoying at times too...especially when she is begging for something she is not allowed to have. I am sure I will be at the receiving end of some back talking before long too!

We have been having some really nice weather this summer. And what better way to enjoy that weather than to spend a ton of time in Uncle VJ's pool! We bought Olivia a spiffy swim vest and we love it! It is comfortable for her and it is an excellent safety device. It has allowed her to become much more independent and comfortable in the water, which has given her much more confidence in the pool. She loves nothing more than to jump off the side, into my arms and swim to the other side of the pool. Her newest trick is to float. She says "foat" and dips her head back while I hold onto her. She only stays there for a split second, but will do it over and over. I am proud of how far she has come since we started swimming lessons in the spring and I think she is proud of herself too! We have had a great time swimming and hope to squeeze in a little more before the summer is over.

And lastly I must tell everyone that Olivia went to her very first tap class this week! Be still my heart! I have never seen anything so cute in my life! It is a pre-dance class held at the dance studio which was my second home while I was a kid...Northeast School of Dance. Every since I had my baby girl I have been itching to get a pair of tap shoes on her little feet. She is a bit young to take a class but we thought we would give it a try. If she likes it...great! If not, then we will stop and try again next year. Well after a little hesitation at first she warmed right up and had a great time! I hope to take some pictures one of these weeks, but I want her to get comfortable in the class first before I freak her out by taking pictures. I hope she continues to enjoy the class. It is a great activity for our little bundle of energy and it makes me proud to see those little toes a tappin'.

So our little girl has been changing, big time! I love watching her change! Yes, some of the changes have been challenging, but no one ever said that parenting was going to be easy. Plus, I think dealing with the challenges only makes the sweet moments more rewarding!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

California - Part 2

The second half of our trip was just as fun as the first half. On Monday we took a trip to Monterey Bay. Our mission was to tour the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We read about the aquarium and knew that it was one of the best aquariums in the country, so we had to go knowing it would be something that Olivia and the rest of us would enjoy. We planned this trip very carefully by making sure that Olivia had a nice long nap before spending the second half of the day in Monterey. We wanted her to be well rested so that she would enjoy all of the wonders of the aquarium.

First we stopped for some lunch. Monterey is known for their clam chowder. Just about every restaurant in the area features theirs as "The Best Clam Chowder". I think they all taste about the same but we knew we had to have some. So we stopped at a cute little restaurant before heading to the aquarium. It is such a beautiful area!

The aquarium was unbelievable! There were so many unique and fascinating fish there. Olivia just wanted to run wild but it was quite crowded so we tried to keep her in her stroller as much as possible. There were many different petting stations were you could touch different things like starfish and sea urchins. She enjoyed that. One of Olivia's favorite things was the wave wall. Every 15 seconds or so a huge wave of water would rush over this glass wall. When you are standing underneath the glass you feel as if a huge wave was crashing over your head. Each time the water would come Olivia would scream with delight. It was pretty cool!

I think our favorite exhibit was the jellyfish. I have never seen anything like it. I had no idea there were so many different types of jellyfish...from teeny-tiny ones to big huge ones! Some of the glow in the dark, others have what look like little lights that move up and down their tentacles. It is indescribable. I am glad we were able to see the jellyfish on our visit because the exhibit will soon be leaving the aquarium for good.

Some of our other favorite exhibits were the penguins and stingrays. All of the animals were so fascinating to watch. We saw some species of fish and other creatures that I did not know even existed.

I think Olivia would have enjoyed herself even more if she were just one year older. There were splash stations for toddlers but the activities were just a little too grown up for her. Regardless, it was a very fun day and one of the highlights of our trip. The following day brought gorgeous weather so we decided to make it a beach day! I wanted Olivia to have one day where she could go to the beach, play in the sand and not worry one bit about getting messy. She was in heaven! Pouring sand in her lap, filling her bucket and dumping it out...she was more than entertained!

We took her down by the water a few times but the waves made her a little nervous. She did stand by while we watched my cousin Justin skim board. Later while Olivia was busy playing, Todd, my cousin and I were able to sneak away to take a walk on the boardwalk. We came across a huge pelican that was resting off to the side of the boardwalk and not too concerned about all of the people walking around him. I was able to get in right in his face to snap his picture!

Once we returned to the beach we decided to feed the sea gulls. Olivia was very excited about this activity and was not scared at all once those birds started getting close to us. She was however unhappy once we ran out of snacks for the birds. It was fun while it lasted!

I was surprised by how long we stayed at the beach. I thought Olivia would tire of it quickly, but no way...she was content to just sit in the sand. It was fun watching her play and enjoy something new for the first time. I think we could all get used to living near the beach! We took so many fun family pictures at the beach that I just have to share them.

We relaxed during our final day in California. Since our flight was not leaving until almost midnight we had the whole day to enjoy. Since Todd and I had not had any time without Olivia all week we decided to go into Santa Cruz with my cousin for lunch and some shopping. It was nice to do a little sightseeing without the kid. That afternoon we took Olivia to a very nice park in the area. There were tons of swings and slides for her to enjoy. Hanging out at the playground is one of Olivia's favorite things to do.

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That evening we had one last family dinner before we had to head to the airport. Although we did lots of fun things during our trip, Olivia's favorite part of each day were the evenings spent at my aunt's house. She just loved being around everyone while playing and showing off. From wrestling with Uncle Ron, to swinging on the balcony, to just relaxing at the end of the day and watching a little bit of Elmo...Olivia always has and always will be most comfortable when she is home with family.

My aunt has a beautiful grand piano and Olivia became obsessed with it. She loved nothing more than playing the piano whether it was with others or by herself. You must watch the video of "Olivia the Pianist". While watching the video listen for her rendition of the "Elmo's World" theme song, and her version of "Head, Shoulder, Knees & Toes" with some actions to go along with her words...very funny!

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And I must not forget Rusty, my aunt's very sweet little dog...Olivia's best friend while visiting. She spent most of the week telling Rusty what to do and walking around asking, "Rusty...where are you?". After seeing how much Olivia loved playing with Rusty it made me realize that one day we will have to get this child a dog!

Olivia had such fun getting to know her Aunt Sue Sue, Uncle Ron and Cousin Justin better. We were sad our time in California had to come to an end. It was an amazing trip and we look forward to going back next year...expect next year we will have to pay for a ticket for Miss Olivia! Oh well...it will be worth it! Thanks to Sue, Ron and Justin for being such great hosts and for putting up with us for a whole week! We had a great vacation!