Sunday, March 29, 2009

miss independent

This girl is growing up so fast! I am blown away by how independent she has become this past year. I believe that by attending school she has become more independent than she would otherwise be at this age. Now I am all for her being an independent child, but Todd and I find ourselves having the occasional battle over something that she may not be ready to do by herself, which of course she disagrees with. She usually speaks her mind with a loud, "I DO IT BY MYSELF!". We have found that in most cases it is best to just sit back and let her give it a try. She will usually let us know if she ends up needing help. As part of her growing independence Olivia enjoyed her first extended time away from Mommy and Daddy recently. When we went to San Diego both of Todd's parents and my Mom helped to take care of her. She did great being away from us. I knew she would. She was constantly busy with everything from tap class, International Night at school, a couple of visits to see friends and a Birthday party! I think for most of our trip she did not even realize we were gone.

We were disappointed that we were going to be missing International Night at her school. It is an annual event in which each classroom represents a country. They study that country in the month leading up to the event and that night each child gets to visit each country to enjoy food and learn about it's culture. When they arrive each child gets their own passport. As they go from one classroom to the next they get a stamp in their passport showing that they visited that country. Olivia's classroom represented Mexico. My Mom was kind enough to make a Mexican soup for everyone to enjoy. The classroom was decorated with artwork that the kids worked on in the weeks prior to the event. My Mom said that Olivia really enjoyed going to each classroom to get her stamp, but that she was not very interested in trying any of the food. I guess she did wash her hands in each country though...one of her favorite school activities! And she and her classmates created some artwork to represent the country of Mexico. Here is Olivia's artwork. I am still trying to figure out what it is supposed to be.

Olivia also was invited to attend the 16th birthday party of a family friend while we were away. She was very excited to get dressed up in her party clothes and spend time with her "peoples". That is what she calls the people in her life... her "peoples". Olivia loves going to parties. She does quite well in understanding that when you attend a birthday party for someone else you have to sit back while they open their presents. In this case she was invited to help open the presents, which made her very happy.

One of the newer aspects of Olivia's independence is that she is sleeping in a "big girl" bed...well, at my Mom's anyway. We thought it would be best to try it at her house first before making the transfer at home. Up until now Olivia was still taking naps in a pack-n-play at my Mom's. She has totally busted out of that and it just does not look comfortable. My Mom recently purchased these mesh bed rails that she attached to my bed in my old bedroom. So now Olivia can actually sleep in my old bed! I love that. The first time she tried it she did great. She did not try to escape and she went right to sleep. See, my biggest fear about making this transition is that Olivia will go from this fabulous sleeper to a child that constantly gets out of bed for no reason, just because she now has the freedom to do so. I guess I need to give my daughter a little more credit because she has now slept in the "big girl" bed for many naps and a few overnights and she has handled it like a pro! I think secretly I want to keep her in her crib because it is really the last thing I have before she is no longer my "baby"...sniff, sniff. It cracks me up though, seeing this little girl in a big bed. I think it is time to go bed shopping for Miss Independent!

Because Olivia wants to do so many things by herself I thought it was important for her to have some things around the house that are her size. The Montessori method of teaching believes that in order for children to become more independent they must be able to do things that adults do, but in a smaller version...more or less. For the longest time I have wanted to buy her some step stools, so that she could reach the sinks to be able to wash her hands without our help. I also wanted her to have a pint size table and chairs in which she could sit and have a snack or just work on her activities. I looked into buying these items and the prices scared me away. Luckily we have a family friend who is a very talented woodworker. He offered to make everything for Olivia! She now has two step stools so she can wash her hands in the kitchen and in her bathroom. She also has a small shoe rack that she can place her shoes on once she takes them off. Best of all, she has a wonderful table and chairs that have already given her much enjoyment. We are very grateful to Dennis for doing this for us and for Olivia. Olivia is grateful too as she has informed us that she loves Dennis very much!

As sad as it is for me to see her "baby-ness" slip away, I am so proud of the independent little girl she has become lately. We do have to remind her from time to time that she is only two and there are certain things that she simply is not allowed to do yet. I think that her eagerness to learn and try things on her own is great. I hope that she holds on to that desire for all of her life. For now our job is to point her in the right direction so that she grows up to become an independent and strong young lady.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

playing catch-up

So it's been another long break between blog posts. I have noticed that the older Olivia gets the less I seem to blog. There is just too much going on day to day and not as much changing with Olivia. The good thing about so much time passing between posts is that I have tons of things to talk about when I do finally sit down to play catch-up.

Todd and I just got back from our first trip out of town without Olivia. We went to San Diego. I was attending a conference for work and my company was kind enough to pay for Todd to come along. We were sad to leave our little girl behind but we knew it was the best decision. She had too much going on last week and honestly, I did not feel like packing up the million extra things she would need for 5 days out of town. With all of the added stress our family was been dealing with lately we knew it was the perfect timing for a little getaway and we had a really nice time! It sounds as if Olivia had equally as good of a time. I will share all of the activities Olivia got to participate in while we were away in my next post. I do want to thank both of Todd's parents and my Mom for helping out so much with Olivia. We knew she was in good hands, which made leaving a little bit easier!

So San Diego...what a neat city! We arrived early in the afternoon on Wednesday and had the whole day free, so we thought it would be fun to go to the San Diego Zoo. This zoo is known for being one of the best in the country and I think we both agree. It was amazing! Even though we were tired from traveling we managed to spend most of the afternoon there. If there was one thing I wish we could have done with Olivia it would have been to take her to this zoo. She would have loved it! From the pandas to the koalas, the zoo was filled with one amazing animal after another. We will definitely go back some day and take Olivia with us.

I was busy with my conference most of Thursday and Friday so Todd was able to explore the city a bit. It was chilly while we were there but the sunshine sure was nice. We had lunch and dinner together each night in downtown San Diego and we ate at some amazing restaurants. The best part was that we did not have to pay for a thing! Our hotel was amazing too. It was a brand new Hilton, located right on the bay, which made for a great view. We used all of our free time to explore and site see, but it was nice to relax in the evenings, just the two of us.

The last day of my conference was on Saturday and I was done by 10am, so we had the whole day free. We decided to drive one hour north to an area called Temecula. It was an area filled with wineries...just beautiful! Visiting wineries is one of our favorite things to do so we decided to do some tasting and spend the afternoon in this beautiful area. Not only did we taste some great wines, but we saw some amazing scenery and had lunch at one of the beautiful wineries. It really was a nice afternoon and a great way to end our trip.

Even though we had a great time in San Diego we were super excited to get home and see our baby. I know...she is so far from being a baby, but I still refer to her in that way...I can't help it! She was thrilled to see us and I got one of the biggest hugs I have ever received from her. We got a great report from her Nana, (my Mom) and Todd's parents. They said that she was a perfect angel, 96% of the time. The other 4% consisted of a fit here and there. Those fits seemed to intensify once we got home. From the moment we got back to our house she immediately started acting out. I don't know if she was just expressing her feelings about us leaving her, or if she was having a bad day but her behavior was unlike anything I have ever seen. And I hate to say it, but it seems to be a phase because the behavior has continued on and off this week. She has been difficult and defiant which is completely out of character for her. I can't quite figure it out. Any moms out there care to share their thoughts? As Olivia's mom I am spoiled. She is almost always a well-mannered, sweet child, so when she does act out I don't quite know how to handle it. Needless to say, the past few days have been trying. My hope is that this is just a phase and my sweet little girl will return soon. Who knows, maybe it is growing pains! All I know is that when we left for our trip she was sweet and we seem to have returned to a monster. Considering my Mom was the one who spent the most time with her while we were away, I may have to blame this on her! (Just kidding, Mom!)

Aside from some stranger taking over my daughter's body, things have been going pretty well lately. Olivia is doing great at school. It is hard to believe that in a few short months she is going to be finished with her first year. We hope to be able to send her to summer camp at her school because I hate to think of her being away from her Montessori environment all summer long. The school has been doing some serious marketing lately, trying to increase enrollment for next year. They had TV cameras come into the school and shoot some footage for a commercial that was to air on PBS. We thought it would be great if Olivia made it into the commercial but we did not expect for it to actually happen. Well once we saw the commercial we were surprised to see her cute little face at the very end. Check out Olivia's cameo spot in the Three Rivers Montessori School commercial. She is wearing a brown shirt and she is shown in the last frame of the spot. Don't blink or you may miss her. As you can imagine she is super excited that she made it into the commercial. We taped it for her and she loves to watch it over and over again, squealing with delight when she sees herself appear on the screen.

Another recent change with Olivia is her hair. Oh...that hair! I am not quite sure how to describe it. All I can say is that it is totally out of control and there does not seem to be anything I can do to contain it. We often refer to her as "mop top" or " the mad scientist". It has a life of it's own and I have no idea what to do with it. It is in that middle stage where it is still fairly short but not long enough to be pulled back into a pony tail. I am dying for her hair to grow longer but for now it just sticks out like an enormous afro of frizzy curls. The first thing I do in the morning is comb it and pull it to the side with a barrette. Well, considering the fact that she is a toddler and spends most of the day running around like a crazy person, you can only imagine what she looks like at the end of the day. Here are a few pictures that show exactly what i am talking about.

If I think it is out of control now, just wait until summer humidity kicks in! I hope that it starts to grow so that I can pull it back and keep it out of her face. That hair is thick and it can make her quite warm. For now we just laugh every time she comes home for the day. It is quite funny!

The past month has been challenging. We have been struggling to find things to keep Olivia occupied as we wait for Spring to arrive. We did bust out the finger paints a few weeks ago. I know she does this at the babysitter's quite often but I had yet to be brave enough to try it at home. As you can see she enjoyed it but her interest lasted a whole five minutes I think. Ahhh...the attention span of a two year old!

We got our first taste of Spring this week. The weather has been really nice so Todd has taken Olivia to the park a couple of times. Needless to say she was very excited to be able to play on a playground once again. I have a feeling this is going to be a regular activity this season. She is so brave on the playground and could run around for hours if we left her. But all fun must come to an end and that is when Olivia's ugly side usually comes out. Regardless I am looking forward to spending lots of time with her outdoors this spring and summer.

So that is what has been going on with us lately. I am really going to try and blog a little more often. I am sure that once we start getting outside on a regular basis I will start making better use of my camera. I have a feeling this is going to be a fun spring!