Letter to Zoe, 20 Months

Dear Zoe,

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Today is one of those rare days when both you and your brother are taking a nap… at the same time to boot! I guess even this nasty cold making the rounds in our family has its perks because I’ve been wanting a chance to sit down and write a letter to you for quite a while.

You are loving the sesonal changes in our new home so far... so very different from California!

You are loving the seasonal changes in our new home so far… so very different from California!

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A lot has happened since I last wrote. Your father was offered a job in Virginia, and six weeks after we first heard of the possibility we were here. It’s almost been three months now and our heads are finally no longer spinning. I received a call from the Regional Center that you no longer qualified for services as you had caught up developmentally just before we left California! Now your days are spent at home with me and your brother who began homeschooling this year. We have so much fun together.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives... I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience Nature in all of her forms here.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives… I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience nature in all of her forms here.

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

It has been interesting to me that most everything I do with him you are able to jump right in on as well. In fact, on many days, you are more interested in any planned activities I have than your brother who loves free play with every fiber of his soul. You LOVE to paint, glue, write and draw (which of course look just the same though you are pretty specific as to which activity you are engaging in)… as long as it doesn’t get on your hands! We’ve also been shocked to find that you quite naturally already hold a pen or pencil with the correct three point grasp down toward the bottom, just like you’re supposed to.

You are definitely going through a "pointillism" stage... you love to paint dots, saying "dot, dot, dot" as you apply each one.

You are definitely going through a “pointillism” stage… you love to paint dots, saying “dot, dot, dot” as you apply each one.

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You saw this patch of dirt as we walked, shrieked “draw!” and threw yourself down to do just that.

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Language continues to grow exponentially each day it seems. Two word phrases are common and we hear three word sentences a few times each day. You are using the pronouns “I”,  “me” and “you” correctly and often. You are obsessed with pointing and telling me the names of things to the extent that it is really hard to get you to settle down to nap. For some reason sleep has a hard time competing with “door!”, “light!”, “window!”, “pillow!”, etc. You surprise me with the words you already know and I don’t know where you have picked them up… “Eagle!” while holding up a puppet in the store the other day, and “Hawk!” while pointing at the large bird soaring in a large circle above us.

You are now engaging in pretend play. Here you are having a tea party with your giant sock monkey.

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You are able to enter into Eli’s elaborate play scenarios to enough of an extent that he seeks you out to play with him constantly. He refers to you as “my partner, Zoe” and tells you that you are his best friend multiple times a day. He decided you would both be police officers for Halloween… you didn’t mind a bit.

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Saying “cheeeeese!”

You reciprocate his affection very well. You feel you have to do anything he is doing…

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

The best way to get you to eat is to just let you graze off of his plate… thankfully he isn’t territorial at all. You are still holding steady at a diminutive 20 lbs.

When we are out of the house you rarely will hold my hand but will insist on holding his, whether he want to or not. The view we get walking behind you is about the cutest thing ever! Well, that and turning around in the car to see the two of you quietly riding along holding hands in the backseat.

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You love anything and everything with fur (or feathers) and breath. You fully expect to have a little love-fest with each and every dog you pass on the street, but are beginning to learn to wait until given permission and assurance that the dog is child-friendly. And this mama is thankful that squirrels aren’t so very easy to catch.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees... You love it when dogs lick you and squeal "Kiss! Kiss!" every time.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees… You love it when dogs lick you and squeal “Kiss! Kiss!” every time.

Our new neighborhood is full of deer and you check out the window for them often saying “Deer? Deer?” followed occasionally by “DEER!”, or more often (deep sigh) “No deer….”. You enjoy watching birds at the bird feeders and take the job of refilling them quite seriously.

IMG_2918While we still have no pets (not sure we’re ready yet for a dog and I’ve developed a most unfortunate allergy to cats… I really hope that by the time you read these letters that our pet-less-ness will be a thing of the distant past), we plan to get chickens this coming Spring. I’ve long wanted to have them for the sake of the fresh eggs, and since moving to our new home in the forest their deer tick-eating habits make them even more desirable, but a recent visit to the home of one of Daddy’s co-workers who has a small flock sealed the deal.

IMG_2199IMG_2202IMG_2275You chased those poor chickens until one just gave up in exhaustion and let you sit next to her and pet and pet and pet her. Who knew chickens were such a rich source of toddler entertainment as well? It is becoming increasingly evident that you need some form of critter to love on and call your own.

The quest for independence is a hallmark of this stage of toddler-hood and you are not immune. You have to climb everything, blow your own bubbles and now prefer the “big kid’s swings” at the play ground.

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The last couple of weeks have been especially sweet for our family as we were visited by 2 grandparents and 3 aunts. You are completely smitten by your Grandpa Jim (and he with you, I might add).

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Enjoying the music of a street musician with Grandma Susan. Just after this photo was taken the two of you participated in an adorable session of toe tapping to the beat. You had it down!

It helped that on the day he and Grandma Susan had to leave Aunt Jacki arrived.

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Now the countdown is on to when we will see them all again over Christmas.

IMG_2530And so, dear sweet Zoe, you have little glimpse of yourself at a most adorable stage in your life. You are a constant source of joy and amusement. Your father and I feel so blessed that we get to share our lives with you.

Since moving I’ve managed to step up my game a little bit by posting what you and Eli are up to a few times a week on Facebook for our friends and relatives who are now so very far away. Even though you are not getting the monthly letters like your brother did, I hope you will have access to those archives when you are old enough to be interested in them, for there you are now well documented :-).

I love you so very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Zoe, 12 Months

Zoe- 12M

Ah, my dear, dear, Zoe,

 

Window shopping in Chinatown.

Window shopping in Chinatown.

Where do I even begin? I have not done the best job of chronicling your babyhood thus far. I began writing letters to Eli when he was 18 months old, and I always wished that I had begun right at the beginning. Then I got a second chance, with you. And you know what? I hadn’t figured in how overwhelmed this mama gets during that first year, especially since this mama births babies who don’t sleep. So, please know, I’m doing my best, and a lack of a well documented babyhood is in no way related to any lack of love, because of that, my girl, you have plenty!

Zoe on the kiddie train.

Inasmuch as I haven’t written an update for you since you were (ahem) 3 1/2 months old, I have a digital mountain of a backlog of photos. This letter may be a bit lengthy, so settle in, get comfy and enjoy. As most people at one time or another wonder what they were like as a baby, here is a bit of a description of the unique joy that is you…

Then... back when you stayed where we put you (about 3 months old).

Then… back when you stayed where we put you (about 3 months old).

Now... well, actually two months ago.

Now… well, actually two months ago.

You are a baby on the go! You combat-crawled at 4 1/2 months, crawled by 6, walked pushing things in front of you (including your brother in a wagon, no picture as I was too busy hovering to catch you before your noggin hit the sidewalk), and walked alone by 9 1/2 months. If there is one thing you are, it is driven!

Chasing after Eli.

Chasing after Eli.

While you are way ahead of the game in the gross motor department there are other areas where you have not been progressing quite on schedule. You have sensory processing issues which affect you in different ways. One is that eating solid food has been a challenge for you. This means that you are a hungry baby, but being much too busy to really tank up during the day, you still nurse like a newborn at night. The best of nights you are only up 3 or 4 times. On so many others you want to nurse 10 or more times a night. Even so you have fallen by 50 percentile points on the weight charts so we are working with occupational therapists and your pediatrician to help you over this developmental speed bump. In the meantime you have one tired mama who is groggily stumbling through motherhood as best she can. The fact that it is a minor miracle to achieve any nap longer than 20 minutes for you doesn’t help matters much. For a baby who doesn’t eat or sleep much you sure have a LOT of energy!

As far as going to sleep, the only one who seems to be able to lull you into dreamland is your daddy. He dances you down to sleep pretty much every night. With me you will relax and nurse, then spring up again signing “all done” with all vigor as you flounce off the bed and out of the bedroom.

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Photo credit: Mary Hurlbutt

But your daddy… well, he has special powers and and as he moves and sings you just melt into his chest. He then often keeps you against him for a couple of hours so that I can get a bit of sleep. In response, you have developed daddy-attachment much earlier in life than you brother did.

Make a wish...

Make a wish…

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You are now quite a fan of cake!

You are now quite a fan of cake!

Another area of development that was of concern was speech. Not that much is expected there at your age, but you weren’t producing the sorts of sounds in babbling that are necessary for speech later on. No, instead you spent the greater part of the past year squawking and screeching like a Pteranodon, supplying the perfect sound-track to Eli’s dinosaur phase. To be honest, we were a bit concerned that once you did begin to speak it would be with a voice like Edith Bunker’s, such were the raucous noises coming from our beautiful baby girl.

Mom! The man with the HAT...

Mom! The man with the HAT…

...has a DOG! (and you are dog-obsessed. You keep signing "dog" for at least 2 minutes after the latest dog has passed.)

…has a DOG! (and you are dog-obsessed. You keep signing “dog” for at least 2 minutes after the latest dog has passed.)

But then a few weeks ago something clicked for you, almost overnight. All of the sudden you began spouting a new word or two almost daily, either verbally or with sign language. At present count you have around 15 words and 16 signs. It’s so cute when you use a new word and Eli is the first to notice it. He gets so excited and proud of you! And your voice? Perfectly sweet with no trace grating notes of crone.

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You graduated the Early Intervention Program you attended in Laguna Beach in February and are now attending ICEC’s intervention three-to-one program for older babies. You seem to really enjoy the time spent with the other babies, music, stories, developmental gym and activities. We carry over as many of the activities as we can here at home as well.

Adorable in your cap and gown, for the whole 15 seconds you actually had that cap on your head.

Adorable in your cap and gown, for the whole 15 seconds you actually had that cap on your head.

You and your brother have such a beautiful relationship. He loves to hug and kiss you, and now that you are a walking baby he likes to pick you up and lug you around. (You generally are not so thrilled with that last part.) You show him such tenderness as well. We were astounded when once when Eli was crying 9 month old you grabbed a tissue and went over to him and began to wipe his tears away! My prayer is that the two of you continue to have a close relationship as you move through childhood and into your adult lives. Eli is doing his part in making elaborate plans as to what kind of house and what kind of car the two of you will share “when Eli and Zoe grow up.”

You try to do whatever Eli is doing.

You try to do whatever Eli is doing.

 

 

You love to swing, and spin, and twirl. I’m sure that when you are but a little bit older you will want skirts that flair and get all billowy when you spin about, and you will be spinning about constantly.

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The first time I put you in a swing it was on an impulse as we were already at a park with Eli. How I wish I’d been prepared to video the experience. You shrieked with glee so loud that I think people blocks away must have heard you! And this from a baby who usually maintains a poker face when out in public.

The Zoe your mama, daddy and Eli enjoy.

The Zoe your mama, daddy and Eli enjoy.

The Zoe you show to the world at large.

The Zoe you show to the world at large.

About that… with us you laugh and smile and are full of mischief. But I’ve learned not to try to show you off. You don’t warm up very quickly to strangers, and have even taken your sweet time with extended family who love you to bits. We have yet to reach a point where you can be left in the care of others. The most you have lasted in the church nursery is 15 minutes, and that was just this past Sunday! But you are making progress.

Communing with Uncle Joey.

Communing with Uncle Joey.

It was the sweetest thing when at your birthday party you not only let Uncle Joey hold you, but you let him walk away with you in his arms for a full 40 minutes! Sweet Zoe, you will find that this world is full of people who love you, and that number will only continue to grow as you grow and your daily activities expose you to ever widening circles. How could they not? You are altogether lovely.

You have begun to come out of your shell and wave at people when we are out in public, especially when you are in your stroller.

You have begun to come out of your shell and wave at people when we are out in public, especially when you are in your stroller.

Waving "Hi!"

Waving “Hi!”

In February we had dedicated you to the Lord in church. It was a very simple, short and beautiful affair. I was kicking myself for forgetting the camera at home when Mary Hurlbutt told me she was all set to take photos for us. I just love how they turned out!

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All four of us after the service.

All four of us after the service.

You are loving to imitate what you see others do these days. You try to feed your baby dolls with your sippy cup, and help your brother change their diapers. You like to pretend to talk on the phone…

Who's calling?

Who’s calling?

"Speak up, I can't hear ya!"

“Speak up, I can’t hear ya!”

…and you have a special relationship with each and every broom you encounter. (Eli did that too. What is it with babies and brooms?)

Just sweeping up a bit.

Just sweeping up a bit.

Out of all of the books on the book shelves in our bedroom you always choose this one…

Trying to tell us something, Zoe?

Trying to tell us something, Zoe?

You love to climb. I’m not loving this interest of yours quite as much as you are.

Ready to rule the playground!

Ready to rule the playground!

Last weekend I turned my back for probably 30 seconds to go fetch the stroller while we were at the Town Center fountain. You’ve always gone over the the first big step up to the fountain and been stopped as it comes up to your chest. I heard other mothers gasped and turned around to find you had scaled both it and the second step and were teetering precariously over the water as you joyfully slapped at it. Water happens to be another great love of yours; “agua” one of your very first words.

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Your hair is really just starting to come in. I think your little bald noggin is quite cute, and I don’t mind not having to struggle yet to get it washed and combed yet.

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Zoe, more than anything else I want you to know how loved and cherished you are. We are so enjoying experiencing the unfolding of your personality. You are a precious gift to our family, and one that we do not take for granted.

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I love you so very, very, very much,

Mama

E is for Eli!

Due to Eli’s recent growth spurt most of his Mama-mades have been packed away or soon will be. Of course this would be when Eli decides that Mama-made clothing is the BEST.THING.EVER. As in “Don’t even think I will get dressed for pre-school without having a meltdown if there isn’t a handmade shirt to wear today!” Luckily on that morning I was able to dig out one last candidate from the shirt drawer that still fit… but barely.

So between the many pairs of baby pants, nightgowns, fitted cloth diapers and diaper covers on my baby-prep sewing list it has been imperative that I sew a few new items for Eli as well.

Here is his latest shirt.

E is for Eli Shirt

I got the idea a long time ago from Dana’s Sprinkle Shirt, which she published way back in 2008. I’ve loved this idea for a long time and it was one of the first kids’ clothing tutorials I ever pinned. Now that Eli is getting really enthused about letter learning it was the perfect time to give it a go!

The shirt itself is part of my ongoing process of learning to sew from patterns. This pattern is a simple t-shirt pattern from Kwik Sew’s Sewing for Toddlers by Kerstin Martensson that Kelly at ReStitch Me recommended to me a while back. The photos are very dated (1980’s) but the clothing is so basic it still works with more modern fabric and embellishment choices. Eli is already using the largest size in the book though so I will soon be looking for a new t-shirt pattern. If anyone can recommend a particular Ottobre edition for a very basic gender neutral t-shirt pattern I’d be most interested.

I don’t know why I find it so challenging to use patterns, but I do. It seems that I had to rip out and redo almost every part of this shirt at least once. So many stupid mistakes were made, and perhaps part of that can be blamed on pregnancy brain. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.) I couldn’t very well just give up and trash the project though because Eli had watched me embroider the E with much delight and was following the construction of the shirt with focused attention. I actually cut the tan pieces so short as a mistake and then didn’t have enough fabric left in that repurposed t-shirt to fix my mistake. Color blocking seems to be in these days though, so we’ll just pretend I did it on purpose!

I also used the making of this shirt as the occasion to finally try out the twin needle I bought, oh, probably about a year ago. I found it such an intimidating idea, but everyone else that has used one and blogged about it always seems to say that is is actually rather simple to use and quite satisfying as well. Now that I’ve finally taken the plunge I’d have to say that I agree.

Wearing his E shirt and playing with his train. Please excuse the bed head. 🙂

Since I’ve made this shirt Eli wears it almost constantly. The first time I put it on him he immediately wrapped his arms around my neck in a big hug and then spent the rest of the evening periodically giving my arm little love pats. It requires prolonged negotiations to get it off of him to be able to wash it. He also tells anyone who comments on his big E shirt “Mama made it!” Nope, it just doesn’t get much better than that! I need to make a few more shirts and pronto though so that he isn’t always wearing the same soon-to-be grungy shirt!

Here’s where I’m linking up:

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sundayjembellish clothes upcycling page, A Round Tuit

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots,

Whimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour ProjectsThreading My Way,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Letter to Eli, 29 and 30 Months

Dear Eli,

I have fallen behind in my letters to you, and just at the time when you seem to be changing most rapidly. Now I feel like I don’t even know where to begin in trying to give you a bit of a recap of your life over the past couple of months!

You have changed from attending the toddler group speech and occupational therapy group to going to the developmental preschool program twice a week. You love it there! It’s in the same building as the other program and there is some overlap of the teachers and therapists that you adore so much. One main difference is that the day is three hours instead of two and you go BY YOURSELF! Last March I would never have guessed that you would have become this independent so quickly.

You are so proud of the things you make at school! We are going to have to figure out some strategy for storage as they are beginning to take over the house, yet I don’t dare throw much of anything out. You love to go and fish a project out of the pile and declare “I made this!” Even something made weeks ago will be revisited with equal amounts of pride and satisfaction as the paper that came home just the day before. Anything I tape to the fridge is soon in tatters as you feel the need to remove it to show it to me again.

And speaking of your declarations… in the area of speech you have really taken off. You now use complete sentences more often than not. And you talk all. the. time. (unless we are with other people)! And know what? I’m loving every minute of it! Just nine months ago you’re expressive language was evaluated to be at the level of a nine month old baby, now you are pretty much right on track. You still have trouble with pronouns and some pronunciation problems, but nothing that is very out of place for a two and a half year old.

One thing that you say constantly, as in at least 100 times a day, is “Oh My!” I was unaware that is was something I said on occasion (or perhaps often) until you picked it up. You say it anytime one might say “Look!” or “Wow!” or “Uh oh.”  It’s actually quite cute, if somewhat repetitious.

Your father and I have been marveling at what an easy child you are to manage these days. At the store you will find things you want, bring them to us (“I need this!”), but if we ask you to put it back on the shelf you cheerfully do. We can generally reason with you, and verbally prepare you for those stickier situations that have caused behavioral problems in the past, and you do alright. Maybe it’s the recent surge in your language ability, or perhaps just a new level of maturity. You have always been a delightful child, but easy has never been a word I would have applied to you. I gotta tell ya, I’m enjoying this stage immensely! We’ll see how long it lasts. 🙂

You now joke often and seem to always find the humor in things. The people who work with you at school comment about this as well. They say they love having you around because your laugh is so contagious! Your first verbal joke appeared right around the time you turned 2 1/2. You said you wanted to eat, so I asked you what you would like to eat. Your reply? “Eat pee pee? Eat poo poo?”  Yep, you are definitely a boy. Now one of your favorite jokes is to try to convince me that Dan Zanes on the concert video is playing a guitar even though you know it’s a mandolin; for some reason you find this endlessly entertaining.

The pictures in this letter were taken during our family’s recent vacation to Washington State. It turns out that traveling is pretty hard on you at this stage in your development, more so than it has been in the past. You begged multiple times each day “Go home?” But even so you were a wonderful travel companion. Our flight out was delayed an hour in the terminal and then an additional two hours in the plane just sitting on the tarmac. This for a late afternoon flight that should have gotten us into Seattle for a in time slightly late bed time. But my boy… such a trooper! You were cooperative and meltdown free the entire time, even though we didn’t end up in bed in our hotel until 2:30 a.m. I’m still shocked, it’s more than I would expect from any 2 year old, much less from one who has had  sensory processing and excess energy issues.

Now every time you see a plane overhead you say “Eli do that. Eli do that again!”

Even though you pined for home and your beloved guitars you enjoyed our time playing in the forest and at the beach, climbing on a stationary train, and playing with children in the families we visited. Since getting home though you haven’t been liking to spend much time out and about. You last for one activity, such as a visit to grandma, school, or going to church, but then it’s “Go home!” even if the next activity is something that is generally toddler approved, like going to the park. I think (hope) as we settle back into a routine you’ll become more comfortable being out in the community again.

Your fascination with music and instruments has grown beyond guitars and drums. You now pretend to play the trombone, the trumpet, the bass and the violin. You can identify the saxophone, french horn, tuba, piano, harp, bass, banjo, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, and I’m sure others that I just don’t recall right now. When we pass a music store with real instruments in the window you will stay there transfixed for 15 minutes or more. Once I read to you the sign on the door saying that they give music lessons so that people can learn to play instruments. You began tugging on the door with all of your might begging to go inside. Luckily the store was closed, because  you are still a pretty much walking death sentence to any instrument you get your hands on (other than the drums). When you learn to treat things a little more gently and you have a bit longer of an attention span I am sure music lessons will be in your future.

And finally, our days of babywearing have come to a definite end. We had pretty much stopped the practice with the onset of this pregnancy, but the Ergo made it’s appearance once more to help us navigate the airports on our trip. I’m glad I had this last opportunity to enjoy you this way, and that you were in a sleepy, snuggly mood for a portion of it. I’m so thankful that the morning sickness has pretty much faded and that I had the energy to do it. It really felt so nice and I needed that opportunity to say goodbye in a gentle way to this part of our relationship. But the day after we got back from our trip the doctor told me that I should now not be lifting any more than 20 pounds. Oops!.. you are somewhere between 38 and 40 lbs. at this point.

I hope you want to still hold my hand for a long time to come.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Easy Fix for Toddler Pants That Won’t Stay Up

I’ve been doing a lot of mending lately, most of it makes for pretty dull blog fodder, but it has to be done. I’ll share this particular fix though, because for how very simple and seemingly uninspired it is I actually spent a couple of days trying to figure out how to attack the problem of toddler pants that constantly migrate south.Eli received this pair of pants as a gift over a year ago and I have been awaiting the day when he would finally grow into them. Lengthwise they are now perfect, but they are just a smidge too wide to actually stay up. Even the best looking pair of pants fail to look their best when slipping below the derriere in public.

I had found this excellent and easy tutorial for fixing this problem, but since these pants unbutton I couldn’t run a complete circle of elastic all the way around the inside of the  waist.

Instead I just attached a small length of elastic to each side. It is whipstitched on each end by hand and will be super easy to remove when Eli grows a bit wider.

Simple, huh? So why did it take me a few days to figure it out?? Sigh… But now he’s wearing the pants, and actually objects to removing them, so it’s all good.

Eli Contemplates the Baby

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Photo license CreativeCommons noncommercial use.

When I first became pregnant I didn’t talk too much about the coming baby with Eli. I didn’t want him to begin feeling resentful of his coming sibling for the loss of nursing or the fact that I wasn’t doing much of anything with him anymore. Eli was simply told that Mama was sick. I did explain a couple of times that he couldn’t leap on my stomach when I was laying down because there was a baby in there now, and my husband and I would occasionally discuss the coming baby in his presence but that was about it.

Now however, I’m feeling much better, my belly’s starting to pop, we are nearing the pregnancy halfway point and baby talk has increased exponentially. Eli is becoming quite fascinated and excited about the whole thing. At least a couple of times a day he tries to peer in my belly button to catch a glimpse of the baby.

He also frequently commands “Baby out!” complete with a sweeping hand motion like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I explain to him that we have a long time more to wait and show with my hands that my belly will have to get bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER before the baby inside is big enough to be born. This always produces a round of giggles on his part. He thinks I’m joking… just wait, if this one is anything like he was I’ll be waddling around with what looks like an impossibly large  beach ball strapped to my front before we’re done.

I’m not sure if he’s excited about the baby coming for the sake of having a sibling or because he’s been told that when the baby comes Mama’s milk will come back as well. I don’t know if he will still want to nurse by that point but right now he’s pretty keen on the idea. He’s already designated which side will be for the baby and which side will be his. As he is a polite young man, he did assign the baby’s before his own.

Because for so long I stayed home to rest while he went out to play or run errands with his Daddy now Eli asks a number of times before leaving the house “Mama too?” He loves it when we are all together. Yesterday after the usual “Mama too?” as we were preparing for a fun trip to the Barnes & Noble he asked “Baby too?” I assured him we wouldn’t be leaving the baby behind.

I asked him if he thought the baby would be a boy or a girl and with no hesitation he proclaimed her a girl. When asked what he thought her name should be he answered “Baby.”

Finger Paint and Shaving Cream

 

A couple of weeks ago Eli and I set up his water table outside for some good old messy sensory fun!

I had a partial can on Dollar Store shaving cream and some homemade finger paints left over from other activities.

 

A few cooking utensils added to the enjoyment.

 

So interesting to see the colors swirl and mix together!

 

But on a hot day, the clean up process proved to be the best part of all. This boy loves his garden hose!

 

Sewing Again… Pajama Bottoms

Please excuse the fact that my blog’s appearance may be changing fairly frequently for a little while. I’m feeling the need to tinker, but am slow and inexperienced so it may be  a while before I settle upon something I absolutely love and decide to stick with.

I finally felt up to rescuing my sewing machine from beneath her 4 month layer of dust this past week as thankfully it seems that most of the morning sickness has fled! Eli has been in rather desperate need for more pajama bottoms for quite a while now. In fact I had cut out the pieces for the green pair just before I got sidetracked by early pregnancy. I’m using the pattern for the Kickin’ Back Sweats found in Sewing For Boys. (The green pants were made from a men’s t-shirt and the blue from two men’s button down shirts with incurable cases of ring around the collar. On the back side of the blue pants I used the pocket from the printed shirt as a back pocket on the light blue side.)

It turns out Eli was just fine waiting. It has been so hot lately that he’s been sleeping in shorts and, as you can see in the picture, these size 2/3 pants are still rather large on him… 4 months and pre-recent-growth-spurt ago they would have been way too huge! I’m glad they are on the large side though because I’m sure these will see him through next Spring even if he continues his incessant rapid rate of growth.

My boy is growing up in more than just stature! Whereas before he’d run away from me whenever I’d try to get him to try on something I’d just sewn for him, now he is so excited to do so. Also, he will now actually stand there and let me take his picture! No more chasing a little whirl-wind taking 237 shots just to get one that isn’t blurry of the newest Mama-made project. Best of all, as soon as I helped him pull the pants up he turned around and kissed my cheek! Really, there is no better thank you. 🙂

And for those who’d like a sneak peak at the little one… Here she is last week at the end of her 15th week of gestation. I say “she” as the doctor was 75% sure that’s the case. It is still early to tell gender though, so I’m not getting rid of Eli’s more boyish baby clothes and any baby sewing will stay pretty gender-neutral until after a more definitive report next month (if the baby decides not to be too bashful.)

Letter to Eli, 29 Months

Dear Eli,

Oh my beautiful boy, what a challenging month this has been! I think it is safe to say that it has been the most difficult month we have experience together from both of our perspectives. And while I would give almost anything to have been able to make it easier for you, still, I’ve got to say that you have astounded me with your resilience.

Your Mama is growing you a sibling that will be born right around the time of your third birthday. Both your Daddy and I are so pleased, as we have wanted you to have a sibling’s life-long companionship from the very beginning, but weren’t completely convinced it would be possible. So many people have commented to me already that you are going to make a terrific big brother, and they are so right! You have  incredible sensitivity and a heart overflowing with love for those around you. I can’t wait to see the shape that will take as you forge a relationship with your new brother or sister over the years to come.

The temporary downside of this pregnancy however is that it has come complete with all the morning sickness Mother Nature can dish out. I’m quite familiar with it as it took up residence in your poor Mama for the first 4 months of her pregnancy with you as well. We are praying it doesn’t feel as inclined to stick around quite as long this time.

This has meant a quick succession of great losses for you. As I am barely able to lift my head from the pillow for the greater part of most days you have lost a playmate. You’ve never been one to like playing by yourself, yet the best I can do now is watch you and comment on what it is you are doing as you do it. It’s just not the same. There have been no art projects or cooking sessions, no going out to visit friends in the neighborhood, few tickle sessions, and much, too much, TV.

I can no longer carry you in your beloved Ergo. Not only do I not have the energy, but as I am also usually light-headed and unsteady on my feet, the last place you should be is strapped to my body. This also means that I’m not carrying you in my arms much at all either. One good side to this though is that you are learning to cuddle. You have always craved physical contact, but unless there was nursing involved, it had to be with the one holding you standing up. Now that you will snuggle in along side me for a good cuddle while reclining it’s become a much more relaxing experience for me!

The biggest change in your life though has been that we were forced into weaning. I had always planned that you would be able to nurse as long as you felt the need. I dreamed that you would grow up with sweet memories of the time you spent feeling safe, secure and so very loved nursing in my arms. I had read up a lot on nursing through pregnancy and then nursing a toddler alongside a newborn. I know it is very possible and a wonderful experience for many that choose to go that route with their family. But for me this morning sickness is too great an obstacle. It is so very difficult for me to eat and I am losing much too much weight. Not only was I unable to take in the extra calories that are required for the pregnancy and the additional calories needed for breastfeeding, but the act of nursing itself made the nausea beyond unbearable, further decreasing my ability to eat and keep down food. Initially, we decided just to night wean as at that point the worst wave of illness generally caught me during the very early morning hours. You and Daddy moved into your room to sleep leaving mama with the “family” bedroom (and master bathroom!) to herself. It took 14 nights for you to accept the idea of sleeping without chi-chi. It broke my heart to hear you cry for me and to be unable to respond to you, but your Daddy was with you, loving and comforting you the whole time. As the morning sickness has become even worse we eventually had to stop even your daytime nursing sessions. This has also been difficult, but not nearly so much as the night weaning. You now have accepted that “chi-chi is broken” and you don’t ask anymore. I am so sorry, Little One, but please know that I sincerely tried my hardest to keep going. I would never have done this this way if I had any other choice.

But because of all of this you are learning to sleep! Most nights now you are only up once begging to eat. Other nights you sleep all the way through. Getting you down without nursing still remains a challenge. Naps only happen if Daddy takes you out in the car in the afternoon. You go down and sleep through the transfer into a stroller and your father gets a couple of hours to work on his laptop or do some reading in the air-conditioned Barnes And Noble Cafe before you wake up. At night,  initially you would just go an go and go until eventually you’d crash wherever you happened to be, which was often on the bathroom floor.

Now you will occasionally go down lying in bed next to one of us, or with a story in bed with Daddy, but that is still rare. Most often it still takes Daddy holding you and dancing slowly as he sings to you. You are very specific that this has to take place in a certain spot in the living room. Sometimes it feels like baby steps, but considering you were still often up six times a night just a few months back, you really have made a lot of progress. Eventually you will learn how to negotiate that release that takes you to the Land of Nod independently.

In many areas you have been becoming increasingly independent. Probably the most often heard phrases in our home these days are “Eye-yai (Eli) do!” and “My turn!” And oh the tragedy if your father or I should accidentally preform a task that you think should be yours… even if it is something you’ve never shown interest in doing before! While not always convenient this drive of yours towards independence is helping you to grow rapidly in all sorts of skill areas.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been letting you play with the iPad far too much to keep you entertained while I am unable to engage with you the way I always have before. You really love using YouTube. Your favorites are TuTiTu videos, episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (you don’t seem to care what language it’s in so we are hearing a lot of Eastern European cartoon voices lately), and most of all videos by Dan Zanes and Friends, especially All Around The Kitchen and House Party. You can’t watch the music without strapping on your guitar and playing along. You also now will switch between an acoustic guitar and the electric guitar as appropriate (even when playing along with music on the stereo). You think all guitars should be plugged in now so you’ve rigged up ways to attach the vacuum cleaner cord or the cord to an old Skype headset to your guitars before you begin to play.

As I am writing this to you a bit late it’s getting difficult to remember where one month ended and the next began in terms of what you’ve been doing lately. Especially since we are lacking photos this time around I think I’ll stop here. I’ll be writing to you again really soon.

Thank you for all of your patience, help and understanding this past month. I know it has been difficult but you have done a marvelous job of adjusting. I am so, so proud of you!

As always, I love you very, very, very much!

Mama

Knit Baby Pants: Guest Post from Growing Slower

I couldn’t be more pleased than I am to introduce you to Shannon of Growing Slower! I love her blog which is full of information on green and natural living, especially as it applies to the parenting of wee ones! She graciously offered to do a guest post to help me out during my early-pregnancy-induced break from blogging. While it was hard for me to choose from among the post ideas she offered, in the end I had to go with this adorable knit baby pants. A guest post is really the only way I am ever going to get any knitting on my blog in the foreseeable future, and few things feed baby fever for me as much as seeing knit baby clothing. One day I will learn to knit… in the meantime please join me in drooling over Shannon’s creation! Of course, if you are a knitter, you can do more than drool as she includes links to a free pattern. When you’re done here I highly recommend you head on over to Growing Slower… you’ll be glad you did!

If there is anyone else who might be interested in having a guest post on Folk Haven, please contact me. My schedule’s wide open. 😉
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I’m so thrilled to be guest posting here at Folk Haven! I always love sharing my favorite free knitting patterns, both original designs and those by others, so I knew this guest post would be the perfect opportunity for a little show and tell. 


 
 

I had been eyeing this adorable pattern for knit baby pants long before I ever became pregnant. Of course between pregnancy and then becoming a mom, there wasn’t much time for knitting. I’ve finally started getting some yarn back into my hands and it feels so wonderful! At last I have finished this little project! I knitted the 18-24 month size for my one year old BabyE, so hopefully he will still be able to wear them this fall. 


 
 

The free pattern is available from the ymymmytm blog. If you can make a hat, you can knit these pants.  I used three skeins (615 yards) of Berroco Weekend Yarn in Steel Blue #5930. It is almost a perfect match to Baby’s eyes.  As usual I needed to size down (to US size 4) to get the right gauge. As I was working the pattern, I matched it up to some of Baby’s store-bought 18 month pants to make sure I was getting the right size. I ended up needing to add quite a few rows to match the leg length. I added one more 2-row repetition to the moss stitch on the legs. Then I added 35 extra knit rows to the lower legs. 




This was such a fun project. I’m really enjoying these warm summer days, but these cozy pants are making me look longingly toward fall. 

Shannon is a stay at home mom and architect. She’s passionate about  green, natural, and healthy living; recycling; natural birth; knitting; cloth diapering; and of course her own lovely little family. She blogs about it all at GrowingSlower. For more free knitting and sewing patterns, click to subscribe to GrowingSlower.

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Thank you so much, Shannon! Love, love, love the pants… and your handsome model! It has been so much fun watching him grow over the past year! 🙂

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