Monday, February 25, 2013

Joshua's farm 3rd birthday party!

It ended up being a bit delayed, but we finally threw Joshua a party to celebrate his third birthday!  We had originally planned to have the party on Saturday, February 9 -- a couple weeks after his actual birthday, but as his birthday was the day before the PEF/Manna winter retreat, one of the busiest weeks of the year for David, we decided to put off the party until we'd had time to recuperate.  Then a huge snowstorm was forecast for the 8th and 9th, so after much hemming and hawing, we decided to postpone the party a week.  Which ended up being a good thing in retrospect, since Joshua spent Sunday the 10th throwing up and listless from a 24-hour stomach bug...  I'm glad we didn't potentially expose all of our friends' kids to whatever it was Joshua had!  The 16th was the perfect day for the party -- we were all recovered, the roads were clear of snow or ice, and we were ready to party!

This year, we went with a farm animal theme.  As I think I've mentioned before here on the blog, Joshua loves singing "Old MacDonald," and he's very into animals these days.  So we thought it would be fun to go whole hog (har har) with pigs, cows, sheep, ducks, and other cute farm animals decorating the party zone!  I went with another Etsy shop for the invitation and party printables -- super cute party designs, which I just had to print out and assemble!

And I admit, I had a little too much fun with the farm-themed food items...  :)

And in keeping with tradition, I attempted a homemade theme cake -- a big red barn, modeled after the one in one of Joshua's current favorite books!

We invited a bunch of Joshua's friends from play group, Sunday School, and our other friend circles.  There were so many little toddlers hanging out at our house, and Joshua had a blast!

And then we got to the part Joshua had been waiting for all day: CAKE!!  :)  This year, Joshua was able to eat it all by himself!  And he didn't let something as trivial as birthday hugs from his buddy Elliot distract him from his goal of shoving as much cake into his mouth as quickly as possible...

We tried to get a photo of the two littlest ones there, Sophia and Leila (9 months), but I think Leila was just a teeny bit too interested in Sophia's dress, and Sophia didn't really take well to Leila's inspections...

All told, though, our kiddos really did have a good time.  :)  We're so thankful for all the good friends who came to celebrate our wonderful, funny, smart, sweet THREE-year-old.  Thank you for loving our little Joshua!

He totally can't wait for the next party.  :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sophia Watch: Six Months

Half a year already!!  Our happy wee girly is six months old now, and continues to be such a sweet-tempered, curious little one.  It's generally really easy to get smiles out of her, just by grinning right in her face and maybe making a few funny noises.  Which makes this photographer mama so very, very happy!  :)

Sophia continues to smile, giggle, and full-out belly laugh throughout the day.  David and I can get her to chuckle pretty regularly, but it's Joshua who elicits the great big laughs.  Sophia so loves her big brother!  She stares at him in fascination when he jumps up and down around her, and she's very patient about his sometimes less-than-gentle playing around her.  I can't wait until she's old enough to interact with him more fully!

Still no signs of rolling over, and no interest in trying to crawl or anything like that.  Which, to be honest, I'm very okay with -- remember how very mobile our little trouble-maker Joshua was at six months?  :)  If Sophia wants to wait a bit longer to become mobile, I'm cool with that!  She is getting better at sitting up while propped by pillows, and she stands very well as long as you provide a bit of balance, so I'm not concerned about her muscle development.  She's just a very contented little girl, and so far, she's perfectly satisfied with sitting and watching the world around her!

The one major milestone we reached this month was the introduction of solid foods!  Just a few days before she turned six months, we offered her rice cereal for the first time.  I learned my lesson with Joshua, and decided not to introduce too many new things all at once -- I kept Sophia on my lap rather than in a high chair, and kept the cereal consistency pretty watery.  And the first feeding went like gangbusters!  I think she thought the spoon was a fun new chew toy, and was pleasantly surprised to get some food with it as well.  Three days later, we introduced sweet potatoes, and it was a revelation -- Sophia was clearly excited to discover that food could taste SO GOOD!!  :)  She gobbled down an entire Gerber container of the sweet potatoes, and she's continued to demolish the sweet potatoes each time I've offered them.

And with the introduction of solid foods, we've dropped the last dreamfeeding nursing session!  I had been waking her up between 11-11:30pm to do the last feeding of the night, which generally took forever (since she was half-asleep and leisurely about nursing), and which meant that David and I weren't going to bed until after midnight.  Now, I feed her a solid food meal at about 6pm, and then do a last nursing session at about 9pm, and we're done for the night!  We're very, very excited about having these extra hours of sleep back.  :)

And more photos of our sweet little girl at six months!

Joshua wanted in on the sticker fun -- it's a good thing I kept the old month stickers.  :)

Happy half-birthday, little Sophia!  We all love you so much, baby girl!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Sing 'Oh My Soul'? Just the verse?" [VIDEO]

As I mentioned in the three-year-old update post, Joshua is getting much better at (and more into) singing these days.  And it's surprising how many songs he's learned!  We always laugh about how he, as an illiterate toddler, is in an oral tradition all of his own -- he has to memorize things if he wants to experience them again on his own, and it's amazing just how sponge-like his memory is!

We realized a couple months ago that he had entirely memorized the words to Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons," a popular Christian contemporary hit.  David used it as background music to last year's senior slideshow video, and Joshua loves watching that video and pointing out all of his friends.  (We all miss you, class of 2012!)  We were in the car listening to the radio when that song came on, and to our surprise, Joshua sang along with it!

Joshua calls this song "Oh My Soul" -- which makes sense, as that's a repeated and elongated line in the chorus.  And he consistently requests that we sing "Oh My Soul," directing either that we start at the beginning ("just the verse") or with the chorus ("just the chorus").

And I finally got it on video!  Please excuse my errors in singing -- I typically have to look up the lyrics on my phone, but I was using my phone to record the video so I was winging it and messed up a few times.  (Yes, Joshua's memory is better than mine...)  And as usual, Joshua got distracted by the phone partway through, but he does make it all the way through the song in this video!

Cutest.  Thing.  Ever.  I could listen to his little voice singing all day long!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Joshua-isms: Three-year-old edition!

How is it possible that our baby boy is already THREE years old??  I've been so bad about blogging the little daily quirks and milestones over the last several months, so here's a big potpourri post, full of the random little things Joshua does or says these days that we don't want to forget!  I'm also throwing in a bunch of snapshots of him from the last few months.  So this one's a long one, but in my (utterly unbiased) opinion, a super cute one.  :)

Joshua loves to ask David to "go run fast" with him.  Our house has a long, straight open stretch from the front door through the living room and dining room to the back sliding door, so he loves to run laps from the door to the window and back again.  But it's so much more fun when his papa is running with him!  (Thankfully, he knows that mama doesn't run fast -- this is apparently an exclusively papa-oriented game!)  It's so hilarious watching them run together -- David runs full tilt, and is only slightly faster than Joshua!  And they both laugh uproariously the entire time.  Great exercise, and so much fun!

Another fun game he's created is "zoom to the carpet."  He'll run endless circles around our coffee table while I sit on the couch and watch him.  My job is simply to yell "zoom to the carpet" when he reaches the carpeted section, and "zoom to the floor" when he reaches the hardwood.  I love that he takes pity on me and doesn't force me to run around with him.  :)

Joshua's vocabulary continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and he's well into full sentences and mini conversations with us now.  It's so interesting to see how his mind works, and what connections he makes!  He still has some vestiges of babyhood in his speech though -- I love how he says "amibles" instead of "animals," and "converbillow" instead of "convertible."  :)  And he still confuses "I" and "you" (though this has been disappearing in the last couple weeks).  Which makes sense, because the I/you distinction is a fairly abstract one to grasp, especially given that his language acquisition is entirely based on parroting back things we say to him.  So for instance, every time he spills something by accident, he'll gasp loudly and say "Oh!  You spilled!!  I clean it up!"  And then sit there and wait for you to clean it up.  :)

We've also been having success at teaching him to use polite phrases.  He still needs heavy prompting, but he'll tack on "please" after a request, and he's learning to frame his requests in "May I" or "Will you" sentences.  (It's funny when this learned sentence construction combines with his I/you confusion to create sentences like "Will you pick you up, please?" or "May I pick you up, please?")

Joshua loves helping out in the kitchen these days!  As soon as he sees me pulling out bowls and spoons, he races over to push one of the dining table chairs over to the counter closest to me, climbs up to stand on the chair, and insists on helping me cook.  His favorite part of any cooking activity is mixing -- in fact, he views mixing as *his* job, and gets offended if I do any stirring on my own!  He prefers dipping the spoon into the bowl, pulling it out, and examining the texture/viscosity of whatever is inside.  Not really a great method of mixing batters or doughs, but a surprisingly good way to fold blueberries into muffin batter...  :) 

And speaking of food... Joshua has unfortunately developed some very strong opinions about what he will and won't eat.  He's never really liked meat, even as a baby, and now he refuses to eat any meat (the two exceptions being fishsticks and low-grade chicken in Chinese takeout).  Very, very occasionally, he'll consent to trying something off my plate, but for the most part, he only wants to eat a few set items: peanut butter sandwiches, peas, string cheese, strawberry yogurt, Kashi cereal, Kix and Cheerios (always mixed together, with no milk), Clif bars (what he calls "bar cookies"), blueberry muffins, blueberry bagels, and the few items of junk food we allow on occasion (goldfish, pretzel sticks, animal crackers, etc.).  We're working on presenting him different options on a more regular basis and getting him to at least try new things...

Oh, but the cute part about his food stubbornness -- he still says "bye-bye" instead of "no."  So even when he's in full-out toddler tantrum mode, it kind of doesn't sound quite as bad...  :)  He'll often scream things like "Bye-bye chicken!!  Hello peas!!!"  (And, well, we want him to eat his veggies, so I guess that particular preference isn't so bad...)

Joshua has graduated mostly away from board books (though he still has a few beloved favorites), and he loves climbing up next to me or on my lap and requesting that I read to him.  His attention span is generally long enough for us to read a full story to him, but he also still loves pointing out the repeating animals or objects in each of his books.  For instance -- did you know that "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a book about a dog?  And "The Berenstain Bears' New Baby" is a book about a baseball?  :)

Joshua also finds it absolutely hilarious when I "accidentally" misread something in one of his books.  It started when we were reading "Green Eggs and Ham," and I was going through it a bit too quickly, and accidentally said "I will not eat them with a moss," rather than "mouse."  He stopped me by laughing uproariously, saying "no, not moss!  Mouse!!  Mama made a mistake!!"  So now when we're reading a book he knows really well, I'll occasionally throw in a wrong pronunciation, and giggles ensue.  It's SO MUCH FUN creating these inside jokes and having these giggle fits with our little guy!

Joshua also really loves to sing these days.  And he's getting better at actually differentiating pitch, rather than just rhythmically screaming the lyrics!  :)  One of his favorites (and the inspiration for his birthday party this year) is "Old MacDonald."  He'll request a verse by asking "Old MacDonald had a cow?"  He usually starts with a cow, but his favorite verse is "Old MacDonald had a Papa, and Mama, and Joshua, and Baby Sophia, and Anna, and Elly, and Ms. Lucy, and Mr. John!"  We apparently say "blah blah."  :)

He also typically sings along with his bedtime lullabies.  Our bedtime routine has developed now to "pray, and Soft Kitty, and Twinkle Twinkle" -- we do a simple prayer with Joshua (starting off with a list of things we want to thank God for, and closing with a list of people we ask Him to bless), and then sing Joshua's preferred two lullabies.  One of which, yes, is "Soft Kitty" from "The Big Bang Theory."  And a lot of the time, Joshua will request "screaming Twinkle Twinkle," which requires you to shout the words along with him as loudly as you can.  Not exactly a soothing exercise (and I've had to be creative about "screaming" as quietly as possible when Sophia is napping right next door), but for the most part, Joshua goes quietly to sleep after this routine.

Joshua now knows how to count up to 50, with just a little help on the 40 and 50.  He thinks it's hilarious, though, to shout "twenty-ten" instead of 30... About a year ago, we had a hard time explaining to him that twenty-ten, imminently reasonable though it may be, is not actually the number after 29.  He knows that 30 is the right answer now, but thinks it's super funny to shout the wrong answer, wait for our reaction, and then chuckle "no, not twenty-ten, thirty!!"  He's also still a bit fuzzy on actually counting objects rather than just reciting a long string of numbers -- if you ask him to slow down and count the objects, he'll generally get it right, but he would clearly prefer to rattle off the numbers he knows.  And he'll often skip objects or double-count them in order to reach the number he wants (usually 10 or 12).

Speaking of feats of toddler memory -- thanks to a series of kids' YouTube videos, Joshua has also memorized the planets of our solar system.  (Which sadly does not include Pluto...)  I submit to you that there is very little in the world that is cuter than a little toddler voice saying hello to each of the planets in order.  Especially when he finishes by very politely saying "bye bye planets, see you next time!"  (All thanks to this video about a "planet train.")

Joshua has really come into his role as big brother in the last couple months.  He loves trying to teach Sophia things -- perhaps most notably, by chiding her with rules we've set for his own behavior.  It's clear he knows he's not supposed to scream, or kick, or throw his cars, because he consistently tells his (placid, non-screaming, non-mobile) little sister "don't kick, Sophia!  Sophia!  No screaming!"  Good to know our rules are sinking in for him.  :)

He also enjoys catechizing his little sister.  :)  A cute example from the other day, during Sophia's post-nursing play time:
Joshua: "Sophia!  What noise does a fire truck make?"
Me: "I'm sorry, buddy, she doesn't know that yet."
Joshua: "It goes wee-ooooh-weeeee-oooooh!  Sophia!  What color is a fire truck?"
Me: "Yeah, she doesn't know that either."
Joshua: "It's red!!"
  *clearly trying to come up with a question she could answer*
Joshua: "Sophia!  Are you a lamp??"

It's so hard to believe that our little man is already three.  (We just sent in our deposit for his preschool tuition for the fall -- *sob*!!)  It's been an incredible three years, and we can't wait to see how he continues to grow and develop!