7 quick takes

1. Although we can technically fit 3 carseats in the back of my car, it would be crowded and longer car trips would be nearly impossible. Plus at almost 11 years old and 127k miles it was getting less and less reliable and being stuck with kids is much more of a hassle than without kids. It isn’t like I can just hop in the tow truck with the driver and have him drop me off somewhere. I had to wait for Matt to come and get me and re-install the carseats in his car (since I had been lazy and hadn’t put the spares in there) and then worry about the car. So it was time to say goodbye.

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My bumper stickers had clearly seen better days (they used to even have color).

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2. And time to upgrade to a minivan. We got a 2008 Honda Odyssey with a little over 33k miles on it. The dealer somehow did opt to take my car as trade-in which meant we didn’t have to figure out how to get rid of it. Thank goodness. So now Matt and I have nearly matching cars. The color is quite similar and his hatchback looks almost like a small minivan. This was not done on purpose, it just happened that the car with the best deal and year/mileage combo was the same color (a color I love).

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3. For now both girls are still rear-facing and I’m hoping to find a good way to configure the seats so that they can all be rear-facing when the baby arrives. I’m going to need to do a little playing around and figure out the best way and determine what new car seat we will get. We much prefer the Britax to the Radian, so hopefully a new one of those, but I have read that newborns are often too short for the lowest strap setting (I’ve never tried it on a newborn), so the baby might go in the Radian until he/she is big enough, but who knows.

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4. Eloise is getting really into her baby dolls. She feeds them bottles (she hasn’t nursed them yet, but I suspect once the new baby is here she will) and she loves to change diapers and clothes, just as Greta did at this age.

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5. Greta has been big into celebrating weddings and birthdays lately. She always says that she is falling in love with Eloise and going to marry her and some set time (4 o’clock tomorrow). She also added that they were getting married “in the church I went to when she was young.” Greta usually wears my first communion veil and a blanket that drags behind her, so that her dress is long. She plans elaborate birthday parties for Albert, Big Bird, etc.

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6. I vacuumed and less than 24 hours later this is what the floor looked like. Oh, life with little kids who think dumping food everywhere is fun!

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7. Our front flower bed is still looking quite spectacular. Matt’s parents bought us some small plants and they have done so incredibly well and are so low maintenance. We need to figure out what kind they are so we can get more next year. They have been blooming since we planted them in May and show no signs of dying. Greta and Eloise pick flowers nearly every time they are outside and yet they still look great. Here is the bed in May and today.

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nearing the end of the garden

As fall gets closer and closer, our garden gets more and more pathetic each day. While I’m still able to pick nearly a large bowl of tomatoes every couple of days, the actual garden looks totally pathetic and the plants looks totally dead. Since the tomatoes are still ripening, we are leaving the plants alone. Plus all of the plants are so intertwined that there would be no way to pull out the totally dead ones without affecting the others. Here is a recent batch of tomatoes that were turned into sauce. We had a rough few weeks with all the rain a while ago. The tomatoes were all splitting from all the rain and then rotting before they would ripen. We lost a large majority of them to that, but have still gotten a pretty decent supply this year.

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A few weeks ago our tomatillo plant fell over in a wind storm and it hasn’t recovered. The other day I went ahead and picked all of the remaining ones since they seemed to have stopped growing. Today I made a large batch of salsa verde and the jars are boiling as I write this.

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I don’t have a picture, but our pepper plants are doing great! They are pretty much the only thing remaining that looks healthy in the garden. There are still quite a few peppers on the plants, so I’m sure I will be picking more. Since we can’t use all the peppers while they are fresh, I slice them and freeze them. Then they are perfect for throwing in soups, stews, casseroles, etc. in the winter. And if you have priced organic peppers in the store, you know they are quite pricey and regular peppers are on the dirty dozen list of produce, so I try to get organic ones when possible. It is wonderful to be able to have bags of them in the freezer to get us through the winter/spring/early summer. We will definitely be planting more next year!

Our strawberry plants had a second crop of berries that started in late August. The strawberry plants we got are called ever-bearing, which means they should produce throughout the summer, but they didn’t really do that this year. I think they were busy establishing themselves. We also got another crop of raspberries late in the summer. Neither of the berries really produced much at once, so we would mostly eat a few berries a day directly from the plants. Hopefully next year all the berry plants will produce a bit more since they will be more established.

Now on to planning a bigger and better garden next year!

visit from my parents

A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit. The girls loved having them here and they took full advantage of having some extra people around to read to them.

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They also did a little wrestling with my dad and showed him how they wrestle. (by the way, nearly any time Greta lays on the floor, Eloise comes over and attacks her.)

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and a few last snuggles before they left.

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first day of preschool

Greta started preschool today. She is going two mornings a week to a little school, that so far seems great. They have 16 kids and 3 teachers, go to a music class, a movement class, and just do regular preschool stuff. Last week we went to orientation and she seemed to do totally fine. Last night before bed she wouldn’t really even talk about school, I think she was a little nervous and well it has been a big week for her, so lots going on in her head. This morning we had to wake her up! (She has been sleeping much later these days, which is definitely good, and I’m glad the days of the 5:30 wake up calls are gone, although Eloise is often up that early.) We picked out her clothes last night. For now there will be no dresses at school, since when she is nervous or excited or shy, she tends to pull her dress up and pretend to chew on it, and well it isn’t great to show your undies to everyone in your class. She also often removes her dress to go to the potty so that it doesn’t fall in the potty, and again, not so acceptable at school. And we need clothes that she can easily handle in the bathroom on her (although the teachers will help her if she needs it, it just makes it easier if she can do it herself). So shorts/pants and skirts it is for now.

She was definitely a little nervous, although I think she was excited as well. We took some pictures at home first. Eloise had to join in on the fun as well (she wanted to bring a bag along as well).

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On the way to the car, Greta insisted she need flowers for her teachers. Seriously, how sweet is this child (she is clearly going to be a teacher’s pet). We took a few more pictures outside of the building. You can definitely tell she is getting a tad nervous and serious about this whole thing.

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first day of school

Then we went inside to wait for the teachers to open the doors. Eloise was getting a little unsure of all that was going on. Soon enough we went in and she gave her teachers’ their flowers (they were so sweet about it) and she didn’t even look back. The report from the teachers was that she did great! She told me she didn’t cry, but one girl and one boy did. She played with some toys, colored, listened to stories, went on the playground, played a game, had a snack, etc. She was excited to see us, but really had a great time.

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She is getting so big. I never would have guessed she would go to school so easily, but her confidence has grown so much in the past year that she really is a different child. She is still shy of new situations and new people (especially men), but she has so much more confidence and enthusiasm for everything.

dance class

This has been a big week for Greta. My parents were visiting, Monday she started dance class, and today preschool. Later this week we head on our first big road trip!

Greta has been wanting to take ballet for a long while. I promised her she could once she learned to use the potty. That happened this summer and so I finally found a class to register her for. It is at our local YMCA and only lasts 7 weeks. I wanted something short in case for some reason it didn’t work out. She has been practicing ballet in the house and is always asking what some certain trick is called (often they are no real ballet things, just random leg movements or positions). For the first class, the teacher lets the parents stay in the room and watch so of course I did, and took lots of pictures. The class is a combo irish step dancing, ballet, and tap, all in 45 minutes. Yesterday they only managed to do ballet and tap, so who knows what will happen in the future, it seems a little optimistic to do all three.

Here is our pretty ballerina getting all ready.

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Here are some ballet moves.

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and a video:

When I registered her they said you can just wear sweatpants and didn’t need to bring any shoes. We had some ballet shoes so we brought those because I knew she would want to wear them. We have some too small tap shoes, but since they said not to bring anything, we didn’t. The teacher did request they have both shoes, although if they don’t, it isn’t the end of the world. So we will have to get some proper fitting tap shoes for next time.

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And lastly, a tap video. Every time the teacher would say we are going to count to 8 tapping, Greta would immediately start. The teacher had to stop her several times and get her to start with the group. She was belting out her counting, as you can hear in the video (she is the only kid you can hear). And at the end she started doing crazy back and forth and that with the loud counting made me die of laughter, so the camera starting shaking a bit, oops. She loved the whole thing. I’m glad she is so enthusiastic.

18 months

Boy, am I terrible at keeping up with these monthly updates lately. I guess we are just going to go to every few months for both children. Poor Eloise, the second child doesn’t have nearly as good of a record of her first two years as her sister. I guess that is to be expected, although I had hoped to be able to at least write monthly updates for the first two years. On to more important things, what Eloise is doing at 18 months.

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Eloise has started saying quite a few words. She says all of our names, bird, cat, dog, yeah, baby, hello, hi, book, big bird, milk, night-night, ball, kick, run, duck, eyes, shoes, socks, shirt, etc. I can never remember them all. She tries new words nearly every day, sometimes they stick and she begins to use them regularly, other times it takes a while for them to get into regular use. By 16 months, I heard her use two word phrases, “Hi Dada”, and “Look, Greta”. Eloise will point to something and say ‘da’ for that. She uses ‘da’ to learn new words and also to get what she wants. She understands pretty much everything we say or ask her to do. She will eagerly go get her shoes to leave, or go find her water, or go get a baby, or anything like that. She still does some signing, mainly milk, more, and most recently eat (she also says milk and more while signing them, to make it totally clear what she wants). In the last two months she has added her favorite phrase “I want that” which sounds more like “a wan da”. She does replace that with any word she feels like. Another favorite phrase is “I stuck”, which she uses mostly when she is pushing a baby stroller or grocery cart and can’t get over the changes in the flooring. Eloise can identify some body parts such as belly, head, eyes, feet, hair, sometimes ears, mouth, nose.

She is really beginning to like finger plays, her favorites are the Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Wheels on the Bus. She attempts to do the motions for both of those and sometimes they even look correct!

Eloise is definitely running now. She is quite speedy. Eloise is an expert stair climber. She can go up and down our two steps into the playroom with ease, by WALKING up and down them with no hands holding onto anything. Having the two steps has definitely boosted her confidence because this was something Greta didn’t do until she was probably close to 2.5 years old. She has recently started to walk up and down the stairs while holding on. I don’t mind her going up the stairs, but when she runs to the edge of the stairs and starts to walk down them without holding on, I tend to freak out a little.

Boy oh boy can Eloise throw some tantrums. Honestly I think she screams more these days than she ever did as a baby, of course she didn’t scream much as a baby, so maybe she is making up for that. If you take anything she has that she shouldn’t or if you take her out of some place unsafe or really if you do anything that it is not perfectly in line with what she thinks should happen, she screams and screams. Oh it is so much fun.

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Eloise knows how to open the refrigerator and does so about a zillion times a day. Clearly we haven’t communicated effectively that it is a waste of energy to continually open it and stand there looking around. Eloise remains a pretty decent eater. I’m very thankful that we really don’t have to worry about eating issues around here, like some folks do. Both of these children love to eat. Eloise often wants to eat all afternoon long. No one is allowed to eat in this house without Eloise eating as well. If I’m in the kitchen cooking, or doing dishes, she is in there scrounging for food. The other morning our family of 2 adults and two toddlers went through 7 eggs for breakfast, plus bacon, cantaloupe and maybe yogurt, and the girls were still begging for more food. I don’t know how people can afford to have teenage boys. At the rate these kids go through food, you would certainly not guess they are 3 and 1. Eloise’s favorite foods are yogurt, fruit, sausage, meatballs, noodles, milk. We think Eloise may have a milk/lactose intolerance. We aren’t 100% sure as we haven’t given her much milk lately. Around the time we went to the beach (maybe 17 months) she really started chugging milk and also started pooping quite a bit. Finally after a week or so I made the connection and we decided no more milk for the time being. Eventually her poop got back to normal. For now she is drinking almond milk and eating very little cheese. Yogurt doesn’t seem to bother her, but it doesn’t bother most people. One day we will try giving her regular milk again and see if the problem returns or not. In the past few months, Eloise has given up sitting in the high chair. She now sits in a booster attached to a chair.

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Eloise still nurses a few times a day and often at night. I’m working on nightweaning her. We recently put one of our twin beds on the floor in one of the bedrooms and are hoping she will be sleeping all night in there relatively soon. She usually starts out the night in there and then joins me in bed when she wakes up. While we may not have eating issues, we do have sleeping issues. Eloise definitely sleeps much sounder and better than Greta ever has. There has only been a rare night when she has actually kept us awake for long periods at night, she usually falls right back asleep after nursing or snuggling. Eloise is down to one middle of the day nap. Eloise easily falls asleep in the car and most often transfers just fine to her bed, which is nice.

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We still often describe Eloise as disgruntled. Often we have no idea why she is screaming or unhappy. She is plenty happy, but easily gets out of a happy mood.

Eloise has 12 teeth now! She got 6 teeth in a month back around 10 months and then didn’t get anymore until about 15 months. Then again all at once she had 6 new teeth, including her one year old molars. She is currently working on her bottom canines. I can see them under the gums, but they haven’t broken through yet.

Eloise gets so excited by her sister and daddy. If we are waiting on the front porch for daddy to come she starts squealing and waving her arms like crazy when he pulls into the driveway. Then both girls take off running down the walk to get to daddy. Anytime Eloise wakes up, the first person she asks for is Greta. She can’t wait for her to get up and play (even though they fight quite a bit). I’m not sure what we are going to do when Greta starts school in a few weeks.

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Eloise is really getting into books. She loves to be read to and to just sit and look through the books. Her favorites are “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Llama Llama Misses Mama”, “10 Little Ladybugs”, “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”, and I’m sure many others. She can’t go to bed at night without reading Jack at least a few times.

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Eloise is really into baby dolls. She doesn’t have a real preference for one doll, but loves them all. She needs to have one at night time just to snuggle a bit before she goes to bed. If Greta brings a doll or stuffed animal with her, Eloise must have one as well. She likes to push them in the stroller or wear them on her back. Eloise also likes to put the babies in the high chair and bring them pretend food. Eloise pretty much likes all toys. She likes to play in the play kitchen and with the dollhouses. She also loves balls and blocks. She can kick the ball quite well, I think she may be our soccer star.

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Eloise loves to be outside and again, don’t you dare try to go outside without bringing her. She likes to pick tomatoes from the vines, although she mostly picks the green ones. She loves to find strawberries and raspberries as well, but mostly picks the green ones, no matter how many times we try to explain, just the red ones.

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Eloise continues to be a daredevil and often has to be rescued from standing on top of things. Eloise is getting into dancing more and more. She spins and kicks and marches to different songs.

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This summer Eloise really started swimming. Although we have only been swimming a few times she has proven that she can actually swim! Hopefully she will remember by the time we start swimming lessons again. Eloise doesn’t seem to actually like the water all that much, but merely tolerates it. She loves the idea of bath time, but once I rinse her hair she is trying to climb out of the tub.

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Eloise does have a bit of stranger anxiety these days and stays close in new situations. She knows all of her grandparents and usually goes to them fairly easily. Although Eloise does like to get attention from people, especially at church. I think it is probably a little different that most situations since the same people are there and see us each week, so she kind of ‘knows’ them. All of the ushers LOVE her and she likes to show off to them, which pretty much always results in her being taken out of church.

Finally, Eloise will actually color and play with play doh rather than try to eat it. I need to try painting again with her. The last time she just stuck her entire hand in the jar of paint and refused to put her hand anywhere near the paper.

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Eloise is very sweet and loving. She gives hugs and kisses to all of us easily.

In the past few months Eloise has shown quite a lot of interest in the potty. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with Greta learning to use the potty. For a while it seemed like Eloise may learn before Greta. Eloise wanted to sit on the potty often and several times even produced something. Lately, the interest has waned. While she definitely had interest, she didn’t really seem all that ready. She would only sit for about 2 seconds before getting up to check and see if there was something in there, and times when I thought she would poop, she wouldn’t sit for more than a few seconds. I think she needs a little while longer to gain the patience required to sit for longer times.

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Eloise is really into helping lately. She wants to help in the kitchen, with the laundry, help go fetch things for her sister or mommy.

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I’m sure I’m leaving lots out, but if I keep working on it this will never get done, as evidenced by the fact that I started this post at both 14 months and 16 months and never finished them. So there ya go, Eloise at 18 months.

Monkey Snuggles

Since before Greta was born, I have wanted some glorious longies or shorties or some wool diaper cover. They are just so cute and supposedly work wonderfully. But, I could never justify the cost. I used to be a devoted cloth diaper contest enterer, but it became too much to keep up with once people started adding a zillion ways to enter, so I have given up on that for the most part. I will enter contests if I see them and they are simple to enter (i.e. only one or two ways to enter). Back in April, I entered a contest at Monkey Snuggles for Earth Day. I won a pair of longies, matching diaper and t-shirt! I was so excited. I already knew I loved their fitted diapers and had been dying to get my hands on some of their longies or shorties.

I tried to pick a gender neutral color so that Eloise and baby bunny could wear them. I got them sometime this summer, but seeing as it has been quite warm, I haven’t really put them on Eloise yet. Now that the mornings are quite cool, I decided it was time to put them on her. I love them. I haven’t actually lanolized them, which makes them waterproof, but they are cute just to wear as pants for now.

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The pants have plenty of room to grow, so they will fit Eloise this winter and maybe next as well.

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I ordered the toddler sized diaper rather than the one-size diaper since we have a few of the one-size diapers and the rise seems a tad short and I was afraid it wouldn’t fit Eloise for that much longer. The toddler size seems to be quite a bit bigger than the one-size, so there is plenty of growing room! I love the way their fitteds are designed, with two snap in soakers and fold/snap down rise. They are also made with bamboo velour, which is oh so soft. Monkey Snuggles is run by a mom who lives in Vermont. She makes all of the diapers and both her mom and grandma help with the knitting of longies, etc. She usually always has a few things in stock and also does custom orders. She usually stocks her store on Thursdays, so that is when there is the best selection. Thanks again Monkey Snuggles!