Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30: Haiti, here we come!

I leave tomorrow on a missions trip to Haiti with a group from my church.  My bags are packed, and I think I have everything I am supposed to bring.  I just can't shake the feeling that I am forgetting something!

 I'm excited and nervous about the trip, and I'm sad about leaving my girls and husband for a whole week.

I'm sure I will have much to share when I get back next week!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 28: More PT

Isla had a physical therapy appointment on Thursday, and it went MUCH better than last week.

Isla started to fuss a little bit when we got into the office.  But Shannon moved us into a new, bigger room.  There were new toys and new things to look at, and I think she liked the change.   I at lso brought some of her favorite things from home to try to help her feel more comfortable.  After a few minutes of clinginess, she got brave and started to play and interact with Shannon.  She did some good work pulling up and doing the things that Shannon wanted her to do.

I'd say her pulling up skills have improved 100% in the past week.  She was pulling up on her toy table this morning almost without any effort at all.  Sometimes she still gets stuck with her feet in front of her and can't figure out how to get them in the right position to pull up.  That is the problem with scooting (as opposed to crawling).  Isla has never gotten comfortable on her knees with her feet behind her, like most kids do.  In order to pull up, she has to get on her knees with her feet behind her and getting into that position is sometimes a challenge for her.  But she is doing a good job, and I think she will continue to improve with more and more practice.

Our new skill to work on this week is learning how to sit down from a standing position.  We are supposed to help her bend down and reach for objects while she is standing, to strengthen her muscles and help her learn how to sit down.  Right now, if she sits down while standing, it is because she fell there by accident. 

Also, Isla learned a new word this week.  So far, she only says "mama" and "dadda" with any sense of purpose.  And she will tell you "baa" if you ask what a sheep says.  This week she started pointing to this stuffed duck and saying "du." 

At first I thought it was just a fluke, as she says "du" randomly all the time.  But she continued to do it whenever I showed her this duck.  Shannon heard her say it to the duck in physical therapy as well.  Later that night, in the bath tub, I pointed to a a different rubber duck in the tub and asked her what it was.  And she said "du" again.  I definitely think this counts as one of her first words!

June 24-27: Camp

 I've decided to bite the bullet and pay $30 a year to be able to continue to post pictures on this blog.  I'm cheap and thought about switching to a new blog.  But I love having everything together in one place, so I'm going to stick with it.  Now, it's time to get caught up on the past week!

We helped at a 3rd/4th grade week of camp at our church camp this week.  Daniel led the worship in the morning and evenings, and I taught a class in the mornings, and our girls just hung out there all week!  It was a pretty good week. We ended up going back and forth between home and camp a lot, as I still taught piano lessons and Daniel still needed to work a little in the afternoons.  So it was kind of crazy to be going back and forth all week.

The girls were great though; I couldn't have asked them to cooperate much better.  Audrey thinks camp is the best place ever!  She woke up every morning SO excited because she got to eat breakfast, lunch AND dinner at camp.

I failed at taking pictures this week.  I only have a couple, and none of them are that great.

Here is Audrey dancing during the worship time.  She loved the music, and she quickly learned the Jesus is my Superhero theme song.  She liked to dance just like all the big kids were dancing.  Cael taught her some new moves too.

 Audrey and Cael have had lots of fun together at camp.  This wagon has been around every year with them, and it is always a hit!

The highlight of Audrey's week was probably the swimming time.  She only got to swim one day, but she was so excited about it.  I wasn't sure how she would do with all the big kids in the water around her.  There were a lot of kids and not a lot of room in the pool.  She got upset a few times about getting splashed in the face, but then she got used to it and didn't seem to mind so much.  She loved showing everyone how she can "swim" all by herself.  Here she is in her swim vest and floaties right in the middle of it all.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I was trying to get caught up for this week and post pictures from our time at church camp.

But I can't upload any more pictures to this blog because I just ran out of storage!  I knew this day would come eventually, but I didn't realize I was so close to the limit.

So I'm trying to figure out what I want to for more storage, start a new blog...I'm not sure yet.  Stay tuned, as I will get it figured out soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23: Progress

After a frustrating day on Wednesday, Isla made some encouraging progress today.  We were working on pulling up with her toy table.  Usually I build a block tower on top of it, then encourage her to pull up, so that she can knock the blocks down.  And all of a sudden, she pulled herself up by herself (she occasionally will do this but not consistently).  And then she did it again.  And again.  And again.  Like ten times in a row!  It was not easy for her, but she got herself up. 

We always clap and make a big deal about things whenever we are working on skills like these, so she is in the habit of clapping for herself whenever she thinks she has done something good.  Today, we went crazy, and she was so excited too.

Later, we were at another birthday party.  Isla just wanted to take off everywhere.  She always likes to walk when you hold her hands, but she usually wants to hold on with both hands.  She can only take a few wobbly steps with one hand...until tonight at this party.  She grabbed onto one of my hands and just started going.  We walked all over the place like this, and she didn't hardly falter.  We walked on the sidewalk, in the grass, through some mulch, all while she was just holding one hand.  She may start taking off on her own sooner than we expect.

So all of this is good news for Isla, and reassurance for me that everything will be just fine.

Here are a few more party pics.  Tonight we went to our friend Simon's 5th birthday party.  He had a Lego-themed party.

 This is Audrey with her buddy Luke.  Unfortunately, Luke is soon moving away so they won't be buddies for much longer.  But Luke is so good with Audrey, and Audrey loves to play with him. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22: Brave

Today I took Audrey to see the new Pixar movie Brave.  It was pretty good, but it was probably a little too intense/scary for her at times.  I do think she liked it though.  She keeps telling people about the movie like this:  "It was a great movie.  The queen ate the cake, and then she turned into a bear!"  (That really is a part of the plot).

So, Brave is about a princess named Merida who doesn't want to be a traditional princess.  She is tomboyish and independent and very different from the typical Disney princess.  As soon as the movie started, Audrey said, "I want to see the princess."  I told her that Merida was the princess.  Then Audrey said, "No, I want to see a beautiful princess."

Audrey has definitely been brainwashed by the Disney princess world, where beautiful equals pretty, sparkly dresses and tiaras.  I tried to explain to her that Merida was a beautiful princess, even though she didn't wear a sparkly dress, but I don't think Audrey was following me.   I appreciated the fact that Brave focused on a heroine that wasn't perfectly polished and made up but rather someone more like a real girl...with crazy hair and curves and all!

Here is a lame picture of a picture on my cell phone, because I still don't have a way to get pictures off my phone.  Audrey insisted on sitting on my lap the ENTIRE movie, which was kind of annoying.  But it was also kind of fun to snuggle with her and laugh and talk about the movie.

Tonight we went to our friend Wesley's fourth birthday party.  It was a Batman party, and they had masks and capes for all the kids.  Audrey makes a pretty cute superhero!
Just so Isla doesn't feel left out...she had fun at the party too!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21: Kid City Fun

Last night was the last night of Kid City.  During the closing program, he kids all went up on stage to perform a few songs they had been working on this week.  Audrey was talking all day about how excited she was to go up on stage and sing.  I still remember her stage silence in last year's Christmas program, so I wasn't really expecting her to sing or do anything.

But she did!  And I wish I would have recorded it, because it was so cute.  She sang the songs wholeheartedly and did every single action to go with it.

I also took a few pictures of her playing in the grocery store last night.

I stole this picture from a friend's Facebook page.  This is Audrey with all her boy friends.  The boys were all sitting down to take a picture, and Audrey ran up and jumped right in saying cheese.  There was a long period of time where we would try to put her in group pictures with other kids, and all she would do was scream.  She has come a long way in the past 3 1/2 years!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20: Physical Therapy

Isla had a frustrating physical therapy session today.  It put me in a grumpy mood for the rest of the day, so here is my long rant about it.

Isla started fussing and crying as soon as we got there and Shannon started to talk to her.  She's old enough now that she can remember what happened last time and how much work it is to be in that room.  Except that last time she was happy and laughing the whole time, so I don't know what her deal was today.  (Well, she has been out of sorts lately.  I spotted two teeth peeking through her gums today, one molar and one other one, so that may be part of the problem).

Shannon just barely attempted to do a few exercises with her, but most of our time was spent trying to find something that would make her happy.  But nothing worked.  She was just not in the mood for any of it.

It's frustrating because it's not free to go to these physical therapy sessions.  Today was a complete waste of our time and money.

It's frustrating because I really want her to learn these skills and to develop normally.  There are times when I feel like she is doing okay.  She is starting to cruise all around the room, using only the walls for support sometimes.  That seems fairly normal development for her age.  But other times she seems so far behind.  We had a nine month old baby over to visit this week, and she was all over the place.  Crawling, rolling, pulling up, standing...and it all seemed so effortless for her.  Isla really has a hard time pulling herself up.  I'm not sure if she is just not strong enough, or if she just can't figure out how to do it.  And then there is the whole scooting thing, which in and of itself is not that big of a deal.   But because she scoots, she can't pull up, and she is probably not going to take off walking until she is able to get herself into a walking position.  So I really want physical therapy to go well, and I want her to learn how to do these things, and I am growing impatient, so I'm writing this long run-on sentence to complain about it all!

Working with her at home has not been going so well lately.  We were on vacation last week, so it was hard to work with her then.  And she has been Little Miss Crabby pants off and on since we've been home, which makes it hard for her to be cooperative.  I don't feel like she made any progress in the two weeks between physical therapy sessions.

Shannon seemed to be less optimistic about Isla as well today.  Last time, she thought Isla would take off crawling soon.  This time, she said it was okay if she didn't crawl.  There are a lot of benefits to crawling, but she admitted that some kids just don't do it and won't do it, and it's not the end of the world.  I think she thinks Isla is going to be one of those kids.

In the midst of all this, the question keeps floating through my mind:  Is all this really necessary?  If we just left her alone, would she figure this all out by herself in her own time?  It's hard to know, and I would hate to take a chance and then be wrong.

We'll just keep trying at home, and we will go back next week and hope for a better session.  For today, I'm just frustrated!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18: Audrey's first VBS!

Tonight was the first night of our church's preschool VBS.  In the past, our preschoolers have always had VBS at the same time as the elementary.  This year we decided to break them up into two separate events, and I think it was a great idea.  This way the entire event could be structured just for preschoolers.
This was also Audrey's first time to participate in VBS.  I have to admit that I was a bit emotional about it.  It surprised me...but when I saw her singing and dancing in the pews with the other kids, she just seemed so grown up! 
Then she volunteered to go up on stage.  She got to go up and find the Orange Star (her group name) that was hidden on stage.  I was not in the room for this part, but Daniel recorded it.  She was so brave! 

Later in the night she got to go on stage again and participate in a puppet show.  She is such a big girl, and she had so much fun at her first VBS.

The idea behind Kid City is that the kids get to experience different parts of a city (home, park, grocery store, church) and while playing in these areas, they learn about how God is a part of their everyday life.  I was in charge of the grocery store, and I had a lot of fun putting it together.  I think it turned out pretty cute, because you know all the preschoolers really care about how cute it is!  =)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17: Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!
 Audrey decided that her present to Daddy would be to give him lots of hugs and kisses all day long!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 11-15: Vacation!

I don't really have the energy or time for a full recap of our vacation.  I'm sure there are not many of you out there who really care about every detail of our vacation anyway.  So I'm just going to post a few pictures and thoughts.
Holland, Michigan:  We went to Holland with our friends BJ and Kellie and their kids Ava and Truett.  Combined, we had a 1, 2, 3, and 4 year old together on this trip!  We really liked Holland.  It's a fairly small town and doesn't have many big attractions, but it is a place for a laid back vacation.  We spent a lot of time in downtown, eating dinner, going to the Farmer's Market, and checking out the street performers they have there on Thursday nights (an interesting experience to say the least!)
The Beach House:  We stayed here, and we LOVED it!  Iwas a gorgeous place.  Everything was so nice.  Our condo had two living areas, a fully equipped kitchen, small patio and grill, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and a sleeping loft.  Plus they had a pool, hot tub, and bigger patio/grill area for everyone to share.  So much attention was paid to detail in the building and furnishing of this place.   Everything was very high quality.  Nothing was cheap about it, except the price!  We paid $240 per night, which we split with our friends.  So it was only $120 per night for us...about the same as the cost of many hotel rooms in the area.  And we got so much more for our money in this place.

 The Beach and Pool:  So it's not quite the same as the ocean, but the Lake Michigan beach is still a fun place to hang out.  Our kids had a good time playing in the sand and even playing in the water (it was freezing, but that didn't stop them).  We had one day that was kind of chilly, but the other days we were there, it was warm enough to hang out at the beach and play in the pool.  Audrey had a breakthrough in her swimming.  She has always been so scared and unwilling to let go of us in the water.  With the help of some flotation devices (a swim vest, arm floaties and occasionally a pool noodle) she got brave enough to move around the pool by herself.

 Vacationing with Small Children:  The last time we went on vacation with BJ and Kellie was before we had kids.  Several times on this trip, we reminisced about those easy, carefree days.  We could sleep whenever we wanted for as long as we wanted.  We could eat dinner in peace and quiet.  We could just lay out at the pool all day long.  Oh...those were the days! 

Traveling with four small children was a bit on the crazy side, but really, life with small children is always on the crazy side, right?  I'm glad our kids got to spend time together (even though they won't remember it).  Plus it was fun to watch the kids have fun swimming and playing at the beach and taking in the sights.  There was never a dull moment!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9: Audrey's Princess Hopscotch Sprinkler

I have been looking for a sprinkler that we can use in our backyard this summer.  We have the "robot sprinkler" but I wanted one that was more like a mat, where Isla could sit and play with the water on low.  Something that could work as a baby pool for Isla and a sprinkler for Audrey, all at the same time.  Audrey had also put in a request for a princes sprinkler.

So last week, we were picking up a couple of things at Walgreens, and Audrey spotted a Disney Princess hopscotch sprinkler.  It was a mat type sprinkler, exactly what I had been looking for.  It was also the last one on the shelf.  At $10, the price seemed reasonable enough, so I thought I would buy it for the girls.

But, then Audrey started to whine and beg and insist that she NEEDED to have this sprinkler.  I was in a bind.  I really wanted to get it, but I did not want to give in to her whining.

So, in a split second decision, I decided to buy the sprinkler with the condition that Audrey would have to earn it.  I'm not sure if this was a good parenting move or not; I probably should have just walked out.  But that's what I decided, so that is what we did.

We came home from the store and made a special sign for the sprinkler, and then we put it away.  We also made a chart.  When she did good things (specifically: no crying or fits, sharing with Isla, being kind to us, and first time listening), then she got a sticker on her chart.  When her chart was full, she would get her hopscotch sprinkler.

We stuck with this plan, and it took her about ten days to fill her chart with stickers. We were a bit generous with the stickers the last day or so, because we really wanted her to get the sprinkler before we left for vacation.  Today, she finally got to play with her hopscotch sprinkler, which she had been talking about constantly for the past ten days.
 After adjusting the water so that it didn't hit her straight in the eyes, she loved the sprinkler and played in it for a long time this afternoon.  We didn't put Isla on it today, but I do think it will be perfect for Isla too.  The water pools up inside each square, and I think she will love to sit and scoot and play and splash in it.

I don't think we will constantly have a sticker/reward system for good behavior going on around here, but it did seem to work fairly well with her in this instance.   I  think it was a good lesson/reminder for Audrey that you can't always get what you want when you want it.  (I think she could probably handle to learn the lesson that sometimes you just don't get what you want at all...we'll keep working on that one).  It was fun to see her get so excited as she watched her stickers grow and then today when she finally earned her reward.  I'm sure ten days seemed like an eternity in three year old time!