Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Energizer Rabbit

Annabelle smelling a flower

After bathtime one day, I dried Annabelle off first. When Gabi was ready to get out, Annabelle grabbed Gabi's towel, held it in front of her, and then held out her arms as if to pick up Gabi and dry her off. (I hold a towel across me while picking up the girls, so I can wrap my cold, dripping child up quickly.) Of course, when Bella did that, the towel fell on the floor, so she picked it up, patted the towel against her chest, and then reached her arms towards Gabi. Again, the towel fell. Undeterred, Bella tried again. It was very cute to watch Bella try to defy gravity to help me take care of big sister.

Bella trying to sit in a doll swing

Bella is a big fan of Ring Around the Rosie. She loves to grab our hands and sing "Ashes, ashes, ashes, ashes. Down!" and sit on the ground.

Annabelle watching Gabi's dance class

She has also picked up Old McDonald. I remember after Kris Allen's homecoming concert for Top 3 week of American Idol, my friend Trish and I were in the car with my girls and her son, Preston. All three kids sang Old McDonald quite loud the entire ride home from downtown. Annabelle's version involves many rounds of "E-I-E-I-O" interspersed with some animal sounds.


Last week, Annabelle's 8th tooth (bottom right lateral incisor) emerged. Tonight, I noticed that she now has tooth #9 (top left lateral incisor). Finally, she's catching up, now with all four central incisors, three of four lateral incisors (still missing the bottom left), and her two top first molars. I can feel the bottom right first molar about to break through.

Annabelle in Texas

Annabelle has learned to say "Cheese!" and smile for the camera. It's very cute, as is most of what she does. That girl does have a captivating smile.

Climbing stairs on the big kid playground at Fellowship

Annabelle is our adventurous child. She as I have mentioned before, she climbs everything. She can even handle the curvy (quarter circle) ladders on her own, to the dismay of other mothers at the park. Now she'll request to sit and swing on the big swings, not just the baby swings.

Rock climbing at the Wonder Place

Due to Bella's employment of the magic of stools, we can no longer keep pens on the little stand by the kitchen phone since Annabelle discovered we kept "colors" there. When I'm cooking, she'll push a kitchen chair over to the counter and climb up next to me to help. When I'm not cooking, she'll use the same strategy to reach the leftover Halloween candy. When I ask her what she found or what she's eating, she'll very truthfully and happily tell me, "Chocolate!" So cute! But today I threw away most of the candy and moved the rest.

Bella climbing into her high chair

Annabelle is now using two-word sentences. She is great at expressing herself. In fact, she is almost constantly talking. Car rides are very noisy these days. We can't take her into church because she won't shut up. Her voice is adorable and makes me smile, but by the end of the day, I am definitely ready for some quiet time!

Annabelle wearing my shoes

Like any normal toddler, her favorite two words are "no" and "mine." Another word story is about green beans. Thanks to some snap pea chips (like potato chips, but made from sugar snap peas... a crunchy version of edamame) that Bella eats at Lolo & Lola's house, she now calls all chips "green beans." Hmm... sounds healthy, at least!

Annabelle found a hiding place at the L.R. Zoo

We scheduled Annabelle's surgery for June 18th. Her left eye has not cleared up since that brief remission in March. Her right eye is much better, so we'll just put stents in the left eye and only probe the right eye. Her ENT was re-evaluating her, anyway, when he found out that she might not have needed the Oculoplastic surgery. He wants to do a Microlaryngoscopy and Bronchoscopy in order to determine whether she needs the Supraglottoplasty or something else.

"See-Saw! See-Saw!"

The scheduling is all set for both doctors to go into the OR on the same day. As the anesthesia is a bigger risk than either procedure, it will be nice to get everything taken care of together. (Honestly, I don't think I would consent to it otherwise. But, I didn't consent to the eye probing in Atlanta, either -- Daddy came in and signed that form. He has a much higher tolerance for that sort of thing that I do, and obviously she needed it.)

Alex and Bella checking out the pond at the library

None of these minor medical issues slow down our little energizer bunny. When toddlers first learn to walk well, I compare them to wind-up toys. You put them down, and they just take off straight ahead. Of course, Annabelle doesn't walk any more - she runs. And she doesn't just head in the direction you point her; she most definitely has a mind of her own. But she's still go-go-go, like an energizer rabbit. Just a lot more trouble. ;-)


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dangerous Knowledge

Recently, I have spent much time reorganizing our Shutterfly page to house all the fun pictures I am not posting on this blog. In the meantime, I have already forgotten many of the cute stories I wanted to share here, so I am posting now some of Gabi's memorable moments over the past weekend before they, too, are lost. (The pictures, however, are from April. Eventually I'll be fully up-to-date!)

Gabi and Gramma Jane in Texas

In the car today, Gabi picked up a page of ads and coupons from the newspaper. We then heard her reenacting a computer game that she must have played at school, complete with background music. "G-A-B-I spells Gabi. Can you find the letter that matches the word? do-doo-de-do Lower-case g! Very good. Now can you find a lowercase a? do-doo-de-do Keep looking! do-doo-de-do There it is!" and so on. It was entertaining to listen to.

Then Gabi switched games. "Can you find some toothpaste? Oh, the creest. Yes, it matches!" Even though she used a long E sound, we could tell she had read the word Crest -- all on her own. We are impressed.

Gabi sliding at Fellowship Bible

Lolo and Lola took Gabi shopping to buy a new dress. Gabi said they should buy a size 5 so that she can still wear it when she grows bigger. (She is 4 years old now and currently wears a size 4. Kids' sizes make sense like that.) When they entered the store, they first saw a section of size 7-8, and Lola announced that they needed to find the section that comes before 7. Gabi responded, "No, that's 6. We need to find the one that comes before 6!"

Doin' the Twist at dance class

Gabi was talking to Aunt Lisa about her friends at school, Kate and Grant, who are in the same family but are both 4 years old. Aunt Lisa asked if they were twins, and Gabi said, "No, that's when you wear the same clothes, and they don't wear the same clothes." Sabrina and Samantha, the identical twins in her class, do wear matching outfits, so I can see how she came to that conclusion. (In case you're wondering, Kate and Grant are cousins.)

Sisters at the Little Rock Zoo

While we were walking into the grocery store last week, I was carrying Annabelle and holding Gabi's hand. Suddenly, about three steps away from the curb, Gabi stopped and let go of my hand. I immediately grabbed her hand and yelled at her to keep walking. Once we were on the sidewalk, I more calmly (but still firmly) explained that we never just stop in the middle of the street, and that she needed to keep holding my hand while we were in the parking lot. I then asked her why she stopped. Her explanation was "Because the stop sign said STOP." Indeed, we were standing right next to a stop sign alerting drivers that this was the crosswalk for pedestrians entering the store. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

In a "hollow tree" at ACH

Gabi has learned about the various traffic signs at school. One time she saw a red octagon and pointed out that it didn't say stop because it didn't have the letters S-O-T-P. (That was many months ago. She's probably get them in the right order now.) Not only can Gabi recognize the stop sign shape, but she can also tell you it is called an octagon.

More recently, her class learned about the yield sign in school. Now as we are driving down the road, sometimes I will suddenly hear an urgent cry from the backseat, "Whoa! Slow down, Mommy! Slow down! You need to wait! I saw a yield sign!" This interjection was extremely distressing to me the first few times, as I wondered if there was something I missed. No, it was just a yield sign at the previous intersection for people who were turning right.

Running up a hill at the ACH playground

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Mind of a 4-year-old

Riding an elephant at Hidden Valley

Before Stephanie's wedding ceremony, Michael was showing Gabi the aisle that she would walk down.

Michael: "You're going to walk down the aisle and throw... mud?"
Gabi: "Yeah!"
Michael: "No, you're not going to throw mud. You're not a mud-girl; you're the flowergirl! What are you going to throw?"
Gabi: "Flowers. Daddy, you were just being silly. You're always silly."
Gabi thinks for a minute and then adds: "Daddy, are you always going to be silly?"
Yes, Gabi, your Daddy is definitely silly by nature.

Gabi at Hidden Valley Park

Of course, Gabi inherited her Daddy's silliness. Shortly after I related Gabi's laughsing story, she made up another pun. She and Bella were eating some crumbly snacks at the kitchen table, and Gabi started singing a song from the radio that has the line "I'm so clumsy" but she replaced the lyrics with "I'm so crumbsy." When she stopped signing, she said, "Look at the floor! See: 'I'm so crumbsy!'" Indeed, there were crumbs all over the floor under both girls' chairs.

Feeding a lorikeet at the LR Zoo

One day I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch while watching the girls play. I woke up to find the house covered in white baby powder. Apparently Gabi was "building a bridge" with the powder, so she sprinkled it on the floor all around the house. I'm not sure what the purpose of covering all their toys in baby powder was, but the house definitely smelled much nicer when I woke up from my unplanned nap than when I fell asleep.

Michael came home and commented that Annabelle must have been naughty. Gabi took ahold of that phrase and repeated it to Bella. I had to tell Gabi that she, also, had a part in the baby powder game and therefore she was naughty, too. Michael and I weren't mad enough to impress upon her the meaning of naughty, so she didn't seem to mind having that adjective attached to her.

Lorikeet biting the nectar cup

Gabi has decided to teach herself to read. Her reading skills are very impressive. At one of our trips to the hospital for Annabelle's specialist appointments, Gabi pointed out a sign and told me it said, "No exit." Certainly it did, as it was hung on a door that is closed due to the construction of the new building taking place outside there, and there were no pictures or any other clues.

Gabi's favorite bedtime story this week has been Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear because she can read the entire book by herself. Last month we were reading some beginning-reader Dora books each night, and we'd read some of the story but pause to let her add the words she could sound out.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Gabi loves to write notes, so she asks for crayons and paper almost every day during quiet time. Gabi also has an easel with magnetic letters on one side and a chalk board on the other. The chalk note below is from back in March, before Gabi had completely learned to spell Bella -- vowels can be tricky. (The note was written around St. Patrick's Day, hence the shamrocks.)

Gabi is very resourceful with the magnetic letters. For instance, when she spells GABI and BELLA and runs out of As and Ls, she'll use a V and 7 upside down. One day she decided that she didn't want to use the letter B to spell Bella; instead, she found two 0s and a line (technically a minus sign) to create a B. She also likes to show me that she can use the P as a d if she turns it upside down. She explained to me that it can also be a b, but then the magnet doesn't stick.

One of Gabi's notes to Bella

I took the girls to Larry's Pizza, and Gabi read the sign and then asked me why Larry has two rs. Gabi knows how to spell Bella, Daddy, and Mommy, all of which have double letters, so the Larry incident was not the first time I heard that question. Obviously I don't know a good explanation for my four-year-old as to why sometimes letters are doubled, but I am impressed that she can think about words enough to conceive that question.

At the grocery store last week, Gabi announced, "W starts with a D." My first thought was confusion, but I have learned not to say "no" too quickly. Gabi continued, "Because it is double u; it's not wubble-you, so it starts with a D." Very observant, Gabi. I have heard so many impressive comments like this from my daughters, and I'd like to start posting more often so I can share these stories with you before I forget them.

Sliding at Villages of Wellington

Gabi is also interested in other languages. Lolo taught her to count to 4 in Chinese, and she's been saying Xie xie ("thank you," pronounced "shay-shay," I think) and Ni hao ("hello") in regular conversation. George taught her some French when he came to visit, and she still uses S'il vous plaƮt and merci and bonjour. Her favorite greeting is currently buenos dias, which she learned in Spanish class at school, and I have added buenos noches for her to use at night. Of course, often these phrases are accompanied with the sign language version as well. All this language interest is certainly teaching our daughter to be very polite!

Gabi is learning math skills, too. She can do single-digit addition and very simple subtraction, even with zero. She knows that 1+1=2, but she must have recently learned that ten is written 10, because she asked Michael, "What is 1 and then another 1?" Interesting that you can count and even do verbal math with numbers like 11 but not know how to write them down. She can count to 29, and after that she tried "twenty-ten" and "twenty-eleven." I told her that 30 comes after 29, and she asked why. Ah, the "why" stage! Gabi can also count to 20 in Spanish, but she doesn't know those numbers well enough to use the counting pattern to continue with 21, 22, and so on.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Raptor Baby

Annabelle is now 20 months old. She is definitely our little carnivore, as she loves to eat meat. I recently discovered two new teeth in the back of her mouth, so her tooth count is up to 7 now (5 on top, but still only 2 on bottom). She's also a big fan of all fruits and many vegetables. Given all the meat she eats, plus the trouble she finds and the squeals she makes, it sometimes seems like we have a baby raptor in the house.

Enthralled by a waterfall at the zoo

Bella loves water. Water is her favorite drink, an entertaining splishy-splashy toy, and even the most exciting exhibit at the zoo. She can turn on the water in the bathtub on her own, and she uses the stools to reach bathroom sinks to fill toy cups with water (and dump them on the carpet). She wants to stop at every reflecting pool and water display we see, such as the one outside our nearest library. At the zoo, she points out each animal's water dish in addition to the waterfalls and such. Whenever we pass a water fountain at a store, she insists on taking a drink.

As you might imagine, Annabelle loves bathtime, although she dislikes getting her hair washed. When she's ready to get out of the bathtub, she requests her "bee-bug" (ladybug) towel from her Godparents. She's definitely fond of ladybugs these days. Bees are also fun, because I make my hand fly around and bzzzz and then tickle her whenever she says "bee."

At the L.R. Zoo bear exhibit

Annabelle's vocabulary continues to grow so fast that I cannot keep track of it. On Easter, she quickly learned the word chocolate. She initially said "choc-y" but not deliberately enunciates each syllable. Food words certainly come with strong motivation to learn: pizza, green bean, and pear are some other new favorites. (Note that chicken, which is our most common meat dish, was already on her vocabulary list.) Bella now says truck and vroom-vroom whenever we see one drive past. I need to get her some truck toys since she's interested in them. Her woof-woof is cute, although more high-pitched and actually much quieter than any dog I've heard. She's also working on her roar.

She learned the word tiger after our friend George gave her a stuffed orange tiger, and she proceeded to identify tigers in books and elsewhere, even white tigers like the one she received her first Christmas. She has become fond of dinosaurs (another new word) and plays with the little dinosaur toys and book I bought her. Gabi always wants to know what everybody's favorite X is (X being whatever-is-at-hand), so I tell her that Bella's favorite dinosaur is the Velociraptor, in keeping with her raptor nickname, although there is some debate about whether it ought to be the Allosaurus. Sometimes I wonder if there will be a fight when Bella is old enough to name her own favorites, since Gabi is so used to dictating things for her little sister. By the way, Gabi's favorite dinosaur is the Ankylosaurus.

With Lolo outside Applebee's

Music is Annabelle's newest sign. Annabelle signs (and says) dance and music (and points to the iPod) as soon as Michael comes home from work. No matter how exhausted he is or how much work he needs to do that night, Michael can't help but smile and take time to dance with his daughter to at least one song.

Annabelle is also perfecting her pronunciation of previous vocab words. Sock progressed from "la" to "kva" and now has an "s" sound somewhere. (For some reason, when Bella says words that end in k, she often begins with a k sound.) Balloon is now "bloon" instead of "boon" -- and she emphasizes the L. It is fun to watch her play with verbal language. Annabelle composed a sweet song to let us know when bedtime has arrived. She sings, "La-ly-la-ly-la-ly-la-ly" to ask for her Lily bunny. I have certainly been blessed with children who know when they are tired (although Gabi now fights bedtime, she didn't until this year).

After a dinner of spaghetti

Annabelle continues to be adventurous as she explores everything around her. She figured out that she can push a chair to the kitchen counter to "help" me cook. She carries stools around the house to aid her in accessing items previously out of her reach. She can now climb into (and out of) her high chair on her own. I have even seen her use a chair to climb onto the kitchen table. She doesn't limit herself to chairs and stools as climbing aids, either. She tried to utilize the dishwasher as a step stool while I was unloading dishes earlier this weekend. I certainly have to keep a very close eye on her now!

Sliding at Fellowship Bible

She has certainly reached the "helpful" age where she tries to do many chores on her own that she has watched me do before. She carries her fork to the kitchen sink after meals, and she always wants to help load or unload the dishwasher (often with her unloading while I load or vice versa). She requests a fork at every meal (and sometimes a spoon), and she can use both (to some extent). In the carseat, she pulls up the crotch strap for me to connect the buckles into, and she tries to buckle the chest clip together herself. She can already undress herself (as I discovered a couple months ago when I found her naked in her crib -without even a diaper- at the end of naptime), and she's working on getting dressed.

Running at Hidden Valley Park

At playgrounds, Annabelle climbs to the top of the highest play structure and bravely zooms down the tallest slide (usually feet first on her belly, although she is learning to sit facing forward). She tries new tricks, too, such as walking up slides. If I call her name to come to me, she laughs and runs away as if I've invited her to play chase.

Sliding with Alex at the neighborhood playground

Annabelle's wavy hair is growing fast, but it is still wild and somewhat unmanageable. The fact that she pulls everything out of her hair whenever we ride in the car doesn't help. She also takes her shoes and socks off during car rides, so I often just bring her shoes and socks with me but not on her feet. However, when I'm running multiple errands, I end up putting her shoes and socks on multiple times (or she won't have shoes at some stops). She has pulled her shoes and hair clips out at the store when riding in the cart, too. Last time we went to Target, I had to go back and search the store for her headband before we left.

Sometimes I let her walk through the stores so she isn't bored enough to undress, which she enjoys but it does make our shopping trip much slower. She likes to push the cart around, so I have walk slowly steering the cart from one aisle to the next, and then I have to anchor it still while I look on the shelves for the item I need. Of course, if she were in the cart, I'd have to try to anchor her still - or at least try to hold her into her seat, since she climbs out and the buckles in those carts do nothing to restrain her. Life is an adventure with a little one around! But she is cute and totally worth it.

At the Fellowship Bible playground

I have decided to post only our favorite pictures on this blog, so I can update more regularly with all the cute stories about our girls. I will post all the good pictures on our Shutterfly page, for those of you more interested in a pictoral journey through our days rather than developmental details. Email me for the Shutterfly address if you don't want to miss out on pictures. My hope is that I will post to the blog daily, before I forget the funny things the girls say and all their new accomplishments. I'd love to hear feedback about our new system or anything else!