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Dear Chloe, Age 4

Dear Chloe,

You are now four years old! We celebrated your birthday yesterday at a local gymnastics academy. You had a wonderful time with your friends – running around, jumping on the trampoline and into the foam pit, and all around the inflatable bounce house and slide. You chose the chocolate cake with the rainbow on it and you also requested a pinata. You’ve been asking for a fairy pinata for months, but since we couldn’t find one you finally chose a butterfly instead. 🙂

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Now that you are four, I’ve decided we’ll join in on the popular new tradition of 20 questions. I hope that we’ll repeat this every year. Tonight, right before bedtime, I interviewed you. Here is what you said:

1. What is your favorite color? Blue and purple. First, I like blue.
2. What is your favorite toy? My Lalaloopsy doll
3. What is your favorite fruit? Grapes
4. What is your favorite tv show? My Big, Big Friend
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pasta
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? My orange (sun) dress with the orange bloomers
7. What is your favorite game? Playing with you. Candyland and dress-up
8. What is your favorite snack? The chocolate cereal (Kellogg’s Krave)
9. What is your favorite animal?
A Butterfly
10. What is your favorite song? The lullaby we listen to in the car where the baby floats in the air (Rockabye baby in the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will fly, and up will drift baby into the sky…)
11. What is your favorite book? The Octonauts and the (Great) Ghost Reef
12. Who is your best friend? You. And I love Anjali. And Rosabelle and Hazel.
13. What is your favorite cereal? Marshmallow cereal (Mallow Oats by Mom’s Best Cereals). Chex.
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play in the sandbox and run
15. What is your favorite drink? Juice and milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween and when I give out heart cards (Valentine’s Day).
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Backpack baby and (light-up) Ladybug
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal (granola and/or corn flakes) with (vanilla) yogurt and milk
19. What is your favorite dinner? Meatballs and spaghetti
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mommy. I mean, a daddy. 🙂
I love you my little girl,
Forever and always,
Mama

Chloe’s 4-year specs – Height: 3′ 1.5″ (0.953m) (9.11%)  Weight: 29lbs (13.154kg) (5.56%)  BMI: 14.50 kg/m2


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First Day of Preschool – Take 2

Chloe attended her first day at her new preschool this week. After much agonizing and self-doubt I withdrew her from her first preschool, even though I didn’t have a replacement in mind. My instincts and observations told me it wasn’t the right place, and as soon as I made the phone call, I felt relieved.

Before this experience, I didn’t understand why parents made such a big deal about preschool. All those stories about signing up for wait-lists in utero, or cut-throat admissions seemed ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for preschool. My own preschool experience (what I remember of it) was stellar. I guess I thought all preschools were similar… but they definitely are not.

In short, it took hours of online searching and several phone calls to find out that by this time most preschools were either: A) Full with a wait-list, B) Not what I wanted, C) Too far away or D) Too expensive. Then a friend mentioned there might be a spot at her school (which I had originally catorgorized as likely both A, C and D), but it ended up working out after all. Whew!

And here is a surprise realization I had during my research into preschool – my academic expectations for Chloe are very high. As a matter of fact, I can’t believe how little kids are expected to know when they enter Kindergarten. Just as part of our everyday, Chloe gets opportunities to count and add, practice writing and drawing, observe colors and shapes, and read (together). It seems like their sponge-like brains could easily pick up certain basics, but I’m finding out that preschool is more about developing social skills, communication and exploration through play.

Anyway, Chloe enjoyed her first day very much. She acclimated quickly and I didn’t feel any of the anxiety I felt previously. I still plan on giving her academic opportunities at home, but now I’m finally confident she’s in a healthy environment we can both look forward to.

PS – I you have any doubts about the importance of preschool, here is an article about why preschool matters and a podcast on NPR The Case for Preschool.

“Those who go to preschool will go on to university, will have a graduate education, and their income level will radically improve.” –Wall Street Journal

“In the long run, the gift of money is that it gives a child constant access to a world of stimulation and enrichment, thus allowing her to fulfill her genetic potential.” –Wired

Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not. –Parents

 


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Halloween

Are you ready to trick-or-treat? My preschooler sure is. For the past few weeks she’s wanted to wear the same mermaid costume as last year. Then yesterday on the phone with Grandma she said she was going to be Snow White! So this morning I hemmed up her Snow White dress (a Christmas gift from her Uncle AJ and Aunt Aundrea) from her dress up bin . I was going to top it off with a simple red headband, but Chloe pointed out that Snow White wears a red bow in her hair. Right! So I whipped one of those up during nap time. Now we’re ready to rock.

Oh, have you seen this skeleton maternity shirt? I totally love it and wish I had seen it while I was pregnant. So funny! Leo, who is almost 17 months, will be wearing a similar skeleton shirt (minus the fetus!) that glows in the dark. Happy Halloween!


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First day of preschool 2012

Chloe attended her first day of preschool this morning. Even though we had just gone in for the meet-and-greet on Friday, I was impressed to see even more improvements (labeled coat hooks and cubbies designated for the artwork for each child). I also liked that the teacher greeted each child by name. It must have gone well, because Chloe didn’t want to leave. Good thing I had a snack in the car to lure her out. 🙂


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At the Fair

This afternoon, after the kids woke from their naps, we headed to the county fair. It was the perfect weather – sunny and just slightly warm. My parents never took me to fairs as a kid, but I do remember a carnival that came to town every once in a great while. I remember how thrilling it was to see the rides, hear the music and excitement all around. And the food! I love fair food – funnel cakes, cotton candy, caramel apples… I love it all.

Things have not changed much since I was a kid. I saw they still had the classics like a ferris wheel, a carousel, Tilt-a-whirl and the Scrambler, among the newer thrills. And now that I have kids of my own, I feel like I have an added excuse to go on rides and have a good time. It was sweet how often Chloe wanted to hold my hand, and I was pleasantly surprised at how brave she was. In just a couple years Leo will be old enough to join her. I imagine it only gets better.


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Reusing Packing Peanuts

Not very long ago, David ordered something that came in the mail with a TON of packing peanuts. Instead of throwing them away, we put them in a garbage bag, and let them take up space in the office. Honestly, we were never going to use them. We hardly ever ship things (unless we buy a gift online, and then we ship it straight from the company). This morning I decided to just let the kids play with them. You can just imagine!

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Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


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Dress-Up Storage Organization

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Following up on the previous post, I realized I never shared the awesome dress up storage rack that Grandma Sandy built for Chloe (although I did mention it on Facebook – I need to figure out how to link to those status updates here, instead of my long unused twitter feed). Anyway, it is fabulous, and a really nice way to store and organize all the costumes, play clothes and accessories that Chloe has been given. It is just the right size, and a fraction of the cost of buying one pre-manufactured. I have some beautiful metal dragonfly hooks that I’ll attach to each side, and eventually get some vinyl lettering to personalize the front. I would say Chloe uses it almost every day. Here is the link to the easy-to-use plans we found on ana-white.com. We chose to do the shelf-on-top option, which I highly recommend.

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Sun + Sand

We went to the beach on Sunday. I just love it there. It was sunny, but with a cold breeze, and we were glad we brought our sun shelter along. Although this wasn’t Leo’s first trip to the coast, it was the first time I took some photos of him there. Like his sister, he seems to be a big fan of the sand. Unlike his sister, he is a pacifier baby, which helped to keep him from eating it.

This was also our first trip in our new-to-us minivan. What a difference! Room for everyone, and even Barkley got a seat to himself. I hesitate to say this, but if anything good came out of the car crash, its that we got a vehicle better suited to our family (the Element we bought pre-kids). The inside still smelled a little of ozone from the extra interior detail we had done, but even that has since dissippated. The car feels as good as new. I just hope it lasts us longer than our last one.


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Little girl clothes

I’m unwinding tonight by virtually window shopping some of the new spring lines out for little girls. Not the most productive thing to do, but, for being mindless, it is actually quite inspiring. These are my top two picks if I win the lottery tomorrow (which I don’t play, so dream on right?).

Funky Print Dress, Mini Boden

Irina shoes (in teal), See Kai Run


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Chloe’s first haircut

I’m getting a little bit of spring fever. The weather has been unusually mild and not as grey this year, but I’d love for it to warm up just a little. It would save so much time, too. For some reason, in my house, it takes a full 15 minutes to get jackets, socks, shoes and a bag together for the three of us.

Chloe got her first salon haircut today. I thought it would be kind of fun, but it was sort of meh. We’ll probably try somewhere else next time. Meanwhile I have cleaned up lines to guide me on trimming for a while. I got a much needed haircut of my own last week (half price thanks to Groupon). I am definitely going back to that stylist. Now there is less for Leo to pull, not that that deters him in the slightest.


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hi! I hope you are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I am happy to report that we got our valentine cards out in time this year (well… all but one. Sorry Great Grandma Vera, yours got stuck in the pile of extra envelopes and I didn’t see it until last night). We kept it simple and used foam and sparkle stickers on white card stock. I learned that Chloe finds 3-dimensional stickers on sheets to be easier to peel than stickers that are pre-punched out. I did a lot of pre-peeling just to keep things moving. Also, we worked on cards over several sittings, the length of each determined by Chloe’s attention span and interest.

This morning, David surprised me with a lovely card and a box of truffle-filled dark chocolate hearts. For him, I designed a card cover, and inside I included this pop-up pixelated heart in red. I think he really liked it. To surprise the kids, I picked up some helium foil valentine balloons from the dollar store while Chloe was in preschool.

One extra special something I got for Chloe is a hand-carved stamp with her name. She already recognizes and says the letters, but hasn’t learned to write it yet, though she tries. If only I had waited one more day before mailing her cards this would have come in handy! The artist kindly agreed to customize it with a little heart, which I love. Now I’m thinking Leo will need one too. 🙂

Want a stamp of your own? Lauren of Doodlebug Design  is offering a 10% discount to Paperseed readers. Just use code Doodlebug10 at checkout.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Love + Bubbles

We’ve been having a lot of cold, snowy and wet weather lately. I don’t take Chloe and Leo out into it as much as I should, but we do get out on occasion. Like this break in the weather. Chloe and I both enjoy blowing bubbles. Who would have thought that the best bubbles would come from the dollar store? Good thing, too, because Chloe still spills her bubbles a little too often (and the ones with the “spillproof” caps have too tiny of a wand to be really fun).

I love these kids so much. When I was pregnant with Leo, I couldn’t imagine loving Leo as much as I loved Chloe. She was my baby, my precious little girl, my darling first-born. She was all I knew. My whole world. Then along came Leo, and my heart swelled. I am amazed every day at how deep my love is for these two little ones.

Leo is barely over half a year and already his charming and affectionate nature is obvious, way more so than Chloe was at this age. Then again, I am not very good at remembering things, and even now I’ll have to ask David his perspective from when Chloe was a baby. Just one more reason I need to put more effort into recording the kids’ milestones. I know later that I’ll be glad I did.

 

 

 


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Before & After: Spray painted rocking chair DIY

I am often amazed at the spray painted transformations that you find among DIYers on the internet. So many inspiring projects! I wanted to give it a try, and this was my first painting effort – a wooden rocking chair that Chloe’s grandparents found for her. It looked to be well-used by the time we got it, with stains and pencil marks and a replaced dowel on the back. But Chloe loved it and so did I. It just needed a little freshening up.

Since there are plenty of “how-tos” on spray painting, here are a few things I learned from this project:

1. Keep a large cardboard box for a ground cover. It doesn’t blow around like plastic.

2. Don’t use primer unless you have to. I wanted to do this project “right,” including primer for best adhesion and coverage. However, the primer was rough and somewhat gritty, which required more sanding. I realized too late that the original chair would have been fine un-primed, and would have saved a lot of work.

3. One can of spray paint was not enough. This meant that I had to make a second trip to the store, and with a new baby and toddler, it took a while until I could get back there. Also, the first can of paint didn’t spray very well. I thought it was my technique, but it turned out there was just something off about that particular can.

4. In the case of this chair, it was better to start with it turned upside down, giving it a good coat(s), letting it dry, and then finishing it right side up.

5. Try not to let weeks (or months) go by from start to finish. Because I left it with a coat of rough primer for a long stretch of time, Chloe kind of got out of the habit of sitting in it (that or because the cold set in, she now prefers her little upholstered rocking chair instead). However, we have another kid who will love it once he gets a little older (and a big reason we didn’t choose the color pink!).

 


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DIY Cupcake Party

Since Chloe’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving day this year, and despite the fact that she’d already had a birthday party, we had some of our neighborhood friends over for a DIY cupcake decorating get-together the morning after. Check out some of these gorgeously sweet creations…

  

  

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Dear Chloe, 3 years old

Dear Chloe,

You turned 3 years old on Thanksgiving day this year. No longer are you considered a toddler, but a preschooler, with all the interests, blossoming language skills, curiosity, fledgling independence, willfulness, and complexities that description entails. It has been a big year of changes for you. One major one has been the construction of our home addition, eventually giving you a wonderful space to play and dance, and the other being the summer arrival of your baby brother. I am happy to say that you are a very helpful big sister, which brings me great happiness and hope that you two will be lifelong friends some day.

As you are growing and learning, so are we, your mommy and daddy. We want to be the best parents we can be. You are both charming and clever, your actions often bringing smiles to our hearts on a daily basis. But some days are a struggle. Of course you’d like to get your way all the time. But sometimes we, your parents, have to make decisions for you that you don’t like. One example that comes to mind is your eating habits. You just don’t like to eat many healthy foods. You would eat cookies and cupcakes all day if we’d let you. As it is, we allow you an almost daily chocolate milk, which in some ways I’m thankful for since I can hide some vanilla yogurt (calories!) in with the Carnation instant breakfast mix (vitamins!).

The natural parent-child struggles aside, I want you to know what a happy childhood you’re having. It amazes me to think that you will likely remember none of this, and even we may forget some of what life is like right now. But it is good life, without a doubt. We are lucky to all be healthy, to have a comfortable home and especially each other. We are lucky that your daddy has a good job and that I can stay with you and your brother, that we can go places and do things. While we may not be able to afford everything you want (or we’d like to give you), you certainly have plenty of toys, games, art supplies, clothes and classes that you love, like dance and swimming. As your parents, we are trying to teach you to appreciate what you have, to understand how lucky we are, but those are probably lessons you’ll understand better as you get older.

Chloe, we love you so much. Your arrival three years ago made us a family. I hope this next year continues to bring you fun, happiness, new skills and joyous learning. You will always be our sweet little girl and a blessing to our lives, as we hope to continually be a blessing to yours.

Love forever,
Mama

 


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Rubber Duck Party! **Part 2**

As I mentioned in the previous post, we decided to throw Chloe’s third birthday a couple weeks early. Her birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving this year, plus she already has 4 birthday parties to attend in the span of a few weeks. I figured it would just be easier to do it early, and at this age, she’s happy to just have fun.

 

We started the party by letting all the kids decorate their yellow goodie bags with markers and yellow feathers in the front room. It allowed time for guest to arrive and gave the kids something to do right away. There was a rubber duck coloring page as well. Following that they played five games:

  • “Match the ducks” – this was like “Memory” – twelve matching ducks (two for each child) had matching stickers underneath each pair. They floated in a bin of waters while the kids took turns each finding a matched pair, which they then added to their goodie bag.
  • “Feed the ducks” – this was a bean bag toss into large melamine bowls. Each child got a prize when they made it.
  • “Pass the duck” – basically, “hot potato” except we used a large duck to pass around. This was the only game that was a little awkward with this age group, so we sorta faked it.

 

  • “Find the ducks” – we secretly filled the floor in the spare room with balloons and “hid” larger rubber ducks (again one for each child) to find. We closed the door so nobody knew that the room was filled with balloons until we opened it for a BIG surprise.
  • “Birthday Bingo”  – After the kids had time to splash around and enjoy the balloon room for a while, we called them back to the dining room table for one last game of “Birthday Bingo” after which we then sang happy birthday to the birthday girl and had yummy vanilla bean cupcakes with white buttercream frosting (closest looking to soap suds).

 

Each cupcake was in a rubber ducky themed cupcake wrapper topped with a party duck sitting in its own matching mini-cupcake wrapper. Chloe thought they were awesome!

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