Our Almost 3 Year Old

It is hard to imagine that our first little baby that made us parents is turning three in just a week. When you ask her when her birthday is she cooly replies “the 7th day of March.” And she is thinking about it all the time it seems like. One morning she yelled “its my special day.” And we politely reminded her that in fact it is not for a few more days.

Vivienne at age (almost) 3: 

  • Today said to someone that her favorite foods were broccoli and carrots. But she will actually do almost anything for a donut with sprinkles.
  • Does not like to be called “Viv” and will correct anyone that calls her that and says “No, my name is Vivienne.” She is okay with “Vivi” but prefers Vivienne.
  • She also does not like “Vivienne Rose.” She prefers her sister’s middle name and has made it clear that she would rather be called “Vivienne Olivia.”
  • She wakes up in a different outfit than she went to bed in 50% of the time.
  • Vivienne is not very cuddly unless she is watching one of her shows.
  • Her favorite shows in order are: Danielle Tiger, Bubble Guppies, Dora, Clifford, Super Why, Peg+Cat.
  • She prefers her hair down, but will let me put it up for 2-4 fruit snacks.
  • We have given up on naps. If she does take a nap it usually lasts for as long as you let her sleep and she super crabby when she wakes up and then does not go to bed until like 10 pm.
  • Vivienne would have you read to her anytime in the day for as long as she can get you to read.

Our Favorite Quotes:

The Quite Forest Story
“Once upon a time there was a wolf. And he eats all your food and it’s very scary. Don’t forget. The End.”

The Ellen Song
to the tune of frère jacques
“Little Ellen, little Ellen, she’s so smart, she’s so smart.
She never does bad things, never does bad things.
I love her. I love her.”

About Daddy
“Daddy your hands are really big and fat. They are like bread.”

This was a hard gallery to make that is a good representation of the last three years. We love her everyday and try to keep up with her mischievous and silly personality.

I Don’t Love Your Little Sister More, Although It May Seem Like I Do

Oh the mom guilt is never ending. When you have a second child it is inevitable that you will feel guilty about not giving each one enough one-on-one attention that they would receive if they were only children. This is especially true for my oldest, Vivienne. Maybe its because for a short while she was my onliest one and everything revolved around her. But the real reason is that I just find myself yelling and discipling Vivi more unlike Ellen.

They cosleep in one room and I hear the baby (well she’s 18 months but still my baby) crying during nap. And this normally means that Vivi has either gotten into her bed or something similar ruining Ellen’s nap. In this case she was trying to take Ellen’s blanket to use for her Lamby. I know that in her world this makes total sense, I mean Lamby needs a blanket BUT physically pulling one off of her little sister. Really?

This is Lamby. Sometimes Vivi is her momma, sometimes her sister and in this case her doctor. 20160101_084512

So I use my crazy stern mom voice (the one that you don’t know you have until you have to use it to your 2 year old) and say “NO! Vivienne, you can’t take Ellen’s blanket. Lamby can use this one, throwing one at her.” Then here is the kicker where she may feel unloved. Is that I feel so sorry for crying Ellen that I pick her up soothe her, while Vivi is crying for being yelled at and I tell Vivi to go to sleep, put Ellen down and shut the door. Then instantly the mom guilt follows.

“Was I too harsh?”
“I hate that mom voice, how do I get rid of it?”
“If only we had another bedroom”
“Can she be done with naps at age 3?”
“Poor Ellen”

So there is what I deal with on a daily basis. Of course since Vivi is older we just expect more from her and Ellen is just starting to understand and get sent to time out — I think it’s been a total of 2 times. For Vivi’s sake we do try and do the stern voice at Ellen, but its not in the same capacity.

And we always struggle with naps with Vivi. Very seldom does her nap time go smooth, as in we put her into bed, she falls asleep and wakes up glowing 2 hours later. Ellen’s on the other hand ALWAYS go smooth. With Vivi she either plays until she comes to the door and we pull her out skipping her nap all together. Or she does something bad to Ellen, we yell at her, then she cries herself to sleep — like today. The thing is that when she doesn’t take a nap she get crabby around dinner, but goes to sleep within the hour that we put her to bed. When she does take a nap, well she never wants to get up from them and she goes to sleep hours after we put her in bed. In which case it is sometimes on the floor, then she wakes up later mad because she is on the floor and we have to go in and pick her up.

I am just waiting until things even out a little. As in they both get in trouble. But I have a feeling that Vivi just may need more discipline in her life. I don’t know that for sure, but its a gut feeling I guess. Ellen is no angel. In fact here is a pic from today where she had to get down from stamping because she started to throw them. Here is the Instagram pic though. 20160107_090318

In general they get along and they DO love each other, even if we have to remind them they do.

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18 Months & 33 Months (2.75 yrs)

The 18 Month Old – Ellen
In a few words, Ellen is a cuddly baby who loves Boullie the most. She is a thumb sucker whose teeth came in late-ish and now we are paying for it with swollen gums and sometimes fussy baby. Ellen is a mommy’s girl to say the least. She yells, screams and cries for mommy just to lay on my chest with her thumb in her mouth. Which I both love and hate, but mostly love.

Like my other one, this girl loves shoes. Her favorite are her pink tennis shoes and her blue tennis shoes that light up.

This girl has an appetite. She LOVES “crkakers” graham crackers mostly but is pretty good with a plane round cracker. Other favorites include bananas, oat meal, eggs, bread, pasta — really any carbs are good in her book.

She still makes noise when she eats and she calls for Boullie the most and Vivi secondly.

The 33 Month Old – Vivienne
She is approaching 3 years old which is amazing! She is a full blown bouncing, talking thing that we can’t get enough of … well somedays we CAN.

Vivienne is a wild child. She is the one that won’t let you touch her hair and so its all over her face and she’s jumping from couch to couch looking like a little Tarzan. But this one insists on dressing herself most days. Her favorites are jeans and a plain blue shir,, her blue sparkly tutu, her blue Cinderella pajamas, or just underwear with this one is good.

Some of the things that comes out of this girl’s mouth …

“Shhh the quite forest. There is a bear is the quite forest. Don’t wake up the bear.” — She says this when she sees lots of trees in one area.

“This is a troll bridge mommy” — She says this in the bath tub about the basket that holds toys and sits across the tub.

“Look there are horses over there.” -vivi
“Oh there are horses?” – mom and dad
“Nope!” Giggles – vivi

 

You Win Some, You Lose Some, On Halloween We Lost

The three words that I would use to describe our Halloween would be:

1) crying
2) snot
3) anguish

Halloween Day
We knew Ellen wasn’t going to make it out trick-or-treating. We didn’t go to the kids fall festival the night before. She had been running a fever and was pretty miserable all day on Halloween. But Vivi was bouncing around, running errands with dad, saying she was sick just to get a taste of medicine and getting excited about seeing her cousins. For the past few weeks we have really been trying to play up her costume as a bug catcher. Since its not the princess that she would say she wants to be. It does help that she likes Dora the Explorer so we say that she is going to be kind of like her. We were winning! She was telling people happily that she was going to be a bug catcher like Dora.

Preparation
Ok so we start the process of getting ready for the night that means new diaper, going potty, getting outfits and shoes and socks on, packing jammies and a plethora of other things that all parents know to well about what it takes for everyone to get out the door with everything they need and want. Vivi actually put on her explorer boots that I had strategically put high up so she could see them but not reach them making them more desirable than a pair of boys brown boots otherwise would be. And it worked, Still Winning she put them on and seemed to love them. We only had to use one sucker to get her out the door happy (we also consider that a win at this point in the day).

The Car Ride to Nana’s 
Ok so here is where things begin to take a turn. Ellen falls asleep right away, WIN! Vivi is jabbering away which soon turns into a whining … so car songs! Which then makes her yell “NO! Not that one” and “Stop singing that” in general “NOOO nnooo NO! No! nononooooo.” But this can be usual car behavior for a 2 year old. Put her in a room full of cousins and food and doating grandparents, which was our plan, and she can surly turn it around. Well not this time.

HALLOWEEN
For some reason it seems like its my kids that are the most crying and terrible of all the kids of the family. It may just feel like that but recently I thinks its been true that one of my kids seems not happy when we visit the family. This time was no different they were both clingy and sickish and not happy. And when candy bribing didn’t work, tv shows didn’t work, other cousins being happy didn’t work, the promise of all the candy in the world didn’t work we knew that we were in for it. Vivi also was saying that her ear hurt, but later when we got home said that it magically felt better … which didn’t help. They were both pretty pitiful and as Chester and I ate stuffed our face between cries it was apparent that the situation was not getting better.

Decision Time
At this point we could have tried to force Vivienne in her costume for the awful crying picture and then see if she would actually go out the door to trick-or-treat with the other kids. We could have put her in a room by herself to see if she would calm down or we could do what we did which was stuff all our things in our bag, give “I hope you understand” looks (especially to my mom who made a ton of food, did bags for all the kids, then I left her and my dad after seeing them for about a half an hour with Chester’s family) and goodbye hugs to the family, and back in the car and home we went.

Car Ride Home
Well Vivi fell asleep right away (aftermath Win, maybe) … but Ellen basically cried the whole way home and got herself so worked up that she threw up as we were blocks away from our house. We did bath for both girls, gave them each a dose of Tylenol and into bed they went for awhile at least ….

Night Time/Next Day
Well its all a little fuzzy but I believe that Ellen came out of her room to sleep with one of us on the couch around midnight maybe? Then somehow Vivi woke up at around 3 am and decide that it was morning. She was bothering Chester on the couch to dress her, which was waking up Ellen which is when I woke up to call her into the bedroom where I helped her get dressed. We don’t have an alarm clock (we did but it always gets unplugged from little hands) so I had no idea what time it was. I guess Chester figured it out the time, that brilliant man, and back to bed Vivi went — fully dressed. At that time I think is when Chester plopped into bed with me along with Ellen. And there we slept until 7 am and our day began. But that’s a whole 3 hours stretch (win?)

That brings us to today, Sunday, the day after Halloween, and also day light savings. Vivi did pretty good today and very happy that there is so much juice around since we are giving Ellen any kind of fluid that she will drink. Ellen has been weepy eyed and still has a temperature the last time we checked. But we did manage to get into our costumes which didn’t happen at all yesterday and got a few pics. Ellen was a butterfly, Vivi the bug catcher, and mom and dad the flowers.

NOW :: 8 pm
Thank god Chester was here during the worst of it (hopefully) BUT he is now driving the almost 4 hour drive away from us to Danville, IL to a full nights sleep. I on the other hand write this while Ellen is waking up about every 20 minutes. Poor Ellen, poor me.

Happier Halloweens are definitely in our past and our future I think!

The Pilgrimage to Washington with Two Babies for the Second Time

Taking the girls to the grocery store sometimes seems like a marathon — by the end I am sweating and exhausted and wondering what I would do if Schnucks did not offer free cookies for kids. Well then taking them to Washington state from Missouri was an olympic event. We learned from our first trip out and were armed with an endless supply of lollipops, fruit snacks, milk, charged tablet/s but it was no match against a 1 and 2 year old at 12 am and a 10 hour night of traveling.

Being on a full airplane with 2 screaming kids is unlike any stress — you want to laugh at the worst case scenario coming to life right before you and melt down and cry along with the baby in your arms at the same time. But as Chester kept saying “there will be an end.”

It is times like these where I want to tell my coworker Bhairavi, that tells me to enjoy every minute of them being young because it goes by so fast … really? every minute?

I also don’t have as many pics to go along with this post because I left my camera phone (because that’s what it is, first a camera then a phone) in the car in St. Louis which took me a little bit of sulking to get over AND recently Chester’s phone ended up in the washer machine before pulling vacation pics from it. Luckily my mother-in-law got some good ones. I am finding it harder and harder to take pics of the girls anyway because I usually do not have a free hand to take them. With some bloggers who seem like they end up with a handful of magical photos from every meal and every place they go I wonder if they have a secret photographer that follows them around. Even when I have a free hand getting a pic of both of the girls that is not blurry seems impossible.

But we made it in to Yakima, WA in the wee hours of the morning. The girls were super gross from traveling — sticky and moist (yes I said it) and a little smelly but we just put them in bed because it was unfathomable to wake them to take a bath.

Yakima, Washington

Once we settled in really the girls couldn’t have done any better. They slept great they played well. Grandma Lori and Great Grandma Karen made sure they had everything they needed from the boots on their feet to balloons and a piano.

Because I was not raised in the city I never thought of myself as a city girl or my girls as city girls, but it was pretty apparent that they really are from the moment we arrived. I had just packed one pair of sandals and one pair of cute tennis shoes for each of them (I had about 4 pairs each until Chester and the zipper on the bag told me to downsize). But seeing them in the chicken coop and getting fussy on the farm — yep these girls are city girls. So when we got back Chester made a vow to take the girls on more hikes to get them used to walking all the time. Vivi does this like run in front of you and in circles around you until you pick her up. Ellen still does the arching back move so that you protect her head and have to hold her, stinker.

Coming Home — On Point

So the trip back home was infinitely better mostly due to the fact that our flights were during the day. Yes we had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to leave, and keep the kids up until 11 am in Sea Tac but it was totally worth it. We had just a few small melt downs that I squashed with “Good Night Moon” for Ellen and loading more game apps on the tablet worked like a charm for Vivi.

Top free apps that my 2.5 year old loved– Doctor Kids and Toca Kitchen 2.

Right before we left Grandma Karen said to us that we were doing a good job raising the girls, that they were well behaved. Coming from her it felt like the biggest compliment and parenting win. So many times people comment on how cute the girls are or how well Vivi is talking, but telling someone they are a good parent through all the chaos and after spending a week with the kids felt amazing.

It seems like we are just getting back into our regular schedule with daddy at the Children’s ER, Ikea opening right near the kids school Childgarden and the weather is changing for fall. It feels like a lot of changes are coming for us …

St. Louis Public Schools – Starting with PreK in St. Louis

Growing up in Wentzville we knew which school we were going to from day one. My mom taught in the Fort Zumwalt school district and my dad taught in Francis Howell. We moved to St. Louis in 2009 for the reasons many college grads do the jobs, the night life, the closeness to everything. The schools did not factor into our decision making at the time. However just a few short years later, with a 2.5 year old I have found myself not looking up the latest restaurant reviews but everything I can about the St. Louis Public Schools.

Think I’m crazy since Vivienne isn’t even 3? Actually I am right on time. It kills me when people assume that we are going to move when the kids are at school going age. The people that pass the most judgement on the SLPS system are the ones that know the least about it. Maybe they are looking for validation for their own family choices. But I don’t need the validation. I know that I am going to do the best that we can for the girls and right now, that means getting ready to file applications for the 2016/2017 school year for Vivienne to go to college PreK in St. Louis.

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So like any parent fixated on one thing I turned to online resources staying up way to late just to realize that it is difficult and no one best path for everyone. Starting on the SLPS website takes you to this list which doesn’t include charter or private schools as they are not apart of the SLPS. And you go page by page and school site by school site and feel like there are too many. THEN you ask around a little bit and find THIS website STL City Schools. Which gives you a ton of information, but again there is no “this is the school for you” button. I honesty didn’t even know that there are public schools out there that off PreK. I guess that I had assumed that we would choose and pay for a pre school for Vivi. We are currently at Childgarden which offers PreK for $199/week.

So here we are in September and I am dying to go to an info night or something where I can ask more questions. I looked pretty hard and found one, BUT its next week when we are on vacation. Then I email the SLPS and there may be one in early October. I am told the deadline for the first round of applications for magnet schools are due Nov. 5. And also each school has their own open houses for prospective families. Okay so here are the ones that we are going to look at:

Stix (magnet)
http://www.slps.org/Domain/1610
http://stlcityschools.org/s/stix-early-childhood-center-st-louis-mo-1313

Wilkinson (magnet)
http://www.slps.org/Domain/1741
http://stlcityschools.org/s/wilkinson-early-childhood-center-st-louis-mo-1350

Buder (public)
http://stlcityschools.org/s/buder-elementary-st-louis-mo-1038
http://www.slps.org/domain/281

Buder is actually our public school according to where we live AND they offer PreK starting at age 3! STL City Schools did a blog profile on Buder here and it looks pretty nice. One thing that I love about some of these city schools is the architecture. A lot of them are in old brick buildings that look something like a muggle Hogwarts.

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Photo Credit: Built St. Louis

So besides planning visits we are getting our application ready (which means that I have to get Vivienne’s birth certificate, because I never sent in for it after we brought her home … whoops!) So I’ll keep you posted on where Vivienne is going to college pre-school!

All’s Fair in Love and Potty Training

So far potty training Vivienne has been manageable/not a nightmare. We were terrified! When you start you are just so hell bent on getting the pee and poo in the potty that you don’t think about ALLL the other things that go with potty training. The thing that is the most disruptive for us is the sleeping and potty-ing, especially with the girls co-sleeping. However I did see recently on one of my mommy boards (I hate them and also love them) someone asking if it was even worth the hassle to potty train when diapers are “easier” and the answer is HELL YES because handling poop is gross.

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We were so prepared — we had the potty at about 18 months that was just collecting dust for really almost 6 months. But right after her second birthday, it was like a light turned on and one day she went for the first time in the morning and has been at it every since. It did help that she got jelly beans for her b-day and then Easter came and we had even more jelly beans for incentive (nicer word for bribing). Needless to say that to this day, about 2.5 months potty training, everyday she asks for a freaking jelly bean after she potties. We switched to stickers which we have to pick off the floor, the tub and Ellen on a daily basis now.

Things you only say & hear when you potty train:

“Jelly beans for poo poo only” – mom and dad
“Don’t touch the poop Ellen” – vivienne
“Don’t touch the poop Vivi” – mom and dad
“I’ll have a marshmallow now, prease mommy?” – vivienne
“I’ll have my pink underwear mommy” – vivienne

She’s kind of into this “I’ll have …” request method. Not sure why or where she got it. Its cute for now, but I can see how this may be a problem if it persists.

We were having the issue that Vivi would call for us to go potty maybe 1-2 times after we put her down within the first hour. Then she was doing it right when we put her down and another time in the night. So I had the brilliant idea to change her crib into a toddler bed. We did that yesterday and the jury is still out on weather or not this was in fact a great idea or an awful fail that will cost us hours and hours of precious sleep. Last night/the first night was pretty awful. She cried, she turned on her light, she climbed in Ellen’s crib! Then Ellen cried furiously until I heard the screaming baby cry letting me know that this is not just night time gas. Today’s nap was pretty much the same. She cried, she turned on the light, she played … Chester said “I think nap time is just going to be play alone time for Vivi.” I said that I’ll take it as long as its quiet. BUT tonight we put them both down and not a peep from either of them yet. Vivi in fact ran to her room to go to bed. So far toddler bed fail = 2; good parenting =1.

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Welp that’s all I got on potty training. In other news, I chopped off my hair, like all of it. I think I ask Chester like 3 times a day if he likes it. I sometimes look in the mirror and hate it. Then I look in the mirror and love it. It will take some getting used to and not sure how long it will stay, but it is sooo much easier. I also can’t decide if this is the ultimate mom hair cut or if it is just a cute pixie cut. You be the judge, but if you see me it is the latter :) OK?!

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