Saturday, November 12, 2016

Erin Turns 4

This list was written around Erin's birthday, about 6 months ago.

My Erin Elizabeth...

Careful in all things. This girl does not spill, trip or forget
Wildly artistic
Shares jokes! To be silly together is the key to Erin's heart
Habitual
Maternal (Not nurturing. There is a difference.)
Takes time to process
Eats berries. Also the key to her heart
Has curls
Makes up songs
Dreams beautiful dreams. Last night she dreamt of a mother unicorn with wings, who carries her babies to the earth on snowy winter nights. The mother feeds her little ones from the branches of special trees into which village people have tucked yummy treats.
Likes knowing the rules
Makes her baby brother giggle
Gives her middle brother lots of growing opportunities
Does gymnastics
Has a soft spot for uncles
Has her mamma's tastebuds. Likes Steak. Cheese. Fruit. Olives. Sweet Tea. Milky Coffee. Sushi. Pasta.

So much is the same! My baby girl is the best. A lot, a LOT has happened to our family in 6 months and so I have a few items to add.

My Erin Elizabeth...

A sweetheart in a crisis
Becoming a nurturer
Clever, quick to connect dots
Memorizing her alphabet so she can learn how to read 
Graceful, beautiful
Makes up words, complete with official definitions
Saving up money for a bicycle
Wants to do gymnastics again
Loves board games
Is great with chore charts
Helps Oliver hide better before she finds him, when they are playing hide and seek
Energetic (!!!) and prefers to always have a plan of action
Loves to win (I have warned her that eventually little brothers run faster)
Makes me laugh, genuinely, every day
Visits Oliver every night to talk with him, tell and hear stories, and generally chat before taking herself back to bed. They enjoy the time together and it is a very sweet little routine.

It is an adventure, having such a one as her. I love you, baby girl. You are my sweetheart. I really liked the headband you made out of a giant rubber band and a hair tie when you were supposed to be napping. I was going to be annoyed until I saw your adorable, proud smile and the way it made your hair frame your face. Looking forward to your 5th birthday, and all the days in between.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living With Five

This is a quote I pulled from a post I never finished, months back:

"Just a little while ago we welcomed Samuel Albert into our home, and now we are five. A family with three small children is not the circus I was expecting, at least not yet. Sammy is the sweetest, most easygoing baby. Sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, napping every three hours like clockwork, he has only added joy and sweetness to our days."

Sammy at 11months is still like clockwork, just not as convenient. His most alert period in a day falls between 8pm and midnight. He will wake up 1-3 times after that to nurse which is not solid sleep for me but still easier than when the other two were nursing at night. During the day I can count on my little man for smiles and cuddles and adorable attempts at mimicking the rest of us.
As far as the circus goes, I have mixed thoughts on this. When Erin was smaller and Oliver not quite walking/talking our days consisted of quiet reading, quiet table activities, quiet floor play, quiet and careful helping mommy with chores, and taking tiny little walks around the apartment complex. Also sending daddy out to get snacks from the grocery store around the corner.

...typing it out makes me laugh!

NOW we live in rural Seabeck, 25 minutes from the nearest actual store. A general store is close by, but we try to use it only for emergencies. Everything is very overpriced and the selection is far from natural. That said, I love that little place with it's wood stove heat, familiar community faces, and stubborn refusal of any check not addressed from Seabeck. They stay open when the power is out, which is...all winter. We could always go buy organic frozen pies from our friendly neighbors, but real grocery shopping is far less convenient than it used to be. I'm not great at it under city circumstances, so I feel like I spend most of the week fretting about shopping, failing at shopping, and then wishing I had done a better job.

Oliver's toddlerhood is so, so different from his sister's. Somehow table activities become acrobatic. Food is war paint. Chore helping is ooooh so helpful. Outside play is getting all of the outside on all of the clothes. Sleep is...unnecessary?? And putting two extremely different toddlers in a small space for months on end will make the topic of conflict resolution feel like life and death necessity.

Add in mommy adjusting to her postpartum self, planning/budgeting for a cross country move and the various alternative healthy choices we try to make on a daily basis and I would say that life has gotten much more complicated.

With Sammy in the mix, though, everything just feels right. I don't know what it is, but looking at my group (yes, group) of children they seem complete. Sammy is supposed to be sitting there, watching his brother and sister play. When I notice Erin or Oliver have some tiny interaction with 'the baby' I feel content deep down inside, where motherhood is. I'm not convinced I experienced that, before Sammy. He's the kind of little guy you miss if he happens to sleep through an evening instead of sitting with Ben and I where he belongs. We don't mind him being up with us.

And complicated isn't so bad. As parents we've never been allowed to get too comfortable in our ideals and practices. We've been challenged with each child to reevaluate, tweak and sometimes completely alter our approach to life, parenting, relationships and even our faith. The sleep deprivation combined with busyness from basic life necessities that we are currently experiencing is really great for slimming down the program to what actually works, and what is actually possible.

Some fun projects I have in mind for the near future:

  • Going mattress free, or exploring healthier alternatives! At the moment we have Japanese Futons in mind and either slatted frames or tatami mats.
  • Herb and Flower container gardening. When we move to a rental we will need to use containers for gardening, most likely.
  • Supporting eye function/sight naturally. Oliver is slightly farsighted, and I want to see how different herbs might help him out. Just a fun experiment.
  • Minimalist housekeeping! I am getting rid of /everything/. Beds, small appliances, art. We are starting over! It's been fun to change my thinking in little ways that have big advantages, like going from a filing cabinet down to an expandable file folder or three bookshelves down to...two bookshelves. We still have a lot of books. Probably always will. 

Life with five is good. It's hard. It's fun. Feels like constant and rapid transition. Feels like running without a water bottle. But the scenery is nice, as long as I keep looking right at it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Moving

After packing up and moving in the space of just a couple weeks, my little family is now happily settled in among the unpacked boxes and still dusty corners of our new place! From the city to the almost-country has brought about some major changes for us. Hard changes, with mountains that seemed like molehills from the distance, but good changes. My surprisingly rambunctious children (I'm just discovering what exactly they are capable of if given enough space!) suddenly have a yard of their own for the very first time! Ben once again has a wood stove to tend, land to see to and clean up, and a commute to work (we use to live just three minutes away from the office!). Even though I use to live smack in the middle of town with an Albertson's on one side and a Costco on the other, these lovely 6 acres we get to enjoy for the time being have me feeling less isolated and free to go where I please and do as I like. I must be in my element!

In keeping with tradition and expectation, my dryer went out the week we decided to get busy packing, and my super fancy kirby vacuum bags (available only by order) decided to get lost (or maybe I really did use them all up). Oliver decided to teeth four molars at once and Tiny Feehan (A baby boy! We will name him Samuel Albert Feehan) finally started jumping around and practicing some pretty impressive braxton hicks, making for a mamma who requires many more pit stops and naps than previously. The cherry on top was our first truly bad sickness of the season -- a nasty flu bug that set in the moment we stopped running for a second.

In the midst of my chaos and small difficulties the troops have rallied and I feel blessings pressing in from every side. My sweet baby sister came over one day to make peanut butter balls, which lasted me all the next day. My mom has added practically every little (and big) hiccup I encounter to her already over loaded list of to-do's, including the three bags of wet laundry which I deposited at her house. Ben's parents are taking the little monkeys nearly every week in some fashion, to give us space to work, and friends from all over are unexpectedly pitching in more than we could ever ask.

On top of it all, Erin and Oliver are proving to be quite, quite flexible, cheerful and cooperative with all that we are throwing at them. Oliver submitted to sleeping in a foreign back room at a strange place while I rattled boxes and shelves nearby, and Erin has calmly accepted the temporary loss of nearly every book, toy and familiar item she owns. Of course we are experiencing a few minor behavioral blips that seem to coincide pretty neatly with the insecurities of their new home. Bed and nap times have become interesting, for example, but I have faith that with some consistant hard work we will soon be back on track again.

I am so pleased with where God has placed us for the next year or so! It feels good to be hand washing my dishes again, and strange to require a baby moniter in order to hear our littles all the way across the house. This will be a lovely place to have our third child, and as I can already see everyone testing out their wings in this bit of extra leg room I'm excited to see what blessings and opportunities are in store for us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oliver James Feehan Was Born

My son was born early one damp October morning. Witnesses of this [very!] quick affair included Ben, My good friend Selina,  my mother and sister, and of course Peggy, our midwife.

My plan was to try a water birth for the first time. For weeks we had the tub set up in the nursery. It made a great playpen for Erin. She didn't believe anything belonged in it besides her, despite our occasional suggestion. Any and all toys were promptly ejected, with great prejudice.

Selina came over once a week towards the end to help purge the house of unwanted clutter and grime. She was to be my doula and was determined that everything would be perfect for me. Some extra nice things that were her fault:

- All the edges of the carpet vacuumed!
- Last minute house cleaning during early labor
- All the important little things I refused to remember or act on

Energy came in spurts, long and short, in the last weeks. The /last/ week however was the slowest, laziest, most hum drum thing imaginable. My Mister bought me a fuzzy blanket, and I went into hibernation. I'd spent so much energy walking, and bouncing and stretching to get the baby out and now I was discouraged because apparently it wasn't in my control. So I slept.

Looking back, I was probably in early labor.

Trying to remember the experience doesn't result in any sort of linear thought, mostly just strong or vague impressions. For instance, I think my attitude going into the experience was much better. My first birth was so surprising, on so many different levels. This time I'd actually tried to start labor, and was legitimately excited for the happy event. It was like a party in my honor or something.

When it finally happened I was not convinced that anyone should believe me. I was too embarrassed to get people's hopes up, and probably downplayed it a bit. My midwife was on her way home from a seminar in Portland. She and I were in contact briefly, concluding that I probably wouldn't have the baby that night.  Everyone went [or stayed] home until receiving a midnight call suggesting they get themselves to my house asap, preferably sooner.

I was in transition when the midwife arrived.

Funny thing, labor didn't seem that hard comparatively. I only had wowthisisacontraction feelings for about two hours, basically from transition to birth. I'm guessing that certain relaxation measures taken that evening had much to do with it. Probably the drinking of my first sangria could have been thought through a little more. Not saying I would have done anything differently, I just might have anticipated the general fuzzy happiness and lack of strong decision making.

My best friend, and go to problem solver. :) :)


I labored in a total of five different places, very different from my first birth. Earlier in the evening I walked around being confused and aimless while Selina cleaned my kitchen and made my drink. After Ben had taken care of Erin and sent her to bed a little early I tried to get some sleep, which is when contractions really started coming. We got back up and started a movie, which I did not pay the slightest attention too, but mostly bounced around on our exercise ball trying to time contractions. We called the midwife again, and the conversation went something like this:

"I just thought you should know I'm definitely in labor now."
"Oh? Tell me what you're feeling."
"Um, contractions? Real ones?"
"Uh-huuuuuh, and how far apart?"
"It's really random. Sometimes three, sometimes five minutes, occasionally less than one minute."
Pause.
"I'm coming over now."
Click.

I was told later that when Peggy called her assistant it was strongly suggested they make haste or risk a baby being born without them since, "She has her babies quickly."

Sam and Sonya [Ben's parent's] came to pick up Erin around midnight. They prayed with me before leaving. Selina came [again! she helped me so much!] in as they went out, and french braided my hair. Ben was close by the entire time, I wouldn't let him leave. Once I think he tried, and I promptly panicked. He was allowed to go get me my blanket, and that was it.

As Peggy sailed in to take control announcing that, "She's pushing, move it to the bedroom" I started insisting on getting into the tub, though I think that was actually a mental process and not something that happened out loud. In fact, I almost missed my water birth since our hot water ran out and folks had to make do with boiled water.

Wut. I have Korean babies.


They tried to make me get into bed. That wasn't happening. I stubbornly clung to the edge of the frame and remembered that awful hour and a half I'd spent lying in there pushing with Erin 18 months ago. When the tub was finally ready and I could escape the 'helpful' breaths being done along with me I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I got a little bit of a break, and then 4 or 5 pushes and then my baby came, around 2:30am.

It really was that quick. I was so surprised, and immediately wondered what the catch was. Shouldn't this have taken longer? Later I realized the 'catch' happened to be uterine cramping while nursing, which had me on Ibuprofen round the clock.

I remember seeing Ben hold Ollie while I was being hauled out of the water. I thought, "Whelp. My work is done. You all can handle the rest, right?" But I guess folks wanted to sleep, so after being tucked into bed with my Mister and my son I settled in for a long night of nursing, and not sleeping, and falling in love.

Tiny mister and THE Mister. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

'Media Fasting and Not: A Comparison' or 'The Aftermath'

After a full week of 'no media' followed by nearly a month of 'not media fasting' I have come to several conclusions.

There is a sentence in Created to Be His Helpmeet that made me laugh out loud -

"The scriptures tell young women to be keepers at home because of their natural tendency to loaf around doing nothing except seeking entertainment."

She goes on to say that modern technology has created a means to both be at home and neglect your role as a keeper of the home via various forms of social media, phones, etc. I agree, I have always agreed, but I didn't notice that the 'good' things I use my laptop for can also distract from truly fulfilling my job as wife and mother. Some examples:

Cookbooks vs Google, etc. - My cooking style and choices were decidedly better during our media fast. I dug into my cookbook cupboard and pulled out three different books at a time, comparing and seeing other options in the process. They were like old, neglected friends. After the fast, I went back to my pinterest boards and quick searches. I don't think either method is inherently better or worse, but for me it was the difference in committed and quality concentration or haphazard guesses and cut corners.

Chores, children and diversions - Consider this 5 minute wedge of my day:

Start the dishwasher and head towards the laundry room. Encounter adorable screeching monkey via crash course in the hall. Allow said creature to haul me by the hand somewhere indistinct. She either forgets or changes her mind halfway there. We read a book instead. I hop up way before poor Erin is ready to let me go because there are mounds of things I have to do and it's stressing me out to neglect it one more second. Not wanting to leave my daughter to her own devices I scoop her up and plan to include her help. Which means it's going to take longer, and more effort, and I'll have to choose the next task according to what she can do or at least sort of do. Once we get set up, Oliver wakes. He eats, burps, get's changed and cooed at. Rinrin needs lunch now, and then a nap. Oliver is getting pacifier spoiled, so I have to spend some extra time putting him down. Who should go to sleep first? One or the other will cry from sleepiness, so I have to consider that...

My philosophy of lists and schedules is rapidly changing. It's risky to commit my expectations to any one plan of action too firmly. I have to mentally shrug off my OCD tendencies and remember that loving and therefore training my children comes first. This means that means the continuous stream cleaning and cooking and doing everything in 'order' was sacrificed long ago. During our media fast I think we all pulled this off pretty well! Gliding from housekeeping to playing to teaching to training felt focused and purposeful.'Post media fast' I see how sometimes my internet activity competes with the precious moments I spend wiping noses and playing with train tracks. I use my laptop for things like grocery lists, selling unused items, and research. I think the stress in these situations comes from sheer quantity of competing priorities and activities and trying to do them all at once.

Influences and priorities - We were watching a tv show awhile back. A man said, "I'm a textbook people pleaser, it's a problem." Ben laughed at me as I squirmed indignantly under the accusation. But it's true. I can sooooooometimes struggle with how the gigantic 'me, myself and I' is perceived. I'm super competitive. I want to do everything better than everyone all the time. I can't stand it if someone disapproves of anything about me or mine. I'm sweet, compliant, understanding -- until I think you find yourself better than me and there is nothing I will not do to either change that or defend myself. I'm working on it.

This isn't limited to people I know. There are thousand of women who have kindly shared their successes and 'after' photos vie the internet. I thought I was researching, finding inspiration, when I was in fact competeing. With the whole stinkin' world. I think this explains why a media fast was such a freeing experience for me. Alone with my home and my family there were so many less voices. It was quiet enough to see what was good for us and what wasn't important.

The Feehan family is setting in motion a generation of people and experiences. We are in our own small way creating history. I want it to be the best kind of history, the kind of story that inspires by success and victory and truly worthy undertakings. I consider my job as wife, mother and teacher important enough to make or break it. Every day is an experiment, an adventure. Each day builds into a week, a month, an entire year made up of the people I love and the choices we've made. Changes are in order but they will be worth it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Teething

My sweet Erin was so sad this morning. Her teeth are hurting her and she's a bit feverish so everything is  more emotional than it should be. For example, earlier I heard her wailing desperately for help in the hallway. When I flew to her aid and asked what she needed the only answer I received was one tiny, trembling finger pointing at some applesauce, dribbled down the front of her shirt.

I am sympathetic, having recently rediscovered what monthly hormones feel like.

Oliver is also teething. His first tooth! 3 months seems a bit young but I also started cutting my teeth at that age so possibly it is a family thing.

In between the chores and baby coordinating I've been reading up on Charlotte Mason. I'm so completely excited to provide the best education possible for my children. The deeper I delve the more I feel like I ought to send myself back to some form of school first.

Ambleside online offers their free annotated version of Charlotte Mason's books here. I'm thinking a steady read through of these will be a great place to start.

In other news, Ben has just started an author's blog called, The Ragman Has a Packrat. It's already great. :)

After work this evening, we all flopped on the floor for a pre-bedtime play session. Oliver joined, small though he is.



I hold to the theory that he is a boy and therefore tough and can handle things. I mean -- look at him. Not even phased (even though I was pretty sure his life was in danger). 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Media Fast January 2014 - Part 2


I enjoyed feeling so secluded during our media fast. It was nice, relying on my cookbooks rather than Google, comparing my housekeeping to yesterday rather than some perfect photo. The phone rang once or twice, surprising me with the reminder that other people still existed. 

I had this moment, standing at my kitchen sink. The blinds were all the way open and Erin and I were singing at the top of our lungs. For the first time in awhile I was perfectly content to wash the dishes. Joyful, even. I didn't have something else I needed to do, or somewhere else to be. In that moment my purpose and goal was to make MY kitchen clean and pretty with MY daughter. It felt like I was a kid again, powering through my chores so I could fly out the door and run with the wind.

Some days were hard. Many times if we had not been on our media fast, I would have called it a day after a rough moment which was after a rough night which was after a rough...everything. By which I mean we would have watched Winnie the Pooh in our pj's because mom needed a break. Instead I prayed a lot more, drank lots of coffee, and took a ridiculous amount of deep breaths. A routine developed, and I guess I don't need as many 'breaks' as I thought I did. Pushing through is really rewarding. Do Hard Things? Psh. Hard things are my life.

This media fast was wildly successful.

~ Priorities have been re-evaluated. 
~ I slowed down. Sometimes the world is too fast for me. There are so many ways to be efficient, so much information to absorb and implement, so many good ideas and ideals -- who has the energy for ALL of that? Maybe I'm just old fashioned.
~ We've established that Sundays will be quiet days. We will unplug and focus inward. That way, weeks won't have gone by without any downtime. No more burning out for me.
~ I hung my clock!! And a photo frame!! This is actually a big deal.
~ Erin's involvement in household things basically doubled, and it seems to be sticking. This is happy.
~ My Mister got a ton of reading done, and made huge progress on his book planning. Guys! His book is going to be amazing! Interesting fact -- we thought of the original idea together, at night, in bed, just before falling asleep. It felt silly and just for fun at the time. It has obviously come a long way since then, but I'm still claiming Muse rights.
~ I also did a lot of reading, and have kept it up since. I used to devour books by the dozen. I'm glad to be back in the game.
~Also, blogging...that's going well.
~ I'm getting more creative with my days. Not so point and shoot. I like how things have taken a bit more of a meandering course.
~ 'Nurturing' isn't always my strong point, but that's improving. Probably a result of a combination of much of the above.

I suspect that a passion for nature and my original under-exposure to modern technology has played key in my need for occasional space and silence. I don't hate our handy modern tools, I'm just me. If I had it my way I'd live in a terrarium. There would probably be flower fairies. We would eat off wooden utensils and drink water from a spring. Since I'm also happy to live in the real world, I'm grateful to know more about my limits, and propensities and potential than I did before our Media Fast. Thanks Mister, for going along with it. Thank you Lord for sound wisdom, laid up in heaven for me and mine. 

/photo credit goes to uncovet.com/

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Media Fast January 2014 - Part 1

My husband has occasionally teased me for being a Luddite at heart. Apparently that means I hate technology, or something. It's true, my fondest memories usually take me back to a time where I guess it was always summer, and warm, and full of adventure and discovery and usually no electricity. I remember the best chore days happening to the tune of one of our two CD's (if I had managed to convince mom to let me play it that day) with all the windows open. Preferably the neighbors (aka our best family friends) would be running in and out, and Dad would decide to work on OUR house instead of his construction job.

I remember learning how to use a computer when I was much older than my friends. It was strange and off limits and overwhelming. Sometimes I just sat there with my hand on the mouse, stricken with all the possibilities and unable to choose even one. High school debate happened (so much research), and Facebook (so much sneaking around) but usually in closely and suspiciously monitored quarters. Then I grew up and moved out and freedom was mine.

I'm ridiculously careful of my time, my responsibilities. I care so much and I try so hard, that 'burnt out' is becoming a perpetual state of being. Freedom, right? Despite all this, my home and life are not even close to meeting my own standards. Sometimes it feels like I can only be successful with one thing at a time, I have to fail everywhere else to make it work. I've spent entire days trying to figure out what's wrong. I love being a mother, a wife. Home is my favorite place to be. I have a lot of fun planning how to make our lives run more smoothly. So what's up? I've come to numerous conclusions the past two years, most of them excuses.

This January my family took one week for a media fast. So, so worth it. I've asked for this before, hoping vaguely that some sort of evil influence or time sucker would suddenly be absent and all problems solved.

Well, something happened.

In the past, we've gone partially 'media' free. This time, It was a little bit like stepping behind an iron curtain. I sat haughtily on my side waiting for productivity to soar in the absence of my enemy while facebook, pinterest, gmail, spotify, blogger, netflix, various informative/inspirational sites, and everything else continued on without me.

~ ~ ~



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Maker's Diet Breakfast: Phase I

According to the plan we selected (male potato type) there are three breakfast options during Phase I. We won't do everything perfectly, since I'm still suffering from sticker shock with the raw honey, raw milk for kefir, everything organic and free, etc. I plan to let these things sort of sneak up on me, all  subtle and inexpensive-like.

1. Eggs and fruit

3 Eggs cooked however you like in coconut oil
Sauteed Mushrooms, onions and bell peppers
1 serving of grapes

2. Smoothie

Plain whole milk Yogurt or Kefir
Coconut oil
Frozen Berries
Honey
Vanilla extract (opt.)
Protein Powder (opt.)

3. Yogurt

Yogurt with honey and fruit
Handful of raw almonds

Breakfast happens to be my weak spot, especially on the weekends. What's been working so far is to just boil up a bunch of eggs every few days, and eat those with some fruit, or a smoothie if I'm feeling optimistic (I'm bad at smoothies. It never works out.). Hard boiled eggs seem to be my best bet for actually accomplishing breakfast, which is to say, it's absolutely no work at all and really hard to mess up.

As far as how the diet in general is going....

Meh.

But that's okay. I suspect some of my issues with being unable to resist cravings stem from being pregnant two years in a row. During this time, myself and everyone else stuffed me full of whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I /really/ like how this diet works, the types of meals I've been making lately. Once we get some consistency, it will be even better.

Some positive things I've noticed already:

~Waking up has been a teeny bit easier

~Detox happened once or twice, but it wasn't very intense

~My people seem a little healthier. We've got mold in the house, and dust, not enough sunshine or fresh air, some family health issues, and a history of sort-of bad eating. Just a week or two of  intentional dieting and we're eliminating some of that 'generally always sick' feeling. Yay!

Circulatory Herba-Smoothie

Something I'll be adding to our breakfast on a daily basis once it comes, is the Circulatory Herba-Smoothie mix from the Bulk Herb Store. The idea of the herba-smoothies is that you'd be making and eating your own supplements/vitamins. I'm all for that -- the effective supplements in the stores are really expensive and hard to come by. This particular mix contains rosehips and ginkgo, both of which I've wanted for a long time! Also, there is a suggested smoothie recipe. Here's hoping I can finally get it right.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Erin, 20 Months

Erin, my sweet girl,

Now you are almost two, and you have been loudly proclaiming your identity to the world for some time already. I can hardly see a trace of the infant or baby anymore. It's getting easier to look down the road, and see the woman we've been training you to be. With a new brother in the house, I can tell how much your daddy and I learned from you...sometimes I'm worried about lost opportunities, but then I remember that I am also an oldest daughter. You and I will have a special relationship because of it. You will be strong. We will be best friends.

Your daddy and I are so proud of you because:

~ You have your own tiny broom and vacuum, and can take care of the floors with mommy.

~ You love your baby brother and give him kisses all the time.

~ Your favorite game to play on your own is 'going bye-bye' with your best baby doll. This one will get easier after you've learned how to handle all the buckles, straps, laces and corners involved.

~ You are learning to count! 3 is about as high as it gets right now, and the best part for mommy is that you understand the concept as well as how to mimic the sounds.

~ Right now you learn best with a combination of sign language and instruction. I think you feel like we're not putting enough effort into it if our hands are still.

~ Being read to is cause for celebration. We've got to be mindful of our timing because you will ask for book, after book, after book...

~ Cartoons were made especially for daddy and Rinrin. You guys have your own special show, and it's perfect for cuddling and exchanging astonished expressions when something cool happens.

~ You are almost completely fearless as long as daddy and mommy are around.

~ 'Dance' is your favorite sign, and you've got a hair trigger for breaking out into wiggly, bouncy dance sessions.

~ You take the garbage out with daddy, and consider it a serious responsibility.

~ The kitchen counters and drawers belong to you during cooking times. You know which ones are allowed, and you know exactly what to do with them. There have been several meals with your special touch added to things.

~ You love blueberries /so/ much that you are willing to put aside all prejudice in their name. You forged new friendships with your Grandpa and great Grandma based upon the power of the blue berry.