Friday, July 11, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 2 Years!

Dear Sylvie,

Well, you made it! You are officially 2 years old! I think you've known there was a big milestone coming up because you have been learning and doing so many new things.

Climbing on the rocks at the park. You love to go there to feed the ducks.
You are becoming quite the little chatterbox. I can't believe how many words you can say now compared to a couple of months ago. You'll generally try to say just about any word, though you still look at me like I'm crazy when I try to get you to say large words like "hippopotamus." You finally refer to me as "Mama." When you get excited you point to all the things and say "Mama Dada Mama Dada Mama Mama Mama!!" Your newest words are grandpa & grandma, though they both sound like "Papa." Every old man we see is now Papa. You can also say duck, peas, pool, home, meow (for cat), again, sauce, ball, all done, shoes, tall, popcorn, Nemo, down, blue, car, ah oh, mess, poop, yes, yeah, & no. I'm sure there are more. There are a lot of things you can identify but can't say the word for. You know all your animals, colors, and body parts. You also make up signs for different things, the most common being "thirsty" and "hungry". You'll point to your tongue for thirsty and pat your chest when you're hungry. You now use these signals when it's time for bed to try and stall the inevitable. Sometimes it actually works!

Wearing two of your favorite things – your shades and your robe.

You have a great sense of humor. I don't know how you can identify jokes at this young age but you do. One day I was naming off a list of things trying to figure out what you wanted to eat. You were answering 'no' to all my suggestions so I asked you if you wanted a "kick in the bum." You immediately smiled with delight at such a prospect. I now routinely ask you if you want a kick in the bum just to get a smile out of you. You also show embarrassment at your father's crazy antics. He'll sing a song using a weird voice and you'll look at him and shake your head and say "Daadaa". I'm going to give you a hint here and tell you that giving Daddy a reaction to his antics will only encourage him.

Farmer Sylvie out harvesting your peas. It's the first thing you ask for when you get up.

Although we haven't started the potty training process yet, you are slowly becoming more interested in the idea. You'll sit on your potty while Mom or Daddy is in the bathroom and once I caught you just in time and got you to poop in the potty! More of a fluke than anything but it's a start! You really hate getting your diaper changed so I think you'll be much happier when you can wear your big girl panties.

You've taken to removing your pants while you're sitting on the potty and putting them on your head as a nice hat.
You're getting much better with your physical coordination. You can climb up the ladder on your little slide, screw lids on & off, drink out of a regular cup, climb up into your high chair, and you can walk pretty long distances. You are also getting much better at doing puzzles. You got a new farm animal puzzle for your birthday and I left you to put it together one day on your own. It took you about 10 minutes to finish but you ran into the kitchen to tell me you were done so I could come see your work. You were very proud of yourself. Since then you have gotten much faster and have a couple other puzzles you can do as well.

This year we had your birthday a little early so we could have more family members there. You had a Daniel Tiger theme because you LOVE Daniel Tiger. You watch it every day. Grandpa Fred & Grandma Denise and the Westons came for the party. We had pizza and Daniel Tiger cupcakes. You didn't quite get the blowing out the candle thing, but you did eat some of your cake this year! You really seemed to like your party this year and had a lot of fun. Actually you kind of had 2 parties. Your cousin Luke is just a week older than you so we had a double party during our Hanson family reunion down in Cedar City. You got to hit a pinata and play with all your cousins. Luke was very nice to share his party with you.

Eating your Daniel Tiger birthday cupcake. You wouldn't touch it with your hands.

Looking at the cute play food your Auntie Annie made you for your birthday.

Testing out your new pink bike.

Your Daniel Tiger party decorations.

Whacking the pinata at your cousin Luke's birthday party.
In general, you continue to be very obedient and helpful. You can put away all the clean silverware from the dishwasher into their correct places in the drawer and you will always help put away your books and toys where they go. Your little basket full of board books is usually pretty immaculate with all the spines facing out. You are also really good at putting your laundry away. You know right where your shirts and socks go and love to help Mommy by putting them in their place. I definitely think you got your Dad's cleanliness genes. The other day I was making something in the kitchen and you got very quiet playing in the living room. I called to you and didn't get an answer for a couple seconds so I went to investigate. Suddenly I heard your little feet pattering towards me and as you burst into the kitchen, you furiously started "cleaning" things with a ragged looking napkin you'd found. You cleaned EVERYTHING – the chairs, the window, the stools, the fridge, even the pedal on the trashcan. It was so dang adorable. Then, when you were all done I figured I'd take advantage of your cleaning spree and gave you the Swiffer broom to push around. You thought it was fun so that makes it OK (you threw a fit the other day when I wouldn't let you have a turn because you were being grabby and not asking nicely). Along those lines, we've started small punishments when you don't behave. Usually all it takes is a threat for you to go stand in the corner and you'll do what you're asked, though we have had to enforce the dreaded corner a couple of times.

You during your cleaning spree.

Cleaning up the "mess" on the floor.

Sylvie you bring so much joy into our lives. The hugs and the giggles and the sweetness make my heart feel like bursting. Every day I love you more and more and I love to see you grow and learn and become your own little person. It's crazy for me to think that one day you'll be all grown up. Hopefully by then you'll wear more clothing when you go outside. But for now, I'll soak up all your babyness for as long as I can. I sure love you Huggie Buggie.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty Tip Series: Curly Hair Perfection

When I was a kid I had stick straight hair. Gradually as I've gotten older my hair has become more wavy. Which is actually the best of both worlds. Having wavy hair makes it easy for me to go straight or curly depending on my mood.

For years my curly hair success days had been a bit hit-or-miss. The good days my hair looked evenly curled and not too frizzy. On bad days my hair would be flat on top and have loose, frizzy looking waves. No big deal... a messy bun always fixed that. But, I wanted a more reliable way to get beautiful, soft, defined curls every time. Lucky for me I stumbled across the Curly Girl method and I can't believe the difference a couple of tweaks in my hair routine have made in the outcome of my curls. Now, some of these processes are more crucial than others. Some are a bonus if you can work them in. I'll let you know the importance of each as I walk you through the process. And of course feel free to check out the Naturally Curly website for more info on your specific hair type. I'm just going to generalize the process and tell you what works well for me.

Before: Frizzy and flat
AFTER! Curly & defined!

Before you step in the shower to wash your hair, make sure you have the following at the ready (in addition to your shampoo & conditioner):

  1. Wide Tooth Comb (essential)
  2. Product for your curls (essential)
  3. Microfiber towel (bonus)

After cleansing your hair, apply conditioner and comb it through to evenly distribute and detangle hair. This will be the only time you comb your hair as anything after this will make your hair frizzy. Rinse out the conditioner and grab your hair product. I really like Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse because it creates nice curls without being crunchy. Plus it's cheap & easy to find.
Readily available and only about $2
With your hair soaking wet, flip your hair upside-down and squeeze out the excess water. Shake your hair at the roots with your fingers to separate the curls naturally. Using a generous amount of product (I use a palm-ful of mousse), emulsify it between your palms and lift your hair up to your scalp and then scrunch. Repeat over all the hair.

With your hair still flipped over, use a microfiber towel (microfiber doesn't cause hair to frizz as much as regular towels but I haven't seen a huge difference here) to lift hair up to the scalp and scrunch. Repeat to remove excess water from hair. Do not wrap your hair in the towel or rub the towel over your hair. Only use it to lift the hair up to your scalp and scrunch. This is a key technique.

At this point your can flip your hair back over but don't touch it. You're technically supposed to let your hair air dry at this point but my hair doesn't turn out very well this way. I typically let mine air dry a bit then finish it off with a diffuser. If you want to use a diffuser, carefully pile curls onto the diffuser head, put it up to your scalp, and allow it to sit there and dry on low-- moving the hair dryer to different sections until it's dry (or nearly dry). Try to move/touch hair as little as possible because the more you touch it, the more frizz it creates.

That's basically it. I've found that adding product to super wet hair and using the scrunching technique have had the most influence on how my curls turn out. I went from fuzzy-ish waves to more defined corkscrew type curls by following this method. What do you think? Try it out for yourself and let me know!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beauty Tip Series: Cowashing

I’ve been meaning to do another “I Can Vouch for That” post of my favorite products, but lately I’ve found more processes I like than actual products. More specifically, beauty processes. After a lot of experimentation I’ve found a couple things that really work well for me so I thought I’d pass them along in a series of posts.

Twice now I’ve tried going “no poo” or shampooless. It typically involves washing your hair with baking soda and conditioning with a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse. I tried all the combinations of ratios and just never liked the results of this. Plus I just didn’t like the process. It was a pain and didn’t have a very satisfying feel to it like using shampoo. And truth be told, I don’t think my hair is that horrible to begin with so switching to something so drastic just didn’t seem to be that beneficial. It’s not like I’m spending hundreds of dollars on shampoo and conditioner every month.

What I have tried with success is “co-washing” or washing with conditioner. I know. I’ll be the first one to admit I was skeptical of this because I have oily hair and have to wash it every day. I can get away with using a dry shampoo on off days if I pull my hair up but it never looks too good. Basically the purpose of cowashing is to keep more of the natural oils in your hair. This is especially good if you’ve got dry hair or process it a lot.

The process basically involves using a silicone (and other “cones”) free conditioner as shampoo. There are small amounts of cleansing agents in conditioner and it turns out it’s plenty to get all the oils & dirt out of your hair. The good news with this method is one of the best conditioners to use is Suave Naturals… the conditioner that costs like $1 per bottle.

To wash your hair with conditioner, just get your hair wet and using several palm-fuls of conditioner (you can’t use too much), work it into your scalp and the length of your hair. Massage your scalp really well to get all the dirt loosened up (like you normally do with shampoo). At this point use a wide toothed comb to detangle your hair and evenly distribute the conditioner (this is a critical step if you have curly hair… I’ll cover this in my next post). Then rinse really well with warm water. Sometimes I’ll add a higher quality conditioner to the ends of my hair and rinse again (with cooler water), but it’s not really necessary.

So that’s it! I still use a regular shampoo about once a week for my problem scalp, but for most people that wouldn’t really be necessary. I’m really liking my new cowashing process and think I’ll keep it around for a while. If any of you have tried this I’d like to hear your experience and/or tips as well!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 21 Months

Dear Sylvie,

I can't believe two more months have gone by. Soon enough you'll be TWO!

I always marvel at the things you pick up on your own. You'll start to do one thing or another and I'll wonder where you came up with it. You've become more amenable to sitting down to watch a movie and depending on your mood you'll usually watch for 30 minutes or so. We've been starting in on the Disney movies which you seem to really like. One evening we made some popcorn and gathered on the couch to watch Cinderella. You sat there on the couch with Daddy and me and watched the movie while blindly reaching for  popcorn in the bowl. It was like you'd done it a million times! So funny.

Having fun in the photo booth. The dynamics in the last pic kill me. 

At the Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum... You loved it!

Your first ice cream cone (which was promptly devoured)
We recently put in a big sandbox for you and you love to sit out there and play with your buckets and shovels. The other day I was playing with you and made a sand castle out of one of your molds. When I lifted the mold off to reveal the sand castle underneath, your eyes went huge with amazement and awe at this "magic" I'd just performed.

Playing in your sandbox
A couple months ago on a rainy day I gave you some dry beans to play with. Since then you play with them almost every day and enjoy putting them in your pots and pans. You pretend to feed them to the kitty or your teddy bear or Mom and Daddy. We give you different reactions each time you feed them to us, one of which is telling you the beans need more salt. You've started to mime adding salt to the beans and it's the cutest thing ever. You also pretend to eat things as well. Which doesn't work out so well when I want you to actually taste your food, not pretend to taste it!

You're getting big enough now that you can play on playgrounds and walk a bit during our walks. Whenever we walk on a path you constantly stop to investigate rocks and sticks (both of which you'll hand to Mommy or Daddy to carry). You do your penguin walk or your little shuffley walk or run as fast as you can. You can actually walk pretty far now without getting tired. When we go to the playground you mainly like the slides. It usually takes you a little while to go up and down the stairs though because you have to brush off all the wood chips or rocks you find there before moving up to the next step. You're not quite big enough to go down the slides yourself so you sit on my lap or I hold your hands. You always get so excited when you see the playground and I think you get a little frustrated when you see bigger kids running around and climbing things that you can't. All in due time.

Playing with giant abacus at the park.

You are getting to be quite the good little helper. You help put away your clothes into their drawers when I do the laundry and you empty your forks and spoons out of the dishwasher and put them in their spot in the drawer when Daddy does the dishes. When he empties the garbage cans you'll go put the bathroom trash can back in its place. You're pretty consistent at putting things away when we ask you to, or fetching one object or another if we need it.

First trip to the zoo. You loved this little otter as well as the giraffes.

Showing off your little top-notches.
You're still not talking too much (at least that we can understand), but you are picking up a few words here and there. You say Mama and Dada (though Mama isn't necessarily directed at me), up and down, this, and right there. You have a lot more signs and actions you make. You will do a fish gulping noise when you see or hear mention of a fish, you'll flap your arms like a chicken, make the little chick "cheap" movement with your hands, point to your ear when you hear a loud noise like an airplane or truck (I've never realized how many planes fly over our house), and raise your hands above your head for something big. You did this when you saw the giraffe at the zoo. You definitely have a way of getting your point across.

You love to smell the flowers in the yard.

 Grandma Denise sharing her potato chips with you at the weenie roast. She knows how to win you over!

Sylvie I am just amazed everyday at what a good little girl you are. You're so smart and sweet and happy, and it's unbelievably fun to watch you grow and learn. You are a bright light in our lives and we're so happy to have you.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 19 Months

Dear Sylvie,

Over the last couple of months you have really grown up! You can do so many things and are becoming so independent. It seems you pick up on something new everyday. Your coordination is getting remarkably better.

You can eat very well with a spoon or fork now and you can drink out of a straw. The types of foods you can eat are slowly increasing as you've finally sprouted four molars! Yeah for real teeth! As you get more and more used to eating by yourself, you are wanting more independence and don't like as much help. You'll allow us to cut up your daily pancakes for you, but other foods such as quesadillas and sandwiches have to be to left whole. Cutting things up is for babies! Your daddy and I were a little too proud the other day when you ate a small slice of pizza.

Your favorite food is definitely yogurt!
Along the food lines... you are officially and completely weaned. You were technically done just after Christmas. I was determined to stop getting up with you at night so I used the time over the holidays when your dad was home to make the transition. We went to visit your Grandma and Grandpa Hanson up in Idaho around the New Year and I put you to bed at your normal time of 8:00 pm. Two hours later, just as I got into bed, you woke up and started crying. Not wanting to get up out of my warm bed, I spoke into the baby monitor and said, "Sylvie, go to sleep." I was amazed when you immediately stopped crying and went to sleep. This happened a couple more times during the night and every time I told you to go back to sleep you did. I never had to get up with you again after that and you currently sleep for 12 hours solid during the night. Woohoo! I was very glad the process ended up being much easier than anticipated for both of us.

You have so many cute things you do every day. Lately you are loving the teddy bear your Uncle Scott & Aunt Amanda got you for Christmas. You carry it around and hug it and take it to bed with you. It's super adorable. You generally like to carry things around or move them from place to place, even more so if you can sit on said objects. You'll sit on anything that is just your height. Your very favorite thing is the little wood stool your Great Grandpa Warnes made for you. Second in line is your pink potty chair (which you're still just getting used to and not actually using), followed by 12 packs of soda and stairs. You've started to practice walking backwards and sometimes combine this with sitting on things. You'll squat down and slowly back up until your bum hits your selected chair. Cracks me up! You've also figured out how to use your stool to climb up on things. You're not too crazy yet... just climbing up on the couches, but I'm sure you'll figure out how to get into more trouble soon.

You and your teddy bear

Sitting on your "Coke bench"

You are getting very good at mimicking me & Daddy. If we put our coats on, you have to put your coat on. If I don't wear gloves, you don't want gloves. I've been counting your fingers and toes when I get you undressed and you've started to "count" as well. But you don't actually say numbers, you just copy the intonation of my voice and say "eh, eh, eh, eh, EH!" Ha ha, it's a start I guess!

Daddy said you picked out this outfit yourself
For the longest time you didn't like to be snuggled in blankets. Whenever I'd try to put a blanket over you you'd immediately pull it off. Lately though you've completely changed your mind. Whenever you're in your carseat you have to have a blanket tucked over your bottom half otherwise you'll squawk and fuss the entire ride. You also have to have the fuzzy owl blanket Grandma Denise made you for Christmas covering you when we read books in the rocking chair. It's so fun to snuggle you.

Being consoled by snacks after Mommy cut your hair
One more thing I'll mention is your toys and organization. You love to play with your big Lego blocks and the picnic basket you got for Christmas. You are very good at putting the blocks together and building towers or putting the picnic food onto the plates and pretending to eat. I'm not sure how you know, but you are very aware which toys belong where. You never mix the Legos with your picnic basket stuff and you are very good at putting them away where they go. Daddy said yesterday you built a tower with the Legos then when you were finished, you pulled all the blocks apart and put them away in the Lego bag. Everything has a place and you know right where to put it. This comes in very handy when you help me with the laundry. You really are a great little helper!

Your first time coloring
Sylvie, you are always such a joy to be around. I have so much fun playing with you and being around you. You are constantly smiling and laughing and are just the happiest little girl. You are so smart and full of energy and I can't help but be happy when I'm around you. I sure love being your mommy.

Love, Mama

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DIY Crafty Crap: Personalized Roasting Sticks with Carrying Bag

For a long time I've labeled myself as not crafty. But looking back at my blog this year, I don't know that I can claim that title any longer. I've actually made a handful of things that turned out pretty good! And *gasp* most of the time I kind of enjoyed it. I guess maybe I should now say that I enjoy doing a select few crafts. There. Now that we have that cleared up, I can show you what I made as Christmas gifts for my family members this year.

Now I saw this while doing a homemade gift search on the Pinterest and I was immediately drawn to the idea. Just about everyone I can think of loves to roast stuff over a fire, whether it's in the backyard or out camping. But how many people have good quality roasting sticks that are easily portable, safe, and personalized? NO ONE. That's who. Which is what makes this so perfect.

Here's what I did:

First you find some kick-ass roasting sticks. If you can forge your own metal and whittle your own handles, more power to you. If you're not the ambitious type (like moi) you can purchase some very nice roasting sticks such as these ones from Camp Chef.

Now you need to figure out exactly how you would like to mark them. The example I saw just used a monogrammed initial. I liked the idea of using full names (or Mom and Dad) for families. You could also do a simple line drawing of an animal or a pattern of some sort if you want them to be more generic. Once you decide what you want to do, print out the pattern or name and make sure it's the correct size for your sticks. You want to make sure they won't be so small they're difficult to trace but not so big that the largest name won't fit. Then tape the pattern on the stick (I used a small piece on either end).

In the post I followed, they traced the letters directly on the paper with the pointy tip of their wood burner. I thought this allowed too much room for error (seeing as how I'm still new to the wood burning technique), so I used a ball-point pen to trace the outline of the letters to make an indentation on the wood. I found that tracing over the letters a couple times (pressing fairly hard) gave a great template and provided a nice track for the wood burning tip to sit in. After the name is traced in place, remove the paper and tape.

If you're doing block letters you'll want to trace the outline with your pointed tip first, then fill it in with the blunt tip. If you choose a simple font like I have, you'll only need to use the pointed tip or blunt tip. Adjust the heat of the wood burning tool to your liking, then trace your design. Now your sticks are finished!

Now to make the carrying bag:

Find whatever material you like. I'm not sure how much you would need to buy since I just found some square tablecloths I liked and used those. Just use some amount that seems good (hey, I'm not a sewer). I'm pretty sure it wasn't more than 2 yards, probably more like 1 1/2, but you'll want to measure your sticks to see how big it needs to be. I made all different sizes depending on how many sticks I was using for each bag. I also used about 1 yard of handle material (I don't know what it's called... nylon stuff?).

So first measure out your material. I figured enough width to fit the sticks plus 6" to fold over on each side for a pocket and an additional inch on each side for edging. So basically the length of your sticks plus 14". Then for my sticks I made 4" wide slots to hold them. Which means your length will need to be 4" for each stick (or however wide they are) and 2" for edging. Plus I tacked on a couple extra inches just in case I screwed up. Or if you want extra material on the ends.

Once you have your square piece of material measured out, put a half inch rolled edge around the outside (fold over 1/2", iron down, fold over another 1/2" iron down then sew). Then fold down 6" on either side of your fabric for your pockets and sew it down on one side only. You want to be able to stagger your pockets so the weight of the sticks is evenly distributed. The open flap will allow you to easily remove and replace the sticks. Then, starting at each sewn edge, measure every 4" inches (or however much space you allowed for the fattest part of the sticks) and sew a pocket. I believe on the case shown below I had 3 pockets on either end.

Don't mind my feet. I was too lazy to crop.
Now put all your sticks in the bag, alternating their direction, and roll up. You'll want to pin your handle material to the center spot then unroll the bag and take the sticks out again.

Sew the ends of your strap together then sew to the center point of your bag. I used white thread because dammit it took me a long time to get my sewing machine threaded and I wasn't going to risk trying to re-thread it after all that swearing on purpose so you could see where I sewed.

So that's basically it. They are pretty rustic... at least the way I sew, but I figured people usually just use these for outdoorsy stuff so it would fit in with the rough atmosphere. Now I just gotta wait for the weather to warm up so I can test them out! But no matter how crappy I sew, these have to be better than driving hours on end with long pointy hot dog sticks floating around in the car ready to fly out and stab me in the eye. And let's not forget that I can now cross off a successful handmade Christmas gift from my bucket list. It's a win/win.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: From Daddy *Special Edition*

Hey Sylvie! It's Daddy.  Mom has written you a bunch of letters and it's about time I write you one too.

Today is Friday, Jan 3, 2014 and I just put you down for your midday nap.  I hear you fussing a little on the monitor but I know you'll settle down very soon and take a good 2 - 3 hour nap just like you do everyday.  You are a good little napper.  In fact... sounds like you've drifted off to sleep already!

This morning you woke up at 7:30.  I jumped out of bed, got dressed, splashed some water on my face and got ready to go in and get you.  But before I open your door, I paused for a moment as I always do and say to myself, "Be a good Dad today.  Be patient.  Be attentive.  Remember you'll never have this day again with your sweet little daughter so make it count."

I turn the knob and walk into the darkness.  From the hallway light I can see you standing there in your baby blue sleep sack, hands on the crib railing as always.  You always seem happy to see me.  I scoop you up and we go through our waking up rounds.  First we walk around to the living room and open the blinds to see what kind of day it is.  Then we do the same to the small curtains above the sink in the kitchen and the big curtains in front of the sliding glass door.  If it doesn't look too frigid outside, we step out onto the back step and I let you jingle the wind chime.  Lol... you always seem to get a kick out of that and so do I.  Then it's back to your room to get you changed out of your dirty diaper and pj's and into your clean diaper and regular clothes.  Lately you've taken to throwing your hands over your eyes in dramatic fashion when I click on the lamp.  Also, you rarely let me get you fully dressed on your changing pad anymore... too wiggly!  So we usually finish getting dressed in the rocking chair.  You're also starting to show some preferences for what you want to wear.   Yesterday you INSISTED on the white shoes over your usual black shoes with the skulls and crossbones, for example.  

Once fully dressed, I set you on your feet, give you a little pat on the butt and say, "Go play!"  And off you go. Though lately you've been going straight to your book bin and dragging out a volume or two for us to read.  So read we do.  I pull you up on my lap in the big white rocking chair and we power through a few books.  You rarely let me read every word or even every page - though occasionally you do.  Mostly we like to point things out on the pages, especially little birdies.  You are especially good at pointing out the birdies.  Once you tire of that... its breakfast time!

You have finally started sleeping all the way through the night!  No nursing from Mommy or anything.  And so when you wake up, you wake up with a good appetite which always makes me happy.  I love to see you eat with a little gusto!  Every morning I make you either pancakes or waffles from the mixes that your Mom makes from scratch and always keeps on hand.  That is your breakfast staple and you'll always eat them - with maple syrup of course.  You used to also love eggs but lately you turn your nose up at the them and prefer mandarin oranges instead.  You are generally a pretty good eater though and I imagine you'll eventually come around to eggs again.  
After breakfast, I let you go play while I clean up the kitchen.  However, your play frequently consists of helping me with the dishes.  You especially like unloading the dishwasher.  Believe it or not, you are actually becoming a real helper.  I have you focus on taking out your colorful plastic spoons and putting them in the right spot in the silverware drawer.  And you will actually do it. Though you then like to unload those same spoons and carry them off somewhere else.  Today you decided to pile them up under the Christmas tree.  Later, when I pointed to the empty spot in the silverware drawer and said, "Could you go get your spoons and put them here?", you actually did it!  Of course I had to text your mom and tell her about what a genius her daughter was.  She agreed.

We've been going out for walks lately and today you made your desire to go for a walk crystal clear by carrying my shoes over to me.  (Lol... I had been sitting in the chair, sipping my coffee and watching you build with your blocks.)  So we put on our jackets and hats and out we went.  You need no help going down the stairs in the garage and you'll rarely even hold my hand these days.  You can walk pretty darn well on your own and so I let you go.  We usually mill around in the driveway for a bit then walk up to the corner.  Along the way you check out the frost - It's cold! - and you've learned the hard way about being careful on the ice.  (A couple slips and falls were all it took.)  In fact, there's one spot where there's about an inch drop off in the sidewalk but there's also some ice and you've taken to getting down on hands and knees and crawling over that spot.  Lol... I guess it's safe to say you got the cautious gene.  But anyway... we walk up to the corner and even head down the street for a ways.  You like to watch the cars go by and are interested in everything.  Birds flying by, dogs barking, neighbors waving at us.  And even the littlest things like unusual texture on sidewalk or chunks of ice from peoples shoveling efforts.  Eventually we mill back to the house and head into the backyard.  There's too much snow to do much but you walk on the areas I've shoveled off on the porch, go up and down the steps a few times, and then we finally head back into the warm house.

Today I whipped up a batch of suet to feed the neighborhood birds.  You are never satisfied until I lift you up and let you have a look at what's going on up on the counter - usually when some kind of cooking is going on.  I explain about making the suet and feeding the birds and it's almost like you understand.  After that you pretty well entertain yourself.  Your Grandma and Grandpa Hanson frequently comment on how well you entertain yourself - especially for an only child who always has at least one parent pretty much hovering over her at all times.  I keep an ear out for you and check on you every once in a while.  At one point I give you a chunk of bread - actually a half of a 'hush puppy' your Mom made the other night.  You carry it around for a long time, nibbling on it bit by bit until it's gone.  You manage to get into Mom's bathroom cabinet.  I separate you from the various hair products you're proudly grasping and you only put up a mild protest.  Then you get into the recycling. I let you play with the two empty Coke cans you discover there.  You like the crinkling sounds they make and they are fun to stack up and carry around.  I have visions of you cutting yourself and having to explain to your Mom but it never happens.  For better or for worse, I like to give you as much slack as I can and try not to interfere too much with your explorations.  

Another thing you really like is music.  Everyday you point at the radio at some point and indicate that I should turn it on.  We mostly listen to the Classic Rock station.  You like to bob your head and otherwise move to the music.  You like most everything they play but the song that made you light up the very most so far was 'Abacaba' by Genesis.  You completely loved that one!  

You start to show signs of getting hungry again so I feed you spoonfuls of yogurt as you come and go.  You eat about 1/3 of the container.  Then I pull out your favorite food of late - peas!  You get mad when I put the frozen peas in the microwave.  I hand you a clump of frozen peas from the package then point to the microwave and try to explain about the magic of cooking.  Again, you kind of seem to get it.  Then it's into your high chair where you scarf down most of your peas.  The remainder get scarfed up by your Dad. 

You seem ready for your nap but I glance at the clock and it's still a little early so we go build with your large, Lego-style blocks for awhile.  Mostly I feed you pieces while you mash them together into various abstract shapes.  You just got the blocks for Christmas but already you are much better at mashing them together.

Finally, it's nap time.  You protest mildly as I carry you into your room, change your diaper, and get you back into your pj's and sleep sack.  Then I sing/hum you a few rounds of 'Itsy Bitsy Spider', 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', 'Row Row Row Your Boat', and 'Give Said the Little Stream'.  My humble musical efforts always seem to mellow you out - or maybe you just fake like you're sleepy so I'll stop.  Lol... either way works, I guess. In the darkened room with the fan blowing and the humidifier humming, I lay you down for your nap then head out and quietly close the door.  Every morning we spend together is pretty much like this.  :-) 

You and your Mom mean the world to me Sylvie and nothing makes me happier than having us all together as a little family.    

All my love,