Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat 2012

It's official! Oliver is pumped for holidays. I've never been happier. Oliver wanted to run house to house. He was too short to ring most of the bells in the neighborhood, but he didn't need our help for anything else. He ran up to homes, yelled, "Trick or Treat!" got some candy, and then said thanks as he ran away. He'd then tell us, "OK! More houses!" He loved it.

Our neighbor was nice enough to take a picture of our whole family. It was one of the first stops, so Oliver still had his hat on. Oliver's the firefighter, Jo's the fire dog, and I'm Hermione. Andrew was the official hat and bag holder.

Oliver in action:

Some of the homes let Joanna pick a piece of candy from their bowls. She held onto a chocolate bar all night.

When we got home, I sat on the stoop with Oliver, and we handed out candy. I told him that everyone else was dressed in costume, too. First, it was our turn to go trick-or-treating, and now it's their turn. He totally understood. Whenever a kid came up to our stoop, he wouldn't give them candy if they didn't first say, "Trick or Treat." He'd actually tell them, "You have to say, 'Trick or Treat.'" So cute.

I hope your family had a fun and safe Halloween, too. Trick or Treat!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Third Birthday, Oliver!


Oliver is officially three years old. As every parent knows, this little guy has changed our lives forever. Things have sometimes been difficult (nothing can compare to his first 6 months!), but all the happiness he's brought to our family has made every sleepless night worth it.

Oliver is starting to make friends. When he sees "the kids" outside, he asks to go out with them. He's still too young to play outside without us close to him, but I'll let him run and play as long as he follows the rules (like stay in the grass!). Sometimes, the neighbor boy at the end of the block comes and rings our bell to ask if Oliver can come outside.

He loves making things. I'm not talking crafts; I'm talking baked goods and food. He lives to help in the kitchen. Whenever I ask him to do something, he tries to bargain with me. He'll say, "OK, first, I'll eat lunch. Then, we can use the mixer." The small appliances are still his favorite toys. He whips up all sorts of pretend things. He doesn't watch TV or movies, but he asks us to play videos of cooking demonstrations on YouTube. He lets us know all the different appliances and attachments they use, and then he pretends his toys are those attachments. He gets very creative. In fact, when he plays outside, he sticks dirt into the ground and tells us it's a birthday cake with candles. Everything he does basically revolves around pretend baking or cooking. His Grandma Colleen took him out to Target one day last month, and she decided to take him down the appliance aisle. She told us, "You should have seen him! His eyes grew wide, and he whispered, 'Wowwwwww.'"

When he's not playing appliances, he plays with dolls. Joanna got a baby doll that laughs for her birthday. Oliver has adopted it as his own. He kisses the baby and tells it, "I love you!" He cracks up when the baby laughs. He uses the "snuffy" (nasal aspirator) on the doll to "get the boogers out."

He is still very good to his baby sister. Sometimes, she wakes him up in the middle of the night, but he never gets mad at her. He likes to help get diapers for her when it's time to change her. He'll ask her, "Jo, why don't you use the potty?" Unfortunately, sharing has become an issue. Joanna now gets into Oliver's toys (read: appliances), which frustrates Oliver. He gets them set up how he wants them and doesn't like her to get in the way. He's getting better at giving her another toy when he doesn't want her to play with his.

Oliver sleeps well at night. He usually naps well, although this week has been an exception. I think he's getting ready to eliminate naps now, but I appreciate that he lays in bed quietly for an hour when it's supposed to be nap time.

He's eating OK. We have to bribe him to eat because he usually wants to do other things. At his last appointment at WIC in August, he was 36" tall and just over 30 pounds (I think 30.4 pounds), so he's a little lean (not too much). We've had to get a lot less picky about what he eats just to make sure he eats at all. So, if what he wants is Mac 'N Cheese, he gets it! Well, except at dinner time. For dinner, he gets what we eat.

Music class finished at the end of the summer. The instructor is focusing on her church group and school group, and she's no longer teaching at the rec center. I was pretty disappointed. I signed him up for a gymnastics class beginning in September, and--oh my gosh--he loves it. At his age, I could sign him up for a drop off class, but he's not ready for that yet. I'm hoping he'll be ready to do a class without me in the spring, but, for now, I go to class with him. He's one of the oldest ones there, and age makes a real difference at this point in kids' lives. So, with his older age, Oliver's one of the best in the class at the gymnastics stuff. He walks across balance beams, climbs onto a balance mounds, swings from bars, and has a great time. Right now, he's trying to learn how to do log rolls and somersaults without my help.

Oliver hasn't wet the bed since a little past age 2. He had a few potty training set backs after Jo was born, but nothing major. Now, he's able to go pee completely by himself without even having to let us know. We took away his little potty chairs a few months ago so that we can bring them back later this spring or summer as Jo's.

He knows his letters and knows what sounds they make. He tells us what letter words begin with, and, if we say a letter, he can tell us words that start with that letter. He isn't reading yet, and, I'm sorry to say, I haven't focused on teaching him much more regarding reading over the last half year or so. It's challenging to find time to sit down and learn about things like that when I'm also chasing after a mischievous almost-one-year-old.

He's not very interested in art yet. If I give him markers or crayons, he'll scribble for about a minute and then leave, or he'll just take them over to his food processor (with his pretend blade) and pretend to blend them up.

In all, Oliver is a happy and very, very sweet little guy. He's not as good at socializing as other little kids his age, a combination of being shy and from being around adults most of the time. He's got a very good attention span and loves to help. We love him so much!

At 3 years old, Oliver likes:
*Gymnastics class
*The park (his favorite thing at the park is the climing wall)
*Running around in the grass with the neighbors
*Sticking his fingers in mud
*Collecting rocks, sticks, leaves, pine cones, etc.
*Helping Mom and Dad with absolutely anything
*Making sure Jo knows the rules (no playing with plugs!)
*Appliances, especially the mixer and food processor
*Going to either of his grandparents' houses
*Garages. Specifically, he likes opening and closing automatic garages.
*Going to McDonald's or the coffee store (we go out once a week to one of those places)
*Going for walks to the creek
*Walking to the mailbox
*Helping Dad pack his lunch
*Cooking demonstration videos
*Sesame Street characters and songs
*Baby dolls
*Grandparents, Mom, Dad, and Jo
*Books, especially his book about using the mixer to make cookies
*Taking showers (baths are OK, too)
*Blowing out candles (real or pretend)
*Helping Dad find letters in a game called "Subway Surfer"

Oliver dislikes:
*When it's bright outside. He asks for sunglasses and cries in the car if the sun is shining on him.
*Wearing shirts. He doesn't mind wearing undies or socks. Pants (Britches) are OK.
*When Mom sings or dances
*When Joanna grabs the toys he's playing with
*When anything gets wet. If he so much as drools on himself, he asks for a towel. If the towel doesn't help, he insists on getting a new pair of pants or shirt or whatever is wet.

Monday, October 29, 2012

100 (Attempted) Ways to Entertain a Young Toddler, Day 85: Water Shakers

I got today's activity idea from They suggested partially filling water bottles with water, tightening the caps on as tightly as you can, and then letting your little one play with them. I had bottles leftover from the kids' birthday party, so I decided to give this activity a whirl. I added a few drops of coloring to the bottles for a visual effect.

Both kids enjoyed this activity! At first, Oliver was upset that I wouldn't take the caps off. He wanted to play with the water part and pour it out. Jo sat nearby shaking the bottles and having a blast. Soon, Oliver decided that the bottles were fun, too.

This activity kept Oliver entertained for about 10 minutes. Jo continued playing with the bottles because she enjoyed the crinkle sounds of the plastic in her hands. She liked watching the colored water swish, and she liked watching them when I rolled them for her. As she continues to play with the bottles as I write this, Oliver is laughing at her shaking them. It's pretty cute.

Water Shakers is a solid activity for toddlers, especially very young toddlers and older babies. Just make sure you put on the lids really tightly or even glue them to help prevent them coming off, which would be a choking hazard. Jo's still playing with these bottles! I give this activity an A for keeping such a young kid happily entertained.

These would also be fun to let the kids play with in the tub or out in the kiddie pool in the summer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oliver and Jo's Birthday Party in Pictures

I wanted to have something with protein at the party, so I searched online for "spooky deviled eggs" to get ideas. I made eyeballs with sliced olives, and I drew in veins using toothpicks with paprika mixed with water.

Mummy juice box idea was from Pinterest. They were super cute but cost about $10 to wrap! I used the hot glue gun to attach the eyes and to reattach the straws. If I ever make these again, I'll use my friend's idea to wrap them in white paper first and then gauze, since gauze will be cheaper.

Jack-o-lantern mandarin orange cups from Pinterest

Here are the Milano ghost cookies on Pinterest. After making those, I decided to use melted chocolate to make tombstones as well.

Here's the double bundt cake idea from Pinterest. It was very challenging to frost, so I covered it it star dollops.

Here are the party photos from Treehouse Discovery in Highlands Ranch:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things: Halloween Edition

The kids and I went to a nursing home with MOMS Club today to do some trick-or-treating from the memory patients (those with dementia and Alzheimer's and such). I dressed Oliver up as a fireman, and we practiced saying, "Trick or treat!" before we left.

It went pretty well. Most of the elderly people were sweet and overjoyed to see the kids. One insisted on eating her candy herself, and another just pretended to put candy into the kids' baskets. The kids were all great! None of them got upset when one of the candy givers was a little slow or confused. Oliver, who is normally painfully shy around others, got very confident in the presence of candy. He walked up to each person there and said, "Trick or treat!" It was a fun morning out.

Well, we're back home now, and the kids are playing together. Jo sometimes shrieks at Oliver if he doesn't let her play with the toy she wants. Oliver keeps scolding her by saying, "Hey! Be nice to the fireman!"

Here are some pictures from our day out.
Joanna was pretty miffed about wearing the hat part of her dog costume (she was the fire dog).

Oliver wasn't very happy about dressing up until I showed him old photos of himself on the fire truck at the children's museum. I think the promise of candy helped, too. Yes, he learned what candy is today.

Here's my trick-or-treat-er in action!

Another little girl, Claire, who is about Jo's age was very interested in handing out her candy to everyone else. Jo was very interested in taking it. Here she is checking out her lollipop.

All the kids!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things: The Boss

We're meeting up with MOMS Club this morning, and so I told Oliver he was going out to see the kids. He objected and said, "No kids!"

I looked at him and said, "Yes, we're going to see the kids. I said so."

Oliver replied, "OK, we're going to see the kids. Mom said so. Mom's the boss."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to the Patch, 2012!

It's the third time this season that we've walked to the pumpkin patch in the neighborhood, but it's the first time we brought along Dad! Oliver made a friend at the patch. Jo enjoyed the rocks.