Family Friday: 23 Months Old

It's been over a month since my last post.  I involuntarily took a break because this was honestly a really rough month physically and mentally and I didn't get much of anything accomplished.  This post is about her, not me, so I'll leave the details for another day.  I did at least get these photos done, even if they sat on the memory card for the past 3 weeks.

This month CC and I went to the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near Kaneohe for her photos.  This is a buddhist temple that is a smaller-scale replica of the Byodo-in Temple in Japan.  It is open to the public daily for a small fee.  The temple and gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time.

The last time we were here, CC was only 6 months old! What a difference a year and half makes! I had no idea at that time that her head would erupt in a mound of curls!

At 23 months old, CC is still wearing size 4 diapers, mostly size 2T clothing (some smaller), and size 6 shoes.  Being summer year round here, we really get a lot of use out of her clothes since she can wear them until she outgrows them instead of just until the season changes. There are some things she has been wearing for over a year now! She still has a few 12 and 18 month shorts and skirts that still fit. It depends on the brand, not all sizes are created equal.

CC still follows the same eating and sleeping schedule.  She has been eating 4 times a day and sleeping 12 hours a night since she was 5 months old.  She started coming into this schedule on her own around 4 months and I just made sure she stuck with it.  Consistency was key and it still is.  If we want a happy toddler, then she needs to stick to her schedule (within reason).

There is a small gift shop on the temple grounds where you can purchase a small bag of fish food.  If you are military, you get a bag of food for free!  CC had a great time feeding the fish and birds.  She threw out one pellet at a time... thankfully we weren't in any hurry!

CC still loves her pacifiers. They are definitely a comfort item now and an addiction. I'm not going to make her quit them cold turkey yet but we are limiting them to only the crib and the car for longer rides.  There have been a few times in the past month when CC really wanted her paci.  When I tell her she could only have the paci if she's in her crib, then she wants in her crib so she can suck it! She sits quietly in her crib for about 20 minutes, gets her sucking fix, and then wants out to play again.

CC is still primarily babbling when she speaks but she is constantly learning and adding new words to her vocabulary.  Most notable for month 23 was that she started saying yes and no instead yeah and uh-uh.  She also started saying please ("eese") consistently and unprompted. She introduces Johnnie and I to everyone who pays attention to her as mama and daddy.  She knows her name but has not said it yet.

CC loves her babies (baby dolls and stuffed animals) and loves seeing real babies when we're out somewhere. She still loves Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and watches an episode of that almost every day.  She loves to "write" with pens, markers, crayons, and colored pencils. She also loves to brush her teeth and would brush them all day long if I let her!

Soon CC will be 2 years old! We are having a small casual cookout with a few friends to celebrate. Johnnie's parents will also be here for a visit.

For the past year, I've been referring to CC by number of months instead of simply saying "She's 1."  I know this annoys some people (usually those who don't have children) but there is such a HUGE difference between a 13 month old and a 23 month old despite both technically being "1". This has been such an incredible year for change, in both her looks and her abilities.  Once she turns two, I will stop counting by months.

I will also be stopping the monthly photos when she turns two and consider this project complete.  I'll still take random photos as often as I always do but I'll leave the official photo shoots to once a year. This was actually an extremely difficult project and I'm honestly glad it's about over.  CC is not a cooperative photo subject (notice how few photos in this post actually show her face?) so these photo shoots were quite stressful to accomplish.  I'm glad I have these monthly photos and I hope she appreciates them someday.  I also hope that she will eventually cooperate for photos, or at least look at the camera :)

"The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is
instead of what you think it should be."
~ Mandy Hale

Family Friday: 22 Months Old

We were a little late with this month's photos. We moved at the beginning of the month, then stormy weather rolled in, and then I was sick for a week...  I'm getting caught up just in time to take more photos!

For this month's photos we went to the Kawainui Marsh Trail in Kailua.  This is a 1.3 mile long path for foot, stroller, and bicycle traffic only.  There is a paved sidewalk next to a gravel road about the width of a car.  We saw a lot of people walking their dogs, jogging, and riding bicycles.  We didn't notice any bugs on the evening we went but people we talked to said that gnats and mosquitos can be really bad at times.  The views are great but there is no shade so going in the morning or late afternoon is best.

At 22 months old, CC is still wearing size 4 diapers and mostly size 2T clothing. She is wearing size 6 shoes.  I haven't measured her height or weight lately but she is definitely getting taller and leaning out some.  Her hair is growing and getting lighter, although I'm pretty sure she is destined to be a brunette.  It is still as curly as ever!

CC still has a bedtime of 7:30pm and sleeps for about 12 hours.  She takes an afternoon nap everyday, usually from 1:30 to 3:30pm.  She has stopped crying at nap time and bedtime now. She throws her selected baby dolls into the crib, goes in willingly herself, and then goes to sleep without a fuss. Easy-peasy... finally!

CC eats 3 meals and 1 scheduled evening snack every day.  She has started occasionally wanting a mid-morning snack which I do give her when she asks.

CC drinks water all day and always has multiple cups sitting around the house.  I'm amused by that because I have always done that myself, even when I was young.  CC does not like plain milk of any kind.  For calcium, she does eat a lot of cheese and I make her smoothies with breakfast made with either almond milk or coconut milk (because that's what I drink myself).

CC is such a little person at the table now.  We never bought a high chair for her.  Instead, we used the Inglesina Fast Table Chair so that she would be more a part of our meals (besides the fact that high chairs are big and take up a lot of space).  She used the Inglesina for a year, until she was about 18 months old, and then we switched to the Graco Blossom Booster Seat. The booster was short lived, she only used it for about 3 months. She loves to put her baby dolls in it now and play with the buckles but she refuses to sit in it.  She wants to sit in a normal chair like everyone else.

CC drinks from either a real cup or a cup with a straw now.  She can also drink from normal water bottles.  She uses real metal silverware (I bought some small sized real forks and spoons) and she occasionally use real plates (our salad plates are the perfect size). All of these changes make eating out at restaurants so much easier since we no longer have to take any of our own things along.

CC's language is still a lot of baby babble but occasionally she'll say things in plain English.  She understands everything and follows directions extremely well.  Her list of words she uses on a daily basis is growing.  Her top most-used words are uh-oh (something's wrong), uh-uh (no), yeah (yes), agua (water), and more (still accompanied by the sign language).  She is starting to say please and thank you (also still usually accompanied by the sign language).

CC says Dulce (deh-see) and has picked up a few things on her own in regards to Dulce just from watching me.  For example, CC calls for Dulce by yelling her name and smacking her lips (trying to mimic the sound I make); when we leave the house, she tells Dulce to be a "guh goo" (good girl) like I always do; and when Dulce rolls in the dirt, CC says "bah goo" (bad girl) and shakes her finger.

CC still loves music and loves to dance and sing.  She plays her keyboard and other instruments every day.  Her favorite toys right now are her "babies" and her shopping cart.  She loves to color but still needs supervised with writing utensils.  She still loves to read and looks at books quietly by herself.  Lately, instead of wanting me to read to her, she gives me a book to read while she reads her own book beside me :)

CC watches a TV show once a day.  Last month she couldn't ever decide which TV show she wanted to watch. This month it is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood every single time.  She loves that show!  I honestly love it too - the characters are cute, relatable, and diverse (some are animals and the rest are people of different races), there is a lesson of the day that is sung often throughout each episode, the show really focuses on feelings, the content is very relevant to toddlers and preschoolers, and it is educational!

CC still throws tantrums and she screams when she gets frustrated.  Fortunately both of those things are short lived once I give her the understanding and words that she needs to describe her feelings.  The Happiest Baby on the Block was my lifesaver when CC was a newborn.  The things I learned from Happiest Toddler on the Block are a huge help now.  Below is a great video clip of the author Dr. Karp on the Dr. Phil show putting his advice into action.  You do feel like a moron at first but it does actually work, especially if you use it consistently.  It is now second nature for me to start most things I say to CC (even in normal conversation, not just tantrums) with "You want..." or "You don't want..." which lets her know that I hear her and understand her. This almost always calms her down quickly during a tantrum or prevents one altogether.

Some people talk about the Terrible Twos while others swear that two was fine and that it's the Terrible Threes you have to worry about.  Every child is different... we'll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes!

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up
is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."
~Phyllis Diller

Family Friday: Across the Island

As I mentioned in our last blog post, we moved again! We must be crazy to live in three different houses during one assignment! It certainly wasn't the plan but we couldnt foresee the problems that we ran into. We loved our little beachfront North Shore house but the owner is extremely difficult, inconsiderate, and uncooperative, and the property manager honestly didn't do much to help us out. We were lied to often and had to fight to get basic maintenance issues fixed and even then, it took a long time and most of the things were only half fixed. We were not being difficult. I mean, the front door should have a working lock and the roof shouldn't leak, right?  Especially for what we were paying in rent. I'll get into it more in another post but for now I'll just say that it is a huge relief to be out of there.

We were very fortunate to find another great house to move into, owned and managed by a super sweet and helpful lady, and with a short term lease since we'll be leaving at the beginning of the new year.  The new house is in Kailua which is a perfect beach town on the eastern side of the island.  It's the kind of town with a ton of little stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, and people jogging, riding bicycles, and carrying around surfboards.  It also has one of the prettiest beaches on the island with the gorgeous turquoise water.

Our new house is HUGE compared to our beach house.  The beach house was TINY, furnished, and crammed full of the owner's belongings.  This new house is large, open, and empty.  Both houses have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but this house has at least double the living space.

Most of our belongings were in a storage room since the other house was furnished.  This new house is completely empty so we were able to get things out of storage.

Before everything went into storage in January, we sorted it all and made a large pile of things to sell.  We lived very minimally at the beach house and it was really refreshing! When I started unpacking the storage boxes here, I realized that we still have a lot of things that we don't need.  Living a minimal life for a while really changes your perspective on things!  I went through everything one more time and added a lot more to the "for sale" pile.  It is so freeing to have a simple, uncluttered home!  Simplifying your belongings is simplifying your life.  It really is only necessary to keep what you need, use, or love.  It is not easy to get to that mindset, however, it took us five months of living without!

This one room pictured below is bigger than the entire kitchen/dining/living room of the other house. The carpet in the photo is an 8'x10' to give you some reference.

Our new house was built around 1960 and has that flair to its architecture and details.  I really love the wall color that is throughout our new house!  It is not something I would've ever picked myself (I'm more of a classic neutral wall kind of person) but it is so bright and beachy that it makes me happy just looking at it :)

We traded the ocean for a pool in our new backyard.  Pool service is included with the rent so it really is a pleasure to have, especially during this hot summer.  I LOVE our backyard!  It is large and surrounded by a wall, has a large grassy area, palm trees and other vegetation, and it's so private! We can't see any of our neighbors or their houses, we can only see the green trees, the blue sky, and the gorgeous mountains.  It's a pretty good trade off for the ocean view of the last house!

Early morning view, opposite the sunrise - I love those mountains!

CC loves the pool!  We couldn't go into the ocean at our other house due to the coral and waves, but a swimming pool is perfect! To be honest, I do worry about having a pool and a toddler but therefore I am extra vigilant of knowing CC's whereabouts at all times.  Thankfully, CC has always followed directions well and she especially does by the pool.

CC loves to stand, sit, and splash on the shallow steps of the pool.  She loves to sit in her baby float and occasionally she'll let me hold her in the water.

Dulce hates swimming and avoids water at all costs.  We have a pool at our house in Georgia and she fell into it the very first night we brought her home.  She was terrified and that may be a factor in her feelings toward water now.

I gave Dulce some pool survival training as soon as we moved into this house.  She needed to know where the steps are in case she ever goes in or falls into the pool.  The first couple times I dropped her in, she freaked out, swam to the nearest wall, and held on for dear life!  But after she learned where the steps were and that she could get out, she went for them every time no matter where in the pool I put her.  We practiced until she was swimming calmly.  She may never get in again but I feel better knowing she won't drown if she does.

Dulce has spotted skin under her pure white fur that becomes very visible when she's wet!

Dulce is in her glory in this backyard! We haven't had a backyard like this for almost 4 years.  It actually took her five days before she realized all the freedom she now has and how much space she has to explore!  She is outside constantly, running around, hopping through the bushes, and chasing lizards and birds.  She is one happy dog!

This house is perfect except that it is very hot during the day (so was the beach house) but it doesn't cool off at night like beach house did. Thankfully there is an air conditioning unit in two of the bedrooms which makes it more comfortable for sleeping.  During the day, we sweat a lot.  Jumping in the pool in the afternoon helps cool us down.

We didn't give up beach living entirely! We aren't beachfront now but we are a very short walk and the beach here is gorgeous!  I thought that I'd really miss it but it's actually nice not having the constant saltiness that coats, rusts, and ruins everything.

Dulce and I don't get morning beach time as often as we used to but when we do, Dulce still likes digging for crabs.  The beaches here are bare.  There are very few seashells in Hawaii but on the North Shore I enjoyed finding rocks and coral that looked like hearts and letters. There isn't anything to find here so I'm glad I kept a collection from the last house.

There are a lot more people enjoying the beach and water here. There are always people surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, kayaking, running, and walking.

What I love about Kailua and the location of our house is that there is so much within walking distance!  We can walk to church, to restaurants, to stores, to the library, the post office, and to beach parks.  We can even walk to Whole Foods (it takes 13 minutes) which excites me to no end!

We were here for the 4th of July and walked one block to see a parade, then we walked to a great Vietnamese restaurant for dinner, and then walked to the beach by our house to see fireworks over the ocean!  I absolutely LOVE having the convenience of having everything nearby and not having to drive.  There are many bus stops nearby as well which will provide CC and I with some fun adventures soon!

It's a shame that things turned out the way they did with the beach house but we really are lucky in a way because now we will move from here having experienced life in three vastly different areas of the island!  This part of the island is definitely my favorite for living!  No regrets. We are very glad that we moved off base, we are glad that we lived on the North Shore, and now we're glad we are living here.  Live and learn and enjoy the ride!

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."
~Jim Rohn

Family Friday - June 26

How is it the end of June already? This year is flying by! Perhaps it seems to be going even faster than normal because we know that our time in Hawaii is coming to an end.  We are due to leave the island within the first couple months of the new year.  It will be a few more months before we find out where we're going next but the possibilities are certainly occupying our thoughts.

CC has turned into little miss opinionated lately.  She has strong opinions about what she wants to wear now (though luckily she's still open to suggestions) and she also has opinions about what I wear!  There are some days where she will pull at my shirt and say "no, no" and then take me by the hand to my room where she opens my drawer and picks out a different shirt for me to wear.  I'm not exaggerating!  I don't usually comply unless it's a hot day and she picks out a tank top :)

She also has strong opinions about TV shows now as well.  Sometimes we start 3 or 4 different shows before she agrees that one is suitable enough to watch.  Lately she has been watching Curious George, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street (but she hates the Elmo's World portion of it).  We watch one show before lunch most days.

CC's new favorite phrase is "How 'bout... "  When we ask her any questions concerning what to do or what she wants, she enthusiastically replies "How 'bout (baby babble)? How 'bout (more baby babble)?"  She is trying to make suggestions but we can't understand the babble so we give her some options and she says yes or no.

She has also developed an interest in photography this week.  She carries around my Olympus Tough camera and points it at things, saying "cheeeeese".  Once she learns how to actually take photos, I will write some posts featuring her work :)

CC has had some pretty epic tantrums lately.  It's almost always when she is tired or hungry and I tell her not to do something or I don't do what she wants me to do.  She will stand, red faced, and scream as loud as she can, and then she will cry like it's the end of the world.  Funny thing is that if something distracts her for even a second, the screaming and crying instantly stop... until she remembers that she was in the middle of a tantrum and then quickly resumes.

CC still loves to dance and now she likes to hold our hands and dance with us.  We even got Dulce in on the fun a few times!  Luckily "dance with me" (me holding her paws and taking some steps) was already in her trick repertoire so she doesn't object too much.

CC has a head full of curls that makes her hair look a lot shorter than it is.  It is actually well below her shoulders, it just seems to curl tighter the longer is gets!

We have been busy in the past week because we're moving!  Yes, again!  And no, we're not leaving the island yet.  We love our beachfront house on the North Shore but we have been dealing with an extremely difficult, inconsiderate, and uncooperative landlord since we moved in.  Things have gotten worse lately and we've had enough so we're moving out.

This is a sudden move - certainly not planned.  At first, it was pretty devastating to think about leaving this house but then we realized that this a great opportunity to experience yet another very different part of the island!  We were blessed to find a great house in Kailua on the east side of the island to stay in for the remainder of our time.  The house is clean and it's empty so we will be able to get all of our things out of storage and live comfortably.  It is considerably larger than our current rental, it has a large enclosed backyard (perfect for Dulce), an in-ground swimming pool, and it's only a few minutes walk to a gorgeous beach with turquoise water and white sand.  Best of all, the owner is amazingly helpful and friendly!

This is an easy move since most of our belongings are in a storage room.  I have been packing up what we can so that the moving company can get in and out quickly.  CC has been helpful, trying to assist me with the packing :)

Dulce loves life here so she's not too happy about the changes going on.  She doesn't yet know how much she's going to love her new backyard!  She has been grumpy this past week and tried to unpack her things as I was packing them.

Here on the North Shore, we see sunrises and sunsets.  The sunrises are over land, as are the sunsets for half the year.  On the east coast, we'll miss out on sunsets but we will see spectacular sunrises over the ocean every morning - the photographer in me can't wait!!

Kailua is a pretty amazing town with a lot of shopping and restaurants, and the nicest beaches on the island.  It is vastly different from the quiet, laid-back, hippy lifestyle of the North Shore.  We are certainly blessed that in this one assignment, we get to experience living in three very different parts of this island.  We will leave here with no regrets.

I am really going to miss our ocean view and having the beach in our backyard.   I am thankful for every day that we lived in this house, despite the difficulties we put up with.

Ocean view + sunset + wine = happiness :)

When I started this blog three+ years ago, I put the tag line "Life is an adventure every day" at the top under our title.  That's actually not how I always looked at life up to that point but I wanted to, so I vowed from then on to change my attitude and believe it... it's been a process.  Life is far from perfect but it is a hell of a lot more enjoyable when you have the right attitude.  This quote is a good reminder of that:

Count your blessings, be thankful everyday, and know that everything happens for a reason.

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour."
~Author Unknown