Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow Day!

We awoke this morning to a blanket of snow over everything. Rob, who was contemplating a sick day anyway, decided to work from home. Thus started our family snow day. Rob made pancakes, mmmmm! Zion it turns out loves to dip things. When she ran out of pancakes and syrup she licked her plate clean.

Rob had a teleconference at 11. While he was on the phone and computer it was my job to keep the kids busy until he was through so we could all go out and play. It wasn't easy, Gabe was beside himself with excitement. Zion was excited because Gabe was excited. Finally, I let them have races up the stairs to go get dressed. Gabe always wins but Zion puts in a valiant effort. For her it's more about the fun than it is about winning so she is thrilled just at the chance to go up the stairs on her own. Once we were all dressed Rob was done and then the search for hats and matching gloves begins. What a pain! So finally we are all ready and get to go outside.

After investigating the conditions, no too icy, and making cursory rounds of the yard we begin to make Gabe and Zion's first snowman. Rob helped to push the snow into balls, Gabe threw snow at Rob while he worked, Zion surpervised, and I took pictures. Everybody has their job. Then we collected bits and pieces, sticks that the rose bushes had shed became arms and small stones from the pathway next to the house for the facial features. Naturally once it came time to taking a picture of everyone it was impossible to get one picture of them all looking at the camera at once, the snowman being the most cooperative. Oh well, such as it is with kids.

All in all we've had a good day, especially now that after some hot cocoa and lunch the kids are deep into snow induced naps.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Belly Shots

Well, it's official, we are entering the third trimester - I've finally hit the seventh month. Oi! It's hard to think about how long that is really. Last summer when we vacationed I was pregnant - ahhh! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years - pregnant! Come Valentine's Day and Easter and I will most likely (and hopefully really) still be pregnant! And I feel huge so please don't bother telling me that I'm huge. Really, why do people feel it necessary to tell pregnant women that they look huge and/or tired?! Honestly! We really would prefer that you lie if necessary.

OK, I'd better change the subject before I get too heated. Zion is getting her usual personality back after being sick and we are all remembering why we love her so much. She keeps us in stitches and if she discovers that something she does makes you laugh, she will do it over and over. She is also getting her appetite back. That girl is going to eat us out of house and home. Tonight for dinner we had chicken fajitas. We gave her some tortilla shell, and cut up peices of red pepper, green pepper, and chicken and threw some shredded cheese on her plate and she ate every bit and more. She keeps signing "more", "more" and "please" and pointing to things she wants. Then she discovered the sour cream and ate it by the spoonful. She even ate pieces of lettuce. Finally she signed "all done" and let us get her down. Naturally, Gabe ate barely what we made him because he subsists on what he gleans from the air. They are both so funny!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Breakthrough!

Gabriel has never been much for coloring. He would sometimes put a scribble or two on a page but then he'd be done. For a long time he boycotted coloring entirely. The perfectionist side of him winning out anytime he picked up a crayon. He would look at the page, realize he couldn't make it look like what he wanted to and he would pass the crayon back to you and sadly say "I can't, you do it." It broke my heart.

But lately he's been coming around and having a lot of fun painting, drawing and coloring. All of a sudden he's been cranking out pictures of trains and houses and making up his own puzzles which consist of a scribble of lines and you're supposed to figure out which line leads to the triangle (or whatever) he drew. It's been a lot of fun to see this part of Gabe finally emerge since I love art. Drawing and coloring are still a big part of my life (though not as big as I'd like for them to be) and I've longed for someone to color with.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Signing time - or a time for signs?

Gabe said his first word when he was ten months old (actually six months old if you go by when I first thought he was speaking). I was walking down the stairs of our Newport house carrying him and he pointed to our cat, Spot, and said "kitty!". After Zion was born I went back and read in my journal about him and realized that I had noted much earlier than ten months that it sounded like he was trying to say "kitty" all the time. I think I just couldn't believe it and didn't give him the credit until there was no other explanation. He pointed, he said the word clear as day, no more denying it. When he was a little older we taught him the signs for "more" and "please". Teaching him sign was supposed to help him communicate and make day to day life easier but when it turned out he was so verbal I simply didn't bother teaching him more. With a busy life and a son who spewed out new words with practically every breath it simply wasn't a priority.

Zion's first word was also "kitty" and she too made it clear that she was saying it by ten months old. She quickly followed that up with "doggy", "teddy", and - I swear "I did it!" Then she must have felt that those few were all she needed to get through life and took a hiatus. Yet my emotional girl would squeal with frustration when she couldn't communicate her needs. So a number of months ago we started on our signing journey. She was much younger than a year when we introduced her to the sign "more". We would sign it and ask her if she wanted "more" and she would grin hugely and nod yes, sweetly refusing to sign it back to us - for months! Stubborn girl!

It was after her first birthday that she finally used the sign for "more". We promptly moved on to "please". This quickly became a favorite. She discovered she could get many, many things by using the sign "please". Once she had those down pat I quickly moved on to more. While Rob was in Guam I added "book", "change" and "milk" to her repertoire. I have introduced many others that she is still getting the hang of, when she isn't sure she simply uses the sign for "book" for everything else.

Yesterday at breakfast she signed "more milk" (two signs!) after draining her sippy cup. I don't think I've ever jumped up to refill a milk cup so fast! What a difference from a few months ago when she would squeal with anger when she wanted more of something, now she is asking politely. When I sign "change" to her she'll run to her diaper supply basket, pull out the mat and lay on it. Another big difference from the girl who used to buck and scream when I layed her down for a change.

Learning her signs has helped give her verbal skills a jumpstart as well. Along with the signs for "more" and "please" we'll get "mo" and "eeeee" with a big grin. I think we're both excited about what she can learn next. Zion is still as opinionated as ever but you can see what a difference being able to communicate has made in her happiness, she's a different baby.

Gabe has taken an interest in learning signs as well. He loves the Signing Time videos that we check out from the library to watch and keeps reminding me of signs he's learned and is retaining a lot more than I expected. At the same time, he was just sitting next to me reading from the book "Happy Birthday Thomas". He's getting more brave with sounding out the letters and is surprising me with words that he can recognize without even trying. He's been able to recognize the word "Thomas" for ages but today he read "and" and "is" without hesitation. For those who don't know, Gabe is not yet 4 and other than teaching him his letters and their sounds I've made little to no effort in teaching him to read - he blows me away!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Together Again

This is our first weekend together as a family in three weeks. Rob just got home Saturday morning from Guam where he spent his two weeks Navy Reserve time. The time flew by here at home since I kept us all busy. We managed to pack in a MOPS meeting (Moms of PreSchoolers), a dentist appointment for me, the first meeting of my women's Bible study of the year, and a couple of days staying at my sister's house among other things. Then the last week a friend of mine from when we lived in Rhode Island came to stay. That was a wonderful time with the exception of all of us managing to pick up colds. "Welcobe hobe, Honey! Achoo!" It's been a good reason to keep us all home and taking it easy while we adjust to being a two parent household again. But I sure wish Zion was in a better mood. She got the worst of it, poor thing, she's miserable and can't sleep. Her fever broke yesterday morning (thank God!) but she's still coughing something terrible and so stuffy.

Meanwhile, Gabe's runny nose hasn't slowed him down a bit. He's crazy happy that his Daddy is home. It's all we can do to get him to stop running laps around the house