Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Our late June and early July have been packed with visitors and outings, thus the rather lengthy post! We're glad that Elizabeth has been getting lots of attention from friends and family, because if Vanessa had it her way, that attention would be all Vanessa's!

A little side note about Vanessa and Elizabeth that I hope will remain true always: Vanessa LOVES Elizabeth. In the morning, Vanessa's first thoughts are of Elizabeth. She wants to see where she is and that she's doing OK. When Vanessa comes home from a trip with Daddy, even before I get a hug she wants to hug and kiss Elizabeth. There is no stronger draw for Vanessa than a crying Elizabeth, and Vanessa will come as fast as she can from wherever she is to help. Vanessa wants nothing more than to soothe her sister by giving her a hug or gently rubbing her head. Vanessa loves to hold Elizabeth's hand or count her toes. It is so very sweet.

Joanna made a special trip to meet Elizabeth for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Uncle Brian saw Elizabeth while she was still in the hospital, so during this trip he got to see how quickly Elizabeth has grown! Elizabeth has increased her weight by about 50% since birth 5 weeks ago.

I was so happy to see my friend Lisa whom I hadn't had a chance to see in almost a year. It was good for me to talk a little bit about teaching with her -- I sometimes like to remember that I have other areas of interest besides motherhood! Lisa is actually an Elizabeth herself, so this is a picture of two Elizabeths!

Vanessa's newest trick with her lego blocks is sorting and stacking them according to color. She has really been focusing on sorting objects. Today she piled a bunch of blue objects on the table and then asked me for "more blue things?" She also points out when things match according to more abstract properties, such as whether they float in water or if they are silly.

Elizabeth and Vanessa had a real treat in seeing their great-grandparents Lou and Phil. Elizabeth seemed more comfortable on Grandma Lou or Grandpa Phil's lap than even on mine, I have to say. And Vanessa was a little shy around her great-grandparents when visiting with them, but she includes them now when we ask her to list her family members or the people who love her, and she asks about them often.

Grandpa Phil had to be a little insistent to pry Elizabeth away from Grandma Lou, but he got a few good Elizabeth hugs.

Vanessa sitting in a basket, eating a graham cracker, and reading a book. Just a few of the treats she enjoyed when visiting her Nana and Grampa's house!

Here are the great-grandparents and Daddy and his two girls at Nana and Grampa's house.

I went with friends to Frying Pan Farm Park. It was Elizabeth's first trip to a farm, but she pretty much slept through it. Although this was Vanessa's second trip to a farm, I think her first trip was too long ago to remember. So she was very excited to finally see what all those books and songs have been talking about when they mention a farm! Here she is on a tractor ride at the farm. She saw cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, and even a peacock. And she talks about farms now every day!

Here are my friends Taylor (with daughter Prestley) and Kim (with daughter Grace) on the tractor ride.

Vanessa especially enjoyed driving the small mock-up tractors that the park had for children to play on.

For a little while there, Vanessa hadn't been terribly interested in drawing (which was kind of a shame, because drawing is such a quiet activity, and one that can motivate kids to stay in their high chairs long enough for their parents to finish eating). But Vanessa has really been excited about tracing lately. In this picture, I'm tracing her whole body, but she loves having her hands and feet traced, or insisting that Daddy's or my feet or hands are traced. Now she tries to trace her own hands. Yesterday she put her head face down on the paper and tried to trace her nose with a marker. Unfortunately I didn't capture that with the camera though!

A side benefit of tracing is that it allows her to be excited about being still, and that carries over a little bit when I try to get her to sit still to trim her fingernails or change her diaper.

Vanessa's full name is written above her outline because we've been trying to teach Vanessa her full name lately. She's had some success pronouncing Maxted, but not Chloe as of yet. A funny story about names -- the other day I asked her if she wanted to give her bear a name. I'd been meaning to name the bear but I couldn't think of a good name to give it. Vanessa thought for a minute, then ran to get her special wooden block with "Vanessa" etched on it and gave it to the bear, placing it as best as she could in the bear's hand.

Here's a picture of Elizabeth pushing herself up and lifting her head. She's a strong one, this Elizabeth. Her legs are especially strong. Sometimes she supports her whole body standing on her legs, needing my help only for balance.

James has been so wonderful about giving me time to relax at home with Elizabeth on the weekends. Over the long 4th of July weekend, he took her to Dinosaur Land and to the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly.
The giant shark at Dinosaur Land made quite an impression on Vanessa. As soon as she got home, with wide eyes and outstretched arms, she told me about the amazingly big shark she saw there. Apparently she didn't want to go inside the shark through the door behind its gills, though.

Here's Vanessa climbing the hill to Dinosaur Land.

And here she's going under the bridge made by the giant octupus's arms.

I guess Vanessa was very good at pointing out all the dinosaurs to her Daddy! Here she points out a stegosaurus.

And here she points out the apatosaurus and T-Rex. (Actually, since Dinosaur Land has been around for a while with few major updates, it's probably a brontosaurus and a T-Rex!)

Vanessa, you're signing "hug." What's that you say, Vanessa, the dinosaurs need a hug? Does the apatosaurus have a boo-boo?

No, Daddy, they are giving each other a hug! See how they are nuzzling together? (Never mind the blood streaming down.)

After a few minutes of explanation, Vanessa managed to help her daddy understand what she meant. It's funny though, how different the world seems through the eyes of a not-quite-two-year-old!

Speaking of hugs, another funny story: the other day Vanessa fell down and signed "hug." When asked if she needed a hug, she replied that no, she was hugging all by herself and didn't need Mommy's help!

Vanessa imitates a flying dinosaur. Vanessa the pterodactyl!

Vanessa seems to rather arbitrarily assign genders to creatures of all kinds. The larger dinosaur in this picture was apparently a daddy dinosaur, the smaller one being his baby, but certain other dinosaurs or animals are mommies according to her. Just the other day, Vanessa informed me that one greeting card that we had gotten in the mail was a mommy, and it was giving a smaller baby greeting card a hug.

Vanessa touches the Triceratops's horn. The triceratops was always my favorite dinosaur. If I hadn't been so content resting at home, I might have felt a little envious of Vanessa getting so close to a life-size model of one!

Back at home, Vanessa shows Daddy what to do when the baby is crying. See Daddy, babies need milk!

I figured since Vanessa has been understanding a little better what it means to hold still, and because her hair was starting to get in her eyes, it was time for her very first hair cut. I started cutting, but Daddy did most of it. He did a really great job. Why does it always take me so long to cut hair and I'm never quite happy with it while James can cut a squirmy toddler's hair in minutes and it looks fabulous? Ah, well, the magic of a daddy, I suppose.

Vanessa enjoyed running around in the hangar at the Air and Space Museum. And boy did she like seeing all of those planes! She's been talking about airplanes for days. Here she's in front of an F-4.

Vanessa gets an up-close view of a helicopter.

Vanessa is taking a break in front of an F-14.

The Air and Space Museum has finished reconstructing the enormous Enterprise Space Shuttle inside the hangar. Vanessa gets her first glimpse of it here.

Time to go home, Vanessa, wave bye-bye!
Our friends Eleanor and Andrew stopped by for a brief visit. I'm always amazed at how much energy they have, even on their way back home after a long trip. Just wait until you guys have kids -- then you might feel ready for a nap from time to time!

Just one last commentary on parenthood: only a parent, when confronted with a piece of French toast that apparently looks like an elephant, would consider hugging it upon request.

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