Monday, September 22, 2008

Sisters in September

With all the changes going on around here, we've been mostly staying around the house and the neighborhood this week, trying to establish some structure and routines. Even still, life is never dull around here...

Vanessa and Elizabeth have been practicing being gentle with each other. Elizabeth has been grabbing at things, and sometimes Vanessa's hair gets in the way a little, but Vanessa seems pretty tolerant of that so far.

Vanessa covers up her sister's belly button. She takes good care of Elizabeth.

Vanessa still doesn't nap, so we try to compensate by having an early bedtime for her at 7:30. She used to cry for a few minutes in her room at 7:30 and then fall asleep. It wasn't the best way to do bedtime, but it sort of worked. But as any parent knows, kids keep learning how to foil us! Vanessa grew tall enough to reach her doorknob and figured out how to open her door. So, I had to come up with a new way to help her cope with the early bedtime. I developed a typewritten list of 15 individual steps in our bedtime routine, complete with clip art for Vanessa to follow. I had to pull from my teaching background to get that organized. We rehearsed the routine during the day, and added the motivation of stickers on a few points. It's helped significantly, but we still have trouble with bedtime from time to time if Vanessa gets an accidental nap in the car or stroller.
The bedtime routine itself has become much easier no matter what, though. Here Vanessa shows how she can do a good job brushing her teeth. And I know she likes her routine -- the other evening I asked if she wanted a snack, and she said "5!" and stood on the 5 on her rug. Having a snack is number 5 in her list.

"See how clean my teeth are, Daddy!" Vanessa's getting four new teeth in at once, so she's finally starting to catch up to her peers a little in tooth count. She'll have 16 all together soon.

You might guess from these above pictures that putting pajamas on is one of the trickier steps in the routine. Since Vanessa has stopped wearing diapers, I think she has mentally extended that freedom to freedom from clothing... but she's gradually learning to like clothes a little better. The cool weather helps, I think!

Speaking of cool weather, we're starting to get something of a fall harvest. Here are some pumpkins and other veggies from our garden.

A closer look of the pumpkins, plus one of four of our acorn squashes. The acorn squash tasted awesome. I can't wait to see if the pumpkins taste just as great. Plus, the beets in this picture were fantastic too. Vanessa loves beets and it was hard for me to share them with her!

Carrots! Vanessa loves carrots, but I ate both of these. Sorry, Vanessa, I have a weakness for fresh carrots! Also visible in this picture are some onions, green beans, two kinds of potatoes plus a sweet potato, a cucumber, and some tomatoes. Needless to say, I've been a happy vegetarian lately.

We've had a visit from friends Brian and Chariti, with their baby Sarah, just a couple of days older than Vanessa. Elizabeth seemed to enjoy the interaction with someone her own age! We definitely enjoyed talking with parents going through some of the same things we're going through: the joys of watching babies discovering their environment, learning to roll over, etc. Elizabeth has rolled over a couple of times now.

Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry had the chance to stop by. They always do such a great job of entertaining our girls!

Speaking of amazing aunts and uncles, I just wanted to mention, as sort of a response to Jessica's comment on my last post and as an outpouring of my feelings in general lately:

Elizabeth and Vanessa have an amazing aunt Jessica! When I first met Jessa, I was awed by the way she handled any little interruptions or transgressions with such a smooth voice and calm head. I adopted the mental phrase "infinite patience" as sort of a mantra, an ideal to aspire to as a mom. She and Jake have developed such great parenting techniques for motivating their kids, and any time I've had a chance to see them I've eagerly tried to absorb as much as I can. Jessa and Jake are not only great parents, and the strongest people I know, but they're also a great aunt and uncle. Jessa and Jake do such a great job of keeping up with our blog, and flattering us with posting comments, that often times I felt that I wanted to post specifically just to communicate with them! And posting a comment on your birthday, after a week of being in and out of the hospital, Jessa, thank you!

Here's Vanessa's 24-month picture with her Miss Dee doll.

I thought I might try to do the same thing with Elizabeth -- take a picture every three months with a special doll. I missed her newborn picture, but here's a 3-month picture with a bunny from Nana Two (our friend Geri).

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