Paul’s Third Birthday

“What should I write in Paul’s birthday card this year?”,  I asked Dan in the middle of our spring break vacation to Georgia.“Put something in there about his spunk and charisma”.Paul is spunky and charismatic, ferociously loyal and stubbornly independent.  And he’s entered into the threes.  And we’re enjoying them so far. 🙂

Lydia is a people watcher.  She likes attention and praise, but she’ll watch what other people do and imitate them.  Abby is a follower.  She’ll sweetly follow just about anyone, anywhere, doing anything.  Paul is his own man.  He struts around like he’s in charge.  He takes matters into his own hands.  When he gets an idea in his head, nothing can stop him.  He’s adorably independent and doesn’t care if anyone is leading or following.He’s also super cute.  😀He loves the colors orange and blue and he’s obsessed with baseball.  He picks little items and obsesses over them for a while, bringing them in the car, to the dinner table, and even to bed.  Some of his little obsessions over the past year have included: his little orange New Testament (which was really mine and I never offered it to him, but he declared it “My Bible” and was so persistent that no one bothered to fight him), a plastic toy crow bar, a parrot puppet, my kitchen tongs, a whisk, and Elijah’s long-abandoned pacifier. Despite all his independence, Paul gets overwhelmed the most easily out of our four children.  In those moments, he sits on my lap, holds my hair in one hand, sucks his two favorite fingers, and periodically looks up and me and says, “Hi Mommy”.  As soon as his basic needs are met (food, sleep, and some snuggles if things are getting to overwhelming) he’s back to his confident self.

It’s hard to capture Paul’s personality in just a few words.  He’s so unique, friends with everybody, and acts very cool.  He’s an endearing little trend-setter.  He’s also surprisingly bright. I say surprisingly because Paul wasn’t very quick to start talking.  He still doesn’t say a ton, but he picks up on things easily and often surprises us with what he knows.  Often I’ll ask the girls to do a task or tell Paul we can do something fun (play baseball or go outside, usually) after we finish a chore.  The girls are slower to help and often get distracted, but not Paul.  Paul is all business helping set or clear the table, sweep, or put away groceries.  In fact, he often jumps in just to be helpful without my asking or mentioning any incentive.  And, though he’s still learning, his helping often is actually helpful, even doing things I’ve never taught or consciously shown him how to do.Last year we were struggling to get Paul to speak.  We would ask questions, read stories, point at the pictures or facial features and ask him what they were.  Nothing.  Then, on some random day, he would start spouting off all these words we never knew he knew.  He’s sharp, for sure, but doesn’t like to show off.Even though Paul is not the youngest, he often ends up being the one who gets his way.  “Orange bowl”.  “Music on”.  “Watch baseball!”.  “No, Abby!  Off the field!  Lydia, play baseball with me!”.  He’s so confident, insistent, and cute, that once we understand what he wants, he usually gets it.Oh, and Paul loves music.  He loves the singing at church and he loves instruments.  If we let him, he likes to hang out up front when church is over by all the instruments.  He latched on to Lydia’s toy drum from when she was a baby and it has become his.  We got him a real box (cajon) drum for his birthday and he loves dragging it around the house to play while the girls dance, music plays in the computer, someone is singing, or we have a guest over playing a ukulele (which also fascinated him). So there’s a glimpse of our three-year-old in a nutshell.  He’s really and endearing little boy everyone should get to know. We enjoy having him around immensely.Happy birthday Paul!  We love you!

Little Man Turns Two

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It’s hard to believe Paul is already two years old. He is. And, when he’s not being shy, he’ll tell you he is.

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“How old are you Paul?”

“TWO!”, he’ll answer with a grin as he holds out his thumb and pointer finger to show you.

It’s cute. He is adorable. And he had a really great birthday.

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Before Paul was born, Dan and I joked that we needed a boy. Our girls like their snuggles from Daddy. Several months ago, there was so much fighting over who would sit on Daddy’s lap during Bible time, we had to set up a schedule. So Dan and I would joke that we needed a boy who wouldn’t need the snuggles from Daddy, a boy who would snuggle Mom instead. And do you know what? Paul is the snuggliest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. He wants Mommy to hold him during every meal, whenever he’s tired, and whenever he’s unsure about something. Paul is incredibly sweet and loves to help. Lately he’s enjoyed taking his bib off, bringing it into the kitchen, and throwing it into the sink. He usually does so in the middle of a meal, but it’s still adorable. He also likes to help with laundry, by pushing the wet clothes into the dryer as I put them down on the dryer door. Then he slams the door shut, usually before I’m done. He also likes to shut the dishwasher for me, while I’m still loading it. 😀

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Paul also likes to help set and clear the table. He’ll spot a condiment in the fridge and put in on the table and then come back for more. He’s choices don’t often match the meal (mustard when we’re having tacos, for example). When the meal is done and the girls are delaying as much as they can before clearing their dishes, Paul will walk back and forth, grabbing whatever is left on the table, and throwing it into the sink or trash (not always the right one).

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He’s also a Little Rascal. He’s cute and he knows it. He’s not afraid to cock his head to the side and give you his sweet “emoji” grin when he’s up to no good. He loves to wrestle, but doesn’t like to lose, and isn’t too old to run to Mom for a hug when he doesn’t win. He loves balls and bats, and toys or pictures of animals that growl. (He likes to growl.) Paul loves to be outside and will often grab his shoes and point to the coat closet to tell you he wants out, but he hates the cold and will stay inside whenever it’s below freezing.

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Like Abby, Paul has been slower to start talking. Recently we started using sign language for some basic words at meals and he’s picked up on those pretty well. Even more recently he has started picking up more words and putting words together. Here are some recent favorites:

Bible/Baseball – “Bay-Bul”
“No”
“Coat”
“Bye Nana” (after I got off the phone with my Mom the other day)
“Night Daddy”
“Thank You”
“Hold” (me)
Elijah John – “Lijah John”
Lydia – “Lee-ya”
“Car”
“Nose” (He finds it hilarious to say “nose” and point to your nose.)
OK Google – “Okay Gool” (which he says into my phone whenever he can get his hands on it)

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Paul loves being a big brother and hasn’t had much trouble adjusting, but sometimes he gets jealous if he sees me holding Elijah (or anyone else) when he wants to be held. Overall he is a great older brother who loves his siblings, snuggles his Mommy, and wants to be just like his Daddy.

We love you Little Man! Happy Second Birthday!

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Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

Almost Two

Tomorrow our little Red-haired Munchkin turns two! In honor of two years together, we filmed a short video to show you all how adorable she’s gotten along with a few of her latest learning accomplishments. Happy early birthday Big Girl. We love you!

Just for fun, go ahead and watch the video again paying attention to Lydia instead of Abby. And then once more watching me, just to see how I rub my nose when I’m thinking. 🙂

Big Things Are Happening…

Big things are happening at our house. On Thursday, at exactly 21 months old, Abby started walking! Here she is just a few days later playing in a puddle up on her two feet:

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Well I guess it’s a tie between Abby and Lydia. They both waited until they were 21 months old to walk. We’ll just have to wait and see if Paul sticks to the pattern or sets a new Taylor record.

The Munchkin Turns Four

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On May 30th, our Lydia turned four. As with all Taylor birthdays, the day (and following and proceeding days) was a celebration. Earlier in the week, Nana and Papa stopped by for a visit and gifted Lydia with some new outfits. In fact, she’s wearing exclusively new Nana and Papa outfits in all of the pictures in this post. Actually, she wears the Nana/Papa outfits almost exclusively now. Especially the purple dress (not pictured here) which she asks to wear every single day.

First thing in the morning Dan gave Lydia her birthday flower: a petunia which is now happily planted in the window box in the front of our living room windows. She faithfully waters it and pulls off the dead blooms (with some help). It’s pretty cute.

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Next Lydia got to open some presents. Dan and I gave her a backpack stuffed with a notebook, pens, and toddler scissors, along with an activity package called Ready, Set, Paste. It has eight little glue projects and Lydia loves putting them together for “school” each day.

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Late in the morning our family made a trek over to Plymouth to visit the famous E & H Lemonade Stand. It was our first time and we took our time considering our options. The lemonades were delicious. While we sipped, we enjoyed some activities put on by the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum.

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Next we traveled in to Ann Arbor for an open house. Lydia got soaked running around with some of her friends in the rain. By dinnertime everyone was tired out, but not too tired for some more presents, this time from Dan’s parents.

Paul even joined in the celebratory mood by almost smiling.

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Lydia got a swimsuit, towel, chair, and a sprinkler and has asked to play in it every day without fail. I thought it would be fun to see her reaction when she finally learned what the “spraying thing” was, but the reaction wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped. But I’ve included a couple clips for your enjoyment. We’ve all had fun with the sprinkler already.

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Lydia also got two new pairs of sunglasses which were promptly snatched up by Abigail. Abby was also sporting a post dinner mohawk and no shirt because we had spaghetti for dinner and she is impressively messy whenever we eat spaghetti (which is also why we save spaghetti for bath night).

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Great Gramma Dexter gave her a new, very special mirror, which used to be Grampa Dexter‘s. He used to use it when he was stuck in his big chair to see behind him into the kitchen and find out what Gramma was doing.

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And now she’s four. She’s just as cute, funny, snuggly, sweet, and helpful as ever. She’s also developing her very own sense of fashion. She loves to sing and pretend and act like a “big girl” in front of others, and she really dislikes being alone. She also keeps Dan and I on our toes because we told her not to say “hate” and she corrects us every time we say it (which is why I used dislike in that previous sentence!) She recently caught our pastor taking a bite of soup without praying first and she bluntly blurted out, “You didn’t pray for that!”.

She’s quite a character and we love her so much. Happy birthday sweet Lydia Hope!

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The Little Birdwatcher

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Abby is now 19 months old, and has been using this past month to show us more of her fun personality. As we’ve been eating meals together in our dining room, Abby has shown an interest in something other than food: little critters. She loves to sit and eat while she looks out the window. When she spots a squirrel, rabbit, or bird in our yard, she points and yells excitedly. At other times, she’s wander over to the window, stand up, and look out it to find some animal wandering around in our yard.

She also loves to go outside. When Dan gets ready to go somewhere, Abby will grab her shoes and sit by the door. When anyone comes near, she chirps at them, holding out her shoe with the sweetest little expression on her face, “Can I go out?”. Of course, once she’s outside she has even more opportunities to spot the little critters.

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In the evenings Abby likes to show off her strength and speed by wrestling with Lydia. She always wins. Don’t worry though, we don’t let it go to her head. After each munchkin wrestling match, Dan wrestles Abby. She finds it to be great fun and Dan always wins.

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Abby still loves to eat. She’ll eat almost anything we give her. On days when we enjoy vegetables and hummus, Abby likes to take a carrot stick, dip it in the hummus, lick it off, and repeat. Recently she realized she can do the same thing with dirt and a stick. Yes, Abby will eat just about anything, from rocks to shoelaces, if we don’t keep a close eye on her.

Here she is, caught in the act, munching on something while I pay attention to Lydia:

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And as always, little Abby is full of smiles. She and Lydia love playing with each other and are enjoying being big sisters together.

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Finding Her Feet: 18 Month Abby Update

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It’s true! This little cutie is finding her feet. Just during the past week we’ve noticed her pulling herself up on things and then tentatively letting go to stand for just a few seconds. Who knows? By next month she could be walking!

Abby loves singing. Her current favorite song is “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. If you’ll sing it for her (and do the motions), she’ll light right up, try to sing and do the motions too, and then make her characteristic little grunt for you to do it again and again. When she’s upset in the car (when we’re not driving and she’s stuck in her car seat) or at meal times (while she’s waiting for food), singing will often break her out of her bad mood.

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Speaking of bad moods…Abby had a rough stretch this month. Dan and I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong but it seemed like she was always crying. Any little thing could set her off and she’d lose it. One evening I asked the ladies at Bible study to pray about it and one of them encouraged us to be more positive around Abby. Something about pointing out their negative tendencies seems to encourage those habits. Since then we’ve stopped telling Abby not to be a “grumpus” and have instead encouraged her sweet characteristics that we love so much. Well, the next morning we left Abby in her crib for half an hour while Lidster and I got dressed and prepared breakfast. Lately, we had been bringing her down with us, but further in the past we always left her upstairs for an extra half hour. Well, apparently our little introvert needs that alone time in the mornings! That day she was as chipper as ever and we have since readopted our routine of leaving her alone for half an hour before she starts her day. She’s back to being our sweet, fun, smiley baby girl.

One of Abby’s latest frustrations is expressing what she wants during meals. And that leaves Dan and I picking up items one at a time guessing, “Is this what you want?” and then trying to read her expression to determine if it is. This is not our favorite activity and when we guess wrong Abby gets very upset. So we’ve set ourselves to emphasizing how to say “yes” and “no” along with appropriate head nods. Last night Abby really wanted salad dressing on her rice (sometimes you’ll do anything to keep the baby happy) so we kept guessing dressing and then emphasizing, “Yes” in response to our “Is this what you want?” question. By the end of the meal Abby was successfully saying her version of “yes”, which sounds more like “ziet”. Although now she might things “ziet” is actually the word for dressing.

The race is still on to see which happens first. Will Abby walk? Or will Baby be born? Either way, we are enjoying the last days with our two little munchkins before welcoming a third.

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Peek-a-boo: Abby Update

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Tomorrow Abby turns 17 months old. No, she’s not walking yet. The race is still on to see whether she’ll beat her big sister at that. But this month Abby started crawling around on all fours. She’s gotten efficient enough that she will crawl on all fours more often now than army-crawling.

And the favorite activity of the month is…peek-a-boo. Abby is the perfect age to play peek-a-boo and it keeps her (and everyone else) giggling. Sometimes she gets her hands over her face, sometimes she misses. It’s adorable either way.

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She’s a little mischief-maker, crawling all over the house when she knows I can’t really chase her. Abby will keep herself entertained for hours. Her latest favorite toy is a small metal pot and a small ladle. She’ll stir that pot for the longest time without getting bored. She also knows some things that are off-limits, and if she ever catches a plastic grocery bag on the floor or the bathroom door open, she’ll scurry over to it faster than you can believe.

But for all her adorable mischief, Abby is still very sweet. When I snuggle up on the couch to read to Lydia, Abby crawls right over, pulls herself up to a stand, and starts yelling at me to pick her up too. She has no interest in using real words or sign language, her different grunts and yells all have their meaning and do well enough at getting her what she wants.

Is Abby ready to be a big sister yet? Well, I’d love it if she was walking first, but I think she’s going to be very excited about the new baby whenever s/he comes. It’s hard to believe that once all this snow melts we’ll all be able to go for walks to the park with Baby wrapped up in my Moby, and Lydia and Abby walking alongside. We can hardly wait.

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Lydyisms

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Our Munchkin is, as we often say in our household, quite the character. She’s always coming up with funny things to do or say, usually unintentional, that keep us laughing. Her best moments we have dubbed, “Lydyisms”, and for the sake of never forgetting these cute memories, I wanted to share a few.

One afternoon we were driving home from church in some bad winter weather. Lydia wanted Dan to tell her a “Billy story”, stories that he makes up on the spot about a little boy named Billy…
Lydia (knowing Dan didn’t really want to tell a story right then): Daddy, can you tell me a really short Billy story?
Dan: Once upon a time it was snowing really hard and Billy went outside to play in the snow. The end.
Lydia: No! You didn’t read all the words!

After yet another battle trying to get Lydia to “go potty” cheerfully…
Lydia: I don’t like having to go potty every day!

While trying to get Lydia to do something she desperately didn’t want to do (like going potty cheerfully and by herself)…
Justine (quietly over Lydia’s crying): It’s the end of the world…
Lydia: I DON’T WANT IT TO BE THE END OF THE WORLD! (and breaks down crying harder)

Often while Lydia lies in bed waiting to fall asleep at night…
Lydia: MOM! Can I rest-with-my-eyes-open-and-suck-my-thumb-and-hold-my-hair-for-a-little-while-but-not-too-long? Is that ok?

While laying with me in bed one morning as I read my Bible Lydia noticed a fly and hid under the covers. A few minutes later I was getting ready for the day and Dan walked into the room and looked around…
Dan: Where’s Lydia?
Lydia (from under the covers): THERE’S A BEE!