The Girl Behind the Pictures

So earlier this week, I posted many a picture of our adorable little one.  Today, time to meet more of the blossoming little cutie.

First and foremost, Alaythia Esther loves to communicate.  She may have seemed like an introvert, but I’m becoming less and less convinced that’s her final personality designation in life.  The girl talks almost constantly; to us when we’re around, to herself when she’s playing in her room, and to other people just as soon as she’s gotten to know them a little bit.  Granted, she does still take a little bit to warm up, but it seems like less all the time, and once she warms up, well, there’s no stopping her.  This is, of course, in no way genetic…

It’s also somewhat noticeable that she has grown quite a bit (for her, at least) since arriving in St Louis.  All the sun seems good for her, and all the running around outside seems to be making her much stronger.  She’s gained close to two pounds since we arrived, weighing in at a solid 23.  She’s also much taller, and all the sudden her shoes are all too small.  Thank you Johnson family for some hand-me-down shoes, or the girl would have suddenly been shoeless on Saturday (Friday she was size 5, Saturday it was size 6…).

Byebye, size 5s.  You’ve been with us for many adventures.

To make sure she’s getting nourished in all these new cells, we finally just gave up on attempting to force vegetables into her, and got sneaky.  I started out with carrot “cookies”, then moved to yam macaroni and cheese (okay, she hated it… she liked it when her babysitter Keren made it, but Mommy had no such luck).  BUT my yam cupcake-muffins were a success.  Here’s a little interview with her just musing on life, and eating a yam cupcake.

Our real new nutritional successes are not from the yellows and oranges, however.  It’s from spinach.  To explain where the spinach thing began, we must go back in time to this past weekend.

A few of you astute ones may have noticed the pictures at the farm I posted, and wondered where they came from—none other than Grant’s Farm, former home of Ulysses S. Grant, and land of THE Budweiser Clydesdales.  Yep.  The horses may not have looked huge, but the ones we were looking at were the baby horses—and they were as big as normal horses.

As proof we were there, here’s Ulysses’ old home:

It is the only structure remaining that was hand-built by a US President.  Near his old house is a fence one of the Busch family had built as a sort of Civil War memorial.  The spokes are actually rifle barrels from guns used in the war.

So back to Alaythia… she, like us, feasted at Grant’s Farm.  She may not be much for food, but after seeing all the animals and animal shows, riding the carousel (OH she begged to go on it again…) she savored the plates of French fries, ketchup, chicken nugget things, a giant hot dog of some sort, and yes, a purple snow cone.  We were a part of the feast with her, and on the way home, sweating trans fats and high fructose corn syrup out of every pore, we decided it was time for a fruit and vegetable cleanse of sorts.  So, the spinach smoothies began.  Nearly every morning, Kabyn has been making us a big fruity-soymilk smoothie, complete with a giant handful of spinach.  It’s wonderful—like eating a huge spinach salad, only you can’t even taste the spinach.  All the goodness with no knowledge of it even going in!  So far, we’ve been downing our spinach smoothies, spaghetti sauce blended with ample spinach and some basil, and even eggs blended with spinach then cooked.  The smoothies aren’t even vaguely green, but the pasta sauce is a bit different than usual, as you can see as Alaythia feasts on spinach without even knowing it.  As for the eggs, well, I did wish we had the book Green Eggs and Ham to help Alaythia get over her fear of green eggs.  But, they tasted just fine, and once we got that first taste in, she downed them.  Happiness!

Aside from eating vegetables, growing, and talking, Alaythia is just a busy girl. She’s on the move unless she’s taking a break to study her letters on Letter Factory or Super Why (she gets totally engrossed in that show–a brilliant little PBS kids show–and says all the letters with the characters).  She loves do grown-up kinds of things, like stirring food in the kitchen (this  morning she got to stir a batch of Elisabeth Haggard’s granola bars, another tasty way to get some good nutrients in).  Thankfully she’s also very clean, and will instantly inform me if her hands or feet are “yucky”, and request they be cleaned before she can continue what she’s doing.  The other day she spilled some water (oh how she loves to play with water…!), and ran to get the hand towel, and dried up the spot on the floor.  This morning she got out of bed, played for a while (the usual pattern, she loves her alone time reacquainting with her toys each day), then opened her door, and went into the bathroom, and soon I heard water running.  Turned out she had climbed up her bathroom stepstool, and was happily washing her hands at the sink (one of her favorite activities, not necessarily just for the clean effect!).  She loves any chance to go to kiddie pool or fountain–and there are a lot around–and sometimes even prefers water to zoo animals (which are mighty hard to beat in her book).

Alaythia loves her new friend Charlie.  She cries like her heart is breaking for about a minute after she’s left with Keren (friend and babysitter and Charlie’s mom) and Charlie, then she gleefully plays games with them, full of lots of giggling and silliness.  The last few times I’ve come to fetch her, she seems to have little interest in seeing me or going home. Kabyn and I got to have a date last weekend, and when we returned, Alaythia and Charlie were each sitting on opposite ends of the couch, looking at each other, and giggling and giggling the silliest giggles I’ve ever heard. It’s definitely a blessing for us to have friends with a son her age.  Though despite how much we love cute little boys, and despite all the odds of how Alaythia’s life has gone, we are still on the hunt for just one nice, sweet, fun little girl friend… we know she must be out there somewhere… we even went to a toddler-mommy group we got invited to last week, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the ~10 other kids there were boys.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.

We’re also working hard on emphasizing that Alaythia say “please” with her MANY requests/demands.  It’s interesting how just asking her to stop and use that simple word will change the way she asks something, and her whole attitude in the moment. Usually she does it right away, and very sweetly, but occasionally, she’ll reply with a pert little “no please”.  Which definitely doesn’t get her request answered.  It’s been interesting for us–you’d be surprised to realize how little you and most adults probably say “please”.  If you’re like me, it’s almost never, so I’m also trying to work on using “please” with any request.

My mom and dad talked to Alaythia for a while on Skype tonight, and at one point my mom commented, “nice and then not nice,” which I think is a pretty good summary of this stage of Alaythia-toddlerhood.  One moment she’s sweet and adorable and begging me for a kiss on her owie on her knee, then thanking me profusely for kissing it, the next moment she’s whining and begging and protesting and saying “no” to everything.  We certainly don’t get bored with her.

She still stays up till close to 9pm CST, remaining on PST for at least another month or two, which provides us time for fun family evenings.  We’re still going on adventures, though the pace has slowed a bit as my work has picked up, Kabyn has started a more difficult class, and the tourist phase is passing a bit.  Here she is watching a few of her favorite animal clips on YouTube before heading off to bed:

Alaythia also loves her letters, in any form.  Everywhere we go, she points out the letters, colors, numbers, vehicles, anything that she sees.  After breakfast and after dinner lately she’s been watching Leap Frog Letter Factory, which is a brilliant, cute little DVD on letters and their sounds.  She knows most of her letter sounds, and a few word associations (i.e. A Apple, D Daddy, E Elephant, etc) for almost every letter.  She still loves her letter and number puzzles, and can do them pretty quickly these days.  She also still loves to read, both with us during the day or before bed, and often by herself after nap or in the morning.  The most requested book at this point is probably If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, or to her, “mouse cookie”.  It’s a cute story, and I wish I knew who gave it to us!  It’s also pretty funny to parents, because it’s easy to see your silly little toddler in it.  It’s fairly similar to Alaythia’s pre-bedtime request list… oh the things she never knew she wanted or needed until it is announced that it is bedtime…!  If you gave us “mouse cookie”, please let me know who you are.  Other favorites are The Foot Book, Go Dog Go,  and any and all books about animals.  Favorites that remain favorites and have been since she started looking at books are any Olivia books (thanks, Shirley and Erica!) and Good Night, Gorilla!

More than anything, though, Alaythia loves to color.  She loves beautiful colors, she loves making different shapes and curves, she loves trying different pens.  If she finds a scrap of paper, she goes hunting for any kind of writing or coloring implement and gets busy.  She’s very serious about it, too, and will color quite furiously at times, quite focused on her project.  She loves to make demands for “Mommy color!!” or “Daddy color!” and will even ask her grandparents over Skype to color with her, which they have graciously learned to do in their own space, then hold up for her to see.

She’s thrilled by beautiful things, clothes, shoes (if you’ve ever seen her with shoes, you’ll understand why her grandmothers were inclined to contribute to her massive size 5 shoe collection depicted above…), and seems to want nothing more than to create beautiful, interesting things herself.  It’s fairly easy to see that’s pretty opposite my leanings in life, so I’ll keep her room practical, filled with what she needs and enjoys, and hopefully someday she and I can work together to design a room like one of these.

Kabyn is having some very emotional moments over the All Star Game, so perhaps I better go join him now.  We are, after all, such an emotional family.

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3 Responses to The Girl Behind the Pictures

  1. Grandma Bushby says:

    I can’t thank you enough for keeping us up to date on the precious girl. It is great to see her grow and learn. We would otherwise be so out of the picture and I thank you for that. Blessings to all. Grandma Ruth

  2. Pingback: Our first staycation « Bliss and the Battlefield

  3. Marc Fulmer says:

    Your updates are simply wonderful and such a joy to read and watch. It really helps with lonely pangs as a result of the new distance between our families.
    With love,

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