Sunday, March 24, 2013

Evie's Birthday Zoo Trip

On Evie's actual birthday, Todd took the day off from work, and we went to the zoo. Our sister-in-law, Jillian, met us there with her kids, and we did everything Evie wanted to do. We looked at the ducks floating in the water.
We saw the pink flamingos and tried to find the 5 still-slightly-fuzzy babies. Evie thought that they were awesome, and it took some doing to get her to move along to the next thing!
Apparently, Todd was on a bird kick because he and Jillian then wanted to take the kids through Bird World. The only trouble was that strollers aren't allowed inside, and Elizabeth was asleep, so I stayed outside with her while everyone else looked at all the birds.
Once we were all reunited, we passed by a fun sign that says "How Far Can You Jump?" Everyone took their turns jumping, which Evie really enjoyed--especially once Daddy helped her "jump" really far! Then, of course, he had to spend several minutes giving each girl a turn.
We had planned to ride on the zoo carousel, so that was our next stop. We had free tickets, so I took Evie on the ride while Todd stayed with Elizabeth and took pictures. Since Evie's favorite animals are lions, we found a big one on the very edge that wouldn't scare Evie by going up and down, and we climbed right up on "Simba." Jillian and Anya tried getting on a zebra close by, but Jillian wasn't able to get up, so they walked back to another one almost halfway around the carousel. That's when Evie decided she was done. The ride hadn't even started yet, and she was already chanting "I'm all done! I'm all done!" I kept telling her that we were going to have so much fun riding on Simba's back, but she kept trying to slide down. I had to wrap my legs around hers to hold her in place, and hold her hands around the pole to make sure she didn't fall off and get hurt. While the ride was going, she didn't cry or scream, but the entire time, she kept telling me "I'm all done! I'm all done!" Todd told me later that he could hear her every time we sailed past on Simba's back.
When the ride was finally over, we decided that we needed some lunch to steady our nerves. Usually we take our own food into the zoo, but in honor of Evie's birthday, we'd planned to pay the horrifically high prices at one of the restaurants. She got a slice of cheese pizza (which Todd ended up taking to work for lunch the next day!) and ate a total of two bites before mooching some of her Daddy's chicken strips. At about the time lunch was over, it started raining, so we hurried through the 20 feet of drizzle drops to the lion information building. They were having a lion feeding demonstration, and we wanted to make sure Evie could see the whole thing. It was really interesting learning about how big lions can get and how much they eat in a day. Evie was pretty much glued to the glass during the entire demonstration!
Then, despite the fact that it was lightly raining, we had to go around the lion exhibit to one of our favorite spots in the entire zoo: the lion enclosure. We wanted Evie to be able to have a good long communication with her lion buddies before heading home. Unfortunately, my camera's battery kept dying, so I didn't get very long videos, but some of the short ones I got were really fun to watch. One of my favorites happened just after the battery died again on the third video: the one lion tried to awaken the other one by nudging him in the face repeatedly with his paw. I was bummed that I missed catching it on camera!
Obviously, Evie had a great time hanging out with the lions. It was actually really difficult to pry her away so we could go home. I think, except for her 10-minute panic on the carousel, Evie really enjoyed all of her birthday trip to the zoo. We also really enjoyed having Jillian, Anya and William along for the trip! Happy Birthday, you silly two-year-old girly; Mommy and Daddy love you!

Evie's 2nd Birthday

I can hardly believe it, but my little girl is already 2 years old! Because her birthday wasn't until Thursday, we decided to have her party a couple of days early on Sunday so more of our family could come.
One of her girl cousins brought dress-up shoes to play with, and all of the girls put on a pair and posed for a picture!
I went to the Dollar Tree on my way home from church and picked up three fun Mylar balloons for her party. She was thrilled by the shine, by the bright colors, by the fun shapes. She loved that, with a single tug, she could bounce her balloons off of the ceiling, and she spent the better part of the afternoon doing just that! When her guests arrived, she took her balloons from person to person to show them off. 
When it came time to open presents, Evie climbed up onto the piano bench and eagerly reached for her first present. The first couple were from her Uncle John and Aunt Margot and their kids. They are some of her very favorite people, always making her laugh! Their first present was a DVD copy of "Peter Pan."
The second gift was a DVD copy of "Wreck-it Ralph," which I think her Daddy was more excited about than she was!
The next gift was from her Tia and her cousin Julia. They gave her a princess block castle, and she was very excited about the sparkly purple blocks!
Then it was time for presents from Mommy and Daddy. The first one was a couple of 2-pack Disney soundtracks: "Lion King" & "Lion King 2," and "Beauty and the Beast" & "The Little Mermaid." All three have gorgeous music, in fact they each have a Broadway musical based on them, and I know Evie will love dancing to the music.
Then she got a couple of the little growing girl statues: one for her first birthday, to catch up from last year, and another for her second birthday.

This next gift took me weeks to find! When I was growing up, my mom got me a Cabbage Patch doll named Bessie. She had curly blonde hair and blue eyes, and her birthday was the same as mine. She was a very special doll to me because she looked just like me! I wanted Evie to have that same feeling about a doll of her very own. I looked all over the internet for a doll that has dark blonde pigtails and brown eyes. Most of the dolls that fit that description were ugly and/or outrageously expensive. Even Cabbage Patch doesn't carry a doll that fit what I wanted. Finally, I found a really pretty doll that was reasonably priced and, even if she doesn't look exactly like Evie, she looks close enough to make Evie happy.
She's made by Little Mommy, a sub-company of Fisher-Price. She's part of the Sweet As Me toddler line, and she's a School's Cool doll. I've already named her Dinah in honor of Evie's favorite song when she was little: "I've Been Workin' On the Railroad." She has dark brown curly pigtails and hazel eyes. They're not quite the same as Evie's dark brown ones, but if Evie wants me to someday, I can always fix them with a Sharpie! :)
Next, Evie got two Disney Princess storybooks, each with 3 of the original Princess stories. Volume 1 has "Beauty and the Beast," the "Little Mermaid," and "Aladdin." Volume 2 has "Snow White," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty." Apparently, Volume 3 is coming out next year with "Princess and the Frog," "Tangled," and "Brave."
From her grandparents, Evie got a bottle of spill-proof bubbles and a fun pencil that has 3 different colors in its lead.
The last gift we gave Evie was a used play kitchen. A lady in the ward had given it to us right before Christmas, but we forgot to give it to the girls then, so we just saved it for Evie's birthday. To go along with it, we also got her a set of play food and put everything under the brown sheet that Evie pulled off for her big reveal.
For the last several months, every time I asked Evie what kind of cake she wanted she always said, "Pink." Chocolate or strawberry? "Pink chocolate." Light pink or dark? "Dark pink chocolate." Okie-dokie! I made her a chocolate cake and then spent forever coloring her frosting. No matter how much red coloring I put in, the pink never seemed dark enough. Finally, centuries later, it was pink enough to satisfy both of us, and was ready for sprinkles!
We've been practicing blowing for the last couple of months now, trying to help her be able to blow out her own candles. As you can see from the above video, it sort of worked. Evie was able to blow out the first candle by herself, but then it got tricky. Even with the help of her almost-3-year old cousin, Anya, Evie was unable to aim her air well enough to blow out that last candle. Finally, Daddy had to help, but I don't think she noticed. 
At the end of the night, Evie was a very gracious hostess: she saw all of her guests to the door and thanked them for coming to her party and for her giving her such fun presents!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


This whole thing started at the beginning of January. Evie was 21 months old, and one day we were in the bathroom together and she told me she wanted to go potty on the big potty. I was shocked! Honestly, out of all of the parenting milestones, this was the one that terrified me the most. I didn't even really like trying to sell the potties at work. I half-jokingly asked Todd what was really so wrong about sending our girls to college in diapers; they could even double as chastity belts, because who wants to date a 16-year old girl wearing a diaper, right? Todd told me that if Evie was expressing interest, then we needed to jump on this before her interest waned. So he had me bring home a little potty from work one night, we bought her some panties, and we set to work. I blocked off 3 days when I didn't plan on leaving the house, and I set up my laptop on a box in front of the potty, so Evie could watch the Lion King and go potty whenever the urge struck. I made a potty chart on the computer and printed it off: every time Evie peed in the potty, she got to put one sticker on the chart, but every time she pooped, she got to put on two. She didn't get punished if she had an accident, but we would remind her that big girls used the potty. She did very well for the first week, but then she stopped making progress. She would go into a quiet corner, have an accident, and not tell us. Finally, after another week or so of this, I was done. Every single potty-training advocate ever tells you to always be positive while potty-training; do not shame or punish your child for having accidents. But one day, I just lost it. I yelled at Evie that peeing on the floor was ICKY! Peeing on her bed and the couch was ICKY! Peeing and pooping in her panties was ICKY! Big girls pee and poop in the potty and do not have accidents, and if she didn't want to wear diapers anymore like a baby, she needed to only pee and poop in the potty instead of on the floor, bed, etc. Sure, it went against everything I'd ever read on the subject, but it worked! She realized that Mommy and Daddy were serious about this, and she needed to be serious too. She still had accidents sometimes, but they were actual accidents--where she just missed making it to the potty in time--instead of going out of her way to pee in a corner somewhere else. Her potty charts filled up, and we even gave her new Play-Doh cups as prizes for meeting little milestones: She got one when we filled up her chart, when she made it an entire day running errands without an accident, when she told us she needed to go potty when we were still 3 miles from the house and she made it home without an accident, etc. Then Todd and I decided on a big prize if she could go a week without any accidents at all. We thought that was fair because it would challenge her a little bit (she would sometimes go 3 or 4 days accident-free before starting over again) but wasn't too impossibly long. Because she loves the Lion King so much, I thought she would really love getting the Lion King 2 as a big prize. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and have just left it lying on my desk until we needed it. Today, after only 2 months of working on it, Evie finally earned her movie! She's gone an entire week with no accidents! This is a big accomplishment for a little girl who's not quite 2! Todd and I are thrilled to only have to buy diapers for one baby again. Yes, we still have to buy pull-ups for Evie's night-times, but she only uses one a night and wears only panties during the day, so we don't really mind. It's loads cheaper than diapers! :)
Congratulations, Evie, on being such a big girl! Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you, and we love you!