Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little (Ok, a Lot) About Cadence

I thought I would share some updates on what Cadence is like these days, especially for her family members who don't get to see her very often. (Note: Sorry, I'm kind of verbose - you should be used to it by now :))

Cadence is sweet and ornery. She likes running, stomping, clapping, and dancing. She loves to chase people and be chased and tickled. She is very independent, but will snuggle if you ask nicely. She climbs everywhere! She loves rain, puddles, sprinklers, sinks, anything with water. The other day she cried because it rained and there weren't enough puddles to actually stomp in. She says about 30 words, and signs about 18. None of her sign words are repeats of her spoken words, except Mama and Daddy.

The toddler stage has begun at our house! Cadence is so busy, getting into everything, writing, coloring, using stickers and glue sticks, painting, playing on the old laptop, pulling office supplies all over the house (that's my girl!), crashing her cars, pretending to drive Daddy's Mustang. She falls down on the floor and cries when she doesn't get her way. She gives a totally evil little chuckle when she does. Cracks us up every time! Here she is having a little picnic with potatoes she dug out of the pantry. She likes to put them in the little paper cups...

Cadence has recently started weaning. She used to nurse every hour, and gag on any food she tried to eat. Now she nurses about every hour and fifteen minutes, or every hour and half, and can eat anything. She even eats nuts and grapes, meat and peanut butter, all of which seemed impossible just a few short months ago. She loves to be a big girl - give her a fork and a cup with a straw, and she is happy!

Cadence likes to study new things out carefully before she tries them. She watches and thinks, then when she is fairly sure how it works, she will go for it. For this reason it seems she learns things suddenly. Not a lot of trials and failures and bumps and bruises... just patient watching and then suddenly doing it successfully! The exception? Talking. She jabbers constantly.

Cadence is shy. She will smile at strangers (and people she only sort of knows), but she usually won't go to them willingly. If they force the issue she will cry. She is scared of men in particular (sorry uncles!). However, she loves little kids and babies, stranger or not, and will play and share her toys and laugh and cut up with them. She also loves to flirt, smiling and laughing and carrying on. If she is even somewhat comfortable with the people around her, she a total and complete ham. She will do anything for a laugh! If she hurts herself and someone laughs, she will hurt herself again.

Along those same lines (hamming it up that is), she loves to fake laugh, fake cry, and has recently started posing for the camera. She posed herself for this picture:

Cadence loves to sing along with the kids at church. She can do most of the motions, but sometimes she chooses not to - usually when we've just told someone she can! She raises her hand during the singing, then again during unspoken requests. As soon as she puts her hand down she jumps down from the pew and lays her head down to pray. At bedtime at home, we always have devotions, then pray. She puts her head down, and sometimes - rarely - will say "Jesus, Amen"

Cadence loves music. She will beg for it to be turned on, then sing and dance or do the motions to action songs. "Music" is one of her clearest signs.

Mama has a little helper since Cadence became a toddler. She puts laundry in the dryer, empties the silverware from the dish washer, throws away trash for us, and puts dirty clothes in the hamper. If you leave your shoes in the living room floor, beware! They will disappear!

Last week Cadence spontaneously started putting herself to sleep. She will turn her head away when she is done nursing, wait until I lay her down, then roll over and settle in for a good night's rest. This doesn't happen every night, but it has happened about half the time. I'm trying not to get my hopes too high about this being a permanent transition. She still swaddles!

Well, that's enough about our sweet, shy, and totally spunky toddler for now :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Toy Math

Cadence has WAY too many toys. So we divide them into three batches, and she only gets one batch at a time. Each batch has a large basket that sits on the floor to collect bigger toys, and a small basket that sits on the bookshelf to collect small toys, like cars. I recently decided she has enough baby dolls to divide, so now each batch has some baby doll supplies. I just put as much as would fit in her little diaper bag we use for the baby's bed. She is getting my old baby doll crib for Christmas, so then she can use it for a bed :) This system is awesome for several reasons.

1. She doesn't need that many toys.
2. She can't even play with that many toys in a day - she would just pull them all out and then not play with any of them!
3. I only have to "help" her clean up a third of her toys every day (that's the big one!).
4. Every time we get a different batch out, it is like she gets all new toys. She carefully explores each toy as if it is a long lost friend, and they seem fresh and exciting to her. This way we avoid (mostly) the "I'm bored, I don't have enough toys, all these toys are old, let's go buy some more even though we don't have room for the ones we already have" syndrome.
5. Every time we get a different batch out, Tony and I get to see how far her motor skills and problem solving skills have increased - in a dramatic way. This is so much fun for us. For instance, for Christmas Cadence got a ball maze / whack the ball toy. At the time she mostly just watched us do it. When we got it out again, she was able to push the balls through with her hands. The next time we got it out, she was able to accurately hit the balls with the hammer. It was exciting to see these new skills just suddenly appear. I'm sure they weren't actually all that sudden, but we wouldn't have even noticed if we had seen it from day to day.

I organize her toys like I organize almost everything else, which means the process is messy! I just did it this week because things had started getting pretty unorganized, but other than that the last time I had to do this was right after Christmas when she got so many new toys. I take everything out of the baskets, spread it out all over the living room, then put it back in the baskets. As I spread things out, I group them by type of toy: balls, small toys, cars, random middle size toys, pull toys, sorting toys, musical instruments, toys with Mega Blocks, cuddly animals, singing books, puzzles, etc.

Then as I put them back in the baskets, I can just scoop up a group of toys and divide them equally between the baskets. You can see at this point the baskets had some cuddle animals, a puzzle, some cars, some small toys, a musical instrument, and a ball each.

This way each basket has a variety of toys in it. Here they are finished and ready to be put away:

I also set aside a few toys and books to go in the van, and all the small quiet toys go in a tub in Cadence's room to take as needed to church.

When I am done sorting, I put two baskets in the hobby room under my work table, and arrange the other in Cadence's play area. The baby doll bag goes by the rocking chair, since Cadence likes to rock her babies.

How often do we switch the toys out? It depends. Sometimes I will notice she seems bored with her toys and hasn't really been playing with them. A LOT of times I will switch them out while one of us is sick, since seeing all her "new" toys occupies her and keeps her happy without me doing a lot of work or expending any energy. Sometimes I will get sick and tired of cleaning up the same toys, or hearing the same doofy kids song from the same annoying little toy, and decide it's time for a change. Typically one of these events happens about every six weeks. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Not exactly an exact science!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Picante Sauce!

This counts as a vegetable right?! Cadence eats this stuff with a fork... loves it! She would eat it all day every day if we let her. Gross pictures I know, but they do get the point accross ;)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Little Organizers by OCD

1. Cut a ribbon to go around the top of trash cans and fasten with Velcro. Easy to remove to change the bag, but the bag doesn't fall down inside the can.
2. Line a basket with a ribbon stitched in a few places to tuck hair accessories.
3. Use empty envelope boxes or silverware trays to organize small items in drawers - socks, hairbrushes, etc.
4. The zip up bags baby sheets come in are perfect for lots of things. My favorite tuck a few diapers and wipes in one and put it in your diaper bag so all your supplies are always together.
5. Silverware trays are just the right size for spools of thread and other sewing supplies.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some Cadence Hats

I love putting hats on Cadence :)

The bonnet is from Nana and Papa's vacation, and the knit cap (with matching baby doll cap!) was made by Sis. Driskell from Tulsa.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Favorite Recipe

This is one of our new favorite dishes. It is one of those rare dishes we all love -even Cadence! I usually fix half a recipe for the three of us, and we have leftovers for lunch the next day, so if you make a full recipe, be prepared to do a lot of eating!

Manicotti al Forno
a.k.a. Yummy Cheesy Saucy Pasta Goodness

12 manicotti shells
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
26 oz pasta sauce
1 can diced tomatoes with Italian-style herbs, drained
1 egg
15 oz ricotta cheese
3 cups mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350F. Cook pasta shells; drain; rinse with cold water to cool. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, cook sausage, garlic and oregano over medium heat 8-10 minutes, strring occasionally; drain. Stir in sauce and tomatoes. Spread 1 cup sauce in large baking dish. Beat egg, stir in cheese. Spoon mixture into plastic bag, clip hole in corner and squeeze cheese into shells. Arrange shells over sauce, pour remaining sauce over shells. Cover with foil; bake 35-40 minutes. Top with extra mozzarella. Bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Prep: 35 min. Cook: 50 min. Serves: 6 Main Ingredients: Cheeses/Sausage

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baby Feet

When Cadence took her first few steps, I thought - This is the end of a chapter in our lives. This is the end of Cadence being a little baby. This is the end of cute little baby feet with no marks or scratches. Since I cannot capture the essence of baby-hood before we moved into toddler-hood, I captured her feet instead.

Cadence - 15 Months, June 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Ironic Mess

Our dear darling toddler LOVES to pull things off the bottom shelf in the hobby room while I... well, hobby. She knows this is the shelf she won't get in trouble for messing with, and she takes full advantage of that. The other day I walked in had to laugh - right in the middle of the mess was a book about cleaning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Down Memory Lane

Things I will always love to remember...

Sitting next to Nonnie in her rocker while she read to Matt and me.

Alex flushing his army men down the toilet because "They were bad!"

Driving my first car, experimenting with the clutch, watching my hand on the stick shift in the dark.

Drinking hot chocolate in Grand Pappy's p.j.'s while we waited for our snow clothes to dry so we could go play outside again.

Kristina taking me to the little pizza parlor after kindergarten many, many times.

Papa standing on the bed in a hotel in Dublin to bang on the ceiling, because it looked like concrete and he wanted to see if it was structural or decorative.

Laying on the floor in the living room with Alex, cracking up over some nonsense words we had just made up.

Getting my first email from Tony, and being nervous to even open it.

Making spaghetti for the first time with Mommy.

Watching Papa dive face-first into a plate of salad in an almost deserted restaurant.

Eating cookie dough in Frank III's bedroom, the four of us piled on his bed.

Sitting next to the same bed playing with paintbrushes after Frank III showed me how to twirl them around on the paper to make circles.

Josh leading us cousins through grass over our heads on an adventure when we first moved to Collinsville.

Working endlessly on the Poggin' Pool with Matt and Stef.

Climbing on top of the barn to play with my imaginary cowboy friend named Sam.

Kristina coming to eat lunch with me at school while she was home on leave, and being so proud of my big sister.