Monday, November 21, 2011

our second year favorites (part one)

Dear Em,
Thanksgiving is this week. That means Black Friday is this week, & I'm in full Christmas shopping mode. This year, with you being almost two, I can't help but think if all of our favorite things from the past year...our second year favorites that you have loved & grown with.

I talked about our first year favorites here & here. By now you've grown out of most of those things, but the monitor, music, rocker, & quality camera continue to be MVGs (most valuable gear) in our home. Everyday is new, & with that there have been new things that we've all loved. My favorites are things that allow us to play & also learn together...things that have helped your imagination to soar. With some of our second year favorites, you've been able to explore & learn & grow right from our house.

We've been reading to you since you were born, but it's really been this past year that you've grown to love it & participate in it. We're truly able to read together. Sometimes your daddy & I read to you, & sometimes we let you tell us what you see on the pages. There are days I come upstairs to find you & you're quietly sitting on your bunny chair reading away. We keep books on your changing table so you can read while we change you (it's the cutest thing), & in the early morning hours you often pull the books off the changing table to read in your crib. It's fascinating to watch how your mind works as we read together. Reading is one of my favorite things for us to do together, & I'm glad it's yours too. We have so many books, they're spilling out of the original bins I got to store them, (this brings us to one of your Christmas gifts for this year which I'll talk about at a later post) & we have so many favorites. I'll start talking about our favorite books in future posts.

Your Nonnie & Papi's house is full of baby dolls for all the kids to play with. When we went to visit last Thanksgiving, we couldn't believe how much you loved them. You walked around with one in each arm, which was a tough task since the baby dolls were almost your size & you had only been walking for a couple months. Since then, you have been gifted with so many wonderful babies & a beautiful baby bed. It's amazing to watch you as a "mommy." I love watching you pretend, taking your babies shopping, putting your babies to bed, feeding your babies, pushing your babies in at the table, & even putting your babies in time-out. It's both sweet & humorous for us to watch how your mind is working & growing. With the love you give these babies, sometimes I hope that you've learned such love from me being a good Mommy role model. The cute little way you pick your baby up, tap her on the back, & say "it's OK, Baby." You say "sweet dreams" & make sure your babies are covered with a blanket. "Sshh, baby's sleeping," you tell me. Then you take your baby out, drop her on the floor, & run her over with your shopping cart. I die a little on the inside hoping that you haven't learned all your mommy skills from me.

For the early part of this year, puzzles were something you would pull out of your cabinet, dump on the floor, & cry when you stepped on them & hurt your little feet. Midway through the year, your puzzles became something that you actively played with. You got really frustrated in the beginning when the puzzle pieces wouldn't fit on your first try, but you learned one day at a time. I will never forget the Sunday afternoon your daddy taught you how to do your alphabet puzzle. I was cooking up a storm in the kitchen, & smirked when your daddy pulled out the puzzle. "She's not ready to do a puzzle like that," I thought quietly to myself. Up until that point you & I had worked on puzzles with no more than 6 pieces. The alphabet puzzle has 26 pieces that are smaller & curvier than your others. Your daddy patiently talked you through turning the puzzle pieces & finding the right spot for each piece. At the end of the afternoon, you had dumped your pieces on the floor (again). I asked you to pick up the pieces from the floor & place them on the table. When I looked again 5 minutes later, instead of placing the pieces on the table you had put all of the alphabet pieces in their correct spots in the puzzle. I couldn't believe it. We love how you learn with your puzzles while playing. We really like Melissa & Doug puzzles. Because many of them have sounds, you can learn how to put the pieces in the correct spots while also learning about other things. In your farm puzzle the sounds taught you what sounds the animals at the farm make. Your alphabet puzzle says the sound the letter makes & then a word that starts with that letter.

We stayed away from coloring for a long time because we worried about you trying to eat the crayons. Now we love to color together. We keep your crayons in a big yellow container that used to be my grandma's. I pulled crayons out of that container & colored so many times as a little girl. Your coloring books are a collection of gifts from other people & books I picked up from the dollar store. You like to color a little on every page, which I think is funny. Your grandma got you a book of stickers, & you have so much fun adding stickers to your masterpieces as well. It's such a fun way for you to get creative while also learning about your colors.

Kitchen Set & Children's Table
Your Nonnie has always told me how much I loved my kitchen set growing up, & I couldn't wait for you to have one too. So, last year for Christmas we asked everyone to help us, & our family put together the most amazing kitchen (seriously, I wish it was my kitchen). Your nonnie & papi got you the most amazing kitchen set (they also have it in pink & while). This thing is decked out. The timer & clock actually work, the knobs turn, & there is ample storage space. Your aunts, uncles, daddy, & mommy got you tons of food to stock the kitchen & a shopping cart. Most of the food came from Melissa & Doug. Your recent favorites are the ice cream that actually scoops onto a cone & the cookies that you can cut, frost, & bake on the cookie sheet. This past week you've been exclaiming, "it's cookie time!" You bake Daddy & I cookies & then we get to taste. Your grandma & papa bought & painted your very own table & chairs. You've hosted tea & fed your babies at your table. We feed you snacks, & sometimes we all eat at your table. Your table is a place to color & play play dough. It gets more use than our actual dining table. The whole set has been an amazing place for you to pretend & play & learn. You put your baby into your little shopping cart, put your purse on your arm, & tell us you're going shopping. When we're making dinner at night, you make dinner at your own little set. Some were a little worried that you were too young when we got you your kitchen, but we've all loved it & it's something I think we will continue to love for years to come.

I'm so thankful that you've been able to learn & grow & imagine while playing with these things...really, we have all learned & grown & imagined & played. There have been so many precious moments.

I'll talk more about some of our second year favorites & precious moments on Wednesday.

I love you so,

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