Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our Growing Girl

E is at an age where it can feel like every breath is a battle. Tasks she used to love, like picking up her toys or feeding the dogs, can be a source of fun and entertainment one day but pure torture the next. Convincing her to do just about anything on my schedule rather than hers is nearly impossible (some things haven't changed all that much since birth), and heaven forbid I try to throw out her old food that's been sitting untouched for hours. However, in the midst of all the willpower and drama, she's growing into a charming little girl.

In no particular order, here is a small sample of the wonderfully sweet moments I get to witness every day with this little girl. These are the things I want to focus on in the day to day, and what I want to remember forever.

Lately E's been reading books to her dolls and stuffed animals, and I love hearing her interpretation of the pictures on the page. Her tone and inflection are awesome! Her imagination soars as she brings her storybooks to life for her minions, and I usually catch myself taking a break from whatever I'm doing in order to hear what goes on in that little mind of hers.

Her daddy taught her to touch cups and say, "Cheers!" before she takes a sip of water. In my opinion, this is much improved from slamming the cup down and exclaiming "Gan Bei!" like they were doing a few months ago. Her cheers, however, has transcended way beyond cups. In the past few weeks, we have exclaimed, "cheers!" as we've touched plates, bowls, spoons, granola bars, pepper slices, and even our toes.

When E wants something that she knows she may not get, she likes to come up to me, smile, and whisper very softly. Typically I'm sitting at my desk working and she'll come up and whisper, "Tigey!? Watch Tigey?" when she wants to watch Daniel Tiger. It's adorable, and sometimes it works.

E's grown into a really sweet and thankful little girl. Often when I bring her a snack or fetch something for her, she'll emphatically proclaim, "Thanks, Mommy!!" It warms my heart every single time. She loves giving random hugs and telling me she misses me, which for some reason she thinks is the same as loving me. Her standard response to "I love you!" is "I miss you, too!" This morning I was reminding her (again!) that she's not to draw on her pants with a pen, and she looked at me and starting singing, "I miss you! I miss you! I miss you! I miss you!" It's remarkably hard to discipline a toddler who is expressing their undying love for you through a song.

She's recently started repeating things she's learned on Daniel Tiger (a good reminder that it's important to watch what she's viewing!) and it makes me laugh. She'll say, "Mommy, I don't feel well. I need a nap." as she crawls onto the sofa and pretends to sleep for 3.2 seconds. Her baby no longer cries, instead she's "upset". The other day I heard her hammering away with her plastic toys. She was yelling above her own noise, "Too loud! Too loud! My ears hurt!" You and me both, kid. You and me both.

Last night we got home really late, and I had some work that needed to be completed before the guys got into the shop at the crack of dawn this morning. My computer program spazzed out and destroyed a large drawing in the process. I yelled some choice words at my computer and E was very concerned. She asked if I was okay, and I told her I was not. She then asked daddy if I was okay and he told her I was frustrated. She looked at me and started singing, "It's okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you'll feel better again!" and then she asked if I felt better. Um, yup, you melted my heart and I feel great! Thanks, baby girl!

The other day we were walking Cali, and as we walked passed a house a dog barked and growled from inside. E was very concerned, walked over to Cali, and whispered, "It's okay, it's okay." as she hugged her around the neck. It was a very sweet although I'm sure Cali would have preferred to put the growling dog in its place rather than be hugged by a toddler.

I'm constantly amazed that I get the privilege of being this girl's mama. It's amazing how so much sweetness, stubborness, and personality can be wrapped into such a tiny package.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome, Fall!

It's hard to believe September is here! I'm both sad and a little relieved that this whirlwind of a summer is coming to an end. In the last three months, we have celebrated upcoming births, new babies, first birthdays, third birthdays, and 30th birthdays with our dear friends, thrown E her first party, picked strawberries and peaches and blackberries and cherries, dog-sat for friends, had family visit from Taiwan, sipped coffee and devoured meals with some amazing people, decorated a new toddler bedroom for E, enjoyed a week at the beach in Stone Harbor, hosted countless toddler play dates, frequented the new Asian noodle restaurant in town, reconnected with old friends and deepened relationships with close friends, worked very long hours, relaxed in my parents gorgeous new pool, and adopted a cat. As an introvert who enjoys rhythm and routine, this summer has been stretching, but it's been good. Really, really good. We've been overwhelmed with our community of friends and wouldn't trade the time we've invested in each other's lives for the world.

I'm ready for the calm that I'm hoping and praying September will bring, while remaining so thankful for the community we share. We have some wonderful things planned for this season that I'm really looking forward to. I'm hoping that this fall will be a season of growing in relationships and simplifying and slowing down to focus on what's important. Welcome, Fall!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Meet Jill

In the Chou household, we have been hopelessly and embarrassingly losing a battle. In the last year, I think the score is roughly Chous:3 to Mice:1,325,600.

That's a rough estimate, but the pesky rodents just won't leave us alone. We've learned that after catching a few in the same trap, they wise up and avoid that trap and we need to find a different one. We've learned that the second (and third, forth, fifth, and sixth) mouse really does get the cheese and great bait only worsens our problems. We've learned that mice might not like peppermint essential oil and ultrasonic repellents, but they can certainly live with them. We've learned that all three of my dogs can sleep through me screaming as a mouse runs toward my feet. We've learned that mice don't really care if a doberman growls at them. We've learned that we are most definitely the weakest link. 

As the only house without cat(s) on our block, we've become a safe haven for these pesky rodents. As much as I'm a huge fan of rescuing animals in need, I've become increasingly frustrated with being the neighborhood mouse refuge. We are admittedly much more "dog people" than "cat people," but we were suddenly eyeing every adoptable cat and warming up to the idea of housing a feline.

Then we heard about Jill, an adorable two year old Scottish Fold who found herself in need of a home. After researching the breed and finding that they were great with kids and dogs, my mom and I went to meet her. We were met by the sweetest, friendliest group of cats we had ever encountered, and not only did I end up taking Jill, but my mom fell in love with another cat, and we now both have new kitties.

Jill warmed up to E almost immediately, and she's gotten to know the puppies as well. She greeted Titus, our Doberman, with a swat across his nose the first time they got close enough to sniff, and she's been regretting that decision ever since. She's ready for a friend and playmate, but he has yet to forgive and move on. Jill's still working on warming up to her new environment, but we're hopeful that in addition to being a great part of our family, she'll scare away/kill/eat/torture all of our unwanted rodents.

A Week at the Beach

There's something so refreshing and life-giving about Stone Harbor. The town is quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. Time away from the routine of home and work and toddler tantrums is always so welcome. Despite an unfortunately-timed project for work this year, we managed to enjoy the sand, tidal pools, waves, sun, and delicious restaurants. E enjoyed the undivided attention from aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and managed to behave herself for the most part despite the inevitable spoiling. 

Since E's first exposure to the sun and sand when she was all of six months old, she's been in love with the beach. My wonderful father asked her if she was ready for the beach a full week before we left (thanks, dad!) and every single time I buckled her into her car seat that week, she'd ask, "Beach? Go to beach?!" She was bouncing off the walls all night before we left, and thankfully slept for the entire car ride there. As we pulled up to the beach house, she immediately woke up and excited exclaimed, "beach!!" I'm not sure if she smelled the fresh ocean air or if it was just coincidentally great timing, but it was adorable. She spent her days on the beach with Grandma, Aunt Kristin, and Daddy, playing in the waves and the sand, and her evenings walking into town and enjoying gelato and petting every puppy she could find.

Yup, that's the same swimsuit from last year. One of the many advantages of having a petite girl.