Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Birthday wishes


You are two years old. I can't believe it. It seems impossible that another year has gone by even faster than the first one. A year ago, I was writing your birthday post and feeling bittersweet about the end of your babyhood. You were learning to walk, saying a few words, and sporting a whopping two teeth. I don't know how it happened without me noticing, but at some point during the last year, you became a toddler. This morning I told you happy birthday and you responded, "I so HAPPY!" Now you don't just walk, you run and dance. You speak in full sentences. You draw and pretend that your scribbles are words and pictures. You sing. Sometimes I can almost see the wheels in your head turning as you make a new discovery. It's so amazing to watch you soak up the world around you. You know your ABC's, can recognize some letters and numbers, and can count to 30, if you're in the mood.

Speaking of moods, you have a lot of them. And they change faster than the weather. You can throw a mean temper tantrum. But most of the time, you're sweet and loving and energetic. I can't tell you how many people have described you as "full of life." Your personality and spirit haven't changed over the last year, but they've crystalized somehow, and I feel like I know you so much better now. You love to play with baby dolls, put together puzzles, watch videos (mostly home videos of yourself, but also Shrek 2, Elmo, and Dora), read books, dance, play music, ride piggyback, and bounce on just about anything (couches, beds, yoga balls, trampolines, you name it).    

You bring us more joy than I could ever express in words. I love that you understand so much of what's going on in the world, because it means that you can give more back to it. You are funny, intelligent, compassionate, and creative. I know I'm biased, but I believe you're going to make a difference in this world. Tonight you blew out your candles on your cupcake (with some help) and we told you to make a wish. As you grinned back at us, all I could think about were my wishes for you. I wish for you to be confident in who you are and content with your place in the world. I wish for you to feel challenged and fulfilled in whatever you choose to spend your time on. I wish for you to find true love, make the best choices, and get the most out of life. But above all, I wish for you to be safe, healthy, and happy, and for you to know how very much you are loved. Happy Birthday, sweet girl. 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Halloween: the primate edition

Halloween was a lot different this year than last year. For starters, Marla was big enough to get dressed up and hit the neighborhood for trick or treating. Also, she was actually enthusiastic about her costume this year. In fact, she was downright obsessed with it. Whenever I took it out, she would carry it around, hug it, kiss it, feed it, and basically treat it like her best friend.

You look hungry, monkey. Have some banana.

Of course, on the big night, it didn't seem quite as special. Wearing a costume isn't as much fun as hauling it around, after all.
She got a little more fired up once we got outside. (Don't be fooled by the cute Halloween decorations in the background here... we're actually posing in front of our next door neighbor's house.)

I can't say she really "got" the whole trick or treating thing, but she was a great sport about it. We only went to 10-15 houses, simply because the attention span of an almost two-year-old doesn't allow for much more. And we got tired of corraling her to front doors when she'd rather be stomping through landscaping or vandalizing pumpkins.

We made the mistake of allowing her to open a Kit Kat and a sucker after the first house. She carried the same two pieces of candy around for the entire evening, which made for a very sticky costume by the end of the night.
All in all, it was a very successful Halloween. Here she is lounging with her monkey costume and enjoying the fruits of her labor.


Little Miss Independent

It took almost two years of training, but Marla finally smiles for the camera (sometimes). The proof is below:

This is seriously a huge deal for me. For the past year, pretty much every picture of her smiling is either a coincidence or the result of copious distraction techniques. Next step: getting her to sit still long enough to actually snap a decent shot while she smiles AT THE SAME TIME.

She's getting more into pretend play lately. She talks on the phone ("Ho? Are you?" = "Hello? How are you?"), pretends to apply make up, talks to her baby dolls and stuffed animals, etc. She also likes trying things on. This includes glasses, hats, clothes, jewelry, etc. Here she is in one of Dad's shirts.  

She's gotten extremely independent. Apparently this is normal for her age, but Jeff and I suspect she may have inherited more of my personality than we originally thought. She insists on doing everything herself, whether it's walking down the stairs, putting on mittens, drinking from a cup, reading a book, or singing a song.  

One of her favorite activities is drawing and coloring, and talking about what she's creating. She'll sit at her table and pretend to write her name, saying "Maya Mae Schmidt... that's you!" (She has trouble with her r's, so Marla Rae comes out Maya Mae.)

Some of my favorite Marla expressions of late:
  • "Watch a biddy-bo!" = Watch a video
  • "See Maya, see Maya!" = Her refrain whenever I point a camera at her; she's also started dragging the camera case around and asking to "see Maya" regularly
  • "Mama go"; "Mama sit"; "Mama carry you"; "Mama come with you" = a small sample of her many bossy instructions
  • "Hun-ee!" = I'm hungry (she usually wails this in the middle of the night in an attempt to persuade us to take her downstairs to play)
  • "Weed a book" = Read a book
  • "Oh no! Fall down yet. Yay Maya!" = Praising herself for building a tower of blocks that "hasn't fallen down yet"
  • "Hot! Sun in eyes. Mama turn wound." = The sun is in my eyes. Turn the car around.
  • "Beep beep. Out way, cars!" = Get out of the way, cars (this is her response when we stop at a stoplight or stop sign. I have no idea where she learned it...)
  • "Maya funny!" = Marla's funny (usually after she does something naughty. Again, where does she get this stuff?)
  • "I got it" = Her reaction when she drops a toy, like "I got it, no big deal." This seems like such an adult thing to say, it cracks me up every time.
I could go on and on. She's gotten so verbal and can communicate really well. It's so much fun, and also bittersweet, because my baby is truly a toddler now. Below are a couple of videos showcasing her counting and alphabet skills. You'll notice her independent streak in the second video when she seriously scolds me for praising her and helping her sing. What was I thinking?? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Polka Pots

As Marla gets better and better at talking, I'm finding myself feeling sad when she actually pronounces things correctly. In an attempt to capture this stage, I'm trying to get some of my favorite words and phrases on video. Here are a couple recent ones: "polka pots" and "I dub-oo."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roughing it

Last month, I brought Marla to the annual Terwilliger family camping trip at Interstate Park near Taylor's Falls, MN. We only stayed one night, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well Marla did and very proud of myself for sleeping in a tent for the first time in several years. The last time I camped, a tornado hit the campground one night and a skunk showed up the other night, so I wasn't exactly eager for a wilderness experience. But I do believe in the value of camping, at least for kids, so I hope to do it every once in a while in the future.

Ah, the majestic St. Croix River.

Not surprisingly, Marla wanted nothing more than to float away in the river. Thank goodness Grandma was there to hold her back.

She had a blast getting really, really, really dirty.

And sitting in her super special frog camping chair from Auntie Alisa. (Notice the giant scrape on her nose. She'd taken a face plant into the sidewalk earlier that week.)

The Terwilliger family isn't exactly gender-balanced. In fact, girls are kind of an anomaly with this crowd. She had a great time with all the boy cousins.

Loving the great outdoors!

Loving Grandma!

Loving water fountains! 


We took a vacation to North Carolina's Outer Banks at the end of July. It was our first "real" vacation since Marla was born, and it was exactly what we all needed. It was a perfect mixture of relaxation and fun activities. Marla had a blast, the weather was fabulous, and I got my ocean beach fix. I highly recommend the OBX to anyone, especially anyone with young children.

I miss it so much.

We rented a condo in Duck, NC. Duck is one of the northernmost towns in the Outer Banks. Our condo complex was right on the beach, which made it easy to hit the beach every day, sometimes two or three times a day.
Here's our living room. Marla is watching the Elmo DVD that we brought for her. Speaking of which, Jeff and I both nearly poked our own eyes out by the end of the week, having watched that DVD at least 20 times. I really hope this child develops a taste for other TV characters soon.
We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the condo, and usually ate dinner out at a restaurant. Marla practiced big kid stuff such as sitting in a chair to eat...
And sleeping in a real bed! We did push chairs up against the bed to prevent her from falling out (although she still did fall out one night). She loved sleeping in a big bed, but is clearly not ready for one yet.

We did a little non-beach sightseeing each day, including touring the Wright Brothers Memorial, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Currituck County Lighthouse, and Jockey Ridge State Park.
Here's Jeff and Marla walking along the Wright Brothers' first flight track.
Wright Brothers Memorial

Our favorite part of the vacation was the beach, naturally. Marla loved the water and playing in the sand. She had no fear of the ocean whatsoever, and since the Atlantic current is pretty strong, the experience was both exciting and scary. Keeping her from getting swept out to sea was a constant battle. But at least we got a good workout.

We had lots of great food, including very fresh seafood and genuine North Carolina barbeque.

I took nearly 400 photos, so this post doesn't really do the trip justice. I'll leave you with a small sample of our week. What an awesome vacation!


The state fair, Wisconsin style

This post is about two months after the fact, but still worth it. This year was my first experience at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. Coming from Minnesota, home of the best state fair in the world, I wasn't sure what to expect. It turns out the Wisconsin fair is actually pretty perfect for toddlers. It's small, but not so small that it lacks all-important fair staples like barn animals and lots of fried food.

Marla LOVED feeding the donkeys, goats, and llamas. And they LOVED her for not eating all the pellets herself (though she tried).

I was a little uneasy letting her ride a carnival ride alone, especially since the only thing holding her down was a nylon strap. But she did a fantastic job sitting in the car. Even though her face was completely expressionless throughout the ride, she insisted on riding the cars again afterwards.

She was more interested in Grandma's cotton candy than the corn dog I gave her.

Still just not sure about people dressed as animals. Maybe next year.

Her grandma, monkey, and pacifier. What more could a girl want?

She rode the merry-go-round once with me and cried the whole time. She rode it twice more with Grandma and was all smiles. Guess it's all about the company you keep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Every day Marla does something new and/or funny and/or cute and I think that I need to document it on the blog... and it doesn't happen. My only excuse is that this has been the busiest summer in recent memory. Here's an attempt at catching up on the last couple months.

She has a great appetite, especially for cheese, hot dogs, sandwiches, yogurt, ketchup, eggs, mac and cheese, spaghetti, and pizza. But her favorite is always fruit, making me feel better about all the other processed stuff. Here she is eating some watermelon on Memorial Day.

She's very social, especially with other kids. Lately she's more likely to hug, kiss, and high five than she is to hit or bite, which I count as major progress. Here she is giggling with her cousin Brennan.

Taking a stroll with some very protective "big girls" at Grandma Susie's house.

Giving her cousin Bailey some love.

Speaking of friends, she said goodbye to a few last month when we switched to a new daycare. Tanner was her first real friend. Marla calls him "Tee-tee" and though we haven't seen him for almost two months, his name still comes up every once in a while.

As much as she misses Tanner and her teacher, I think what she misses the most about her old daycare is a toy clock music box. The staff kept it locked up most of the time to prevent too many fights between her and the other kids.

She still loves to read more than anything and seems to have most of her books memorized. I'm also continually amazed at her language development. She tries to say almost any word she encounters, and it's so much fun to communicate with her more and more. There are too many words/phrases to capture in a single post, but here are some of my current favorites:
"Foffer" = flower
"Up dee-dee" = upsie-daisy
"Namma" = Grandma
"Bumpa" = Grandpa
"I no-no" = I don't know
"Ho-ho" = uh-oh
"Ebbow" = elbow
"Bee-bee" = belly button
"Umbebba" = umbrella
"Tee-pee" = toothbrush (or toothpaste)
"Anenna" = antenna
"Hal" = help
"Pee?" = please
"Fuf um" = I love you (I know that one's a stretch, but it's an honest attempt!)

I spent a week in Madison for a training in June and Jeff and Marla came to stay for a few days. We took her swimming in the hotel pool and ever since she calls any large body of water a "poo."

We also got her a water table and kiddie pool for the back patio. This has made some of the summer's excessively hot days a little more tolerable.

She's been mimicking lots of adult behaviors lately. She'll put phones to her ear and say "Ho?", apply pretend lipstick, and feed just about anything (baby dolls, stuffed animals, pictures in books, you name it). Here she is trying on Daddy's shoes and sweeping the floor. 

She LOVES to swing. If I ask her what she wants to do, she almost always responds, "Par. Wing!" (park, swing). 

She continues to climb and stand on everything. She has heard me warn her so many times that she now beats me to the punch: "cay-pul!" (careful). She likes to drag this shape sorter over to the couch and use it as a step stool. On the bright side, at least she's resourceful.