Kayleigh is 3

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I'm taking a pause from our thank you blogs (yes, I'm still doing them even though they're quite a bit backlogged) to celebrate our first born's 3rd birthday. It was quite a whirlwind weekend for us (when Kayleigh is at the center of the activities, she has a way of making us feel that way even if it wasn't the intention) for several reasons. First of all, for the 4th November IN A ROW, we have had a birthday where the family gets sick. The November that Kayleigh was born was the WORST fall for my sinus infections. I had one during labor/delivery (and haven't had one since, PRAISE GOD!). Following labor for me, while we were still amidst the feeding adjustments, etc, Steve came down with a flu bug. On Kayleigh's 1st birthday, the entire family (including poor K) had fevers around 103-104 and were unable to keep down water. For her 2nd birthday, we skated through the event free of illness BUT, beginning at Daddy's birthday dinner (November 30th), the entire family went down with the stomach flu, beginning with baby Ben. This year the birthday girl was the first to present symptoms. On Wednesday, she had a fever of 103 and complete exhaustion. She napped for 4 hours and woke up fine. Steve and I proceeded with caution, and she was fever free for 24 hours. BUT, again, on Thursday at noon ... more fevers, more lethargy ... never any other symptoms. At any rate, this weird fever and no other symptoms spread through the whole family until we discovered (on day 3) the ummm other kind of flu. It passed quickly, and wise or unwise, we kept everything on the agenda. Hopefully, dear family, we haven't spread the joy on to all of you.

Anyway, Kayleigh had 3 birthday "events" for her 3rd birthday celebration. (No, we don't expect this to continue for subsequent birthdays ... it's just how this one worked out). Steve and I have developed a tradition with her (beginning last year) to do dinner alone with the birthday child followed by something "fun." This year it was our plan to take Kayleigh to dinner, follow up with a toy from Meijer (of her choosing), and then come home for movie night (We bought her The Lion King on Blu-Ray). Since she had been so miserable on Wednesday, we did movie night on birthday eve and saved the dinner/toy for Thursday. When we went to pick up Ben after Kayleigh's date, she got a surprise from Michael, Chelsea and Alexa. They had candles in her birthday cupcakes and sang to her (oh was she so happy about that). AND Michael and Chels got her a Minnie Mouse Bow-tique cash register (she still keeps the key hidden and tucked safely away from everyone). She had plenty of moments to feel spoiled and special that day, and all day long kept sighing and saying, "Oh Mommy ... thank you for my birthday." A few times her tenderness and sincerity would catch me off guard and I would whisper quietly to God, "No, thank YOU for this birthday." She's truly a blessing, and we loved spoiling her.

Friday night it was my parents' turn to get in some spoiling. We drove Kayleigh up to Logan's on Alpine (she LOVES peanut restaurants) so she could have a dinner out with Grandpa and Grammy. Then we went back to my parents' place in Walker for presents and Coldstone cupcakes. Kayleigh and Daddy were feeling a little sick, yet, so they didn't enjoy the cupcakes so much (but Ben and Mommy didn't have trouble taking care of their portions). Kayleigh loved her clothes from Grammy (on the way home she commented on how soft her faux fur coat was and how much fun she was going to have getting ready for school with her clothes) and her new music player-book and beads. We still haven't opened the bead set yet ... it'll be a special occasion when we do!

On Saturday I baked a birthday cake (probably one of the worst ones I've attempted ... I need to get the proper tools now that my sis in law is in NH and I can't borrow hers) and we did make-your-own pizzas with the Van Dyk family. Kayleigh was THOROUGHLY spoiled by all of the attention from her two Aunties, Uncle Dan, Grandma and Great Grandpa Van Dyk. She even got to Skype (though she wasn't very attentive) with Grandpa, who couldn't make the party. She had a wonderful time and was thoroughly spoiled with lots of books, games, and clothes. Today we must have played EVERY GAME (except checkers) in the 8-game Princess Game Set ... her favorite is princess BINGO. (Oh, and for the Van Dyk family who read this, we played a TWO ENTIRE FAMILY, yup Benner too, games of Hi-Ho Cherry-O THE PROPER WAY ... and Kayleigh won both times ...)

It was a fun weekend, but as I'm explaining to friends now, here comes the hard part ... Kayleigh needs to understand that her birthday has stopped. We aren't going to keep singing Happy Birthday to her every day, and she can't get candy/toys/balloons/an excuse to not share with Ben indefinitely. This should be a fun week to remind her of all of those rules ;)

Here are some of my favorite photos from this weekend of birthday fun:

[caption id="attachment_1297" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Helping to bake her birthday cake"][/caption]












[caption id="attachment_1298" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="...with her new Columbia Fleece from Grandpa and Grandma V"][/caption]

















oh, and one of Boo Boo too :)











I have no pictures of our Wednesday night movie night (who wants pictures of their sick little girl anyway) and I don't have any of our Friday night dinner with my parents (Mom???). BUT, if I get any updates from that, I'll be sure to edit and re-share. It was a fun weekend, and we are happy to have our princess, Kayleigh!

"I need my best friend to help me ..."

by Kristi Van Dyk in

My kids get on my nerves sometimes. I don't want to make this blog a place where all I remember are the good things ... (More on that in a future post) BUT today was one of those days that I need to remember, one I need to treasure. Because, lets face it, there are plenty of days that kick your butt. Today began as most days do ... we were late. I got up late, the kids got up late, breakfast took extra long ... but there was one big difference. Kayleigh had her first day alone at Pre-K today. So, we had a deadline. We couldn't do our usual leisurely morning.

At about 8:40 (a little TOO close for comfort) we left the house. Perhaps because Kayleigh can tell when I'm stressed, or perhaps just because it was her day ... she was feeling a little anxious about school. Here's the ensuing dialogue ...

"Mommy, I need a friend to help me at school." "Kayleigh, Maestra Poortenga and Maestra Gonzales are right there to help you, all of the time. you just have to ask." "But Mommy, I need YOU to help me." "Kayleigh, part of going to school is learning to do things without Mommy. You get to learn to make new friends."

Pause to digest this information ... "Mommy, I think Benny wants to come to school with me. Benner? You want to come don't you?" "YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH" (Shrieks Ben) "See, Mommy, Benner will come help me at school today." "Kayleigh, I'm sure Ben would love nothing more than to come with you, but he's too little yet. He doesn't know how to use the potty, and he doesn't know how to do the big kid things you can do." "Oh ..."

More time to digest ...

"I will teach him now." Then through an approximately 10 minute monologue, all the way to school, Kayleigh taught Benjamin about the "basics" of class. I heard highlights about "coloring carefully inside the lines," and "using the SAFETY scissors to cut paper quickly" and about how when you hear the music you "Must go sit down by the teachers and not cry and cry about it." She told him "you have to sit very still and very quiet" and listen to the "great music like 'stentadito como pretzel...'"

This was all punctuated every so often with questions like, "Do you like that Roo? Wouldn't you want to do that? Doesn't that sound so fun Roo Boo?"

After all that teaching, we pulled into the parking lot and she said, "Mommy, I think Benny is ready now. I teached him all I could about school. He needs to come with me because I need my best friend to help me at my Spanish school."

INSTANT TEARS!!! "I need my best friend to help me..." Yes, yes they are best friends and how precious that not just the baby misses his big sis, the big sis misses her brother.

On the way out of school Ben kept looking over his shoulder for Kayleigh. When I didn't put her in the carseat, he pointed and screamed ... "DITTER!! DITTER!!! EEEASEEE!!!"


He did better without her today (mostly because I kept him busy at the grocery store), but when I said it's time to get Kayleigh he ran as fast as he could to grab his shoes and fairly tumbled out the back door. When we got to school I let him walk and he took off FULL SPEED towards her classroom. I had to pick him up or he would have been in the room and over to her as fast as lightning. After we greeted her, he started calling "hand ... hand..." which usually means he wants help walking. I stuck out a hand while listening to Kayleigh chatter about "all the crazy things I did today." Ben smacked it away and walked to Kayleigh ... "hand ... hand ..."

... and with that the day at Pre-K was forgotten, the day at the store was forgotten and my two "best friends" walked down the hall hand in hand. ... (for about 2 minutes until she took off running ...)

Sigh ... Thanks Jesus for today :) ... and "the best friends."

Our first day as parents at KCES ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

We have been awaiting this day since the middle of February, when Steve and I decided to enroll Kayleigh. She has worked so hard to be ready to go to school, that I was pretty sure she was NEVER going to sleep last night. She FINALLY drifted off somewhere around 11:30 p.m.!!! She woke up several times in the middle of the night, for various reasons, and was up and out of her room by 7:35 a.m. She opened the door, peaked her cute blonde head out the door and said, "Is it time to go to the bagel restaurant yet??" I had fully intended to make my big pre-schooler a fun "first day of school" breakfast. I bought all of the ingredients for oven french toast and was ready to go when Steve said, "Kristi, she's not going to eat that ..." And sadly, he's probably right. My little girl's idea of a special breakfast is "chocolate toast" (or Nutella). A cinnamon sugar bagel is about as close to a "special" meal as she will eat, let alone on a day as exciting as this ... So, I sniffled a bit and decided that Daddy was right ... Big Apple it would be.

We got Kayleigh all dressed in her new "first day" outfit, put her backpack on her and took a BUNCH of pictures before leaving.








The whole ensemble ...











With her Mommy, who let Daddy go to school ... (It killed me to stay at home, but let's be real, I'll be able to visit/drop her off much more often than he will, so, it was his day ...)








After breakfast, Kayleigh and Daddy took off while Mommy and Benjamin went home. I found it difficult to occupy my time because I kept watching the clock, wondering what they'd be doing at each moment. I tried to focus on playing with Benjamin, who wanted NOTHING to do with me. Instead, he searched every nook and cranny of the house looking for "Yayeigh" when he couldn't find her, he resigned himself to sulking in a chair with his bears. I finally found him so pathetic, that I turned on a Mickey for him and let him sulk in peace while I reorganized a closet :). While we were at home having that adventure, here's a few "winners" that Daddy took at school.








Yup, pretty much have tears flowing while looking at that big girl ...








I imagine she was saying something like, "Daddy, just one more picture. I have to color one more thing."










Clearly Mommy has failed in teaching her how to use safety scissors, oops ...








Making her handprint with Maestra Gonzales.








Her locker (or, more accurately, her locker "neighbor" ... ). I'm sure she'll figure it out soon enough.

According to Daddy, she had 2 1/2 meltdowns throughout the 1 hour she was there. One Daddy claimed as his own fault. The other, well, let's just say we're going to practice going quietly to circle time when Maestra says so and not crying because we can't play with toys anymore.

All in all, we're excited for our year and so so thankful that Kalamazoo Christian Elementary has adopted the  Spanish Immersion program through add.a.lingua. We're thrilled about the possibilities for Kayleigh, and are excited to watch her emerge from elementary school, bilingual. Here's to an exciting year.

Little Miss Perfect and Captain Destructo

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I can't believe it's been over a month since I made it a priority to sit down and blog. Then again, when I think about what's happened in the last month in our lives, I guess it's not so surprising. I went from rarely leaving the kids, to leaving for 2-3 hours a day to help coach tennis. The kids met two new regular babysitters (and a few other helpful friends who stand in when the regulars can't make it). Their schedules look different EACH day, something that is NOT normal for them. The weather dictates our lives on almost an hourly basis (nap early because tennis outside? Nap normal because it's cancelled, nap early because it's inside and they're coming along, nap regular because Chelsea is coming and we have some stability, etc). In the midst of all of that, we have been enjoying watching Benjamin figure out how to move. Plus, we went to Florida on vacation (and a day at the Magic Kingdom), fixed our broken transmission in the van, and had lots of family visits with both sides all over West Michigan. BUT, in that time, our little man has figured out how to make life even more chaotic. Ben's size gets in the way of his movement to a large degree. His legs and arms simply can't support his head and the weight of his upper body in a traditional crawl. Therefore, he's an army crawler. It's not nearly fast enough to suit his disposition, so he usually whines/cries/whimpers as he moves (or gives up entirely and just rolls there). He's also learned how to stand supported AND take a few steps while holding on to Mommy/Daddy's hands. He is SO proud of himself, but again, he's not learning fast enough to suit himself. His little disposition desires MORE movement, and not later, NOW! It's like he went, overnight, from being content to sit to being furious that he can't be everywhere at once.

To top it all off, he's not just interested in moving to explore, he's interested in moving to DESTROY. Each time he encounters a new object he bangs on it, beats on it, throws it, or pounds it with another object. It's almost instinctive to him .. pick something up, attempt to break it or destroy it. This is hilarious to his parents, but quite mortifying to his older sister (who would honestly never THINK of destroying ANYTHING.) In fact, Kayleigh makes it her goal to put the room in order, fix up all puzzles, put together all toys (with their corresponding pieces), re-assemble all blocks, etc before going to bed. Ben makes it his personal mission, as soon as Kayleigh has finished "perfecting" something to roll/army crawl right on over and bash it in. She is usually crushed and begins scolding him right away. He then gets scared and cries and Mommy has to intervene.

I love trying to watch them work it out in their own way, but I know that it's my job to teach them how to respect the differences in each other. I'm sure it's going to take some time, but Kayleigh can certainly learn a little from Ben's curious, strong nature - one that isn't afraid to explore, touch and take control. Benjamin can certainly learn a few lessons from his big sister - her desire to respect property, find a place for everything, and wait and assess the situation to make certain it is safe. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the God-given differences between my baby boy and my little girl.

Together they create the best celebration of life. I'm so blessed that I get to watch it ... We sum it up best together with our little "family" cheer. Benjamin's first, true, clear, you can understand it from another room word is "YEAH!!!!" It's always accompanied by clapping and huge smiles. Kayleigh and I get so excited when we hear it that we do the same cheer and clap along with him. This excites him, his entire body shakes from head to toe and he repeats his little cheer. We do this about 100 times each day ... each time I try to treasure a little piece of these moments in my heart. I know it won't be long before they're totally not interested in celebrating together (or with me).

I know I'll have some great pictures to post soon from our cousins matching Easter Sunday ... Have a blessed Easter season, remembering the sacrifice of Christ that gives us reason to celebrate all of life.

Top 10 of 2010 - stolen idea

by Kristi Van Dyk in

So a blogger friend of mine, Rebecca Marcus, received a challenge from a blogger friend of hers - post your top 10 pictures of 2010. I thought it sounded like a fun challenge. So, here I go, in reverse order #10. Cousins Christmas - I love my family - all of them ... and the "Cousins" Christmas picture is a tradition at least 28 years running (I have evidence of one with Justin and I when I'm just 1 year old). Passing it on the to cousins' kids, who still manage to make a point to get together no matter how difficult, is super special. So, here's a copy I had of the Badeau Cousins' Kids Christmas: (from L to R: Benjamin Van Dyk, Kayleigh Van Dyk, Kirsten Nichols, Zoe Scott, Rachelle Nichols, Andrew Nichols and Jonathan Nichols ... just outside camera range: Ryan Creswell)

9. The Kids Love the iPad - During a tornado warning - mid day in the fall - the kids went to the basement with both kitties. I needed something to keep them occupied for an extended period of time while I watched the weather on the tv. As the toys ran dry, I pulled out Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad. The kids, snuggling together with the iPad, is representative of our 2010 for several reasons - K's growing obsession with Mickey and the fact that nothing brings my kids together like watching a little tv. :)

8. Food Attacks Benjamin - Our friend, Cabeto, titled this picture for us. He lives in Costa Rica and gets pictures through my father-in-law (and from my facebook). He mostly sees pictures of (as he says it), "Ben-yamin (spelled as he pronounces it and is SO sweet), I always see you getting attacked by food!"  So, here is our boy, doing what our boy does better than any baby I ever saw .. EAT!!! It describes him now as well because he refuses bottles in favor of any solid food. So, to our eater, Benjamin:

7. Cousin's Playdates I have a bunch of cute pictures of our kids with their cousin, Ryan, on playdates. BUT throughout 2010 this is the only one I have of all 3 of them together. We ended up putting them together to capture the Maranatha tie-dye onesies that Mom and I made during our week at Maranatha. So, though the kids aren't particularly "Active" in this picture, it's the best of all three of them and reminds me of all the blessings Thursdays with Ryan bring.

6. Benjamin's Miles of Smiles We had formal pictures taken in the fall in order to get a surprise Christmas present for Grammy Creswell. Kristen Worst from Tsakani Studios took them for us (she had done our family photos in July as well). She was super patient with all three kids, who had a collective ROTTEN day. BUT, right at the beginning Benjamin was whipping off the smiles. She caught about 5 in a row that were just fantastic. Here's my favorite:

5. The Waves with Grammy - Over Labor Day weekend we hit both family "getaways." Each time we took a few photos, and, from that weekend, three are on the top 10 list. Steve did a fantastic job of shooting special moments. This one reminds me of Maranatha, which was, my refuge this summer. I spent two full weeks there and several other day/evening trips in order to have help with the kids while Steve put in long hours at work. Kayleigh loved her time there, especially at the beach ... Steve is tempted to enter this one in a photo contest. It's so beautiful.

4. Benny and Grandpa - This is another one of the "Labor Day Cottage Tour" pictures. It's beautiful because they are both so unaware. But it also captures how thoroughly the two have bonded. I don't know if it was the week when Benjamin screamed for hours straight and Grandpa took him for walks, or if it is their uncanny similarities in behavior. Both Grandpa C and Benny are largely content wherever they are. They love watching what's going on around them, but don't have to be part of the action to enjoy it. "Being" is simply enough for both of them and I think that's what makes Grandpa C gravitate to Ben so quickly ... I adore this photo ...

3. Our Little Model - Steve took this photo at the Frederick Meijer Gardens in their Children's Garden. Kayleigh went with Great Grandpa Van Dyk as his "birthday" present from our kids. Kayleigh ADORED walking the grounds with him, and taking him by the hand around to everything that was fun for her. We mostly snapped pictures of the special time the two were able to have. It's especially sweet because Kayleigh is named for her Great Grandma Van Dyk. Harriet Elaine (though she went by Elaine only) was diagnosed with cancer while we were early pregnant with K. As  Elaine's condition grew worse, Steve and I were more and more convinced that our little girl needed to bear her name. Elaine fought long and hard and managed to meet her great granddaughter before she went home to be with her Lord. Nevertheless, each time we see Great Grandpa with his little buddy Kayleigh Elaine, we think of Great Grandma. Here's our Kayleigh Elaine on her date with Great Grandpa

2. Benjamin views the Lake - This picture took our breath away when we first uploaded it. It has captured my attention each time I sneak past it in a photo search. Benjamin is searching the lake and the camera lens caught the lake reflected in his gorgeous blue eyes. Steve's favorite place in the world is his parents' cottage. I know it means the world to him when the kids are able to go there and enjoy themselves. So, for Ben to be enjoying himself so much at his Daddy's favorite place ... it's the stuff a mother loves to see.

1. Family Togetherness - I didn't think my top 10 would be complete without something breathtaking of the two kids together. BUT since the BEST photo of the two of them that I have is from their bath time ... I figured I'd have to get back to the drawing board. Posting naked baby photos, however innocently intended, is NOT a smart idea (as my husband reminds me continuously). Therefore, I selected this photo, from Christmas Eve. It contains my 3 favorite people in the whole wide world and they're all together, happily. Thanks God, for this amazing year, and this amazing little family.

Happy New Year, friends ... from Steve, Kristi, Kayleigh and Benjamin Van Dyk!

Over half way through ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

My Benjamin is 7 months old today! It's so hard to believe that he's more than half way finished with his crazy "first year" of life. I know so many fun "firsts" are just around the corner for him, and I look forward to enjoying them. Here's what we see with Ben lately: Eating: He's on 3 meals a day: An 8 oz bottle at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m, and he follows the bottle with at least a 1/2 cup of solid foods - he has homemade rice cereal with apples or bananas for added flavor, at least a 1/4 of a cup of fruit and 1/4 cup of vegetable for lunch (Usually, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, apples or bananas), and then either eggs (his favorite) or chicken (his very least favorite) for dinner with another helping of vegetables. He enjoys working on putting "puffs" in his mouth but can't quite make it. His sister is VERY willing to help him out (and then sneak a few handfuls herself). We are also working on getting him to drink from a sippy cup, like Kayleigh we're starting with a straw cup and will move him to the other sippy later. So far, he can get it out of the cup but can't quite keep it in his mouth.

Sleeping: Ben's sleeping schedule hasn't changed much since his 6 month, except that he almost never takes a 3rd nap now. So, he naps about 1.5-2 hours around 10 and then 2-2.5 hours around 2 or 2:30. I've bumped Kayleigh back an hour (selfishly) so that they can still nap at the same time. It makes for a long crazy morning, but errands are a LITTLE more possible now that we moved the nap back a smidge. Ben still goes to bed around 7:30 (and not much later or he'll let you know just how unhappy he can get), and while I'm certain he wakes around 6:45, for Mommy's sanity, he stays in bed until 7:30 at the earliest.

Growth: Benjamin is proving to be intensely social. He loves smiling at people (mostly girls) and causing the giggle factor to erupt. He loves "kisses" (where he pulls your by the ears, cheeks, hair or face straight to his forward and attempts to swallow your lips). I am fortunate enough to get them every morning when I get him out of bed. He is dissatisified until I've planted a few on each cheek and his forehead, then he will cease training to swallow my face. He also LOVES people watching. I can take him to plenty of "busy" places and he will never make a peep. He's either taking it all in or figuring out how to make people smile. He always distracts people in the grocery store or bank lines. Pretty much anywhere we have to wait I can count on him getting someone to make a fool of themselves. (I think it's his dimple). Ben also likes to MOVE ... At the point as soon as you lay him down he rolls to one side to find something to put in his mouth or bang on the floor. He enjoys sitting, but only if he's virtually covered in toys. Otherwise, he'd rather lay flat so he can roll around and try to explore new things (like the Christmas tree).

Goal areas: Work on strengthening those abs/shoulders for crawling (Mommy cries at a little at the idea of MORE mobility), continue to improve balance when sitting up, thicken up the solid foods, and work on feedings self puffs and drinking from the sippy.

And ... here's the 7 month picture comparison :)

[caption id="attachment_932" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Kayleigh Elaine, 7 months: June of 2009"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_933" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Benjamin Steven, 7 months: December 2010"][/caption]

Benjamin's 6 Month

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Physical Growth:Again, I'm still awaiting the specifics from the doctor, but, since the 5 month milestone we have burned through 9 month and 12 month clothing and are now wearing only 18 month clothing - regardless of the diaper he's wearing.  More often than not, the clothing is too short, not too tight!!! He's getting longer not just thicker.

He is not able to roll, not even the slightest bit interested in doing so. When flat on his back, he plays with toys around him by pulling them onto his chest. If I place them too far away, he simply plays with his hands, feet, or pacifier rather than trying to reach/roll for it. Kayleigh was the same way at his age, so I now he'll come around, it's just amusing that he is so contented without rolling.

He IS able to sit without assistance. We place the Boppy pillow around his legs to cushion his falls, which are still unpredictable. But, he's very strong and getting quite a bit stronger each day. All he wants to do is work on sitting, grabbing toys, and watching sister.

Social/Emotional Growth: Benjamin is a fantastic baby. He's seriously a dream. He sleeps from 7:30 p.m. until, usually, 7:30 a.m. He takes a 45 minute - 2 hour morning nap (depending on the day) starting around 9:30, and he naps again from 1-3 p.m. By 5:30 he's ready for another, short, 45 minute nap. He eats 3 "square" meals a day - 8 ozs at 8:00 a.m., 3 tbs of rice cereal plus 1 tbs of apple. At 12:00 he eats 6 oz and then 3 tbs of veggies and 2 tbs of fruit. By 4:00 he's ready for another 6 ozs and at 5:00, 3 more tbs of veggies and 2 tbs of fruit. He closes the night with another 8 oz bottle before bedtime.

He smiles CONSTANTLY, usually flashes his smile most readily at girls. He ADORES the women who give him extra snuggles in nursery and usually, really, anyone who takes the time to look him in the eye and smile.

Benny is super ticklish ... like insanely so. He can be crying and if you tickle him up under the chin, the thighs, the armpits, or even around the ribs he will squeal and giggle. He is amazing ...

Here's a little picture comparison that made me smile.

Kayleigh Elaine, 6 months in May of 2009

[caption id="attachment_919" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Benjamin Steven, 6 months, May of 2010"][/caption]

At Age 2 -

by Kristi Van Dyk in

There will be several additional "birthday" blog posts before this birthday is over - we still have 2 parties yet ... But I want to take a moment to reflect on Kayleigh's accomplishments, her developments and who she is so I can treasure it forever. I have to preface describing her with the simple statement that this age of parenting is a complete dream. It is NOT without its challenges (there are days when "terrible twos" does not even BEGIN to describe her tantrums), but as a whole, this age has been full of moments that make us laugh out loud ... and keep laughing long after. Kayleigh's Physical Growth: I'll know her stats better in a week when we do her 2 year check up at the pediatrician, but she towers over the other children in her church nursery class. Compared to her 18 month pictures, she's thinned out quite a bit ... Compared to her 1 year photos, well, she's still wearing the same clothes, so yes, she's thinning and growing so tall. We've given her one hair cut ... of course we trimmed her bangs before that, but this time we needed the back to get evened out ... She currently looks so much like a pre-schooler it makes me want to cry sometimes. Her little "bob" just bounces as she walks ... and when her bangs, which are growing quickly, cover her face, you almost get a glimpse of the future teen that will hide from eye contact underneath.

[caption id="attachment_908" align="aligncenter" width="216" caption="Kayleigh at 1 year"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_909" align="aligncenter" width="216" caption="2 years old!"][/caption]

Kayleigh's Social Growth: K loves playing with OLDER kids. She is not intimidated by the 4, 5 or even 10 year olds that we run into a public play areas. In fact, she gravitates to them over age appropriate playmates. She's also doing better with kids her age, but ... as the nursery workers at church say, "When the play gets rough, Kayleigh heads for the cupboards." She has no interest in wild, rough horse play and so she leaves the vicinity. Apparently this is a regular thing since her Bible Study nursery group consists of 6- 2 year old boys and her. Each time I pick her up she reminds me that today she "Played with toys and boys." When Kayleigh is comfortable she is very verbal around adults. As soon as she realizes you respect her ability to communicate, and will listen when she talks, the words come pouring out, sometimes in very long stories. It's amazing to me to watch her grasp for the right words. She's picked up "ummmmm" as a great filler, so while she's thinking she often employs that one just to keep the sound flowing. Here's a sample: "Good morning, Momma! I'd like to eat ... ummmmm juicy and ummmmmm ummmm chocolate milk and CHEERIOS!"

Kayleigh's Intellectual Growth: This child amazes me. I know that children progress at all different levels and stages and I will be the first to claim that high verbal skills early in life doesn't indicate a genius. But somedays I wonder just how in the world she became so smart at 2.

She is capable of remembering and recalling details from stories, events, or shows from weeks ago. She will bring them up whenever a connection warrants. (ie Mommy will humm a bit of Mickey Mouse stuck in her head. She will first launch into singing the lyrics of the entire song followed by telling me about the Goofy Robot episode and how she was scared of Goofy robot and Mommy had to turn it off).

She is capable of "pretend" play - she had a tea party with Mickey and Minnie yesterday, engaging them in conversations and appropriate actions (like thanking them for coming by giving them a hug and kiss)

She can count to 12 independently and employs counting techniques often when she sees multiple copies of an object or begins repeated action (like jumping, stepping, etc).

She can converse with me during a meal time or play time well enough to convey her needs, desires and even emotions. Most recently, "Mommy, I'm happy." (Oh really? why is that?) "It's my birthday and I'm having fun."

She adores helping ... every time I try to get in a "quick" chore (blend some previously chopped fruit/veggies, clean the bathroom, or change the load of laundry). "I'm coming too, Momma! I help too!" And she usually does.

She dispenses hugs, kisses, pleases and thanks yous almost ALWAYS at will ... sometimes she needs a prompting but she's quite good for her age.

She THINKS and problem solves ... if her path is blocked by obstacles she will find an alternate route, or if she is incapable of reaching something she uses appropriate tools (ie she can't get the crayons and Mommy is busy so she looks for her step stool, opens the door and finds it).

She follows multi-step directions. "Kayleigh, get your coat, go to the car and wait by your door." (Done ...) This is Mommy's FAVORITE!! Since Benjamin still needs help getting loaded up, this gives Mommy more free hands ... ahhh I love two year olds.

Kayleigh's Areas of Growth: Currently Kayleigh still struggles in several key areas: (1). Potty training - she WILL NOT DO IT! Though she clearly understands how and what needs to happen (2). Fear - she is developing fears of the dark, strangers, heights and separation from parents. (we haven't used a changing table in months!) (3). Disobedience - She loves to test the boundaries!!! (4). Temper - She's got one ... a fierce one ... it makes some epic battles at home sometimes ...

And that's our beautiful 2 year old ... thanks for listening, loving and caring.

Kayleigh's Birthday Date

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Steve and I are blessed to have parents and siblings who adore spoiling our children. Kayleigh has two birthday parties coming up where we know she will get spoiled with fun presents. In addition to that, her life is filled with random gifts and spoiling opportunities. So while we're able to think of "ideas" for people that are fun gifts, we don't feel the need to add more toys/clothes on to the day. Therefore, we have decided that, at least for the immediate future, Mommy and Daddy are going to give the kids a fun "date" on their actual birthday, alone ... no other siblings along. When they are older, they'll be able to choose where we go (and we can get more extravagant as age requires), but last night we designed Kayleigh's night out for her. Bri came over to watch Benjamin and after Daddy's game was over, we went out. We started at "Taco Bob's." Kayleigh adores two foods: Tacos and hot dogs. So, we talked all day about going to dinner at Taco Bob's. She was fairly skipping in to the restaurant. The man behind the counter thought it was cute that a little blonde 2 year old would want to go to a local taco restaurant on her birthday, so he gave her a Taco Bob's tatoo and her taco for free. She actually ate very little of the taco (too excited to be out with Mom and Dad), but she surely enjoyed her experience.

After dinner, we raced over to Bounceland (a place with lots of inflatable toys for kids to climb on and play and be wild on). They had an area for 0-5 year olds, but of course our child would have NONE of that. Instead, she found the biggest slides in the entire place and wanted to go down them over and over and over. It would have been endlessly amusing for Mom and Dad except for one tiny detail. Despite Kayleigh's fearLESSness in riding the MASSIVE slides, she was quite afraid of walking on the air filled surfaces. Therefore, to get  to the top of the slides, she needed to be carried. She wouldn't even crawl - it was a death grip to Mommy and Daddy's neck until she reached the top ... then she'd position herself at the top of the slide and say, "I do it myself! I do it myself!" And plummet, sometimes very uncontrollably, down the steep slide to the bottom. As soon as she regained her balance, she'd hold her arms to the exhausted parent at the bottom and it would be that person's turn (as the other made the drop down the slide themselves).

Kayleigh tried a few other toys at Bounceland, but mostly, she spent her time going up and down and up and down the "really big big big big SLIIIIIDDDDEEE." (The longer it takes you to say "slide" the bigger the slide really is!!) As half of the party responsible for our Bounceland experience, I can tell you that I learned one important lesson: 1 hour is PLENTY for a 2 year old ... or maybe it's more accurate to say 1 hour is more than enough for the 2 parents carrying the child up and down the slides. I believe I'm sore today not from the Pilates workouts but from the Bounceland climbing!!!

After ice cream, we came back and she opened her present from Great Grandpa Van Dyk. She watched a Mickey and sat on Mommy's lap (she NEVER EVER sits through a whole Mickey, staring intently) and zoned out. She went to bed quite late, but had a fantastic day.

I have a few pictures from her time with Mommy and Benjamin throughout her birthday day - but I'll blog those in a different post. Here are a few short videos of her Bounceland experience (sorry, no pics from Taco Bob's ... it was all hands on deck as we ate and kept her occupied).

11-10 Sliding with Mommy

11-10 Sliding with Daddy

Kayleigh's First Trick or Treat Experience

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Our little Minnie Mouse did fantastic. She practiced at the Trunk or Treat at Hope Reformed on Saturday night. As soon as she discovered how easily the words "Trick or Treat" got you lots of candy, she was no longer interested in being carried or holding her mother's hand. She ran from trunk to trunk, waiting patiently for someone to acknowledge her and then she'd yell proudly, TRICK OR TREAT!!! Afterwards, she rarely needed to be reminded to say her thank yous ... but then she was off and running ... Thanks to Hope Reformed for giving us a chance to "practice!" We set out again on Sunday night, just do the block by our house. She was so excited, but we got ready WAY too early. So, we did a little photo shoot while we waited. After trick or treating for about an hour, we came home and she jumped RIGHT into her candy. After surveying all of her "goodies" she decided on the popcorn ball ... yup, a popcorn ball. She closed the night (while Mommy was bathing Benny and Daddy was still passing out candy) with a couple episodes of Mickey Mouse ... and hit the hay. She was bit. Here are a few photos to capture the milestone in her little life.

[caption id="attachment_898" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Yeah, I'm not so good with the flash ... but it's her best headshot"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_899" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Raiding the loot"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_897" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Kicking back after trick or treat"][/caption]

Quotable Kayleigh

by Kristi Van Dyk in

The sentences coming out of my daughter's mouth are increasingly long and even more hilarious than the one before. She's getting very good at combining words and concepts that she knows to clearly convey the ideas she wishes to express. Here are few of the quotes and the images that captured her face when she uttered them. "Momma? It's cold. I need socks. I wear socks on hands so I not cold."

"Momma? I miss Daddy. He come sit down by Kayleigh's fire pit? I wait for Daddy to sit down by Kayleigh." (This was 10:00 a.m. ... she had a long wait that lasted less than 2 minutes)

"Momma? Momma! RafaEL in Benny boy's swing! RafaEL is swinging REALLY, REALLY HIGH!, Momma I get him." (Then proceeds to try to pick up the kitty ... I stop her to take the picture ... it was really adorable).

The final quotable requires a couple of back stories. (1). Bri babysat a while ago and Kayleigh fell in love with her silly bands. In fact, we had them, hidden in the back of Kayleigh's princess car for at least a month. Each time K happened upon them she'd go crazy and put them all over her wrists, talking the whole time about Bri's bracelets. (2). We went to return a large bag of pop bottles at the store and, as is typical, Meijers was a little flooded. 2 machines were down, 3 were full, that left 2 open for the long line of people and bottles. We patiently waited our turn (all three of us), and as we got up next, saw that two people behind us just had a few bottles. I didn't feel right letting them wait when I knew I would take forever. SO, I let the businessman go first. He took a few minutes, but after he was finished he walked up and said, "Here, you deserve this. You let me go in front of you and your little kids were so sweet. Take this return and by your sweet girl something fun."

Here's where the two collide. I walked Kayleigh down the toy section, with a businessman's bottle return burning a hole in my pocket. As we walked, eagle eye Kayleigh spotted them first.

"Momma! Mickey Mouse Silly Bandz!!! Momma! Mickey Silly bandz for KAYLEIGH!!! (This continued until I finally saw them and grabbed them ... exactly the amount we had from the businessman)." I grabbed the bands and after checkout gave my little girl her treasured bands. Her first words of gratitude??? "Show Bi Bi!!! Momma, take picture to show Bi Bi Mickey Mouse Silly Bandz"

Here's the pic we texted to Bri:

It's that time AGAIN ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

October 17th marks Benjamin's 5 month birthday. That means it's time to dig through Kayleigh's old pictures and put up a side by side comparison. I love these because people literally stop me at the grocery store to comment on how large my son is. Yet, when I put him side by side with his sister at the same age ... he doesn't seem quite so big ... Well, definitely not as fat! Kayleigh was a porker and now she's working on a second winter in the SAME SIZE CLOTHING. [caption id="attachment_822" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Kayleigh - 5 months, April of 2009"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_823" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Benjamin - 5 months, October of 2010"][/caption]

Kayleigh's New Skills

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Kayleigh has been working on setting the table. Here's the work in progress: (I know it's not lined up properly, but it's not bad for her first time ALL BY HERSELF). [caption id="attachment_796" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The work in progress"][/caption]

And here she is, totally and completely proud of all of her work. Seriously, you can't miss the pride - it's written all across her face.

[caption id="attachment_797" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="So proud of her work"][/caption]

Benny's Laughter

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Baby laughter is utterly contagious. I adore it when Ben laughs, and since he's a happy kid, he laughs often and heartily. It's so much fun to figure out just how to make him laugh. My dad discovered tickles under the chin; Steve discovered eyes closed to eyes popped open. I tickle him on his little feet and in his armpits. Here's a little video with a sample of just how fun his little laughs are.

10-6 Benjamin Laughs

New Experiences for Benners

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Benjamin really loves new things ... I mean, he truly enjoys meeting new people, going new places, and seeing "life" from a different vantage point. He takes way better naps when we've done something entertaining, new, or different as opposed to those days when we simply stay home. So, I try to help him to explore a little, even if we're pretty much "stuck" at home. Today Ben spent some time simply "sitting" on the couch. He watched his sister do it for a quite a while, and was quite pleased when Mommy let him try. I didn't really get any spectacular smiles, but I do have him focusing quite hard at maintaining his balance.

[caption id="attachment_780" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Benners on the couch"][/caption]

Benny also had the chance to try the "jumpy" today ... much to his sister's dismay. (I know she's 2 years old and has far better things to entertain her, but she spent so many mornings playing in the "jumpy" while Mommy got her shower that she just can't seem to give it up.) At any rate, after a very long conversation (and plenty of tears on Kayleigh's part), she agreed that it was definitely Benny's chance to get a turn in the jumpy. (BUT she made sure to be clear that she WAS NOT interested in sharing her princess car. I felt safe in saying that I wouldn't make her). Ben wasn't quite sure about it at first ... he never fussed, but he definitely had a more surprised than normal face on. We'll give it a little time ... I know he'll be jumping around in it soon enough.

[caption id="attachment_781" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Not so sure on the jumpy just yet"][/caption]

My Strong-Willed Child

by Kristi Van Dyk in

** No fears, I'll keep this disgusting potty talk free ... it's far more about my daughter's personality than it is her bathroom habits. So Kayleigh's potty training (PT for purposes of shortening this post) adventures began several months ago when she began talking about Mommy and Daddy's bathroom tools. After bath time she'd say things like, "Mommy's potty over there." Or "Paper for the potty, etc" It was clear she was interested in what goes on there. I bought her a potty chair and she has been sitting on it many times while I'm using the potty as well. She always felt quite independent and occasionally would say, "Sit on potty, no pants," So we were casual about it. This past week I decided that it was time to try an actual method. So, during nap time I do what I always do when my child hits a new phase/trend ... search the internet and read mom-blogs. I narrowed it down to two "free techniques" (I'm not into paying for a book, etc) and began a conglomeration that worked with our lifestyle.

Kayleigh did BEAUTIFULLY yesterday. She had no accidents and managed to do "both" kinds of business in the bathroom. She also made it through Meijers with a completely dry diaper (holding it for over an hour and half), and was THRILLED to get some "big girl underpants." (aka pull-ups.) I went to bed last night feeling quite confident about our path towards potty training. Then, this morning dawned ... I swear a different child woke up ...

She wanted NOTHING to do with the potty. She wouldn't sit on it, she wouldn't touch it. She screamed bloody murder each time I suggested it. I tried to use MMC as a motivator and here's where life got interesting. Mommy said, "If you don't sit on your potty you may not watch Mickey Mouse." Kayleigh said, "NO POTTY. WATCH MICKEY." So, I put the remote next to me, guarded for safe keeping and went about feeding Benny his morning bottle. I heard some activity in the bathroom, but since she had previously "made the potty sing" without any reminders from Mom or instruction on what to do, I let her be. Very shortly, she comes trotting her bare bottomed self into the living. "Here ya go Mommy." And she hands me the toilet lid. I shake my head and say, "You're not watching Mickey until you sit on the potty."  "NO POTTY! WATCH MICKEY! I GO AWAY! I GO AWAY!" And off her naked behind scampers. A few short moments later, she's back, this time with the inside basin of the toilet in her hands. "Here ya go Mommy." We repeat our earlier conversation, ending the same, "...I GO AWAY! I GO AWAY!"

The next she returns with plenty of thumping and bumping, grunting and yelping. She is dragging her potty behind her. She places it squarely in front of the television, replaces the basin, and snaps on the lid. She opens up the lid, grabs her book, and places her naked behind on the toilet seat. "Mommy, I sit on potty. Watch Mickey Mouse now!" There she sat for 30 minutes, watching Mickey Mouse. She did NOTHING to make the potty sing. That is, until, I told her she could get off of the potty. She promptly returned to the kitchen, grabbed her snack and peed on the floor. I might consider this a sign that she just wasn't quite ready were it not for the patterns that began to emerge.

(1) She peed only on hard surfaces, never the carpet ... (2). She always had her "accidents" immediately after I asked her to sit on the potty chair (3). Any previous success she had had was completely unprompted and un-pressured. (4). The more I talk to her about it the less interested she becomes in trying ...

I put her down for her nap and again consulted the literature. It would seem that she's exhibiting tendencies of a "strong-willed child." Why it never occurred to me that my independent spirit, my precocious little girl would have a mind of her own, I don't know. I can't believe these past few months I was chalking it up to her not being physically or intellectually ready ... when in fact, it might be just that she doesn't want to because it's the very thing Mommy wants her to do ...

We'll see what happens when I stop asking and stop pressuring and simply leave it up to her. If it doesn't work, I'm still a little on the early side, so I can abandon and try again later ... I don't want to make it a power struggle though, and I won't fight with her over something like this. I have plenty of teenage years to worry about "battles," I might as well start picking the right ones now.

Here's some pictures from this mornings "battle of the wills."

[caption id="attachment_775" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Daddy said, "I'm jealous" ... potty chair and tv would be his paradise :)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_776" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This is cuter with her "cheeks" not blurred, but I don't want to be charged with child pornography"][/caption]

Benjamin Update

by Kristi Van Dyk in

It's been a while since I've taken the time to give an update on my sweet baby boy. He's growing so quickly, and he develops a bigger personality each day. Nothing major, yet. He's taking his sweet time with rolling, eating, and sitting independently. But I do think we're making progress in all of those areas. I also think, based on sleep habits and temperament changes, we might be headed close to our first tooth! BUT so far in his 4th month Benjamin has continued to be an incredibly happy go-lucky kid. When I take him to nursery during church and Bible study he simply lights up at the new faces and willing snugglers who come to the window. He loves people of all kinds (especially his mommy and his sister!!) There's nothing he loves more than just having great face time with people that he cares about. Even when he's playing with saucer or his playmat, he is constantly looking for faces to watch and to follow. He adores people and it's this that keeps him from his naps. He is still a good napper, so I'm definitely not complaining, BUT he's been waking much more frequently before his naps are complete, trying to get held or rocked. I'm determined (despite how much I just want to snuggle him) to keep up with his excellent ability to soothe himself to sleep. So, I rub his tummy, stroke his face, and let him get back to resting. BUT it is SO difficult. The way his smile lights up the room makes me want to rescue him, kiss his cheeks, and say, "Oh we can cut this nap short ..." But I ALWAYS regret it later. This is a little boy who is at his happiest when he gets his 3 naps a day ...

Other than that, not much new! Here's just a picture of my happy-go-lucky guy!

[caption id="attachment_772" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Watching Mommy's face intently"][/caption]

Benny and the Cereal

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I'm still perfecting the creation of homemade baby rice cereal. So, as Benjamin's learning to eat it, he doesn't always have the smoothest cereal. BUT we're both getting better. All last week he'd simply scream and cry through his eating. This time, I don't think any more food is going in, but at least he's stopped crying. He even smiles at times during his eating. Hopefully soon Mom will get better at making it and Benny will start to take more in his stomach instead of on his chest. Nevertheless, he takes some cute pictures while he's learning. I love my happy little son.

[caption id="attachment_725" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="While we still tried to use a bib .. "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_726" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Happy Smiles (with no bib)"][/caption]

Coffee "Date"

by Kristi Van Dyk in

It was Tuesday morning; the kids were sick. Mommy had to skip Bible study (BUMMER) because no one wants sick babies in the nursery. So, since Bible study was out, I was trying to find a new way to brighten my day. After Benjamin went down for his morning nap (around 8:45), I decided to make myself a skinny white chocolate/chocolate mocha and have a slice of cream filled coffee cake from the Oostburg Bakery (Thanks Sarah from bringing it back with you!). As I prepared my coffee my cute little toddler wandered into view. "Coffee too, Momma??""No, Kayleigh, no coffee for you. You may have juice and a treat, though, would you like that?" "Yes, Momma. Treat with Momma at table." So, I cut a small sliver of coffee cake for Kayleigh and one for myself. We sat and talked (almost nearly like real adults do) about what was happening outside, what we wanted to do today, and what we did yesterday. It struck me mid-conversation just how very very grown up my little coffee date was ... such a doll. Here's her reaction to her first few bites of some of Oostburg's finest baked goods :)

9-21 I like coffee cake