The Ring of Fire

We had to go into the city today and the weather was quite clear.  So on the way into the city, we were able to see a volcano!  And on the way back home, we were able to see another volcano!  This was very fun for Brother, who is fascinated with volcanoes (“Volcanoes are one of my five most favorite things!”).

After seeing them, Brother asked some great questions about why there are so many near us.  And what would happen to us if one of them erupted.  I ended up telling him about the Ring of Fire and then he asked why the borders of tectonic plates make volcanoes.

When we got home, he transitioned into full blown “Ring of Fire Pretend Time”!  And he was dashing to look out the window, declaring the Ring of Fire was “lighting up”, frantically packing up all his favorite toys and evacuating from “his house” (the toy room) to “my house” (the family room) where he was safe.  And then the stairs became a volcano that we had to climb for nap time.  It was so fun! :)

After that, I knew what I had to do while everyone was napping.  Well, actually, what I wanted to do (instead of the dishes or picking up toys).  Because I love to teach and I especially love to teach my children who love to learn. :)

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So, with the help of the internet (thank you, Wikipedia!), our color printer and some art supplies, Brother will now be waking up to…

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… The Ring of Fire!! (the original print out)

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… The Ring of Fire!! (drawn onto plate tectonics)

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… and The Ring of Fire!! (taped onto our world map)

—-

I am so grateful for the internet!  I love being able to instantly learn and teach my children about the things that interest them.

Now I’d better go take a nap (or do the dishes or pick up toys) before The Ring of Fire starts exploding again!

The Structured Day

(Picture from Boots’ homeschool “storytime” lessons today.  Baby was able to join us for the first time ever and Boots sweetly held his hand during the reading of Baby Bear, Baby Bear.   Totally melted my heart!)

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Charming and I recently had a discussion about the boys and thought it might help them to add more structure to their day.  We already had what I felt like was a lot of structure, but there were still many things we tried to fit in sometime during the day or hoped to have time for by chance.

So Charming and I talked about some changes and what we wanted to make sure happened each day.  Over the last few days we’ve implemented some of the changes and today was my first day alone with the changes.  And I’ll tell you what!  I couldn’t believe how smoothly the day went!!

Everybody seemed happier and more content.  There were hardly any disagreements or timeouts.  There was a great balance and natural flow between structured time with Mom, free play with Mom and free play on their own.  Transitions felt easier.  And I felt much more relaxed.

It was such an incredible day, that I have to record what I did, before I forget it!  And that way, just maybe I can make it happen again… :)

—–

6:45 am:
Wake up Brother and Boots.  Drink milk and change clothes.  Morning family prayer, read and highlight The Book of Mormon with Daddy.  Say goodbye to Daddy.

7:30 am:
Do physical therapy exercises in my closet while Boots and Brother play around me.

8-8:30 am:
Breakfast while listening to Disney (or other musicals) soundtracks and discussing their characters and plot lines.

9-9:30 am:
Put Boots down for morning nap.  Do homeschool lessons and household chores with Brother.  Pay bills and make phone calls while Brother watches mellow DVD.  Wake Boots up after 1.5 hours.

11:30 am:
Do homeschool lessons in a “storytime” format with Boots (and Brother and Baby).  (Doing this every day is a new addition.  I used to fit it in once or twice a week, but will now try to do it every day.  Boots loves it and is so incredibly intelligent.  I just had to tweak it a little to be engaging for both him and Brother.  To make it easier to do every day, I pulled out some new materials and activities that fit Boots’ high-energy learning style).  Free play afterward.

12:30 pm:
Lunch while listening to different Disney (or other musicals) soundtracks and discussing their characters and plot lines.

1:30-2 pm:
Put Boots and Brother down for afternoon nap.  Have treasured “alone time” and homeschool lessons with Baby.

After naps:
Backyard chores. Outside free play.

5-5:30 pm:
Watch mellow DVD while Mom makes dinner and discuss characters and plotlines of the stories.  (This is a brand new addition.  We resisted it for a long time because we don’t like the boys to watch much TV, but I couldn’t believe how much it helped tone down our late afternoon today!  I was able to make dinner uninterrupted (so it was on time!) and the boys weren’t all wound up and irritable when it was finally time to eat.  I hope it continues to be this successful).

6-6:30 pm:
Eat dinner and talk about our days!

*Add in Family Home Evening lesson on Monday nights after dinner.  We typically do a white board or flannel board scripture story lesson.  But tonight we talked about the earthquake on the east coast, following the prophets’ counsel to be prepared, and then practiced earthquake drills of “under or beside” in different rooms of the house.  The boys loved it.

6:30-6:45 pm:
Treasured “alone time” with Boots reading church and/or secular books in his room (alternating Mom or Dad).  (This is also a new addition to our schedule that has made a huge difference already.  We felt like Boots wasn’t getting enough one-on-one time, so we decided to start enforcing it and we all LOVE it!  We feel closer to Boots and he just adores it.  I’m so, so glad we started doing this!)

6:45 pm:
Gather in Boots’ room. Discuss what we will pray about: 1) What we were each grateful for that day and 2) Any blessings or people we need to pray for.  Then we have evening family prayer and put Boots down for bed.

7-7:45 pm:
Household chores, get ready for bed and read Scripture Stories with Brother.

7:45 pm:
Gather in Brother’s room and put him down for bed.  One parent stays behind for treasured “alone time” with Brother (alternating Mom or Dad).  Quietly discuss whatever Brother wants to talk about.

—–

Man.  What a great day!  Everyone got taught.  Everyone got played with.  Everyone got loved.  Crossing my fingers that we can do it again tomorrow…! :):)

It all started…

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… With these three posters.

A wonderful woman from church (and the lucky aunt of this little beauty) showed up at my door one day way back in February and told me, “I don’t need these anymore and my husband was going to throw them away, but I thought you might like them.”

My jaw dropped and I said, “Holy cow! How did you know that I would LOVE to have these!?!”

She laughed and answered, “I read your blog!”

Then I laughed, too, “No way!”

I excitedly took them (thank you so much!!) and looked around my house for the best place to hang them up.

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I wasn’t sure how much the Bubbers King would like them, but I was amazed when he took to them right away!

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All on his own, he’ll ask me what day it is and I’ll tell him.

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Then he’ll look for the word that starts with the right sound…

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… And put on the cute little soccer ball. :)

Now he knows exactly when the garbage truck comes.  And when we go to the grocery store or Costco.  And when we go to church.

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And thanks to this poster (that I altered a bit), I had a concrete aid for showing Bubbers when birthdays and holidays were.  And boy, he just ate it all up!

I was so excited about how much he liked them that… well… I went a little crazy.  :)

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One night after Cub Scouts I went to Staples and saw these maps.  And thought they’d be PERFECT!

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Then I laminated Bubbers’ growth chart and put it up in his room.  He loves to look at it and talk about what he can do now that he’s three.  :)

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Then I called my state and requested a new growth poster for Scooters.  Because his old one was all munched on and I wanted a nice clean one for laminating and putting up in his room. :)

And while I had them on the phone, I told them how much I love getting their health and development materials.  That they were so informative and uplifting.  And they said, “Thanks!”

Then they called me back.

And asked me to be on their volunteer Parent Review Team!  :)

“Sure!” I said and now they send me a draft of one of their letters each month and I make little notes on it and send it back.  And I really enjoy being able to serve the parents in our state in this small way.

And if you live in my state and have about five minutes to spare each month, they would LOVE to have you volunteer, too!  Please ask me how and I’ll let you know!

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And then, just TODAY, I saw these great place mats at Walmart and found just the place for them next to our world map!

Then one day it hit me! I should include spiritual posters, TOO!

So over the last five months, I’ve been purchasing, laminating and mounting my favorite posters from ldscatalog.org.

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I thought this Temples Worldwide poster would be PERFECT right next to our world map.  Bubbers will come by, point and ask, “Which temple is that?… Which temple is that?…” until we’ve gone through every single one! :)

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And I already had this Articles of Faith poster in the closet, so I got it out, laminated it and put it up!  Now we’re teaching them to Bubbers for Family Home Evening each week and he always remembers which ones we’ve done and which one we’re going to do next!

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I thought the updated Latter-day Prophets poster would go well here, too.

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Then I wanted additional pictures of temples that are significant to us.  So I put the temple that is nearest to us up in my bathroom.  Scooters LOVES it and pulls up to point at it every morning while I get ready! :)

During this time, I decided I wanted my children to grow up surrounded by pictures of the Savior. Beautiful images that would stay with them and shape how they felt about the Savior. So they would know He loves them. That He is their friend.

And while thinking this over, I came across some pictures my mother had given me years ago! Beautiful Greg Olsen pictures from an old calendar she’d had.

So I laminated them all!  (Thank you, Mom!!)

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And put them on the fridge.

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In the hall.

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Upstairs in Scooters’ room.

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And right outside Bubbers’ room.

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And when I saw a picture in one of the months of The Friend that I liked, I cut it out and added it, too!

Then I realized the play room was an ideal place to mount some pictures.  So I planned very carefully.

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And decided to put Joseph Smith, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and The First Presidency up on one side.

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And the Savior, our family and the Salt Lake Temple where Charming and I were married and sealed on the other side.

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Because to me, this says it all.  Why we’re here.  Who we follow.  What we’re trying to accomplish.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and my family are my life.  They are why I do everything I do.  And I want my little boys to know that.  I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that their Mommy knows this is true.

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And I thrill to watch my little boy who is not even one, crawl excitedly across the room and pull himself up to get to the Savior.

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Because even a little baby knows the truth when he sees it.

Snapshot in time: 2 years old

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Hello my friends!  Can you believe it?  Another year has passed and it’s time for another snapshot.  Mommy and Daddy can’t believe how much I’ve changed since my snapshot last year!

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I have a real gift for speech and language and people often say talking to me is like talking to an adult.  I carry on conversations with ease and especially love to talk to Daddy at work.  I also love to ask questions and learn about what I see.

Mommy is a little sad that I only have one articulation error left.  I still say “w” for “l” and she thinks it’s so cute.  But I recently started saying it correctly when I read and while she’s glad for me, she’s a little sad for her.

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I have a gift for being happy!  I sincerely love life and my enthusiasm for almost everything is adorable and contagious.

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And would you believe it, I learned to read this year!  We started lessons last September and it took Mommy a little while to figure out the program and how she wanted to structure it, but we both kept plugging away and we can’t believe the results.  Now we do short lessons each weekday sometime during the day and I’m just taking off!

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I’m currently on Lesson 40 (of 100) and I love when Mommy makes up sentences with the word lists.  I also love reading the stories and looking at the pictures!  I often smile after I figure out a word. :):)

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We also do math or writing lessons and I enjoy those a lot.  I’m getting really good at counting and frequently “sight count” by looking at a group of objects and knowing how many there are without needing to count outloud.

I also recognize numbers and can tell the hour of time.  I know that my clock says “7” when I go to bed and at least “6” when I get up. :)

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And if we have time after our lessons, we get to snuggle!

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And Mommy reads a book to me while I eat the jelly beans that I earned during my lesson.

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It’s a really special time for us.

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This year I have developed a serious passion for trains!  I have at least five different train toys downstairs and two upstairs.  I love to build with my wooden tracks and then lay inside to watch the trains go by.

I also love to read train books and watch train video clips and then act out the stories.  Mommy loves to hear me quoting lines from The Little Engine That Could or a Thomas episode or the All About Trains video to myself as I play.

Just tonight I kept saying, “Wook down to the right.  You’ll see cwouds of steam rushing out under pressure.”  That’s from All About Trains. :)

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I also love my vintage Casey Junior!

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Mommy got it off ebay and gave it to me after I finished potty training!  I love to load it up with circus animals just like on the cartoon!

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Then I toot his whistle and we go “chug-chug-chug-puff-puff-puff”ing around the house as I sing his theme song!

And if Casey Junior’s lucky (and Scooters isn’t blasting around in his walker) I convert his flat bed car into a coal car and fill it up with “coal” (handfuls of pinto beans from my digging table!). :)

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And speaking of digging, I also love construction vehicles!  My favorites are dump trucks, excavators and front loaders.

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I also have a great fondness for garbage trucks and love to wait each week to see their biiiiiig arms that reach out and GRAB our garbage cans and then *BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!!* empty them into their truck!!

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I love to cut with scissors and can easily *snip-snip-snip* an afternoon away!

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I also love to draw, write and color.

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And I enjoy building (especially building temples!), playing T-ball, swinging, chasing, soccer, visiting different places (especially Jetty Island!!) and gardening.

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Oh, and animals!  I love animals.

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And Mommy let me have my first pet (two cat spiders!) for two or three days before we set them free.  It was a true test of her deep love for me.

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The jury’s still out on what color my eyes are.  Daddy says brown.  Mommy says they’re a new color.  A new color that sometimes looks brown, sometimes looks dark blue and sometimes looks dark green.  Either way, they both say my eyes are beautiful! :)

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I also have a vivid imagination!  I love to pretend to be different characters from books, stories, or YouTube clips I’ve seen.  My favorite roles include: Rudolph, Little Foot, Little Roo, Skippy Jon Jones, Annabelle and baby animals.

When I play these roles, I prefer to be called by my character name and to call Mommy, Scooters and Daddy by their respective character names.  I frequently wake up from naps and begin calling for “Kanga!  Oh, Kanga!” or “Long Neck!  Long Neck?  Are you there?” or “Star!  Oh, Sta-ar!”  And Mommy laughs as she hops up the stairs to get me. :)

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I have an insatiable appetite for hearing books and stories!  And one time I was in heaven when Daddy combined the two by acting out my entire Lady and the Tramp book with my stuffed animals.  It was awesome!  And I asked him to repeat it every day afterward. :):)

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And I really love to look at books!

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I frequently create “book circles” after reading next to one of our many book baskets.  They make Mommy smile. :):)

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It also makes her smile when I furrow my brow as I read.  That’s how she knows I’m still her baby.

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And check it out!  We’ve got a real growth chart now!!  Now I have Mommy’s permission to grow (just a little!).  My first measurement on it was almost 6 months ago and I was just shy of three feet tall.

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And now, just six months later…

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I’ve grown even more!!  (And down below in the column next to mine, you can see Scooters’ first height measurement!!  A few inches over two feet tall–what a cutie!)

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And just think of it…  Someday, we’ll all be as tall as Daddy!

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I’ve also learned to be a big boy this year!  I’ve taken over almost all restroom duties now and only need a pull-up at night (and every once in a while at nap time).  Sometimes I even request my own privacy and Mommy smiles as I shut the door.  :)

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Ta-dah!!  This is how I love to get in my crib!

I’m still a great sleeper, though I try to delay the inevitable as long as possible. :)

My bedtime routine is quite elaborate and currently includes:

Playing with Mommy and Daddy all by myself for about 30 minutes after Scooters goes to bed!  Then we go upstairs to their bathroom where I use the restroom and change into my pajamas.  Then we take turns brushing my teeth.  I use real toothpaste now and even know how to spit it out!

After that, I turn on the hall lights with help and my bedroom light all by myself!  Then we snuggle in my glider for a prayer and daily scripture study.  (We’ve finished all four of my Scripture Stories books, so we’re going back and repeating them. We’re currently in the New Testament again).  I typically choose Mommy to read to me, but sometimes I pick Daddy.

I recently convinced Mommy and Daddy to add a little more reading into our routine, so after scriptures, we read a couple pages of my Beauty and the Beast chapter book.

Next I turn off my light and race Daddy to my crib and jump in.  Then he tucks my doggy under my right arm and Lumpy under my left arm. Then he covers me up with: my green blanket, my alphabet quilt and then my teddy bear quilt.

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After that, he sits next to my crib, holds my little hand and asks, “Which Ruff Ruff story to do you want tonight?”

One night I said, “Ruff Ruff and the Yellow Blanket!” and then Daddy made up a story for it.   The next night I requested, “Ruff Ruff and the Biscuit Flying” and then Daddy laughed and made up a story for it.  Tonight I said, “Ruff Ruff and the Teeth”, but then changed it to “Ruff Ruff and the Hippopotamus”.

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Then Mommy joins us and we all hold hands as Mommy and Daddy sing: Curious George, I am a Child of God, Once There Was a Snowman and We love you, [insert name of current character I’m playing at the time]! It’s wonderful.

After that, we have kisses and say, “Night, night! Bye, bye! Woooooove you!” and wave “I Love You” signs goodbye as they close my door.

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Oh!  And If I get scared of the shadows that look like monsters or the monsters under my green glider, I just cover my head ALL THE WAY (and the heads of my buddies!) and then I’m okay.

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I don’t like to be left alone, get my hair cut, my nails cut, my leftover food eaten by someone else or my hair washed, so Mommy often coaches me through them.

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And recently she started letting me watch something while she cuts (just like she does for Daddy!) and I hold really still for her.  She loves it!

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And she loves my toes! :)

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Aaaahhh!!!  I also got my first Easter basket ever last year!

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I also really love to play with my friends!!  This past year we’ve made so many new friends at church and in our neighborhood and we feel so blessed to have them all in our lives!!  Thank you!!

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At church, I moved up to the Senior Nursery class and I really love it! (Mommy even got to substitute for a month while they called new teachers and it was so fun for us!)

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And something really special that happened this past year was Scooters!

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I became a big brother!

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And what a big brother I have been!

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Mommy just adores watching us together and is so grateful for how fun, loving and gentle I am toward Scooters.

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I really do love him!

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And I can’t imagine our family without him!

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I really love my Daddy!  Whenever he leaves for work or school, I always beg, “Daddy?  Pwease pway with me for just a couple minutes!  Pwease?”  And even if he’s late, he’ll stop and play with me.  I love it!  And I can’t wait until he comes home again every day so we can play some more!

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Daddy especially loves… holding my hand… hearing about my day, seeing my enthusiasm for saying silly things… playing outside with me… seeing me hit the baseball with my T-ball bat… comforting me after he accidentally injures me… when I push out my belly to be as big as his (one day!)… when I hook arms with him at the dinner table… when I tackle him… when I explain to him why whatever I want to do is okay… when I hug and kiss Scooters… when I say “pwease” and “thank you” without being asked… and every minute he gets to spend with me.

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I also really love my Mommy!  I melt her heart every time I say, “Come pway with me, Mommy!  I want you to pway with me!”  We love to pretend things together and play together.  I frequently ask her to carry me up and down the stairs for extra cuddles and she happily obliges me. :)

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Mommy especially loves… cuddles while I drink my milk… cuddles while we read books… cuddles, cuddles, cuddles!… when I hide under my covers and giggle while she tries to find me after nap times… when I call for her by her character name after naps… how thoroughly and sincerely kind, generous, and sweet I am… how my eyes sparkle with delight when I look at her and smile… when I use the word “chuffing”… the sound of my voice..  when I sincerely cry out, “Oh, thank you!!” when she does something for me… my cute morning breath when she gets me out of my crib and hugs me tight… hearing me play with Scooters and Daddy… the tiny little freckles I’ve started getting on my cheeks… my love for learning… teaching me about Jesus… when I ask questions about Jesus… sharing a big huge hug after we’ve been away from each other… and, well, everything about me. :):)