Todd Family Blog

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkins, Apples, and a Chill in the Air (Month 21)

As much fun as the summer was, I am always so happy to see (feel...taste...smell) the arrival of fall.  It is my absolute favorite time of year.  I always missed it whenever living in a warm weather climate.  We have a lot of trees in our yard and I love watching them turn.  This year gave us one of those great falls when all the leaves seem to turn at once.....

As for Levi, I feel like he is 2 1/2 going on 5.  Thanks to his lack of any kind of baby fat (I truly think he is almost solid muscle) he looks much older than his age.  However, he has no problem reminding us of the 2's, walking around singing "No, no, no" in his sing-song voice.  

School continues to be the highlight of his week.  Our goodbye at school is a total nonissue now.  We count down the bedtimes to the next school day, do our little goodbye routine at the door, and he usually has a smile on his face when I walk away.  Actually, I noted that on October 4th he even asked me to leave!  While I chatted with his teacher he pointed at the window and said, "Mama, bye bye!"  And so it begins.  Of course, my heart was warmed 2 1/2 hours later when I picked him up and he informed me of Noah, Noah's boat, and the animals.  That was the first time he told me about something that happened at school.  I'm always dying to know!

During our adoption training I learned that the toddler age is often a time when they are very excited to learn about their birth country.  Levi not only loves hearing about Ethiopia but has started to request information.  New things I noticed this month: he asked how to say a world in "Ehtiopia" (a.k.a. Amharic)!; he can say "Aydalem" for "No"; when I translate something into Amharic he will say "Ebba" (Ethiopia) after I say it; he frequently requests Ethiopian food ("Ebba food") for dinner.  It is wonderful and exciting to see the early effect of learning about his birth country.

Other Firsts and Quirks: Counting of bedtimes is used to count down to any event ('s dates); He talks just about every second of every day; Knows many shapes and almost all his colors; Asks to "Call Dada"; asked me for a towel to clean up after a spill; Needs very little spotting when climbing at the park; LOVES talking about Mrs. "Wilwums" (Williams), who is his teacher at school; Hardly ever says his default nonsense word "A dee" anymore - usually tries to say the correct word; Quite a few words are becoming very clear and easy to understand; "No no sing, Mama" - I'm only allowed to sing "Wheels on the Bus."  I can't even hum or whistle; Obsessed with mailing letters, so we mail a lot of letters/pictures to friends and family; Very big into talking about the emotions of characters in books or shows, especially if they get sad about something (and then he will touch his face to show crying); Very interested in the ritual of going to sleep: Make the room "all dark", get in bed and go to sleep.

Picture Day at school yielded quite the funny picture.  This was the only one they could snag of him and it is on the little tote he carries to school.  I'm not sure if he is smiling or grimacing.

A visit from Nanny while Brad was out of town!  Lots of fun at parks, of course.

Levi and his girls, Nana and Nanny (Love that they both have their wine in hand!)

Levi often requests "Up, Gray!", as in "I want to get up on the gray counter!"  From there he can throw treats to his appreciative doggies.

Kisses from his "GaGa" (a.k.a. Cal)

And cuddling with GaGa while watching his new favorite show, Daniel the Tiger.

Pumpkinfest 2012!!!  We love The Country Market's Pumpkinfest and it has become a tradition.  Trucks in corn, walking on hay bales, applesauce donuts, "train" rides, hay rides, pretend horses to ride, picking out your own pumpkin....what more could a 2 year old want?

Levi and Lincoln Hoskins had a fantastic time running all over Stuckeys' apple farm.

And a zoo visit with Jaden Shim.  Levi and Jaden have exactly the same idea of fun - Look at the animals (here it would be the rhinos) for about two seconds and then run and see what you can bounce/climb on.  The suspension bridge is always a hit.

A day at the park with Dada

Still loving his prayer box....

Excited to pull out Papa's picture

Praying for Aunt Miriam

A fun cat mask Halloween printable I found.  He loved it for exactly 30 seconds, as he usually does my crafts.  Then they are no longer cool.

One of his favorite things in his room, his pictures of "Baby Vi" (as he calls himself) and Dada.

A new favorite book and great Costo find (what would parents do without Costco?!  The toys!  The organic cotton pj's!  The wipes!  The diapers!  The organic and all natural kid food!  I could go on....)  This is a double book of The Little Engine that Could and Itsy Bitsy Spider.  He talks a lot about when the train is happy and when it is sad.

A play date with Miriam's nieces, Ava and Alaina.  This was probably each girls' 3rd outfit.  We saw multiple Halloween costumes.  Levi was busy eating carrots.

Fantastic girl fun with some friends: Lynn, Natalie, Taryn, Halle, Monique, Adrianne and Jen.  Halle is an exceptional Mary Kay consultant and puts on a great party.  (And who knew our pool table would have another use?)

I stopped by Levi's school for their fall party and the teachers got out his favorite - shaving cream!  Levi quickly taught everyone to roll cars through it.  His good bud, Jacobi's, hands were going so fast they are blurs!

Riding the train at the zoo with our good friends, Noah and Caleb.

The crafty fun continues!  Here is a road with an alphabet garage....

Levi is NOT the most crafty boy.  I think he doesn't see the challenge in it.  The art projects he brings home from school generally look like this:

The one place Levi enjoys a good, crafty mess is the bath tub!  We do this literally every single morning.

If I tell him he can mail a picture I can sometimes get a good, involved drawing out of him.  This went to Aunt Jenny and she texted us a picture of the final product when it arrived in Boston.  Mailing letters could be Levi's absolute favorite activity.  

This one was a moderate hit.  You can peel away the painter's tape after to reveal the letters.  Fun!

The final product:

And chair picture, Month 21.  

Favorite videos...

This is how we begin literally every day once we are all dressed and ready.

I adore this video.  I mean, the kid has MOVES.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wrapping Up the Summer (Month 20)

I think I will always remember this summer as one of my favorites.  Summer with a little kid is...hmmmm....well, insert cliche here.  It's just really, really GREAT.  That seems like a boring word, but really it is so fun.  All the parks, splash parks (where are my pictures of the splash parks!?  How did I miss that?), play dates, zoo visits, lake house visits, our trip to Vermont, messy crafty fun with Levi in just a diaper.....A common plea around our house now is, "Front!?", as he runs to the front door and begs to play with the hose.  It makes me so happy that he learned all his colors this summer as we splashed and played and got messy.  Yes, it's one of those moments you want to pause time and just enjoy their little selves.  

Okay, enough mushiness and my trying to avoid parenting cliches about pausing time.  Ha!  Perhaps I'm getting all philosophical because the other big event to end our summer was Levi starting preschool!  Just 9:00-11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it feels so big.  To think, when we brought him home it was recommended (and we followed it) that no one else even change his diaper, hold him, or give him a bottle for months until we were sure he recognized us as parents.  And now he is going off to school on his own, even if it is just 5 hours a week.  And he LOVES it.  His brain was just so ready to soak it all up.  At Faith Montessori in Noblesville his bed bud, Jacobi, is in his class, and his teacher, Mrs. Williams, was in choir with me at Butler.  He talks about "Willwums" and "Bee" constantly and asks when he'll be going back.  I love that all we work on at home is being reenforced, and I'm so proud of how well he has done away from home.  And so it begins.....

Month 20 (August - September)
  • Thinks Brad works construction thanks to saying that trucks are "working" (Because, you know, Dad is "working" and he drives a truck to work, so logically....)
  • Finds colors independently while we are out
  • First sight word - Kroger!  Ha!
  • Foot obsession - loves to tackle them on everyone and say they are "dirty."  Gee, thanks.
  • Completely obsessed with gas stations and things that run on gas
  • Wanders around singing, "No, no, no" in a sing-song voice.  Ah, 2 years-old.
  • Luke is now called "Gee Gee," but he now sometimes calls Cal "Cal" instead of "Ga Ga."
  • Big screaming fits in public - had to leave music class, restaurants, parties, Target all in one week.  Oy!
  • Loves the idea that going to school is his "work."  Just like Dada.
  • First dentist appointment!
  • Words are becoming very clear to understand
  • Still loves to hold hands while I'm driving.  My arm is getting sore from reaching back.
  • Runs to get a towel while yelling, "Towel!  Bug!" when he sees a fly.  Then tries to hit it.
  • Backseat driver with Green/Red meaning Go/Stop
  • Listens very well about things that may hurt him.  My fall at the park obviously made a BIG impact.
Showin' off the adorable Swiss Mountain Dog T-shirt from our Swiss friends

Still enamored with his Luke

And a new infatuation with Lucy Metzing

Preschool Open House at Faith Montessori!

Perusing The Very Quiet Cricket, which he and Dada read every night before bed.

What happens if I don't get his PJ's off fast enough before his morning bath.

The "Tunnel" to his room

Painting with everything BUT a paintbrush

The "advent calendar"-style poster we made to countdown between school mornings.

Working on our letters and words by labeling EVERYTHING with chalk.

Levi's absolute #1 favorite activity: paint in condiment bottles and then squeezing them out.  Fun for learning colors and also color mixing.  


For all our crafty fun, Levi is NOT a big colorer.  When I get out his crayons he primarily enjoys reorganizing them back into the box.

Fantastic weekend with the Brummetts and Sowinskis in Ann Arbor.  The Brummett family were brave  enough to take on 6 adults and 5 kiddos for the weekend!  We were blessed with great weather, beautiful parks, great company, and even a fantastic babysitter on one night so that the adults could hit the town!

This was NOT a planned activity for the day, but it became clear that trying to keep the boys out of the water was more trouble than it was worth.


And the tears when we finally made him get out.

We clean up okay, I'd say.

A new haircut!  Spontaneously chopped it off.  

GREAT, cheap activity - pipe cleaners in a colander or straws, anything to develop fine motor skills.

Best cheap entertainment (other than Petsmart)? Tractor Supply.

Thank you, Miriam, for suggesting the iPhone photo class at Homespun!  3 hours of fantastic info.

Enjoying the trail at Asa Bales park with Dada.

School!!!  Waiting to be picked up with his best bud, Jacobi.

Jacobi's Mom, Angela, walking Levi out after his first day.

Ready for picture day at school!  (Yes, I promise I had him wear shoes.)

Easy, fun bath time craft - food colored ice boats.  Great science experiment as they melt, too.

Holiday celebration at the Ethiopian church where we all wore our tradition Ethiopian attire.

Messy play date with the Motts!  I had been wanting to do this all summer.  We snagged one of the last really warm days for it.  The boys had such a blast together.  

Closing out the summer with Labor Day weekend at the Todds' lake home.  The whole family was there and all the cousins were together for the first time.  

Emma called me "The Lady Who Brought the Cake" all weekend.  A girl after my own heart.

Not much boat time thanks to the lake flooding with rain!  The boats had to be rescued.  The guys are actually standing on the dock, which is covered by at least a foot of water!

Golf cart rides were a big hit in lieu of boat rides

Messy fun with the cousins.  One of Levi's favorite activities: baking soda and colored vinegar.

Even the big kids got into it

Next up?  Shaving cream fun.

Hayden and Mandy were fully covered by the end.

Running down the hill to wash off in the lake.

Cute brother/sister moment.

So, I sang a bit this month too!  It was one of the most challenging projects I've worked on (especially having broken two ribs exactly one month earlier!!!): singing the title role in Holst's Savitri for Intimate Opera's submission to the Fringe Festival.  Really amazing experience and a fantastic production.  Was very impressed with all my colleagues.  

Chair Picture, Month 20

Favorite Videos of the Month:

If you have not already seen this on Youtube, you will DIE.  A video from China demonstrates an easy way to separate an egg and it WORKS.  The best part is how hard we are laughing.  I don't know why I didn't think it would work.  We were all amazed.

And then putting the egg back together...seriously.

Levi loves leading his doggies around by their collars.  Seeing a 2 year-old pulling 75 lb. German Shepherds around is always a site.  They will do just about anything he says though.

Excited for the first day of school in the bathtub!

Walking him to his classroom on the first day.  We've since moved our goodbye routine to the main entrance, but it was fun to see him into his classroom that day.

A recent favorite from music class, A Drumming Party, with a bit of silliness thrown in.