Last weekend, Sharon, Hallie and I headed to Central NJ for what is probably going to be our final longer car trip (defined as anything over an hour) this pregnancy to visit Jake, his mom, and friends. The original plan involved a pumpkin patch, a hay ride, and fun outdoor seasonal stuff, but the weather conspired against us (putting it mildly; there were moments when the drive was harrowing because it was raining so hard. Good thing that our car handles so well (it's a Hyundai Tucson Crossover All-Wheel Drive SUV. When it was new--sadly not long ago--it was pretty spiffy but now that it contains a huge toddler mess, a duck bath tub that for some reason never makes it out of the rear in spite of the fact that there is no reason anyone can think of why we might need it for a drive to, say, Whole Foods market, and---oh yes, this is my favorite decor item---VOMIT on the CEILING (I guess that's what you call it) of the car, it kind of functions as a metaphor of what our life looks like more generally).
Anyway, I digress. We decided to go to one of those toddler indoor play gyms (kind of a mix between a children's museum, with 'shopping' and dress up opportunities and an upscale and much saner if only moderately less noisy version of Chuck-E-Cheese) instead. Hallie had a blast.
Hallie made a beeline for the grocery store. Do you think this has anything to do with how much time we spend in Whole Foods?
She categorized, weighed and named her fruits and veggies. And she also practiced a bit of shop-lifting. We discovered after we left the place that she walked off with their only bunch of grapes (with which she was fascinated the entire time she was there). If you look carefully at this shot, you'll notice her holding them.
She also had a great time sitting in the ride-on vehicles that vibrate when you feed them with tokens:
Indeed, she had such a good time in these that she wasn't quite willing to share them with others, and when Morgan wanted a turn, Hallie insisted on climbing in and sitting on top of her.
I think Morgan was a lot more comfortable, and the girls were much happier generally, when they tried it the other way around:
The kids all did a whole lot of climbing and sliding. Hallie mostly stuck to the toddler climb-and-slide area, but Jake did a lot of big boy climbing on the much bigger play structure. Here's a nice shot (among many many other shots where one kid is splayed out at the bottom of the slide while the others are at the top, looking away from the camera) of the kids at the top of the slide.
And here's a cool shot of Jake peeking out at the top of a HUGE tunnel:
Hallie, like any typically narcissistic two year old, also had a great time checking out her multiple reflections in the mirrors set up in the toddler section. Clearly, she was fascinated by what she saw:
We were there for a few hours, and Hallie had not slept at all on the drive, either (instead, she screeched "Ernie", "Elmo", and "Cookie" endlessly to the loop of Sesame Songs ("Rubber Ducky", "Theme to Elmo's World," and "C is for Cookie") that played on the car stereo, much to our chagrin). So I wasn't surprised that Hallie began to unravel a bit around 4pm and really needed to get out of the play gym and into her car seat. This is what she looked like about three minutes after I buckled her in (note the grapes, still firmly within her grasp):
Of course, that nap lasted all of half an hour; Hallie woke up as soon as Sharon got in the car and stayed that way for the rest of the afternoon and evening, when we returned to Jake and Gina's house for more fun playing and to celebrate the birthday of one of Gina's friends. (Gina has some great pictures of Hallie and Jake carousing which I'll post when I get them). And, to top it all off, she stayed awake for the entire drive home (once more screaming the names of her favorite Sesame characters). Needless to say, by the time we got her in bed at close to 10:00pm, Hallie was totally exhausted. She slept VERY late on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. No doubt she'll be up at the crack of dawn, though, today (which is just about now). So I should really finish up this post so I am ready to race after my kiddo...
For those of you who might want to compare Hallie and Jake to the donor, I have been meaning to post the (only) picture of Donor 1876 that we have--it appears to be an early school (kindergarten?) picture:
But just a few brief notes about other stuff before I go. First, it's been a banner speech week. Hallie has really mastered the single three-word-sentence structure on which we've been working (seemingly forever) in speech therapy. This is a useful sentence: "I WANT ----". Hallie's delivery is still a bit halting, but she totally gets it. Now, of course, this poses a bit of a dilemma, because she is always asking for what she wants, and we like to reward her speech attempts, but some of her requests definitely warrant a "no." (She hasn't asked for a sharp knife by name yet, but she has asked for Sharon's iced tea, my diet coke, our food....though lord knows what she'd do with the last one of these). Still, we're quite proud of her, even if we do need to figure out a way of teaching her that she cannot always have what she wants. Her speech really has gotten so much better lately (and with it, her signing---she signs along with speech, which is very helpful because about 25% of the time we have no idea what it is that she wants, which often leads to an episode of angry-and-frustrated-toddler-stomping).
On the eating front: we're still where we were, but at least I have a plan for the beef trial. I think we'll see if she can manage shredded up slices of roast beef, and if that doesn't work, we'll puree them. She is now up to 142 vomit free days, which is super.
And, there's still time to weigh-in on the new baby's name. Sharon and I really appreciate all of the input we've received so far (but are no closer to naming this one), so name away. Once we figure out what the little one's name will be, we will be sure to let everyone know...so scroll down to the post below and add your suggestions!)