Happy 2nd Birthday to Cameron!

Monday, September 8, was CC's 2nd birthday! We kept things simple this year and had a small cookout party at our house the day before with only a few friends.  The theme for her party this year was her favorite television show, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, with simple red and yellow decorations and supplies.

I made CC's birthday party invitation myself using Photoshop and images I purchased in a digital set on Etsy (here).  I also used the same images from that set to create the cupcake toppers using card stock paper, double-sided tape, and toothpicks.

I made the cupcakes for the party myself.  We are a clean eating family so I wanted something yummy but natural.  I have a dairy allergy so I also wanted something I could enjoy as well, besides the fact that we actually don't have any dairy in our house, other than cheese, to use in a recipe.

I used a dairy-free white cupcake recipe from the blog Veronica's Cornucopia (here) and the cupcakes were AMAZING! They were rich, moist, and delicious. This is seriously going to be my go-to cupcake recipe from now on.

I found some all-natural, dairy-free vanilla icing (Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting) and all-natural sugar sprinkles at our local Whole Foods. I was pleasantly surprised with both! I put the icing into a large ziplock bag, cut off a small piece of one corner, and piped it onto the cupcakes in a circular motion. 

CC doesn't actually like very sweet things, mostly because she hasn't been exposed to them much, so she wasn't a fan of the sweet icing but she did enjoy the cupcake.  She loved hearing everyone sing the birthday song to her and has been singing "happy to me" ever since then :)

CC needed all of the characters on her cupcake :)

We gave CC a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood themed present that included:
     Book - Goodnight Daniel Tiger
     Book - Meet the Neighbors
     Book - A Ride Through the Neighborhood
     Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Trolley
     Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Friends Figures Set
     Tabletop Hardwood Blocks

On Monday morning, CC's actual birthday, we woke early and went to the Aulani Disney Resort for the Disney Character Breakfast.  This is a gorgeous resort on the south-western side of the island. You do not have to be a guest at the resort in order to go to the restaurants there. Reservations are recommended.

There was a huge buffet with a wide variety of food options that should appease even the pickiest eaters.  There were three characters (Minnie, Mickey, and Goofy) that walked around the entire time we were there, stopping at all the tables multiple times for photos, autographs, and laughs.  Goofy was CC's favorite, he made her giggle every time he came near.

Our waitress brought out a tiny birthday cake with a candle for CC and we all sang to her.

CC was slightly overwhelmed with all the people and noise - she was quiet and observant but we could tell she enjoyed it and had a great time.  The breakfast crowd was full of tourists, primarily all Asian. Although the breakfast is geared toward children, there were many couples without kids and quite a few honeymooners.  Disney is HUGE in Japan, seemingly more so for adults than for kids.

There was an ukulele musician who walked around strumming and singing the entire time. She led multiple songs and activities that children were invited to participate in.  CC volunteered to participate in a few of the activities.

We walked around the resort for a while after breakfast and met a couple more Disney characters. I don't know if CC will remember this day at all but it was a fun one and great way to celebrate her 2nd birthday!

"Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever."
~Walt Disney

Family Friday: 23 Months Old

It's been over a month since my last post.  I involuntarily took a break because this was honestly a really rough month physically and mentally and I didn't get much of anything accomplished.  This post is about her, not me, so I'll leave the details for another day.  I did at least get these photos done, even if they sat on the memory card for the past 3 weeks.

This month CC and I went to the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near Kaneohe for her photos.  This is a buddhist temple that is a smaller-scale replica of the Byodo-in Temple in Japan.  It is open to the public daily for a small fee.  The temple and gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time.

The last time we were here, CC was only 6 months old! What a difference a year and half makes! I had no idea at that time that her head would erupt in a mound of curls!

At 23 months old, CC is still wearing size 4 diapers, mostly size 2T clothing (some smaller), and size 6 shoes.  Being summer year round here, we really get a lot of use out of her clothes since she can wear them until she outgrows them instead of just until the season changes. There are some things she has been wearing for over a year now! She still has a few 12 and 18 month shorts and skirts that still fit. It depends on the brand, not all sizes are created equal.

CC still follows the same eating and sleeping schedule.  She has been eating 4 times a day and sleeping 12 hours a night since she was 5 months old.  She started coming into this schedule on her own around 4 months and I just made sure she stuck with it.  Consistency was key and it still is.  If we want a happy toddler, then she needs to stick to her schedule (within reason).

There is a small gift shop on the temple grounds where you can purchase a small bag of fish food.  If you are military, you get a bag of food for free!  CC had a great time feeding the fish and birds.  She threw out one pellet at a time... thankfully we weren't in any hurry!

CC still loves her pacifiers. They are definitely a comfort item now and an addiction. I'm not going to make her quit them cold turkey yet but we are limiting them to only the crib and the car for longer rides.  There have been a few times in the past month when CC really wanted her paci.  When I tell her she could only have the paci if she's in her crib, then she wants in her crib so she can suck it! She sits quietly in her crib for about 20 minutes, gets her sucking fix, and then wants out to play again.

CC is still primarily babbling when she speaks but she is constantly learning and adding new words to her vocabulary.  Most notable for month 23 was that she started saying yes and no instead yeah and uh-uh.  She also started saying please ("eese") consistently and unprompted. She introduces Johnnie and I to everyone who pays attention to her as mama and daddy.  She knows her name but has not said it yet.

CC loves her babies (baby dolls and stuffed animals) and loves seeing real babies when we're out somewhere. She still loves Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and watches an episode of that almost every day.  She loves to "write" with pens, markers, crayons, and colored pencils. She also loves to brush her teeth and would brush them all day long if I let her!

Soon CC will be 2 years old! We are having a small casual cookout with a few friends to celebrate. Johnnie's parents will also be here for a visit.

For the past year, I've been referring to CC by number of months instead of simply saying "She's 1."  I know this annoys some people (usually those who don't have children) but there is such a HUGE difference between a 13 month old and a 23 month old despite both technically being "1". This has been such an incredible year for change, in both her looks and her abilities.  Once she turns two, I will stop counting by months.

I will also be stopping the monthly photos when she turns two and consider this project complete.  I'll still take random photos as often as I always do but I'll leave the official photo shoots to once a year. This was actually an extremely difficult project and I'm honestly glad it's about over.  CC is not a cooperative photo subject (notice how few photos in this post actually show her face?) so these photo shoots were quite stressful to accomplish.  I'm glad I have these monthly photos and I hope she appreciates them someday.  I also hope that she will eventually cooperate for photos, or at least look at the camera :)

"The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is
instead of what you think it should be."
~ Mandy Hale

Family Friday: 22 Months Old

We were a little late with this month's photos. We moved at the beginning of the month, then stormy weather rolled in, and then I was sick for a week...  I'm getting caught up just in time to take more photos!

For this month's photos we went to the Kawainui Marsh Trail in Kailua.  This is a 1.3 mile long path for foot, stroller, and bicycle traffic only.  There is a paved sidewalk next to a gravel road about the width of a car.  We saw a lot of people walking their dogs, jogging, and riding bicycles.  We didn't notice any bugs on the evening we went but people we talked to said that gnats and mosquitos can be really bad at times.  The views are great but there is no shade so going in the morning or late afternoon is best.

At 22 months old, CC is still wearing size 4 diapers and mostly size 2T clothing. She is wearing size 6 shoes.  I haven't measured her height or weight lately but she is definitely getting taller and leaning out some.  Her hair is growing and getting lighter, although I'm pretty sure she is destined to be a brunette.  It is still as curly as ever!

CC still has a bedtime of 7:30pm and sleeps for about 12 hours.  She takes an afternoon nap everyday, usually from 1:30 to 3:30pm.  She has stopped crying at nap time and bedtime now. She throws her selected baby dolls into the crib, goes in willingly herself, and then goes to sleep without a fuss. Easy-peasy... finally!

CC eats 3 meals and 1 scheduled evening snack every day.  She has started occasionally wanting a mid-morning snack which I do give her when she asks.

CC drinks water all day and always has multiple cups sitting around the house.  I'm amused by that because I have always done that myself, even when I was young.  CC does not like plain milk of any kind.  For calcium, she does eat a lot of cheese and I make her smoothies with breakfast made with either almond milk or coconut milk (because that's what I drink myself).

CC is such a little person at the table now.  We never bought a high chair for her.  Instead, we used the Inglesina Fast Table Chair so that she would be more a part of our meals (besides the fact that high chairs are big and take up a lot of space).  She used the Inglesina for a year, until she was about 18 months old, and then we switched to the Graco Blossom Booster Seat. The booster was short lived, she only used it for about 3 months. She loves to put her baby dolls in it now and play with the buckles but she refuses to sit in it.  She wants to sit in a normal chair like everyone else.

CC drinks from either a real cup or a cup with a straw now.  She can also drink from normal water bottles.  She uses real metal silverware (I bought some small sized real forks and spoons) and she occasionally use real plates (our salad plates are the perfect size). All of these changes make eating out at restaurants so much easier since we no longer have to take any of our own things along.

CC's language is still a lot of baby babble but occasionally she'll say things in plain English.  She understands everything and follows directions extremely well.  Her list of words she uses on a daily basis is growing.  Her top most-used words are uh-oh (something's wrong), uh-uh (no), yeah (yes), agua (water), and more (still accompanied by the sign language).  She is starting to say please and thank you (also still usually accompanied by the sign language).

CC says Dulce (deh-see) and has picked up a few things on her own in regards to Dulce just from watching me.  For example, CC calls for Dulce by yelling her name and smacking her lips (trying to mimic the sound I make); when we leave the house, she tells Dulce to be a "guh goo" (good girl) like I always do; and when Dulce rolls in the dirt, CC says "bah goo" (bad girl) and shakes her finger.

CC still loves music and loves to dance and sing.  She plays her keyboard and other instruments every day.  Her favorite toys right now are her "babies" and her shopping cart.  She loves to color but still needs supervised with writing utensils.  She still loves to read and looks at books quietly by herself.  Lately, instead of wanting me to read to her, she gives me a book to read while she reads her own book beside me :)

CC watches a TV show once a day.  Last month she couldn't ever decide which TV show she wanted to watch. This month it is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood every single time.  She loves that show!  I honestly love it too - the characters are cute, relatable, and diverse (some are animals and the rest are people of different races), there is a lesson of the day that is sung often throughout each episode, the show really focuses on feelings, the content is very relevant to toddlers and preschoolers, and it is educational!

CC still throws tantrums and she screams when she gets frustrated.  Fortunately both of those things are short lived once I give her the understanding and words that she needs to describe her feelings.  The Happiest Baby on the Block was my lifesaver when CC was a newborn.  The things I learned from Happiest Toddler on the Block are a huge help now.  Below is a great video clip of the author Dr. Karp on the Dr. Phil show putting his advice into action.  You do feel like a moron at first but it does actually work, especially if you use it consistently.  It is now second nature for me to start most things I say to CC (even in normal conversation, not just tantrums) with "You want..." or "You don't want..." which lets her know that I hear her and understand her. This almost always calms her down quickly during a tantrum or prevents one altogether.

Some people talk about the Terrible Twos while others swear that two was fine and that it's the Terrible Threes you have to worry about.  Every child is different... we'll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes!

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up
is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."
~Phyllis Diller