Leah Caroline, 2 1/2 Years

April 27, 2016

I’m 3 months late on this post…There’s no why other than just life. Kids. Work. Reasons.

Let’s see, what has happened since Leah turned 2?? Tons! First of all, Leah started preschool. It was a little bit of a shaky transition with tears at drop off for a few weeks, but she settled in. After 4 months at that school, we moved her (and Caelan) to a bigger school. We anticipated tears again, but she did not miss a beat! No tears, and she settled right in.


Just a couple weeks after her birthday, we took her for her first hair cut. She cried and squirmed the whole time, but she came out with bangs!


It’s actually amazing how much her hair has grown since then. And now we are growing her bangs out, which is annoying, but she does look cute with them clipped back.


Leah was Robin for Halloween last year and she went trick-or-treating for real this time. I’m still not sure she actually spoke, but she enjoyed it.


In November, we moved Leah to a big girl bed. The transition was smooth – no real problems. However, after a couple of months, she’d get up out of bed and leave her room. Sometimes she’d go into Caelan’s room and sometimes she’d come to our room. We eventually put a gate up at her door and that has fixed that problem for the time being. We also gave her a clock that turns green at a certain time in the morning and we’re working on her learning that she can’t leave her room until the clock is green. She’s fairly good about it at this point.


At Christmastime, we went to see Santa and Leah actually agreed to sit next to him. She sort of understood Christmas this year. We also included her in our Elf on the Shelf tradition and she gave our elf his middle name, Mike. So now he’s Train Mike.


In March, we started swimming lessons for Leah. It was the first time she had ever been in a pool and she has done so well! She’s much more comfortable in the pool than Caelan was at her age, though she is still apprehensive. We’ll be starting another session this week.

Since Leah has been in preschool, she’s made progress with things like letters and numbers. She can sing the alphabet but only knows 2 or 3 letters by sight. She can count from 1-13 and then from 17-20, but is a little fuzzy in between. She can also count objects up to about 5. She knows most of the basic colors, and she still LOVES books. LOVES. It is not unusual for her to appear with a stack of books and ask to be read to.

Her speech is excellent for her age. I think she is perfectly understandable to anyone, but of course she does still mispronounce some words and she uses pronouns incorrectly. She did stop calling herself Yah and started calling herself Leah. She also stopped calling Caelan Gaga and calls him Caelan now. Bill and I still call them Gaga and Yah sometimes, though.


Leah’s sleep has been better in recent months. She still wakes too early for my taste (6-6:30am) and occasionally she will wake up at night, but for the most part she has been sleeping well at night lately. However, naps are now kind of iffy. She’s always been pretty good about napping and she still takes a 2 hour nap at school, but at home it’s different. Sometimes she goes down easily, but only sleeps for an hour, and other times she just wants to play in her room. And it’s not that she’s not tired, because if she skips her nap, she will usually crash around dinnertime. Leah still has quite a few “buddies” that she sleeps with including Penguin, Owie, Hippo, and seahorse. She has recently started using the same projection mobile that Caelan used to use. We have gotten a lot of use out of that thing!!


Potty training is…not really going. We aren’t really trying. She sits on the potty at school and we are trying to get more in the habit of it at home, but she’s not really ready. If she does happen to go, she’s SUPER excited but that doesn’t seem to inspire her to go all the time.

When it comes to food, Leah is generally not very picky. If she feels like it, she will eat anything. I can’t think of much that she doesn’t like. She is still a huge fan of fruits and veggies. She is still a very messy eater though.


For self-care skills, Leah wants to do everything herself. Bill has been working with her on dressing and undressing herself. She has long been able to put her own shoes and jacket on. The independence is good on the one hand, but can also be frustrating.

And while we’re talking about things that are frustrating…2 year olds. Yeah. Leah has nailed the throw-myself-on-the-floor tantrum. Oh the drama. And any tiny little thing can set her off – not picking her up, not letting her choose, giving her the wrong kind of fork, etc. We generally try to ignore the tantrums in an effort to teach her that shrieking is not going to get her anything, but omg the shrieking. We’re actually in a phase right now (this very second at least) where Caelan’s behavior has improved lately, and Leah’s has gotten worse. Hopefully Caelan will continue to improve because Leah’s threenager year is coming and only one hysterical kid at a time would be super! Leah already has the sassy attitude down so she’s well on her way.


The kids, Leah and Caelan, have become more difficult to handle as a unit than they are individually now. I can take them out together to run an errand or something by myself, but I try not to. It’s not usually worth it because the whining and bickering and the cliche she-kicked-me, he’s-looking-at-me crap gets out of control. They really do love to play together SO much but they are siblings so they fight. Leah worships Caelan. She repeats everything he says, parrots his opinions, and wants to do everything he does. I think the person that will have the hardest time with Caelan going to kindergarten this Fall will be Leah when she realizes she can’t go with him.


Leah is still such a cuddly little girl. I love that about her! She loves to be held, picked up, hugged. Often that is what she needs to snap her out of a tantrum. Sometimes we have to refuse to pick her up when she is tantruming or being rude and I hate that but I also want to teach her to use words to communicate, not whines. I really do try to savor every single cuddle and hug (and even the times when it takes forever to get her down for a nap) because I know these days won’t last forever and I won’t always have this little girl climbing into my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck, and giving me a kiss on each cheek before she goes to bed.


2 1/2 Years Old

Leah’s 2 1/2 Year Old Stats

  • Wearing 3T tops, 2T bottoms and 3T pajamas, size 7 1/2 shoes
  • Size 6 diapers
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Height: 36 inches
  • Favorite foods: Yogurt, toast, goldfish, pizza, any and all fruits and veggies especially tomatoes and grapes
  • Loves reading books, Daniel Tiger, Super Why, anything Caelan likes, Hi Ho Cherry-O



Caelan Vaughn, 4 1/2 Years

January 14, 2016

This is the first time I’ve been late on one of these reflections posts. It’s been a really crazy past few months and I just didn’t get it together to write this post by December 1st, when Caelan turned 4 1/2. But he’s still 4 1/2 now in January and things have settled down some and taken a good turn, so let’s see about this recap🙂

The most significant part of the last 6 (or 7) months for Caelan has been his experience in school. He finished out the summer in the 3’s classroom. At the end of August, he moved up to the pre-K classroom. Leah also started in the 2’s classroom at the same time and Caelan seemed happy to have Leah there and was also very protective of her!


Caelan and his 3’s teacher

In October, I went with the kids on a field trip to a local farm. It was a lot of fun for the kids to go together and I always enjoy getting to spend time with the teachers and other parents.


Farm Field Trip

In November, we had a conference with Caelan’s teacher. She (and he) showed us all of the things he had been learning, and we were blown away. His writing had improved dramatically. He was learning to skip count by 2’s and 10’s. He was even sounding out letters and constructing words. The following week, he started reading to us from his Level 1 readers. I was so proud!! My 4 year old was reading!!



It was around that same time that we started hearing about problems at school. It’s a terribly long story that is difficult to tell because it’s made up of so many incidents that eventually led us to pull Caelan and Leah out of their school and find a new place for them. We felt that Caelan’s environment had become unfriendly and that those responsible for him there did not have his best interests at heart. I’m purposely being extremely vague, but suffice it to say out of a class of 12 children, Caelan became the 6th to leave since the beginning of the school year.


Christmas Show

It was a really difficult situation, and we struggled with the decision to move both kids to a new school. We had trouble finding a school with mid-year openings for our kids, but we lucked out and managed to move them to a new school just 3 days after pulling them from their old school. I worried about the transition. Caelan would miss his friends, especially one little boy to whom he had become very close over the past year.

It’s only been a week, but they are doing wonderfully!!! Caelan LOVES his new school and teacher. He was even reunited with another child who also left his old school earlier this year. He doesn’t seem to miss his old school at all (which has been very telling) though he does ask about his friend and I really hope I can arrange a playdate for them. But overall, I think this was the best thing we could have done for Caelan. It’s only been a week, but I’m really hopeful that this change in environment is exactly what he needed.


Mommy and Caelan

This past holiday season, we spent lots of time with family! First there was Halloween. This may have been the only year where Caelan and Leah were willing to get on board with my suggestion of coordinating costumes. Although, I’m still holding out a little hope for next year🙂 This year, they went as Batman and Robin.


Batman and Robin

There was Thanksgiving with both sides of the family at Grammy and Pappy’s house this year.



We made cookies with both Grandma (and Aunt Jen) and Grammy (and Aunts Rachel and Nancy) and the kids really participated this year!! Caelan has been asking more frequently now to help me prepare meals, so I need to start getting him involved in that.


Making cookies

We went and saw Santa this year and both kids sat with him for the first time. Caelan asked for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, which he did receive🙂


Visiting with Santa

Caelan also did some of his own Christmas shopping this year. Bill took him shopping and they picked out gifts for me and Leah. Caelan did a great job keeping his purchases a secret! Last year, he had no concept of keeping a secret.

Caelan and Leah are best friends. Since Leah has moved out of her crib, these two wake up in the morning and go into each other’s rooms to play. There’s plenty of fighting too, but overall, they get along really well. They make up games to play together, they scheme together, and they beg to have a sleepover. I will sometimes sit and watch them play and I’m SO glad they have each other.



Caelan stopped gymnastics class at the beginning of the summer and started up with swimming lessons. It was the first time he’d been in a swim class without me, and he did get off to a rough start. But he improved greatly over the course of 2 sessions. He is willing to swim on his own (with flotation) now. We took a break from swim lessons over the holidays, but hopefully we will start up again this Spring.



Back in August, Caelan started karate. He goes to class once a week and he seems to enjoy it. I can’t tell if he LOVES it or not, but he certainly likes it. He was very excited to earn his first new belt back in November.


Earning his Camo belt

Caelan has had a growth spurt these past few months! He was sort of stalled out for a couple years there but in the past year, he has shot up! I’m starting to shop for him some in the Boys’ section now😮 He’s very, very independent at this point. There is little he needs help with in terms of self-care, though he does still ask for help often.

In just a couple months we will register Caelan for kindergarten!!!! I can’t believe it, but at the same time, I’m excited for him!! We drive through the crowded bus stop most mornings and Caelan talks about when he will get to ride the school bus with our neighbor, McKenzie. It will be a whole new world for all of us.

The last couple of months have been busy and difficult. I’m hopeful that Caelan’s new school environment will help him finish out his pre-K year on a good note!


Caelan’s 4 1/2 Year Stats

  • Wearing 5T and XS tops, 4T pants, size 11 shoes
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs
  • Height: 41 inches (3′ 6″)
  • Loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Heroes, Legos, trains, cars, watching movies, playing board/card games


Leah Lines, Part 3

October 6, 2015


SARAH: Leah, when are you going to go on the potty?

LEAH: On Monday.


Leah is sitting on the air conditioner vent…

LEAH: Ooooooooooh!! It’s cold on my butt!!


I notice that Leah’s diaper is full…

SARAH: Leah, do you need a new diaper?

LEAH [casually]: No. I fine.


CAELAN: Whoever says “butt cheek” first wins!

LEAH [practically before Caelan finishes his sentence]: Butt-cheek-I-win!!


Leah is talking about her ceiling fan…

LEAH: My fan in a time out.

SARAH: Your fan’s in a time out?

LEAH: Yes.


LEAH: Cause he eat me.

SARAH: Your fan is in a time out because it ate you??

LEAH: Yes.


Leah sees Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy on TV…

LEAH: Mickey, Donald, woof!


Leah gets Caelan a tissue which he refuses.

LEAH: You fine? [She squats down so she can look up his nose.] Okay.


LEAH: I put Mickey in timeout. In the oven.

SARAH: Oh no, what did he do?

LEAH: He hit Gaga (Caelan).

Leah’s Next Big Adventure: Preschool

September 18, 2015


We made the decision for Leah to start preschool just after she turned 2. I was (and am) excited to have both kids in the same place again (they were both in their home daycare together for about 6 months before Caelan went off to preschool). Leaving our daycare provider was very bittersweet since we have been with her for 4 years and she took such great care of our babies in that time. But we are excited for Leah’s new adventure!

Despite having been through this same transition with Caelan last year (crazy that it was only last year – it seems like it was much longer ago!) I had a hard time anticipating what this would be like for Leah. Caelan has never been a clingy child but even he had a rough transition to preschool. He was fine the first two days, but then sobbed at drop off for a week and a half after that. Leah is much clingier so I had to expect that this would be even worse for her. Plus, she is used to having only 1 or 2 other children around at daycare. A class of a dozen, plus another couple dozen kids in neighboring classes and I was sure she’d be overwhelmed.

There is also a huge difference between 2 years, 9 months (Caelan’s age when he started preschool) and 2 years, 1 month (Leah’s age). Leah speaks well for a 2 year old, but she isn’t used to sleeping on a cot or with a pillow, she *just* learned how to drink from an open cup, and she is still a baby in many ways. And she’s my last baby which makes her just that much more of a baby to me, no matter her age🙂

I dropped her off on the first day of school. She walked in as she always does when we drop Caelan off, this time excited to have her own lunchbox, but still not realizing that I was about to leave her there. When she did realize, she WAILED. I was expecting it and I made my hasty escape, but not without shedding a few tears myself. I know it’s normal, I know she’s going to be fine, but it’s hard to leave your baby screaming like that. Apparently, she stopped crying fairly quickly and went on to have a good first day.

The tearful drops offs continued through the first week, and the second week…Finally now, at the end of her third week, she’s started to do better. She hugged me today and said “Bye!” without so much as a quivery lip. I won’t be surprised if we have a few more rough mornings in the coming weeks, but hopefully now we’ve turned a corner.


Leah’s very own cubby

Caelan Conversations, Part 19

August 11, 2015


CAELAN [in a tone of awe]: Guess what, Mommy? Yesterday, Pappy watched a no-hitter. And a guy fell when he was catching a ball!

SARAH: Wow, sounds exciting! You know that was a baseball game. That’s the same game we were playing in the yard the other day.

CAELAN: No, Mommy, it was a no-hitter.


One morning I made a smoothie and poured it into my travel mug.

CAELAN: Are you making a new Alexa?

For reference, Alexa (Amazon Echo) on the right, my mug on the left🙂



On the way to a timeout…

CAELAN: I’m gonna poke a hole in the wall and hope the house falls down.

Um, okay. Not sure he thought that one through!


SARAH: Caelan, please drink your milk.

CAELAN: Did you say “shake your booty butt”?

BILL: No! Not at the dinner table!


On our way to the beach, we passed many farms and saw lots of farm equipment including huge sprinklers on wheels.

CAELAN: Are you kidding me with that sprinkler?!


SARAH: What’s your favorite color today?

CAELAN [who knows all his colors and numbers perfectly well]: Seven.


SARAH: Do you want me to hold your cake pop while you climb out of the car seat?

CAELAN: No, I’m magic. I can hold it AND climb out.


When I get home from work, Caelan runs to meet me in the mudroom…

CAELAN: Mommy, we’re having a face!

SARAH: What?

CAELAN: A feece….[looks confused, and runs away calling] Daddy, what is it again?

After a few seconds, he returns to the mud room…

CAELAN: A feast!! A picnic feast! You want to join us??

Leah Lines, Part 2

August 11, 2015


Talking to our Amazon Echo, Alexa…

SARAH: Alexa, what is my name?

ALEXA: Sarah’s Profile.

LEAH: Say “Mommy”, Alexa.


SARAH: Leah, can you say “I love you”?

LEAH: We go Chick Fil A??


Leah and I are watching Caelan NOT nap on the monitor…

SARAH: Go to sleep Caelan.

LEAH: Listen a Mommy, Gaga!


SARAH: Leah, do you want to take a nap?

LEAH: A nack [snack]?

SARAH [enunciating]: No, a naP.

LEAH: No, sssssnack.


Leah is very annoyed by a few flies who have sneaked into our house. I overheard this from the lunch table…

LEAH: No fly, that my milk!!


SARAH: Your hair is a hot mess.

LEAH: You’re a hot mess.

Leah’s Carnival Party

August 10, 2015

At this point, it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m going to go all out on a birthday party for one of my kids. I know it’s insane and it’s TONS of work (especially this one), but I love putting the parties together. And my kids have a great time and that is the ultimate goal🙂

So going way back to this past Christmas, friends of ours gave us a popcorn machine. My first thought was “Okay, one of the kids is having a carnival party this summer.” Funny how these ideas come about, but that is how this one was born.

Nailing down the details for this party was tricky. I wanted to include classic carnival foods, but also some non-junk foods. And the games needed to appear to kids ranging from 2 to 11 and be self-operating.

In the end, I figured out the menu, the games, the prizes, etc and it all came together really well! The amount of prep was crazy though. I had EIGHT people helping me do food prep and set up right before the party and we still managed to get it together just as the guests were arriving. (PS: THANK YOU to my “crew” (aka my family) for helping out!!)


I found a few inspiration pics from a Google Image search and designed this invitation for Leah’s party.



We had minimal decorations since the food and games were kind of the stars. I put up streamers and balloons in the kitchen near the food, but that was about it except for the pictures. I have done this monthly pictures display for both of my kids for their 1st and 2nd birthdays. It’s fun to see how quickly they’re changing!






Here was our menu:

  • Hot Dogs
  • Chick Fil A nugget tray
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Pasta Salad
  • Watermelon & Grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Soft Pretzels
  • Funnel Cakes
  • Cotton Candy
  • Marshmallow Dumbbells
  • Lemonade, Soda, Beer, Juice




I also made little signs for all of the food…



The cupcakes (ironically) were the only thing that went really wrong. First off, the cupcake liners I ordered from eBay arrived 2 days AFTER the party. Fail. Luckily, I have a stash of liners and I actually had some that were really perfect for this. Crisis #1 averted. I made plain old chocolate cupcakes and planned to frost them with a new icing recipe I found for a whipped cream icing. I was making the icing at the last minute and I was so busy that I kept turning on the mixer and walking away and forgetting about it. Between that and the humidity, my icing was soup😦 But a call to my mom and father-in-law to pick up some canned frosting and my sister and brother-in-law icing the cupcakes at the last minute saved the day! Box cake and canned frosting, and you know what, they were delicious. Crisis #2 averted.


I really wanted to have a bouncy castle (as my kids call them) for this party. It seemed fitting. We decided to purchase one instead of renting. It seems a little extravagant to me, but hopefully it’s a good investment since we can use it for future parties.


I also wanted to include face painting. I was reluctant to hire a pro for this since we had already spent money on the bouncy castle so I purchased a face painting kit. I printed out some simple ideas and hoped the parents would be willing to try their hand at face painting. Many parents did give it a go and the kids looked great! Unfortunately, sweaty faces + water guns and we had a lot of smearing and I’m pretty sure there is a fair amount of paint on the bouncy castle. Oh well, it’s washable.



We had 3 games. They were set up so that each child could win 1 prize from each game, and the idea was that those 3 prizes would be their party favor. The games were fairly self-explanatory though my husband did supervise a couple of them. And since we were left with more than half of the prizes at the end of the party, I don’t think how to win a prize was quite clear.

Ring Toss

I made this ring toss set with empty iced tea bottles, a cardboard box, and a set of rings (found on Amazon). Each bottle was numbered, and each number corresponded to a prize bag.


Fish Bowl

For the fish bowl game, I used clear plastic cups and taped a picture of a fish with a number on the bottom of each one. The cups were then filled with water. The kids tossed ping pong balls and tried to get one in a cup. Again, the numbers corresponded to a prize bag.


Water Gun

For this game, I stuck golf tees in a block of stryrofoam and the object was to shoot the balls off their tees with a water gun. I couldn’t figure out how to do prizes for this game so I just did a grab bag of prizes instead of individual ones. The kids did play this game, but the water guns were a hit on their own (I thought they would be!).


So that was how we celebrated Leah’s 2nd birthday!! Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was our first time having a large party at the new house. There will be many more, I’m sure😉 Read the rest of this entry »