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 Caroline, Months 18-21

May 2, 2015

The past few months have been busy for Leah! She’s learning so much every day – she’s curious and daring and into everything! Talking, running, climbing, tantruming…everything you’d expect from a little girl staring down the upcoming terrible 2’s. Having been through the terrible 2’s once before and now having also been through the much worse 3’s, I’m thinking we can handle the 2’s again (hopefully).


Why am I talking about the terrible 2’s at only 21 months? They start way before 2! Leah has really gotten into the tantrums in the past few months. We’ve definitely started time outs with her. It’s a little strange having to switch gears and go back to handling THIS type of tantrum. We’ve been getting used to the almost-4 year old tantrum (“I’m NEVER gonna listen to you!”) but now we need to go back to the almost-2 year old tantrum as well (all out hysterical screaming in a pitch that makes you wince and squeeze your eyes closed). So we’re back to trying as hard as we can to ignore the screaming while trying not to let her see us laughing at the ridiculous drama of these tantrums.


So that’s the bad part about having an almost-2 year old, but there are so many more good parts about this age! It is definitely one of my favorite ages. Leah’s speech just keeps getting better and better! Between 18 and 19 months, she began putting 2 words together. She learned the words “my” and “mine” and she is always interested in pointing out what things belong to what people (“Daddy’s chair”, “Caelan’s water”, “Mommy’s jacket”, etc). Between 19 and 20 months, she started with these strings of babble that sounded like sentences except that we couldn’t really make them out. A lot of her words still don’t really sound like what they’re supposed to sound like, though we still recognize many of them in context. I long ago stopped counting her words, but she must have over 100 now. Some of her early words are starting to clear up. Originally, “waffle” and “water” were both “wawa” but now we have “wa-vel” and “wa-er”.


Some favorite/often heard words and phrases:

  • “gagees” (glasses)
  • “gagoon” (jacket)
  • “behben” (blanket)
  • “cown” (crayon)
  • “My turn!”
  • “1 more!” (said while holding up 1 finger, usually when a show is over)
  • “More na pees!” (More snack please – She’s obsessed with snacks and asks for them all day long!)
  • “Where Daddy/Mommy/GaGa go?”

By 20 months she was regularly using 2-word and even 3-word phrases that we could understand! She is able to ask for what she wants and we are able to offer her choices. That doesn’t always work (especially when what she wants is NOT one of the choices) but we’re getting there. She is also starting to revise her word for Caelan. It started out as GaGa, but is now morphing into Kai-en, which is closer!


As far as I know, Leah doesn’t know any letters or numbers. We kind of “forgot” to teach her those. Poor second child. Caelan was all about his letter/number/colors peg puzzles at this age, but he didn’t have an older sibling to play/fight with. It may be time to break out the magnetic letters and kill two birds with one stone – the alphabet for Leah and spelling for Caelan.

Leah is starting to move out of her stranger-danger phase. She is still shy and usually quiet around people she doesn’t see all the time, but she is warming up. She’s taken a liking to the director at Caelan’s school and will even run to her to be picked up, but she still doesn’t speak around her other than to say “bye”. I keep assuring the director that she definitely does talk and I’m sure she’ll be an even better talker when she starts going to preschool herself in about 4 months!


Both kids show signs of concern whenever the other one is upset and/or crying. They both try to comfort the upset sibling with shushing and hugs but usually get pushed away as the upset sibling is too upset to accept comfort. But when they’re both happy, they love to give hugs, especially at bedtime. They play reasonably well together. Of course there are fights and screaming and someone-took-someone’s-toy, etc etc etc, but that’s siblings for ya. They have also started to conspire against us, with Caelan leading the way and Leah more than happy to tag along.


Leah’s sleep habits are…not great. She has dropped down to 1 nap per day, for the most part, which is good. Usually it’s after lunch, but sometimes she will crash earlier in the day. Putting her down is not usually a problem at all. Bedtime, also, is relatively easy (minus the fight Bill has with her to get her pajamas on) but she only sleeps through the night about half the time. The other half of the time, she wakes up 1-3x/night crying and we go in, she lies back down pretty much immediately, we recover her with a blanket, and that’s it. On the one hand, it’s nice that she (usually) goes right back to sleep, but on the other hand, she’s 21 months old! She should be able to go back to sleep without us going in there.

Leah continues to be a big fan of books. If you have unlimited time and patience she will bring you book after book after book to read to her! Her current favorites are “Purplicious” and a couple of nursery rhymes books. Leah also loves to color.


Leah is great with self-care skills and she can be pretty independent. She can take off and put away her own shoes, she can put on shoes (depending on the shoe), she can put on her own jacket (she needs help with the zipper), and she is learning to take off her own clothes which she then puts in her laundry basket.

This seems like a long time ago now, but back in February, Leah got to play in the snow for the first time. I’m not sure how she felt about it. She didn’t hate it, but she wasn’t able to walk in 4+ inches of snow and falling that often was frustrating for her.


Leah’s 2nd Easter was a big hit! She looked so adorable in her dress and she had a great time hunting for eggs both at home and at Grandma and Pop’s house. We did take the kids to see the Easter Bunny this year. Leah seemed excited about it while we were waiting in line, but when she actually got up to the bunny, she panicked and ran away. Not unexpected really!



Since it’s finally been getting warmer, we’ve been able to play outside! Leah loves to ride Caelan’s bike (which at this point is just us pushing her on it). She loves to color with chalk and run after Caelan. She also takes off down the driveway every chance she gets. The other day I got to be that mom yelling and running down the driveway after an escaped toddler while a sympathetic woman in a minivan stopped to wait for me to scoop Leah up. At least I’m getting exercise?!


I’m really enjoying watching Leah turn into a real toddler right before my eyes. Her personality is coming out and though she definitely has a flair for the dramatic, she is also funny and silly and sweet. Hopefully we can nip the drama in the bud and it won’t get too out of control, but we’ll just have to see. I also hope that she’ll continue to come out of her shell a little more. She’s so talkative at home and not many other people get to see that side of her!

The next post I write for Leah is going to be her 2 year old post. We will officially have no more babies in the house when she hits that milestone! They’ll always be MY babies of course (though Caelan argues with me about that, insisting he’s NOT a baby anymore). Very soon I’ll be starting up “Leah Lines” – a collection of Leah sayings/conversations. I’ve only got 2 collected so far, so not enough for a post yet…but soon 🙂


Leah – 21 Months Old

Leah’s 21 Month Stats

  • Wearing 18-24 month tops and bottoms and 24 month sleepers/pajamas, size 5 or 6 shoes
  • Size 5 diapers
  • Weight:
  • Length:
  • Favorite foods: Yogurt, breakfast bars, GOLDFISH, bananas, any and all fruits and veggies
  • Loves reading books, playing with cars, trying on shoes, eating snacks, coloring and getting into mischief (with or without Caelan)

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April 17, 2015

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Meet Train

December 12, 2013

I feel like that title should be Meet Virginia. Meet Virginia? Train? Anyone?


This Christmas season, we’re starting the Elf on the Shelf. The premise is, Santa sends out these scout elves who hang out in your house and watch over your kids and then report back to Santa at night about whether they were naughty or nice. Each morning, the elf is in a new location in the house and the kids have to find him/her. There’s a book that goes along with the elf that explains the whole thing.

Our elf’s name is Train. The kids have to name him which is why ours has such an interesting one. The concept of a name is a little lost on Caelan, but it still works and it’s actually kind of awesome.

I will admit that the elf is a little creepy. I know there are a lot of haters out there. But whatever. Adults think it’s creepy, but kids don’t! Caelan loves looking for him every morning. Train isn’t very fancy, he mostly just finds a new perch each day but he did bring the kids their new Christmas pajamas this year. And one morning we caught him snacking on Christmas cookies. He may have one or two more tricks up his sleeve before Christmas is here. Don’t hate.






Bye Bye Picnik, Hello iPiccy

May 8, 2012

For the past year or so I had been using Picnik (a free web-based photo editor) to edit my pictures. I really liked it because it had a nice range of basic edits with a few intermediate ones thrown in there too (and some advanced features if you paid for a Premium membership). The interface was nice and easy to use* and I had come to rely on it.

Apparently the almighty Google owns Picnik and they decided to shut it down in mid-April. They are planning to roll some of the photo editing features Picnik offered into Google+. I’m not a huge fan of this option. I have a Google+ profile, but I don’t post there, nor do I upload my pictures to this site. I’d rather have a photo editor that is separate from social media. I don’t need to post ALL of my photos.

I have an older copy of Adobe Photoshop that I do use for photo editing. I only know how to use probably 10% of this program and the learning curve is steep. I find it useful for things like using the clone stamp to edit things out of photos, or using the selection tools to work with one part of a photo, or for layering images together. I don’t really like this program for basic cropping, red eye removal, and color balance/exposure changes. Certainly, you can do all of those things with Photoshop, but using Photoshop for basic cropping is overkill, in my opinion.

So I went in search of an alternative to my beloved Picnik. The first possibility I tried was Adobe Photoshop Express (free, web-based). I liked this program. The interface is clean and clear and easy to use* and it offered all of the features I was used to using with Picnik. I particularly liked that its Auto Correct option came with choices (choose from 5 different auto-corrections, with previews). The down side is that it’s SLOW. The first time I tried it I ended up getting so frustrated with the lag time that I had to just quit for the night. I’ve given it another couple of tries and it’s still kind of slow. I have zero patience for slow-running programs so I will probably not use this one again.

The next option I tried was Pixlr Express. The interface is okay on this one – I don’t like it as much as Picnik’s or PS Express. I am not a fan of the crop utility. I have yet to figure out how to crop a picture with into a portrait orientation. But it does have a lot of fun features – text, stickers, borders, etc – and it ran without any lag time.

The third option I tried was something I saw mentioned on one of my message boards – iPiccy. Ding ding ding – we have a winner! iPiccy’s interface* is virtually identical to Picnik’s so it’s very familiar to me. It appears to have all of the same options, plus quite a few that were Premium options on Picnik but are free on iPiccy. I haven’t explored all of the options yet (nor did I explore all of Picnik’s options), but I am very happy to have found a new (and maybe better) photo editor to work with!

*Note: I design web screens and user interfaces for a living. If a program has an interface that isn’t clean and user-friendly, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine!

My 100th Post

January 12, 2012

100 posts in 2-ish years really isn’t that many, but it seemed like a milestone worth mentioning! I am still surprised that people actually read my blog so I thought I would take a little poll and find out how exactly I came to have “followers”.

I am also well aware that if I want to continue having “followers” I need to post more often! I’m really going to try and work on that this year 🙂 I have several half-written posts floating around but none of them have taken their final form as of yet. But stay tuned, and thank you for reading!!