Friday, December 5, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 7 MONTHS OLD)

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How do you convert a 52″ TV screen into a 13″ TV screen?
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Last week, I made Taylor a puppet theater out of an old box that we had lying around. She decided that it was a TV and then pretended to have a cooking show (“Cooking with Chef Pig”, which she saw on “Word World”). After doing that for awhile, she decided that she wanted to watch real TV through the pretend TV. How funny it was to see her viewing the large screen TV through her small screen box.

Taylor turned three and a half last month and Zach and I decided that it’s possibly our favorite age. The tantrums have gotten fewer and farther between and T.J. is such a pleasure to hang out with. She’s started making all sorts of different facial expressions and it lends her a certain maturity that’s beyond her years. Sometimes she frowns at me and I don’t think she realizes she’s doing it. I can see what I might be dealing with in 8-10 years. She’s also becoming an excellent mimic, so she imitates voices and expressions a lot. I often wonder where she comes up with some of the things she says. Whenever I ask her, she’ll say, “Sister told me that”. Even though she doesn’t mention her imaginary friend Candy much anymore, she still talks about Sister every once in awhile.
One of Taylor’s new expressions:
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Detective Taylor is on the case:
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C.R. came up for Thanksgiving last week and spent the weekend visiting. Taylor was SO excited to see her and so she channeled all of her enthusiasm into playing and hanging out with C.R. When T.J. woke up, her first question was if Grandma was awake. She was just bursting at the seams to see her and spend time with her. I remember being so excited as a kid when my grandparents came to visit, so I can imagine how Taylor feels when her grandma is in town. I used up the memory in my camera, so the only pictures I managed to get were a couple of Taylor riding on the merry-go-round at the Dickens Fair.
TJ, riding high on the elephant:
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Friday, November 7, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 6 MONTHS OLD)

Taylor went with me to vote on Tuesday morning. I wanted her to have the experience of actually going to the polls. Since I didn’t want her to experience waiting in long lines, we woke up early to go there before they opened. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so we had to settle for a picture in front of the “Vote” sign out front. Here she is getting out the youth vote:
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This year for Halloween, Taylor decided she wanted to be a fairy princess. I let her put her costume on in the morning, and she wore it all day and night. It was really fun to see everyone’s reactions when we were out and about shopping and going about our day. It just makes people smile to see a fairy princess walking around. This year was Taylor’s first time to go trick-or-treating. We decided to go down to my parent’s house since our neighborhood isn’t the easiest to get around. My parent’s live on a small cul-de-sac, which was perfect because we went to just a handful of houses. T.J. didn’t want to say “Trick-or-Treat” at first, she just wanted to say the ABC’s, but once she realized what the payoff was, she was willing to say just about anything! By the time we finished, she had a small bag of candy and she was ready to return to my parent’s house. Zach and I had discussed beforehand how we wanted to handle the candy consumption. Taylor eats candy occasionally, but we try not to have it around all the time. T.J. definitely has a sweet tooth, just like us. Zach joked that we should tell her that if she has one piece, then she has to have ten and I could just picture us telling her, “You will not go to bed, young lady, until you’ve finished ALL of your Reese’s peanut butter cups!” In the end, we decided to let her have a couple of pieces that night and then she was allowed one piece a day after that. She got to pick which type of candy and she could have it anytime. She was very happy with that plan, but a funny thing happened – she kept giving her candy to us. Every day, she would pick a piece to give to Zach to take to work or for me to put in my purse. We kept telling her that the candy was hers to keep and she didn’t have to share, but she insisted. It was such a kind and unexpected gesture and I was very proud of her for sharing.

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Friday, October 3, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 5 MONTHS OLD)

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I get asked a lot if I think that Taylor is a picky eater. My first instinct is to say, “yes, yes, YES!”, but if I step back for a minute and think about it, I realize that she is a typical three year old. She wants to eat white foods: bread, pasta, cheese and milk. If she could eat just those 24/7, she would be perfectly happy, so that doesn’t really set her apart from other kids her age. She also is in the habit of eating only components of meals. For instance, she’ll eat cereal and milk, but don’t even think about pouring the cereal over the milk. I try not to worry myself too much, and we feed her lots of fruits and a few vegetables (corn, artichokes, carrots, lettuce, green beans). It’s troubling to me sometimes that foods she once readily accepted are now being turned down. Taylor has always loved tomatoes, but now she only wants to suck the juice out of the insides, like some sort of tomato vampire. She used to eat havarti cheese, but now she throws a fit if we try to give it to her. She used to love pizza, now when we go to a pizza place, she’ll say she doesn’t want any. Then she’ll ask for breadsticks with marinara and cheese on the side. I don’t mean to split hairs, but THAT’S PIZZA!!! Unfortunately, there’s not much point in reasoning with a preschooler, especially when it comes to food.

Zach recently had the idea to get T.J. some plants that she could grow on her own. He took Taylor to Home Depot and bought some seeds and some soil and they planted and watered and waited. The seeds sprouted and Taylor’s been having a great time taking care of her plants. Here she is tending to the garden:
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Friday, September 5, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 4 MONTHS OLD)

We held it off for as long as we could, but the inevitable has happened…Taylor is now in full princess mode. She absolutely loves princesses, especially Cinderella. She has friends that have various princess toys, costumes, etc. and Taylor loves to dress up with them. Even though she hasn’t really seen any of the movies (well, except Aladdin, which really was more about the prince than the princess), she knows them all by name. Here you can see Taylor singing along with her princess song and doing some sort of interpretive dance:
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T.J. has been in preschool for over a month now and every day seems to be getting a little easier. We’re still experiencing some separation anxiety (she clings to me and cries, “Mommy, I loooove you!” every time I leave), but she always wants to stay at school when I arrive to pick her up. It sounds cold, but I try to just leave quickly because it doesn’t seem to help if I stay any later. It’s hard to walk away, but prolonging it just makes things worse. I think Taylor would like Zach and I to be giving her our undivided attention constantly, without a break, if she could have that. When we play in her room now, she always closes the door behind us. I think it’s to ensure that we won’t leave, because if I open the door again she gets very upset. When we color now, she will usually stop coloring her page and move onto my page. It’s not enough to be coloring side by side any longer, we actually have to be practically touching crayons. It’s kind of funny and I’m assuming that it’s a phase that will pass soon. The nice thing is that she will sit and color for about an hour at a time, so it’s a great activity for us to just sit down and do together. We also got a little felt sewing kit that was made for kids about her age and it had some puppets that she put together with Grandpa Paul and Daddy. She was really proud to have made the puppets and they actually looked pretty good when she was done.

Learning to sew with Grandpa Paul:

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I thought all kids loved water, but as it turns out, Taylor is very finicky about playing in water and she DOES NOT like getting her face wet. She really hates having her hair washed and so it takes a lot of cajoling, bribes and trickery to get her hair clean. We’ve actually compromised in allowing her to have her hair washed in the kitchen sink, but you’d think I was torturing her by the way she carries on. During the summer, we were invited to a few water-related activities with friends, but I usually hesitated because I didn’t think Taylor would be very interested. During the last heat wave, however, we were all melting in the house and we decided to check out the Antioch Water Park. I had heard really good things about it from some friends, so we drove out to Antioch one sweltering evening. When we got there, T.J. had just woken up from a nap and she was not in the mood to be at the water park, so she immediately threw a fit. Zach and I decided to each go down a waterslide while the other one stayed with Taylor, and she was furious. What a tantrum she threw! I thought she would never calm down and was regretting our decision to drag her out against her will. After awhile, though, she agreed to dip her toes in the water. Then she was willing to walk into the water. Then she played with Zach and I in the pool. Before we knew it, she was going down the kiddie waterslide by HERSELF! Just like with everything with Taylor, she had to observe things and take her time before she would try. But eventually she did it and pretty soon she was running to go down the slide again. Afterwards, we all agreed that it was a really fun night!

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Next posting: Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 3 MONTHS OLD)

We took a trip to Idaho for Fourth of July weekend and spent some time with Zach’s extended family. What a fabulous trip! We got to relax, play on the beach for a few days and meet family, family and more family. It was wonderful and we all had a great time.
Just goofin’ around with Grandma C.R.:
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Sitting on the jetski with dad:

Taylor took her first trip to the dentist. We went to a dentist that specializes in working with kids and they did a great job with her. They gave her a clean bill of dental health, so we were happy campers. Here’s a picture of her in the doctor’s special “banana chair”:
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Taylor is really getting in touch with her feelings, or maybe she’s just expressing them better. Every day, it seems like she expresses a new emotion. She’s been saying things like “I’m angry”, “It’s very disappointing” and, my personal favorite, “It’s depressing when you tell me I can’t do things I want to do”. I would think that she was just parroting back things she’s heard grown-ups say, but she’s saying things in the appropriate context. On almost a daily basis, she tells me, “You’re not letting me do anything that I want to do!!!” How dramatic. And clever…playing the guilt card already. It almost works, too. She’s going to have to work a little bit harder to convince me that she’s a deprived child.

Taylor and me:
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This week, T.J. started preschool. She’s been having some separation anxiety again recently, so it’s probably good timing for her to get some more independence. She didn’t want me to leave, but when I came to pick her up, of course she didn’t want to go. Here’s a shot of her on her first day of preschool:
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Next post: Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 2 MONTHS OLD)

Raise your hand if you’re potty-trained!

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That’s right…remember last month when I casually mentioned that Taylor had gone an entire day using the potty? Well, it turns out that a kid can stretch out potty training for three years and then learn how to go overnight. Don’t get me wrong, we spent many, many, many hours over the past year reading books to her and singing songs while she sat in the bathroom and NOTHING happened. Then, just like so many people told me it would happen, it just clicked one day and she got it. No looking back. To me, it’s just amazing. Every. Single. Time. And she’s still SO PROUD of herself. Sorry to go on and on, but there is no Hallmark card to commemorate this occasion and there really should be. In lieu of that, I have to post to the blog – the 21st century equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops: “Hurray, we’re potty-trained!!”

Once Taylor was potty trained, she had it in her head that she really wanted to go to the kid’s care at IKEA. Believe it or not, they have a childcare area in the store and you can drop your child there and they’ll watch them for up to 1.5 hours for free while you shop. Taylor must have overheard my friend Amy and I talking about it months ago. Kids have to be at least 36″ tall and potty trained to go there, so T.J. couldn’t go in before, but once she was potty trained, she persisted in asking me if she could go. A year ago, I would have thought that the notion of dropping my child off at daycare at IKEA was an insane idea. I could just picture them trying to read to her from the assembly instructions for a dresser or desk or CD tower. Only there would be no words, just pictures that did little to help in actually instructing someone how to assemble anything, let alone an actual dresser. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, anyway Taylor has been trying to get some more independence lately, so I told her we could go check it out. I dropped her off on a weekday morning, when it was not busy at all. I didn’t have any shopping to do, so I just went upstairs to the cafeteria to get a bite to eat. Once I was up there, I realized the greatest part about the kid’s care – they are in a glass enclosed room and I could look down from the cafeteria and see everything. I was able to sit upstairs for 1/2 hour and watch Taylor while she adjusted to IKEA’s play school. It was pretty uneventful – she just sat at a table and colored and watched the other kids. It was typical T.J., just sitting back and taking it all in. I was just happy to see that there wasn’t anything to worry about…she’s able to hold her own now.

Taylor loves dressing in very colorful outfits and she’s picked out some doozies. Here are some of my favorites:
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Taylor with Daddy on Father’s Day:
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Next posting: Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 1 MONTH OLD)

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Well, we’ve had a month now to settle into having a three year old. Taylor keeps asking us if she’s four yet (soon enough…soon enough!). T.J. went for her 3-year doctor’s appointment and everything looks good. She finally crossed the 30 lb. mark and she’s 36.5″ tall. She did so great at the appointment, she wasn’t scared at all. I think it helped that she had her new doctor’s kit with her and her “Elmo Gets A Checkup” book. We read the book while we were in the waiting room and we practiced listening to our hearts and looking in each other’s ears. By the time her turn came, Taylor was excited. She didn’t even cry when she got a shot! I’m so relieved that she’s not scared of the doctor. Now we’ve got to get her in to the dentist.

We went down to Fresno for a few days to visit with Grandma C.R. and Uncle Steve and Aunt Dot. Taylor has such a fun time with them – she gets a lot of special attention and TLC. She and Zach and Steve had a fun day together at the Fresno Zoo. They saw the usual zoo animals, fed the giraffes and watched the bird show. They also saw an animal called the tapir. I’ve been to a lot of zoos in my day, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a tapir. In fact, when they described it to me (kind of like a cross between a horse and a rhino with an anteater nose and it’s black and white), I kind of thought they were putting me on. Turns out that they actually do exist. Whaddaya’ know?
T.J. with the Fresno family:
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Living in the Bay Area, it feels like we can do a different thing or go to a different place almost every day. Even though I grew up here, I still find new places to go all the time. This past weekend, Zach and I went out to Brentwood to pick fruit with Taylor. It was a bit of a drive, about an hour, but totally worth it. Brentwood is great – it reminds me of San Ramon when we moved there in the 70’s…lots of ranches and orchards and fields. I wonder what Brentwood and Oakley and Byron will look like in twenty years. Hopefully Taylor will someday be able to bring her own kids there to pick fruit. Here’s Taylor, getting a lift from Zach to pick the perfect cherries:
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Big news…Taylor used the potty for one full day yesterday! All day, no accidents, including when she fell asleep in the car without a diaper on. It’s been a long road, so we’re trying not to get too excited, but she’s doing great so far and is VERY proud of herself!
Ta-Daaaah!!
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Taylor getting musical:
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Next post: Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS OLD)

GUESS WHO’S THREE?!?!

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That’s right…Taylor turned three this week! We’ve tried to keep the birthdays pretty low-key around here, so we didn’t have a lot of fanfare. We had dinner with my parents and brothers. Taylor could hardly contain herself all day because she knew that we were going to have cupcakes and she really, REALLY wanted to eat them. Thankfully, we were able to stave her off until after dinner and, I have to say, it was totally worth the wait. We got cupcakes from the Walnut Creek Baking Company and they were excellent. They were chocolate with cream cheese frosting and T.J. requested strawberries, so we added chocolate covered strawberries on top. Deeee-licious!

This third birthday should be called Independence Day, because we are noticing some really dramatic changes in Taylor lately and they seem to be centered around the desire for independence. Up until recently, T.J. was very reluctant to go to her once-weekly “preschool”. She cried almost every time I dropped her off. I know for a fact that she would stop crying as soon as I turned the corner, but it was still heart-wrenching to leave her as she cried. Then one day about two weeks back I asked her what she wanted to do and she said, “Go to preschool”. Unfortunately, the school was closed that day, so I asked what else she wanted to do and she replied, “I want to go somewhere where there’s other people and you can drop me off.” Perhaps I should have been offended, but it was quite the contrary. I was overjoyed. Ever since that day, she hasn’t protested when I’ve dropped her off to any childcare/school setting and she actually seems happy to be there. It’s been a real relief for me…it took almost a year and a half to get to this point so I’m hoping that it sticks.

This birthday is making me very nostalgic, and lately I’ve found myself looking through all of Taylor’s old blog entries. I’m not normally good at journaling, but I am so glad that I created a blog for T.J. I don’t know if she’ll appreciate it, but I really enjoy reading what she was doing last week, last month and last year. I would never have remembered the little details or even the big milestones. Whenever someone asks me, “What age was Taylor when she did…”, I always tell them that I have to check the blog. I love being able to compare what she looked like at each birthday:

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I’ve thought a lot about how long I’ll keep going with writing and posting pictures on this blog. I’m still enjoying it, especially because it forces me to take pictures and keep a record of things that might otherwise be forgotten (or rewritten in our memories). Now that Taylor is three, though, I’m going to scale back a bit and post only once per month instead of weekly (the first Friday of the month). I think T.J. could use a break from the constant photography. Believe it or not, I’m really not normally a picture-taker, so it’s hard to believe that we have 896 photos in the album on this website. I only post a small percentage of the ones I take, so you can imagine how many pictures I have saved on my computer! Anyway, in the interest of reaching another milestone (900 pictures in the album) I’m posting these four pics of our daredevil Taylor jumping in her ball pool:

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Next posting: Friday June 6, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 2 YEARS AND 52 WEEKS OLD)

Last week, I had to bring my car into the shop for routine maintenance and so T.J. and I spent the entire day killing time in Walnut Creek. I was wondering if it would be difficult to find things to do, but we managed quite well. I documented the day as it happened:

9:00 a.m. – Dropped off the car at the mechanic. Started walking to Broadway Plaza.
9:15 a.m. – Stopped at the fountain in Broadway Plaza. Taylor wanted to throw pennies in the fountain, but she didn’t want to use the ones that she had in her pocket. We looked around the fountain for pennies to throw in. Total found = 0.
9:25 a.m. – T.J. saw a brick shelf in front of Talbots and wanted to sit for awhile. We both sat on the ledge and pretended to make food and sang songs together. Here she is on her ledge:
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9:45 a.m. – We got breakfast at Sunrise Bistro. I love taking Taylor here for breakfast, because they have great pancakes and T.J. will clear her plate. In fact, on this particular morning, she polished off all of her pancakes and then moved on to mine, too!
“Look out mom…once I’m done with these, I’m coming after yours!”
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She also built towers of coffee creamer. Here she is hard at work…
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…and proud of her results:
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10:15 a.m. – After breakfast, we went next door to Right Start. It’s a baby/kids store and they had a new toy that I’ve never seen before called the Explorer Ring. It has beads and various compartments and kids can turn dials and buttons to get the beads to move through the ring. It’s pretty cool – would have been great for Taylor when she was around two.

10:30 a.m. – Stopped into Aaron Bros for a picture frame. I got a frame. Taylor got a little trinket – a dog shaped pencil sharpener.

10:45 a.m. – Went into Pottery Barn Kids, which is like a wonderland for kids. T.J. loves to play in this place. They have a jungle theme right now, which looks a lot like Taylor’s room now. We played with the pretend vintage kitchen set – so much nicer than any real stove and refrigerator set you’ll see out there:
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11:30 a.m. – Off we went to Barnes and Noble. We sat down and read several books together.
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12:30 p.m. – Taylor was beginning to fade, so I strapped her into the stroller and we headed over to Nordstrom for a snack. We got a fruit/cheese plate at the cafe and brought it over to the fountain. T.J. sat on the stone bench and noshed while I sat and people-watched.
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1:20 p.m. – Back in the stroller and Taylor was asleep at last. Of course, about 5 minutes after she fell asleep, I got the call that my car was ready, so I headed back to the mechanic and our day was complete.
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Friday, May 2, 2008 (TAYLOR IS 2 YEARS AND 51 WEEKS OLD)

We’ve been wanting to try camping with Taylor for awhile. We thought that it would be a fun family activity, but were a little apprehensive about how well it might go. Last weekend, the weather was great and we decided to do a trial run. We packed up our tent and sleeping bags and went up to Mt. Diablo, which was the closest place to home we could think of to go camping (except for maybe our own backyard). We got a campsite just below the summit and set up our tent and once Taylor got inside, she didn’t want to leave. Ever. She actually stayed inside for a few hours, only coming out for a few minutes when Zach convinced her to go for a very short hike. She would have stayed inside for the entire night, but we made her leave so that we could go up to the summit for stargazing. It happened to be a really good night for stargazing and there were a bunch of amateur astronomy buffs with their telescopes out for us to check out the stars and Saturn.
Here we are waiting for the sun to go down:

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As soon as we got back from the summit, Taylor said she was tired and wanted to go to bed. She ended up sleeping more soundly than I’ve seen in a long time. We went home early in the morning, and on the way home, we learned a valuable lesson – Taylor gets carsick! She didn’t actually get sick, but she was certainly feeling queasy because of the windy drive down the mountain.
Anyway, we learned a lot and I think that the trip was a success. We would definitely feel comfortable going on a longer camping trip with T.J. sometime.