Friday, September 26, 2014

Party girl

For her birthday party, we did a "girly" train theme (pink and navy) at Happy Playland!

She was over-the-moon about her party.   I swear that she literally jumped up and down for 2 hours, excitedly greeting all her friends and shouting "It's my birthday!!"  One of the cutest things she did was take each of her friends and bring them around to meet her grandparents and aunts.  Love!


The see-saw was a big hit (and consequently a big source of fighting!)

Uncle Matt loves to rile up the Williams girls!

We were so glad our sweet families could come to the party too!

After about an hour of playing, I figured all the kids would be worn out and ready for food, but I had to reluctantly drag them to eat!  Guess I was completely off to be worried that Happy Playland might be too familiar for Olivia since we go there so much!!

And, speaking of food, I worked really hard to make these cute little "train" cars for all the food.  But then I forgot to take pictures of them.  So here is a blurry pic, just for the memory book!

After breakfast (kolaches, donut holes, chocolate chip muffins and fruit), we literally had to beg Olivia to let us sing to her because she wanted to play more.  She obliged us long enough to do the Birthday song and then she ran back to play -- she did not even taste one bite of her cupcake.  (And it was her loss because they were delicious!).

It was also great to have 2 of my closest childhood friends, Lisa and Kate, at the party with their little girls who are now friends with Olivia.

After the party, the family came back over to watch Olivia open presents -- by this point, she had been awake for 7 hours and was about spent.  She started flat our refusing to smile for any pictures and her little eyes were very tired!  But, thankfully she rallied and opened up some great presents from her sweet family!
The "Frozen" nightgown from Pop-O & Tutu was a big hit!

Tutu also got her this Halloween spider -- I'm not sure she knows quite what to think of it! ;)

Yazzie and Naz got her lots of Princess games.  (Note: This week we have done a lot of princess playing -- she would much rather play 'babies' than the actual game unfortunately.  Most times we make it through about 2 minutes of Princess Candy Land before she announces that one of the Princesses is crying and doesn't want to play anymore.  Then she will "rock" the princess like its a baby, put it back in the box and tell us to be quiet because it is "princess nap time.")

One of my parents' sweet family friends got her these 2 beautiful dresses that she immediately had to try on!

And Mimi & Grandpa got her some Frozen characters, a "toddler" camera and a beautiful bracelet.

We ended the party with a tackle hug for Aunt Naz and a nap!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Fair warning: This is a long one! But we needed lots of room to gush about the BIRTHDAY GIRL!

Another year has come and gone with our dear Olivia! Matt and I feel so blessed that we get to call her ours and we were just thrilled to celebrate her birthday this year. She is really developing her own personality and voice, which we couldn’t be more in love with. She is quick-witted, fierce, brave, social and silly.

Here’s a little bit about our THREE year old:

School. Olivia recently transitioned to Toddler II at school. Like her recent transitions, she handled this one like a champ and wasn’t upset at all. I find that with each move to a new class, Matt and I are able to reaffirm our love of this wonderful school program and the great strides they make in Olivia’s development. In this class, we have seen Olivia’s patience and determination grow. One of the skills they are working on is “handwriting” – Olivia has gone from barely even being able to hold a pen/pencil, to being able to write her name!  She also has gotten into puzzles and is pretty good ! We also continue to love hearing about the new things she learns at school from her teachers and friends. Another skill that Toddler II has brought out is helping around the house. Each week the kids get to volunteer for jobs (line leader and door holder seem to be the favorites for Olivia), and we have seen a real desire and willingness to help at home too. I’ve got big plans for Olivia in this regard…..hopefully a “chore chart” blog will be coming soon!

Funny girl. In a family that places great value on being funny, Olivia scores big in our book. While we still laugh at many things that she does/says that are unintentionally funny/cute, the instances of purposeful humor are becoming more and more frequent. She recently discovered the word “weird” and realized that doing “weird” things gets big laughter. So she just tries to think of “weird” things she can do to make us laugh. She will walk into the living room making a silly face or with her hands in some crazy position and ask “is this weird?” and then crack up laughing.

I’m sure every kid says crazy stuff, and Olivia is no exception. A few of my favorites from the past year are:

Not sure where she picked this up, but we hear the phrase “it’s not fair” A LOT! Matt and I really try to get her to explain to us why it isn’t fair, but usually it just ends up with her in tears and some incomprehensible yelling! (A similar phrase she has picked up is “It doesn’t matter” – although she usually says “it don’t matter!” A few weeks ago, she started her early morning wake-ups again (i.e. 4:30/5 am). Once we are assured nothing is wrong with her, we make her stay in her room till 6:00. One particular morning Matt went in to get her at 6 and I heard the following conversation over the monitor:

Olivia: I was calling you!
Matt: I know, but you have to wait to come out till the clock turns green and says 6:00
Olivia: I was freaking out!
Matt: (laughing): What? Why?
Olivia: It don’t matter. Can I have some cheese?

Similar story – we were driving home from school the other day and she asked me for some hand sanitizer. So I hand it back to her and see in the mirror that she is beginning to squeeze some in her mouth. I yell at her to stop saying that will make her sick. She responds back with “It’s not fair and it don’t matter if I do that!”

Olivia often repeats back the phrases/disciplines that we tell her. On more than one occasion we have been stuck in traffic and I will say something along the lines of “Come on! What is taking so long?” only to hear Olivia respond to me with “It’s just traffic! We can’t do anything about it! We have to be patient!”

We were at dinner one night and I was ordering the food at the counter while Olivia was sitting at the table. I could see her head was down and I knew immediately that she had gotten the salt shaker and was eating plain salt. I called her name and told her to stop. When I was done ordering I went over and found she was still doing it, so I again told her to stop and moved the salt to the other side of the table. She then begins to climb on the table to get the salt. I look her right in the eye and say “Listen to me. If you do that again you are going to time out.” She responds “Look at ME. I AM GOING TO DO THAT AGAIN!”

We were driving home one day and she accidentally dropped her baby doll. She asked me to get it for her. I said that I’d get it when we got home but that I was driving so I couldn’t get it right now. Olivia said “No mommy! I am nice to you and I always do nice stuff for you, so you can do this for me!”

But, this role reversal isn’t always bad. Olivia is very nurturing and sweet, she loves to pretend to be the mommy. Often, out of the blue, she will all of a sudden pretend she’s the mommy and Matt and I have to get on board with the plan. Matt is always “brother” and I am either “sister” or “baby.” She will tell us things that we have told her previously “I am going to pick you up early today and we’re going to go to the park!” Or “I have a lot of meetings today so I am going to pick you up late.”

One ‘phrase’ that Matt and I use a lot with her is to tell her that we will “think about her” when we’re apart. Matt says it all the time to us in the mornings and I often say it to her when I drop her off at school. A few weeks ago Matt took Olivia to school in the morning. I gave her hugs and kisses and went back in the house. A few minutes later Matt came back inside and said Olivia wanted another kiss. I went back out to the car and she hugged my neck and whispered “I love you, okay? I’m going to think about you.”

Toys. Olivia still is very into baby dolls. She takes about 20 to bed with her each night. In her new class, they can only have baby dolls for nap time, so she usually brings one of them but has to keep it in her cubby. We do a lot of feeding, changing and playing with the babies. She is also into puzzles and can spend about 30 minutes doing different ones. We got her first game recently – Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. I think it has been really good for our SUPER competitive girl to learn that she does not always get to win.  

Speaking of….those Dean genes run strong! Not only is Miss O the spitting image of her daddy, she has such a competitive spirit. We do use it to our advantage challenging her to get dressed/put on shoes/pick up before us. But, this backfires on us every now and then. Usually we get home before Matt, much to Olivia’s delight. She loves to tease him with the fact that we beat him home and he’s a “loser.” However, every so often work or traffic puts us behind schedule and Matt will get home first. I cannot describe the melt-down and tears that accompany such an occasion. And we aren’t talking about fake tears or a simply cry – we are talking about real, big elephant tears and despair that she feels in her core. It’s crazy! Gracefully losing is a lesson we will definitely be working on this year.

Other than that, she is into all things princess and fairy.  She loves the movie Frozen, but that is the only one she has ever seen.  But, through books and games, she knows (and loves) all the princesses and fairies.  She is planning to be Tinkerbell for Halloween and a small bribe is currently taking place in which sleeping in her own room will be rewarded with a Tinkerbell doll.  She loves dresses, jewelry and make-up.  She is incredibly girly and has taken to insisting that I wear a dress most days too - every time I get out of the shower she quizzes me on whether I shaved my legs and whether I will wear a dress! 

She is also really into the TV show Daniel Tiger.  I really like that show too because they are quick 15 minute lessons that capture her attention and they seem to always be relevant to our life!  There have been SO many times over the past few months when we have been able to calm her down or explain something to her based on Daniel Tiger.  And, as Matt says, those songs are so damn catchy!

Independence. At three years old, she is carefully navigating her way into independence and, we try hard to let her have it as much as we can. I think her natural personality + our dear Montessori school continue to foster Olivia’s independence. She is very clear that she can do things “by herself.” Most of the time we are happy to let her try, but occasionally we have to draw the line. The other night Matt was opening Olivia’s medicine (child-proof) and she asked if she could open it. He replied that she couldn’t open it. Miss O got super indignant and yelled “Well if I can try, then maybe I can do it!” Guilt set in and 10 minutes later she finally agreed that she could not in fact open the bottle!

Memory. Olivia is pretty quick to catch on to things and has a crazy good memory!! She is quick to point out all the things I’ve forgotten or messed up on. One of her latest habits is taking any measure possible to delay bedtime. I have heard that other kids will ask “why?” to their parents all day long. Olivia doesn’t really do that. If she’s unhappy with an answer, she will just freak-out without asking any questions! In hearing one of my other friends describe the inquisitive nature of his daughter, I became slightly concerned that Olivia wasn’t developing in this area. Well….good to know that she does, in fact, know how to ask questions and think outside the box….she just reserves this talent for bedtime. We follow a typical routine – books, song, prayers, bed. The minute she gets into bed, she will begin to ask the most random, complicated questions ever. If you answer 1 question you will be in there for an hour because she will have 10 more coming right after it. If you don’t answer, she will scream her face off. You really can’t win. I am usually the softie in our family, giving in to her tears and antics while Matt remains strong. On one particularly long night, Olivia was literally yelling our names (Persis! Persis! Matt! Matt!) at the top of her lungs when Matt stormed into her room, determined to make her be quiet and go to sleep. After about 5 minutes I stood outside the door to see what was going on when I heard Matt explaining how air conditioning and vents work to Olivia. Guess he’s not so tough!

Olivia also knows/remembers all the names of the moms/dads of the kids in her class. A fellow mom commented to me that it was a little off-putting to hear a little 2 year old say “Hi Holly (mom). Where is John (dad)?”

But, for as good as her memory is, we cannot get that kid to tell us what she did in school that day for anything!! Almost every night at dinner I will ask her “how was your day?” and she will always respond “No, tell me about your day!” After Matt and I both finish telling about our days, she will just say she doesn’t know what she did that day. I recently saw an article about questions to ask your kid instead of “how was your day?” so we are definitely going to have to try that!

Food. Olivia’s appetite is an ever-changing landscape that I am constantly trying to figure out. There are staples that she has always liked and continues to love – Cheerios, cheese, crackers and rice. She has really liked soup recently so I’ve been doing that a lot to get in some veggies. She is obsessed with eating frozen corn – it’s bizarre and I think half the thrill is seeing mine and Matt’s reaction to her eating it! She is pretty good about trying a bite of food, but she is also pretty good at making herself throw up so that doesn’t always work out well for Matt & I. She is getting better at restaurants, especially if we let her order for herself. A few months ago we were eating out when the waitress came over to check on us. Matt and I replied that everything was fine but all of a sudden Olivia pipes up and says “Excuse me ma’am. Can I get a box please?” I didn’t think we were finished eating yet! She doesn’t seem to like typical “kid” food – spaghetti, pizza, chicken nuggets. In fact, she really won’t eat pizza or spaghetti at all. She really likes fruit and I can usually get her to eat some fish. Turkey and chicken are hit or miss. We have been trying to introduce her to all kinds of food – Thai, Mexican, sushi, Indian, - but I am not sure we have found something she absolutely loves!

Social. Olivia continues to be very social and likes to be around people. She is quick to talk to anyone who pays attention to her and is even getting better about staying with new people. We used to wait until she was asleep to leave her with a babysitter because she had such bad separation anxiety that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves worrying that she was sad. But lately we have a few sitters that we have left her with and she has done great! Her teachers also tell us that she is a social butterfly at school (so much so that sometimes she can’t do her work!!). But, she is still a fierce mamma’s girl (which clearly I adore!) and is very adamant that she will stay with other people for “little bit” but wants to come back home to mommy and daddy. Matt and I recently left her with her wonderful grandparents for a few days while we got a little vacation. She did great, but was quick to tell us when we got home that she doesn’t want us to leave her “forever.”

So, happy happy birthday to our beautiful, funny, and girly daughter! You are the most precious gift and a true blessing in our lives.

We did the birthday countdown again this year, which was a big hit every morning.  (It may have also contributed to some VERY early wakings, so we may have to re-think that next year!)

This year at school, many of the kids brought treats for the class on their birthday.  I was a little torn on this because we were treating her entire class to her party, but after she asked several times, I gave in.  And, I was so glad I did because she was CHARMED by the whole experience.  Her teachers made her a birthday crown that she was so excited to wear and immediately declared herself a "princess."

She got to wash her hands first and then help Miss Avalon pass out the birthday treats (pink star sugar cookies at her request.)

Sweet Sarah and Olivia.

Then all the kids sang happy birthday to her

It was such a cute experience!

Like last year, Matt and I set up all her presents the night before and decorated her room with balloons while she slept.

As I mentioned, we have been having some major issues lately with her waking up early (like 4:30/5:00!!).  We are working on that, but agreed with her the night before that she could wake up as early as she wanted on her birthday.  Luckily, she slept till about 5:30 that morning and then yelled for us.


She quickly ran outside to see if she had presents!  Her reaction made me glad I decided to take a last minute trip to CVS to pick up princess gift bags!

I think one of the best presents she got was a surprise from Matt.  He got she and I these Mother-Daughter necklaces that are so darling I can hardly stand it!  It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift -- we are 2 lucky girls!

Another "princess dress" for the dress-up collection

A new "Frozen" purse -- i.e. it is made out of this fabric that has Anna and Elsa on it.

And a new trike.  I am not sure how big of a hit this will end up being.  She really likes it now, but isn't that good at it.  I think with some practice she will improve, but for the past few days she mainly likes pushing it around or putting her babies on it.  My sisters pointed out that we  better teach her how to ride a bike so she doesn't end up like Phoebe!

And when the presents were all opened, she ran over to rip off the last number from her countdown and screamed "It's my birthday!!"

Then we got dressed and headed to Happy Playland for her birthday party.  (I will do another post dedicated to the party!).  Needless to say, she had a great time and was completely exhausted by nap time!  

After nap, we went outside to try out her trike.  No idea why she insisted on wearing a snow hat and mittens to ride her trike in the 492 degree Houston weather....she's a crazy kid!


Then we opened the presents from her friends.  Here she was on cloud 9 -- wearing her new Anna nightgown, holding her new "baby Anna" and playing her new Frozen Chutes and Ladders.  What good friends we have!! 

Then we went to Zoe's for a birthday dinner (her pick, of course!) and Baskin Robbins. 

It took her a while to go to bed that night, as she realized on the way home from dinner that tomorrow it was not going to be her birthday anymore and I think she was trying desperately to prolong the inevitable!  After finally settling down, she was quiet for about 20 minutes and then we heard her over the monitor frantically calling Matt to her room.  She asked him "When I am 4 will it be my birthday again?"  Yes.  "How many days?"  365.  "Oh.  Okay.  Can you ask mommy to make another calendar with 365?"  Not gonna happen kid! ;)

Happy birthday little one!  We hope THREE is a great year for you.