Our Favorite Christmas Books for preschool and young elementary

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Clarissa has so many books that they don’t fit all fit on her bookshelf (side effect of your mother being a former reading teacher I suppose). There are certain books we like for each season so I rotate them out. I pull out the Christmas books about Thanksgiving time. But she knows where they are, so sometimes she will go and get them at random times during the year.

We have so many Christmas books that we really enjoy. This is our list of our favorite Christmas books for preschool and young elementary children.

  • Peek A Bible The Christmas Story by Tracy Harrast
    This is a lift the flap book that tells the Christmas story from Gabriel coming to see Mary until the wise men arrive to worship Jesus. Clarissa has always enjoyed lifting the flaps and I like that it is the true Biblical story.
  • Crystal Bowman’s Christmas board books are some of my favorites. I love the rhyme to the stories and the pictures are great. Clarissa really enjoys these as well.
    Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree talks about how every part of your Christmas tree (lights, the star, angels, presents, etc) points you back to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.
    J is for Jesus talks about how a candy cane tells you Jesus’s story and gives details about the shepherds and angels at Christmas. It also talks about Jesus on the cross. Think Legend of the Candy Cane but for little ones.
    A Star for Jesus talks about how the star appeared in the sky and led the wise men to Jesus.
    My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and why we put presents in stockings today.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker
    This rhyming book talks about being thankful for each part of the nativity set from the angel, to Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, star, and of course baby Jesus who was the best present of all.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    We like Little Cub in this house. In this installment, Mama takes Little Cub to go find God and see how He gave us Christmas. Little Cub is very excited that she can go and see God in things like the light, a glacier, and a star. They talk about how Jesus is the real reason for Christmas and the best gift ever.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
    I think I need to write a blog post specifically for her books. The Pine Tree Parable is about a family who comes to a poor family who comes to a pine tree farm and the little girl wants the biggest tree there. The family who owns the pine tree farm ends up gifting the family the tree, even though she was planning to keep it for their family. A wonderful story about giving.
  • Of course the Berenstain Bears have some fun Christmas books as well
    Trim the Tree is a flap book that watches the Bear family put up their Christmas Tree.
    In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, the cubs learn that it is better to give than to receive. They also are the camel in the Christmas Play where you can see the Nativity story.
    In The Very First Christmas, Papa Bear reads the cubs the Christmas story from the Bible. It has fun illustrations. Clarissa always thinks its funny that they are bears instead of people though.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in Virginia by Sue Corbett
    In this story, a brother and sister are supposed to visit their aunt in Virginia but the sister gets hurt so she can’t go. The brother writes his sister every day to tell about his adventures. We’re originally from Virginia so I like that Clarissa can learn a little bit about the state she’s from.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
    I like this story better than the original Gingerbread Boy because this one isn’t obnoxious. He just wants some friends and goes on an adventure to find them.
  • The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
    This is a new favorite for me this year. In the beginning of the story, the princess is quite spoiled. So the king and queen come up with a plan. By the end of the story, the princess has given away all of her gifts and become truly gracious and kind. Clarissa is a little unsure because she thinks I am going to make her give away all of her presents though.
  • The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
    Clarissa was more excited about this new book about giving. Emma and her dog are invited to the king’s palace for his birthday party. Along the way Emma gives away all of her presents for the king. The king explains to her the verse that talks about “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” The end of the book gives some suggestions on how your family can give a birthday present to Jesus. Clarissa immediately was like, “Let’s do that!”
  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
    This book isn’t about Jesus at all. But. It has all of the usual Little Critter antics that we enjoy. He tries to get the ornaments out for mom, but the box was upside down. He wants to give her Christmas cookies but he got hungry. You get the idea…

 

As a side note, I noticed as I was linking these to Amazon, most of these books are on sale right now. They are also not new books, so some are available at your local library.

Potty Training Part 2

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Elsa has been dethroned. In our house anyway. Make way for Moana!

I much prefer Moana to Frozen from a parenting standpoint. Moana’s dad isn’t thrilled that she loves the ocean. He tries to tell her it’s dangerous. But he never makes her feel like she is weird or dangerous and he certainly does not try to tell her her gifts/abilities are bad or try to change her. Plus her grandmother keeps encouraging her to be who she really is. I rather enjoy the soundtrack as well.

The movie reminds me of one of my favorite books Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. I need to read it again to see what gifts I think Clarissa is showing at this point in her life.

I thought I was going to “give up” on potty training for a while several times this fall/winter. But each time I was ready for a break, Clarissa would demand panties in the apartment. She had not been successful outside of the house, so I was planning to stick to pull ups and diapers for our trip to Hawaii.But I packed a few pairs of panties just in case she decided she wanted to wear them.

Thursday morning she saw some panties in the drawer and said, “I want to wear little Eva’s panties!” We received some hand me downs from a friend before they moved last month. It was the first time that Clarissa actually asked to wear panties outside of the house. She was very adamant that she wanted to wear panties instead of diapers that day. She even peed in the potty before we left. She lasted a few hours before having an accident. But she was still pretty excited about panties.

Last week, she wanted to wear panties to PWOC and she successfully kept them dry the entire time we were out of the house (about 8 hours). The next day she told me, “I don’t want to be a big girl today. I’m wearing diapers.”

This week, she has successfully peed in the potty outside of the apartment for three days in a row. Pooping is another story. But I am happy to have met this milestone.

Potty Training part 1

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When we first moved to Korea,  Clarissa was 18 months old and seemed obsessed with watching Tim and I use the bathroom.  I thought she was young but decided to buy a princess potty anyway to see what would happen.

Within a few days she peed and pooped in the potty.  Quite pleased with herself,  she was done and lost interest in the potty for about 9 months.

Then her best friend turned three and started potty training.  Clarissa asked to start potty training but I told her we would wait a few weeks because we were going to Japan for Christmas.  That was a mistake because by the time we returned,  she had completely lost interest.

One of the few times per year I take time to read entire books is when we travel.  I read a few books about potty training on our Japan trip and also on our trip to Seoul.  Most claimed that you can completely potty train your child in 3-5 days.  They lied…

I thought we would try potty training over spring break because we would be home the whole week,  but she really wasn’t interested,  so we stopped.

I was in charge of vacation bible school this summer and the rule has always been that you need to be three years old and potty trained to attend vbs.  She was two weeks shy of 3 for vbs,  but I thought that if we started in June,  that would give us enough time to potty train.  She was pretty good about not having an accident if I made sure she sat on the potty at least once per hour.  It wasn’t until we were both sick and stayed home for an entire week in mid July that she started realizing when she needed to use the potty on her own.

But then we spent two weeks out of the house every day for vbs.  If she is in a diaper,  she will use it.  Smart girl.

August was fairly consistent.  If we were at home,  she would use the potty when she needed to.  But once you put panties or a diaper on her,  she refused the potty.  So that meant that we were potty trained in the apartment only.

We went on vacation to Japan in September.  I figured she would just stick to her diapers.  For the most part she did.  But once per day she would use the potty.  It was always at an interesting time.  I don’t think she used a hotel potty the entire trip (though now that I think about it,  the bidets probably scared her).  She often used the toilet on a moving train.  If it happened to be a squatty,  I just said no.

The rest of September,  she mostly asked for a diaper.  Some mornings,  she wakes up with a dry diaper.  But now we are back to being potty trained in the apartment without panties. She sometimes asks for a diaper when she needs to poop.

I still use cloth diapers when we leave the apartment.  I figure that she will be potty trained when she wants to as she sometimes asks to use the potty when we are out.  It is not worth stressing her out over using the potty. Especially when it doesn’t really add to our budget anyway.

Clarissa’s first movie theater experience 

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Last summer and fall,  Clarissa was obsessed with the movie Finding Nemo.  There were two copies at the library.  So most weeks at storytime we would return our copy and borrow the other one. She received the DVD as a gift for Christmas so that we didn’t need to borrow it anymore. 

When we heard that Finding Dory was coming out,  we knew she had to see it.  We thought that at almost three years old,  she would be able to sit through the movie in the theater and actually enjoy it. 

The movie was supposed to come out in June.  Tim had a four day weekend for the Fourth of July so we thought that Friday would be perfect because it wouldn’t be as crowded. All week I talked up the movie.  Tim brought home the book from TDY (business trip).  We talked about how the movie would be on the big screen and we would have to sit and be quiet but we would get to eat popcorn. 

Thursday night after I put her to bed,  I went online to look at movie times and was surprised to discover that the movie would not be out in Korea for another week. We were so upset. 

The next morning,  Clarissa woke up ready for her movie and I had to tell her that I made a mistake and we actually couldn’t go to the movie until next week. She was surprisingly satisfied with my explanation. 

All of the English movie times were during the week. Tim took the next Friday afternoon  off and we met him at the subway to go downtown. 

We headed to the food court at Hyundai Department store for lunch.  Tim ordered grilled eel at the bento place.  I ordered bibimbap.  Clarissa ate my rice. 

After lunch we had an hour to kill so we decided to go for a walk.  As we walked past Miso City,  we noticed that there were some traditional houses so we decided to check them out.  There was a bit of a walking tour,  complete with stamps.  Clarissa wanted me to stamp both of her hands. 

After we completed the loop we went back to Hyundai Department Store to buy our movie tickets.  We ordered some popcorn and had to wait a few minutes before we could go to the theater. 

When we bought our tickets,  we received two small posters.  Clarissa would not let me put the Dory poster in my bookbag for safe keeping. 

She did very well in the theater.  She sat in her seat for most of the movie.  She only had to sit in my lap for the last 15 minutes or so. 

Once the movie started Clarissa was too interested in the big screen to eat her popcorn. But she was pretty quiet.  She asked a few questions but was a reasonable noise level throughout the movie. 

It was a great family outing.  I wonder what our next movie will be… 

Clarissa 2.75

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I meant to write about Clarissa’s favorite things at two and a half but never got around to it.  She has changed so much since February that I didn’t want to wait until she turns three in August to write about her favorite things. 

This week Clarissa turned two years and nine months old. She is still not potty trained.  She loves her princess panties and can go an entire day (minus nap and bedtime)  without an accident.  But she will rarely stop what she is doing to go potty. She will often tell me, “I went yest day (yesterday).” The only time she tells me she needs to go is during naptime or bedtime.  I know it is a stalling tactic,  but she does generally pee during this time.

Clarissa has really become more girly since we returned from Japan at Christmas.  Ponytails and hair clips are still rare.  But she definitely requested that I buy her a new hair bow at the px on Friday.

Clarissa is not as interested in cars,  busses,  and trains anymore.  The only time she plays with her cars and ramp is when little boys come over to play.  Yet when we went to the folk village,  the souvioneer she chose was a huge Lani bus.

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Her favorite thing to do is play with Legos.  We spend hours building things.  She will come up to me and say,  “Mommy build.” We mostly build animals from her favorite TV shows and movies.

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We sometimes paint.  She gets excited about painting her hands and feet to make crafts for the grandparents. She isn’t really interested in playing with play doh these days.

Clarissa still plays with Haven but has several other friends.  She has library friends,  neighbor friends,  church friends,  and park friends.  Her favorite friend is probably Mittens,  our kitten.

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Clarissa still likes to read.  Her favorite TV show right now is My Little Pony.  Her favorite movie last week was Toy Story.  But the week before was Frozen and the whole month before was Good Dinosaur.

We ordered a big girl bed for her this weekend at Osan so she should get to sleep on it in the next couple of weeks.  Of course Clarissa picked out some My Little Pony bedding.

I have pretty much given up on naptime. Though I still think she would benefit from sleeping, she refuses and often says, “No thanks. Maybe morrow (tomorrow).” So we have transitioned to a rest time in the afternoon and an earlier bedtime.

Food is still complicated. She will eat most fruits and vegetables in a pouch but rarely in their raw form. She will eat pepperoni,  peanuts,  and string cheese for protein.  Breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs,  apples,  and banana are hit or miss.  She loves gluten-free pretzels,  popcorn,  pasta,  and pizza.  Clarissa also drinks soy milk everyday. 

Clarissa weaned herself

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Clarissa has always enjoyed breastfeeding. Honestly, I have mostly enjoyed it as well. I like the alone time we spend together and the bond that we share. I wasn’t sure how long she would want to nurse. She didn’t seem to be losing interest at all and so I decided that I would wean her when she turned three. At two and a half, I told her that one day she would be too big to nurse. I said that she could nurse until she turned three but if she wanted to stop before then she could. She said okay, but I didn’t think much of it.

I noticed a pattern with Clarissa this winter. The more she ate during the day, the less she would nurse before bed. After she turned two and a half, she started drinking soymilk and some smoothies during the day. Not every day, but I was thankful that she was starting to have more protein in her diet. She then started nursing only about 10 minutes most nights.

A week before she turned two years and seven months, she asked for milk in a cup during her bedtime story. I explained to her that if she drank from a cup I would not nurse her that evening and she was fine with that. That was a Monday night. Tuesday night she asked for her milk in a cup. On Wednesday night, I handed her milk and she refused. She didn’t nap or eat well that day and she wanted to nurse. That was ten days ago. I think it’s safe to say that she has weaned herself.

I enjoyed breastfeeding Clarissa. But I am enjoying our new evening routine. Clarissa is starting to ask to pray more when Daddy does the bedtime prayer. Her first prayer went something like this, “Dear God, thank you for pink elephants and purple heffalumps…” I don’t remember everything. We were trying really hard not to laugh.

Tim and I have an additional hour in the evenings together now, which means that we have more options for activities. I really enjoy our time together after Clarissa goes to bed, so it has been fun.

Clarissa’s first haircut

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I guess that the title of this blog post is not entirely accurate. Memaw cut Clarissa’s bangs twice before we moved to Korea and I have cut them a few times. Her bangs were getting long again and the varying lengths of the rest of her hair was starting to get on my nerves. So at almost two and a half, I decided she should get her first professional haircut.

Around the time of her birthday, we had a play date at Debec department store. Across from the play area they have a place for kid’s haircuts where the kids get to sit in race cars. I made a mental note that we would come back for Clarissa’s first haircut.

We took the 156 bus to Seomun market and took the sky rail to Daebonggyo. Debec doesn’t open until 10:30 and the kid’s stuff doesn’t open until 11. We arrived about 12:15 and it was really busy. The lady I spoke to didn’t speak any English. But I wrote Clarissa’s name on the list in Hangul and decided to wait. A Korean mom explained that it would be 1:30 – 2 before it would be our turn so we would probably want to eat lunch and come back.

We headed down to the food court at B1 and ended up with Namaste Indian food for lunch. I don’t think we have eaten Indian since we arrived, so it was a fun change of pace. The owner spoke excellent English. Tim had spicy chicken vindaloo, I had a not spicy chicken, and Clarissa had some Nan. We were all very satisfied with our lunch.

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Then we headed back to the eighth floor to wait for Clarissa’s haircut. I had decided that if it wasn’t our turn yet, she would get to play in the play yard.

They were ready for her when we got there. Our stylist was beautiful but didn’t really speak English. So I pointed to Clarissa’s bangs and the back of her hair and we communicated that I just wanted a small amount cut off. I figured, Clarissa will look cute regardless and if it is too short, it will grow back.

She first offered Clarissa some candy.

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When Clarissa started to get antsy, the other stylist turned on cartoons. Clarissa did very well. She flinched every time her hair was sprayed with water. But she let the stylist cut her hair.

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When she got really wiggly, the stylist gave her a handful of candy and continued on. She even tried to curl her hair with a straightener and put some ponytails in it.

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I was very happy with the results. It cost 20,000 won (like $16.50).

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We rewarded Clarissa with some time at the play yard. It costs 4,000 won (about $3.30). I think you can drop off your child while you shop, but I never leave her. She enjoyed her playtime. It gave me an excuse to take more hair pictures, though some are blurry because she was playing.

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She started with four ponytails in her hair. An hour later, she is down to two. But she still looks cute!

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Clarissa-isms (aka hilarious things my two year old says)

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Clarissa’s speech becomes more understandable every day. Half the time I have to keep myself from laughing when I respond to her. But most other people might not understand what she is trying to say. Some of my favorites…

Our neighbor recently got a cat. The cat scratched Clarissa and she said, “Mama, Kimchi messed me up!”

She doesn’t really say Cs and Ks yet, so she refers to herself as Tessa.

If something falls she says, “help me reach it”

She does little things and exclaims, “I did it!” like I should be extremely proud of her. She also says, “Yay” and “Hurray” a lot.

This week she has started doing thumbs up. But that’s not what she calls it. She says “thumbs out”

If she isn’t happy with something she will say “somefing else.” This can refer to wanting to watch a different tv show, read a different book, or eat something.

It isn’t please, it’s still “peas.” But she is good at saying “tanks mama” for thank you.

She has been saying “like it” for a while now when she doesn’t like something. Now she has added “want it” and “want to” to her repertoire.

If I tell her something will happen, she almost always asks, “promise?” even if it’s something little like we’re going to take a bath after dinner.

If something isn’t perfect it’s “broken.” The remote control doesn’t call her friend Haven so it’s broken. The blanket on her bed isn’t straight so it’s “broken.”

“Are you doing?” if she wants to know what Tim or I are doing

“What’s dat?” or “dat one”

“Top it” means she wants you to stop. The other day it was windy on the way to the bus and she was adamant that she wanted it to stop. So I explained to her that I can’t stop the wind, only God can, so she can talk to Jesus about that. So for the next five minutes I heard “Top it Jesus,” “wind top,” “Jesus top wind!” Then we had to talk about how God doesn’t always give us what we want…

“It’s mines” even if it isn’t. We aren’t very good at sharing yet.

“One book.” She gets three books before naptime and bedtime. Well, she is supposed to. She often asks for another. And another…

“I freakin’ out” if she is upset about something

“I all done

“I cleanin'”

She also says “um” and ” Mommy, hmm” a lot. I realized this week that I definitely say “hmm”…

Clarissa can count to ten. Though I don’t think she really understands the concept. We have been reading counting books lately. So she will count to ten and then say “ready, not.” But she doesn’t always start at one. Usually she goes from three to ten. She will act like she is counting something in a book and points to things, but often gets to ten even if there are only six objects on the page.

Our door has this random alarm issue. So if it’s windy or we accidentally slam a different door in the house, an alarm sounds and I have to go outside, put the code in the door, and shut the door again. When this happens Clarissa gets a worried look on her face and says, “Mergency”

Big girl

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Clarissa has been two years old for an entire month now and I feel like she is turning into such a big girl!

One of her new favorite things to do is find a stick when we are walking on base.  They are always at least two feet long,  which is huge for her. So now a walk that should take 10-15 minutes is 30-45. Sometimes I can make her move faster by asking her if she can catch my shadow with her stick or find the next puddle to splash in.  I guess she is a nature girl,  always looking for birds and bugs.

wpid-20150910_131557.jpg2015-09-17 12.01.03The other big change is that we converted her crib to a toddler bed. She kept trying to scale her crib.  Usually when I was watching,  either in person or on the monitor.  She would get this mischievous look on her face and then start climbing.  Thankfully she obeyed when I told her to stop.  But I didn’t trust her.  So we made the change last weekend.

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She did really well during her first nap time.  That night she was so excited that she crawled in to bed and almost didn’t nurse.  I thought we might wean and move to a big girl bed all in the same day!  But as I was leaving her room,  she changed her mind.  When she woke up the next morning,  she was thrilled that she could get out of bed all by herself and run to my room before I went to go get her.

Once she realized that she could get out of bed,  the nighttime routine became harder.  Then she started coming out of her room multiple times before she would go to sleep.  So we negotiate,  take stuffed animals,  and sing songs before she actually goes to bed now.  Thankfully it only adds another 5-10 minutes to the bedtime routine.  The funny thing is that now she doesn’t get out of bed on her own in the morning.  She calls me now and waits.  Maybe she is afraid of time out if she gets out of bed because that is what happens at night?

The next day we went to a bowling birthday party.  Clarissa loved the cupcakes and balloons.  She bowled once or twice with a slide looking thing.  But the ball was 7 pounds,  too heavy for her,  so she lost interest in the actual bowling part.  But she had a great time singing,  dancing,  and touching every ball in the place.

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This week we discovered a park not far from the apartment.  The first time we went the Korean children were playing in the fountain so Clarissa joined them (sorry I was too busy watching to take pictures). Everyone wanted to ask questions and learn Clarissa’s name.  Thankfully some spoke English because I only understood a few of their questions in Korean.

Later in the week,  Clarissa and I returned with sand toys.  She had a blast making animals and digging with a shovel.

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Celebrating Clarissa

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The day before Clarissa turned two, we Skyped my parents. They were able to watch her open and play with the presents they sent her.

Clarissa turned two on a Thursday. It was pretty much a normal Thursday for us. She wanted to wear a fancy skirt and shoes. But I wasn’t allowed to touch her hair. I asked her to smile for the picture and she said no.

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We went to story time at the library to see her friends. Then she requested pizza. So we went to the PX and met Tim for lunch. We did Skype Tim’s parents and they were able to watch her open a few gifts.

Tim took Friday off so we could have a family day. We skyped my sister and brother-in-law in the morning and then headed to Duryu Swimming Pool. When we arrived, the baby pool was closed for the rest of the morning and would reopen during naptime. So we decided to give Clarissa one of her favorite foods for lunch. We bought her french fries from Lotteria and Tim and I ate at Han Sot. The food was cheap and really good. After naptime, we watched one of her birthday gifts, My Neighbor Totoro. She loves that movie. We ended up at Pizza Hut for dinner since pizza is probably her favorite food.

We spent a lot of time deciding what we wanted to do for Clarissa’s birthday celebration. At first, I wasn’t planning to have a party. We were thinking maybe a trip to Haeundae Beach. Then we thought maybe a day at E-World, since it’s actually in Daegu. But as we got closer to Clarissa’s birthday, she had a few little friends so we thought maybe a party would work.

As hot as Daegu is, it needed to be inside. So we scoped out Children’s Hall. But it was a little too advanced for two year olds, and half of the exhibits were broken. Then we thought about a pool party. But the pool on post has been out of commission for most of the summer. And we thought it would be too complicated to meet friends at a city pool and then have them come to our house. The two year olds would probably be done after the pool anyway.

So we settled on a simple birthday party at our house. There is a nice breeze on the third floor playground in the morning, so we invited Clarissa’s two best friends over for a Saturday morning playdate and cupcakes. I thought about inviting two of her other little friends from the building, but we hadn’t seen them since they started preschool in June. The week of the party, new neighbors moved in next door. They have two small boys, so we invited them too. But they ended up being sick the morning of the party so they couldn’t make it.

Our friends arrived and we headed to the playground. As it turns out, Clarissa’s two friends were at the playground too. So we invited them to join us. The kids had a blast playing with bubbles and balloons. I actually was having so much fun that I forgot to take any pictures! Thankfully the other moms took several.

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Then we headed inside for cupcakes. Most of the kids were too interested in all of the cars and Tayo’s playground to eat their cupcakes. But Clarissa thoroughly enjoyed hers and wiped all of the frosting from her hands on to my leg! She also took the plane candle off of her cupcake so we just sang without lighting a candle.

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I think our girl felt really special on her birthday. She loves opening presents. The fun part is that she kept receiving gifts in the mail on different days instead of all at once. I actually prefered it that way because it meant she opened one gift and really got a chance to play with it before she opened another one.

We decided to go back to the pool to try swimming again this Saturday. We got all the way there and then found out that they were having a swim meet that day and so we couldn’t swim yet again. But we learned that the pool is open Saturdays and not Sundays in the fall. So at least that was helpful information. Since the pool was a wash, I wanted to do something fun. They have bikes for rent at the old tennis courts in front of the pool. So for 3,000 won (less than $3) we rented Clarissa a tricycle. She loved it!

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She loved that it was pink. And that it was a dragon. And that when you touched the dragon’s hat, it made music. When we were finished, she decided to try a different bike. This time she wanted a Pororro two wheeled bike with training wheels. I think Clarissa and I will definitely take the bus to Duryu Park a few times this fall so that we can ride bikes again!

Clarissa in a nutshell

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Sometimes I can’t believe Clarissa is two already. And sometimes I can’t believe she’s only two.

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Clarissa has grown so much this year. Since her last birthday, she has learned to walk, run, jump, climb, dance, and move any other way you can think of. She can talk your ear off (though it still isn’t always in English). My big girl only nurses before bed now and she rarely nurses to sleep anymore. Clarissa has actually become a great sleeper. She usually sleeps 10-11 hours straight at night and takes a 2-3 hour nap each day.

Clarissa seemed interested in pee and poop a lot when we first moved in to our apartment so we bought her a princess potty. She promptly used it to both pee and poop once each and has yet to really try again in the past six months. She doesn’t seem as averse to diaper changes these days. Though she will tell me if she needs one lately. She picked out some princess underwear at the PX, but she doesn’t really want to wear it yet. The first couple of days, she just wanted to hold the package and bring it to bed with her.

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Clarissa likes to wear dresses, fancy shoes, and bracelets. But pony tails are strictly forbidden (unless of course they are being used as a bracelet). This week, she really wanted some Frozen hair clips at the PX. She wants to wear all six of them in her hair at once. Clarissa doesn’t really like me to brush her hair either. A comb after bathtime seems to be okay though. Recently, she has started to be particular about what she wants to wear. Sometimes she wears pajamas outside (she has Tayo and Lani pajamas). She likes to put her shoes on herself, which means that they are almost always on the wrong foot. She loves building with blocks, climbing on the playground, and going the wrong way on the slide. Clarissa prefers trucks, busses, and trains to baby dolls.

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She loves to read! (She actually got second place in the summer reading program for number of books read–and I didn’t write them all down!) I guess I should say, she loves books. She enjoys looking at them and she can point to the pictures and tell you what most of them are. We spend at least a half hour per day of me actually reading to her.

She also loves to sing and dance. She can keep time remarkably well, especially for a two year old. Lately she has also been interested in painting.

Food is hit or miss. When she first started solids, she would eat pretty much anything we put in front of her. Since we have moved to Korea, she has gotten pickier. She loves pizza, ice cream, and donuts. Who doesn’t?! She will eat peanut butter anything. Clarissa will also eat cheese, yogurt, English muffins, breakfast sausage, and scrambled eggs. Fruit and vegetable consumption is rare unless it is a fruit squeeze. Some days she likes a fruit and the next day she won’t touch it. Apples and bananas seem to be consistent though.

Common sayings and their translations:

“Mama (or Daddy) tay?” are you okay? (used if I sneeze, or if the bus moves while I am standing and holding her and we move a bit)
“o tay” okay (can sound really pitiful or really happy)
“e dat?” Do you hear that?
“help you” I need help
“hold you” I want you to hold me
“yike it” I don’t like it (usually said while shaking her head or having a meltdown)
“tank you” thank you. Sometimes she will say “welcome” if I say “you’re welcome” but please is very rare at this point
“fix it” whenever something isn’t doing what she wants it too, it is assumed to be broken. If I say it doesn’t work a certain way, she immediately goes to find Tim and says “Daddy fix it!”
New this week: “o minutes please” We have been limiting her screen time as well as trying to warn her when her playtime is almost over so she won’t freak out at mealtimes, naptime, and bedtime. So she has started asking for more minutes!

Clarissa has two friends, Jensen and Haven. She asks for them all the time. She likes to run around with them and have adventures but she is not great at sharing yet. One friend is about six months older and the other about eight months. But age doesn’t matter to Clarissa. She tries to play with all children under the age of ten and calls them “friends.” She hasn’t figured out that she is younger yet. Teenagers and adults are “people.”

Happy birthday Baby Bear! I am so glad God chose me to be your mommy! I can’t wait to see how much you grow this next year.

Breastfeeding timeline

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When I decided to breastfeed Clarissa, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While I have enjoyed this journey, sometimes I have wondered how long it would last. As we near the two year mark, I thought I would share a timeline for moms who may be wondering what it looks like to breastfeed your child as they grow.

Newborn

My milk came in really quickly. The first night we came home from the hospital, I already had more milk than Clarissa needed. Pumping would have been helpful at that point, but my pump didn’t fit correctly, so I struggled with engorgement for the first few weeks.

For the first few weeks it seemed like she nursed every 1-2 hours. After a couple of weeks it became more managable and she would nurse every 3 hours or so. By the time Clarissa was four months old, she could go about four hours between nursing sessions.

Five to nine months

We introduced some pureed vegetables to Clarissa during these months. She would nurse every 4-6 hours and then eat one serving of vegetables in the afternoon when I was working. By about seven months we added a serving of baby cereal as well. During this time, she was still waking up to nurse once or twice during the night.

Ten to twelve months

Clarissa would wake up and nurse first thing in the morning and eat some baby cereal. Then she would have some pureed fruit or vegetables, some baby crackers, and nurse before naptime. She nursed after nap as well. She would eat some vegetables and jarred food with meat with us at dinner time and then nurse before bedtime. She would wake up once 1-2 hours after she went to sleep to nurse before sleeping for 8-10 hours straight.

Clarissa didn’t have any teeth at 10 months. But by 12 months she had 8! So we probably introduced finger foods later than most due to her lack of teeth.

Twelve to fifteen months

Once Clarissa had more teeth, we added finger foods to the mix. She would nurse upon waking and then have some scrambled egg with baby cereal for breakfast. She was eating more of a lunch and not nursing consistenly before naptime. She still wanted to nurse after naptime. She would eat dinner with us and nurse before bed. At this time, she was still waking up 1-2 hours after falling asleep for one last feeding, but then would sleep ten hours straight.

Fifteen to eighteen months

When I went back to work, I was nursing Clarissa three times per day. Once in the morning, after naptime, and at bedtime. But one day I forgot to nurse her when I got home and she never reminded me. So we dropped the midday nursing and she started sleeping through the night. If I had known that, I may have dropped it earlier! At this point she went to nursing only upon waking and before bed. She slept about 12 hours at night.

In January, Clarissa started playing a lot during her bedtime nursing and I was tempted to stop nursing before bed. But at that point, I knew we were moving to Korea and I wanted to be able to nurse if she needed it with all of the changes.

Eighteen to twenty one months

I was glad that I had kept with the breastfeeding when we got here. Breastfeeding during the flight kept us (and the passengers around us) sane. Then, Clarissa caught a cold like a day after we got here. We were nursing like four or five times a day again. After she got better, I weaned her down to morning, before naptime, and before bed. When we were settled in to our apartment, we went back to twice a day. She has been sick a few times since we have been here and so then we go back to 3-4 times a day and I have to wean her back down to two. But it is consistent. When she is only nursing twice a day, she sleeps through the night.

Twenty two months

Once she hit twenty two months, she shifted in her breastfeeding. Her morning nursings have been inconsistent. She will nurse one day, skip a day, nurse, skip two days, and then nurse, skip three days. I don’t think we have nursed two mornings in a row for the past month. But we haven’t made it more than three days in a row without nursing yet either. So we will see when she finally decides that she is done with the morning nursing. But her bedtime nursing has become very business like. She nurses about ten to fifteen minutes on each side and then goes to bed without a fuss.

Twenty three months

The day she turned twenty three months was the last day that she nursed before breakfast. Now she only nurses at night. I will say that since giving up the morning nursing session, her naptime is longer.  She still nurses between twenty and thirty minutes before bed. One day she decided that she wanted to nurse in the middle of the night to make up for not nursing in the morning, but I told her she was a big girl and she could only nurse before bed (sounded harsh in my head, but I know she needs to eat more during the day if she is actually hungry since she is almost two. I was fully prepared to let her cry for twenty minutes before nursing her). So we cuddled for a minute, I changed her diaper, and put her back in her crib. She cried about five minutes and went back to bed. She hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night since, even on days when I thought she would because she didn’t eat as much real food.

Two years and six and a half months

I noticed a pattern with Clarissa this winter. The more she ate during the day, the less she would nurse before bed. After she turned two and a half, she started drinking soymilk and some smoothies during the day. Not every day, but I was thankful that she was starting to make healthier choices in her diet. She started consistently nursing about 10 minutes at night. A week before she turned two years and seven months, she asked for milk in a cup during her bedtime story. I explained to her that if she drank from a cup I would not nurse her that evening and she was fine with that. That was a Monday night. Tuesday night she asked for her milk in a cup. On Wednesday night, I handed her milk and she refused. She didn’t nap or eat well that day and she wanted to nurse. That was ten days ago. I think it’s safe to say that she has weaned herself.