Finally 3

Miss Ruthie turned 3! on Nov 15. Though 4 months late, I would be remiss if I didn't get a record of all the adorable qualities of this sweet girl.

First off, her birthday... We celebrated with a couple of favorite friends - Afton and Emma (and Emma's brother David joined in too). We had an impromptu outing to McD's (after we discovered the bouncy-house place we wanted to go to had gone out of business), then back to our house for some cake and presents.

Austin gifted Ruthie with one of his homemade creations - a pair of binoculars attached to laser guns.

One of her gifts from us was a family outing to see Disney On Ice.

And we topped off the week of celebrating with an extended family birthday party too.

Now for the fun part. Who is this 3-year-old Ruthie?

From the time she was 2 1/2 I felt like Ruthie was already 3. She was so sweet, so funny, so good at talking, and very pleasant and easy to get along with. However, if I had posted this blog the week she turned 3, it would have been titled "3 going on 2". For about 2 months she suddenly became whiny, grumpy and insistent on doing everything herself so that everything took 5 times as long as it needed to and often ended up messy to boot. Looking back, I think a lot of this unfavorable behavior was caused by the power struggle we were having over potty training.

[Side story: She started potty training in late September on her own request. I was still in newborn recovery, but didn't want to discourage her interest. My patience lasted about 2 weeks and then I got very frustrated and basically put her back in pull ups. When she turned 3 I felt like we needed to just make the break and end the diapers or we would be wearing pull-ups forever. So she returned to underwear, peed in them 100% of the time (just getting #2 in the potty) and I chided her every time she did. Then one day, I was at the temple contemplating my little family and it hit me that I was doing it all wrong. Ruthie was feeling stifled instead of confident. So I went home, apologized to her, promised I wouldn't get mad anymore (and I really stopped!), and put up a sticker chart for her to add to with every potty success. It still took another 2 months for her to now be at an 80% success rate, but very soon after I changed my behavior, my sweet little lovable Ruthie returned which was a much bigger reward.]

My absolute favorite thing about my Ruthie is that she is my little buddy. She loves to be with me and wants to go with me wherever I'm going. If I attempt to leave the house without her she jumps in to my arms and asks, "Where are you going?" I'll say, "Walking with friends. (or) To register Austin for preschool. (or) To a baby shower." She'll reply, "I want to go walking too (or) to resisher Austin too (or) to a baby shower too." And she's so darn cute that, unless it's bedtime, she ends up getting to come along. And to be honest, I LOVE having my little friend along.

Daddy doesn't get quite the same treatment, but fairly close. She'll cuddle with him while we watch Voyager (which is still happening off and on) and she'll accompany him on errands too. But she has a melt down if he tries to put her to bed and she insists on me.
Speaking of bedtime, it's kind of sporadic with her. On non-nap days (about 4 times a week), she goes to bed around 6:30 and conks out. On nap days, she's up until 10. Naps happen on Sundays, in the car after visiting grandma for the day, or when I'm tired and want to nap too.

Ruthie loves to help me cook. If I make anything that requires measuring cups, I invite her help. She puts on her little apron, stands on her stool and pours the cup-fulls in to the bowl. Dry ingredients are often "poured" by scooping it out with her fingers and pinching a few tastes along the way. Since the food we make is just for our family, I figure a few Ruthie germs won't hurt, so I let it slide. (If I make food for others though, I'll do it myself or micro-manage a lot more).

Ruthie pulls the funniest little faces and gets me giggling many times each day. One of my favorite looks is when she casually says something funny, then she purses her lips, turns her head away and glances slyly back at me waiting for my laughter. Then as I laugh at her joke she looks up and around, suppressing her own grin, trying to maintain a casual air though you can tell she knows she's hilarious. If I could capture that one on video...!

Ruthie's biggest foible is that she is, sadly, a TV addict. This is what I subject my children to when I'm pregnant. I'm talking like 8-hour TV days! Happily though, she is in a 12-step recovery program. Step 1 has been to ban the TV and computer until after lunch. This has forced both my children to play with their toys and with each other. It's so refreshing to see. However, every morning after breakfast she asks, "Did we have lunch? Can I watch TV now?" and she sometimes asks to have lunch at 10am (and I admit I have served it that early twice out of desperation to take a nap while Summer was asleep). I'm not sure what step 2 is, but I think it's time to implement it since Ruthie can still get in 5 hours of TV on some days (though I'm happy to see that she'll often turn it off after a couple of shows to play with Austin or help me cook or whatever).

When Ruthie and Austin play, they almost always play "Wonder Woman and Wonder Dog." Ruthie is Wonder Woman and Austin is her sidekick Wonder Dog. They have superpowers and fight bad guys and live in their secret hideout. This cracks me up. It is the merging of a boy-brain with a girl-brain. Austin invented this game almost a year ago as he fell in love with superheroes and wanted Ruthie to love it to. A female superhero was the bridge for them. Sometimes they'll pretend to be the Little Einsteins or the Wild Kratts, but Wonder Woman and Wonder Dog is the go-to standard. This game caused Santa to get Ruthie a Wonder Woman costume for Christmas. Oddly though, she doesn't really like to wear it despite Austin's encouragement (even modeling it to get her interested). The love of Wonder Woman also extends to books. The kids LOVE it when I check out DC Comic Wonder Woman chapter books from the library and they will both sit through an entire 40-minute reading of these books!

When Ruthie plays with anyone else (me, Emma, Grandma, cousins) she likes to play "Mommy and Kid". This game involves carrying around 2 or 3 purses, and taking her kid shopping or to the doctors or to school. Sometimes (especially with Emma) dressups are involved in the game. By the end of the fun the purses are filled with random toys and treasures (something she picked up from Makayla I think). Play-time is still a learning zone for her. She is learning how to take turns letting other people be the mommy and swapping dressups (yes, mostly this is a battle with Emma, but they are improving!). She is also learning how to ask for her way in a soft voice instead of being loud and demanding. We're getting there.

Ruthie's Favorites:
  • color: pink
  • food: candy, especially chocolate (she also enjoys oatmeal and Voyager yogurt)
  • TV show: the entire PBS lineup, Disney's Little Einsteins
  • movie: classic Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons
  • friends: Austin, Emma Smalley, cousins Ka-we-ana, Ka-ya-ray-ya, and Tycey
Ruthie Knows:
  • shapes
  • most letters
  • colors (sometimes still mixes up yellow and blue. At one point I actually worried she was yellow/blue color blind, but it seems to be passing)
  • how to verbally spell her and Austin's names (he spells his name out loud a lot)
  • how to dress herself
  • how to play the computer by herself
Two more funny stories to wrap up this post.

Ruthie has recently discovered the fun of fingernail polish, but when I paint her nails I refuse to paint the thumb that she sucks because I don't want her to ingest the polish. The other night I'd painted her nails and put her to bed. A half hour later I heard her crying and went up to check on her. She didn't want to show me what was wrong, but finally showed me her sucking thumb. She'd snuck in to my room and painted her thumb. She was crying because she couldn't sleep because her thumb didn't feel/taste right. My first concern was that there was a bottle of fingernail polish upside down on the carpet somewhere! I had her show me where she'd done the painting and found a little square of toilet paper on the carpet that she'd put her hand on and it had one little dot of paint on it. The bottle itself had been put back. No disaster. Phew. So we got out the polish remover and took the paint off that thumb. She was still unsatisfied since her thumb now tasted like acetone. After several rounds of soap everything was finally ok and she quickly fell asleep after agreeing to not paint that thumb again (though I realize I didn't actually ask her to not sneak in to the nail polish again).

And last story. For her birthday her Oma and Opa sent her a $50 gift card to Target. So I took her to the toy section of Target and told her she could pick out ANYTHING she wanted. Score, right?! After 30 minutes of shopping she finally settled on ... a $1 tube of lip gloss and a pack of m&ms. She was happy and I was late for an appointment, so that's what she got. The rest of her $48.50 went toward the Christmas purchase of a new TV. But since Ruthie watches 90% of the TV around here, I think it was appropriate. The thing I love is that she seriously LOVES that bottle of lip gloss. She still has it 4 months later (almost empty now) and when she looks for it she says, "Where's my wip gwoss I got from Oma and Opa?" So it did the job of reminding her daily that her Oma and Opa love her.

Oh my little Ruthie, what would I do without you?


Goodbye Snow Hall

If you haven't driven past BYU in the past 6 months you might not know... Heritage Halls is coming down. They are replacing it new 5-story apartment complexes and merging it all with the old DT complex which has already been replaced by this new style apartment. I was over there last night in Harris Hall signing contracts with my renters for next year and I was dismayed to see that Snow Hall was already gone! (The first photo is of Snow back in the day, the second I took of Wells Hall last night). I had hoped to have one last look. But since all of Heritage is very similar, being in Harris was still like stepping back in to the past.

It was a strange feeling to be back on my old Freshman stomping grounds on the eve of it ceasing to exist. It brought back a lot of memories and emotions. I could feel again all the excitement and newness and discovery as well as the weight of stress and uncertainty and nervousness. Meeting up with those freshman girls last night there was a part of me that felt like I was still one of them - I could step in to their apartment and start that life again as if I'd never left. It was hard to believe I had a husband and three kids, an income and a mortgage, wrinkles and gray hairs. But really I knew I couldn't possibly go back to being that silly or staying up that late or feeling so foolishly passionate about everything and everyone. The truth is I now have a contentment and security I never experienced in those Freshman days of wondering if I'd ever have a husband and kids. I now have a different perspective on life that makes me... well, not all grown up by any means... just a different creature than I was before.

I stood for a moment in the dark and cold last night and thought how sad it is that my growing-up years were being taken down. But I also didn't relish the sadness of the nostalgia. It is perfectly wonderful for life to move on and leave the old behind. As the winter destroys the fruits of last summer so a new crop can grow and nourish us, so should old buildings and old memories come down so that new life and new creatures can flourish. And with that I went ahead and said 'goodbye' to an old friend.