Sunday, October 18, 2015

Isla's 2nd Birthday

Dear Little Isla, 

When I look at these pictures, my brain just screams, "You cute little Woogie!!!"  Gahhh!  You are the cutest thing and we all love you to death!  At 1 year, you were the most perfect baby anyone could ever hope for.  At 2, you are still pretty perfect--but that goes along with a perfect amount of 'toddlerness'.  As seems to be the pattern, once efficiently mobile, you began to truly explore your world.  And doing so requires a certain amount of independence and determination!  Well, Isla, you've got it!  Your energy and liveliness grows by the day!  But so does your cuteness and your unique place in our family.  We love you so!

Walking came a little bit later than it did with your siblings.  About 13-14 months is when you decided to go all out.  But you were a little clumsy for a while after.  I don't think I even let you near the stairs until you were almost 2 (but that's because our stairs in Germany are 'death stairs'--with large gaps between each one--and with your small frame, plenty of room to fall through to the next level!!  ahhh!).  I also let you have your binky longer than I usually do.  We finally did the whole 'cut the tip off and throw it away' bit.  And I honestly can't remember how old you were, and I can't find where I documented it, so we'll just say around 20 months--that sounds about right!  But anyway, you did so well!  You still had your 'mousy' to fill the void of the binky, so I'm sure that helped.  You also did a fantastic job transitioning to a big girl bed.  We did this shortly after our trip to England in April.  You learned how to climb out of your packnplay, so we decided it was time.  I put you down for a nap, told you to stay in your bed--and you did!!!  Amazing!  I think you tried to come back out once in the few days after, and I told you to go back--and you did!  Easiest transitioner yet!  Now for potty-training ;).  

Isla, you are so loved by your siblings, Sawyer and Violet.  They are obsessed with you.  Especially Sawyer.  You ask about him often, while he's at school.  And when we pick him up from the bus stop, you always want me to put you down so that you can run to him and he picks you up for a big hug.  You think Sawyer is so funny, and you don't even mind that he sometimes throws you around like a rag doll.  But with Sawyer gone so much during the day, you and your sister are becoming little buddies.  You are starting to catch up to her in the 'play' department and she is slowly accepting you as a legitimate playmate.  I can see a close relationship building there, just as I had with my sisters, and I love it!  

You have been pretty quiet, when it comes to speech.  I started to worry more, about a month before you turned 2.  You were still only speaking a handful of words, and not really putting 2 or more words together.  I mentioned this to the pediatrician, and she suggested an evaluation.  So we had a speech therapist come to the house and spend some time with you.  She observed that you were 'borderline' for needing further assistance.  We both opted to give you a little more time.  Lo and behold--a little over a month after you turned 2, the words started flying.  You picked up quite a bit while we were in the states for the month of August.  When Daddy came back from SOS, he was surprised at how much you had learned!  But some of our favorite phrases are still the 'one word' sentences you seem to enjoy.  I'm not sure why, but you often feel the need to give us a play-by-play of your, or someone else's, actions.  For example: 'David-sitting; David-eating; David-body'...haha.  And our very favorite thing you say??  "Wa".  Your version of "Ya.".  We find ourselves asking you questions often, just so we can hear you say it.  So stinkin cute.  (And we are now into October and this is still the way it comes out).  Oh and your name is "Iwah"...

You love to be part of everything that the big kids do.  You even know that we read our scriptures before bed (even if you don't pay attention whatsoever).  It becomes the perfect excuse for you 'not' to go to bed, if I ever try to put you down before the others.  

Daddy coming home is always an exciting part of your day.  Even though you typically cling to me, your daddy gets a big hug when he walks in the door.  And your favorite thing to say about daddy is, "Daddy funny".  You have a great appreciation for humor, Isla--and your little laugh is a joy to us all.  

Nursery was a huge struggle for you.  We tried the whole, rip off the bandaid thing, and let you cry it out and get over it.  Didn't work for you.  You would spend the entire time crying in there.  A few months into it, I thought, this is dumb.  She is so terrified of this place, I need to help her feel comfortable here before it will ever get better.  So I started staying in with you.  In fact, they then called me to be a nursery 'helper', so that made my decision even easier.  Then while we stayed at Omi's house, you needed someone in there with you the whole time, but I didn't want you to be scared all over again, because you had been making progress.  When we arrived back in Germany, I had the thought to let Sawyer walk you to nursery.  You went in, no problem, and have loved it ever since!  Hooray!

Isla you have the biggest appetite for such a little girl.  Although I haven't figured out if its a big appetite or just small snacking and grazing.  You will pretty much eat anything so far, and you are constantly raiding the fridge--especially pulling out yogurts and splattering them all over the house.  I won't miss that when it's over!  

So despite the increasing independence (i.e., power struggles), and increased energy, you have the same sweet disposition that you've always had.  And you are loved by all!  I can't believe that you are now the age that Violet was when we came to Germany.  I remember thinking then, as you were swaddled up in your crib, that this day would come--and I tried to imagine it.  You are even better than I ever could have imagined!  My heart just keeps growing and growing as you kids get older, and I look forward to watching you become the best that you can be. You have a special place in this family, Isla Bea.  We love you so much!  

Love, Mommy


During the second week of May, we took advantage of some of the college girls in our ward being home, and hired one to come stay with our kids for 4 days so that we could go on an adults only trip.  We traveled with our good friends, Mandy and Andrew.  Because we were paying a babysitter, we decided we better pick somewhere really awesome to go, that would be difficult to do with kids.  It didn't take long for me to decide on Ireland.  I think since watching Far and Away as a teenager, I have dreamed of seeing that beautiful country in person.  And it did not disappoint.  

We arrived on a Monday afternoon, and went out to find our rental car.  Poor Nate got stuck with being the driver, and we hadn't thought much about the fact that he would be driving on the left side of the road, but in the right side of the car, with a left-handed shifter. Ugh!!  So weird.  About 10 minutes into our drive, traffic started to get heavier as we approached a city.  Nate wasn't too confident in his 'navigators', so he quickly found a spot to pull off the road and regroup.  Unfortunately, he failed to see the stone wall that was about knee height on the left side of the car.  The entire rental car scraped along the edge of that wall.  It was not our best moment.  Poor Nate carried the brunt of that, and it kind of bummed us out for the rest of that evening.  We knew that we had coverage through our credit card, but were now wishing that we hadn't declined the rental company's insurance.  Would have saved a lot of hassle.  (Side note--5 months later and we are finally being reimbursed!!)  For the rest of the day, we found a place to eat some fish n chips (never as good as I hope), and we found the BEST ice cream around.  We had heard that Murphy's was amazing.  But it really was.  Unique to the area, they had some awesome flavors--the Brown Bread and the Sea Salt Caramel were my faves.  After food, we drove part of the Kerry Loop before it got too dark to see anything.  Then made our way to the first hotel.  (Which, by the way, was an apartment that happened to be occupied by the landlady and her daughter--we were essentially houseguests.  Not what we were expecting but it worked out ok! :) )  Oh and after getting settled, we walked down into downtown Dingle and followed the music into a fun little pub where we just sat and enjoyed the traditional Irish jams--so awesome.  

Thankfully, Ireland was so amazing, that it totally made up for any of that first days' mishaps.  Day 2--Driving the Dingle Loop.  First, I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the name of the town "Dingle" and every association that came along with that.  We are really mature ;).  This was my favorite day.  We just drove around this peninsula all day.  Anytime we felt like stopping, we did.  No kids to wrangle.  Just the beauty of the earth and our own instincts.  And we were amazingly blessed in the weather department.  I don't think Ireland sees a lot of sunshine--but we certainly saw the sun.  And despite the very cold wind, it was beautiful!!  Just what I imagined it to be.  

That night we drove up north a ways to a city near the Cliffs of Moher.  It was called Limerick.  That night we stayed in a very nice city hotel.  A much different experience than the night before.  We wandered around looking for a Pub to eat at, and weren't having much luck.  We almost got sucked in by a Papa Johns!! It was so tempting!  But we opted to save it for the next day.  We asked a local man coming out of a pub, where we could find some good food and music.  It was so funny as he described what we would find on a "ChooseDay" night--no one in our group understood the man but me.  TUESDAY guys!  Come on!  Anyway, we found a fabulous little pub with really great music and really yummy food, overlooking the river.  Such a fun experience.  

Wednesday we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher, which were absolutely breathtaking.  We decided to first visit an island just off the coast, before viewing the cliffs from above.  It was so cool to see the cliffs from below--truly awesome.  The island was beautiful!  We rented bikes and just rode all over that little island to our hearts content.  I kept thinking that none of this would be possible with all the kids in tow.  After our island bike tour, we drove up to the top of the cliffs.  I am not embarrassed to say that I've developed a real fear of heights in the last few years.  I was SO nervous being on top of those cliffs, with the wind whipping by so forcefully.  We played it safe, but seeing some other tourists pushing the limits nearly gave me a heart attach.  Aside from the fear, I was, once again, awestruck.  I wish everyone could have that experience.  As we drove away from the Cliffs, we looked up the nearest Papa Johns' on our route.  What a joyous reunion.  Our tummy's were satisfied. We drove late into the night to arrive at our hotel outside of Dublin.  This time we stayed in an old castle inn.  Again, totally different than the other two--very charming.  Unfortunately, we had planned to see Dublin before flying home, but ran out of time.  The next morning we hurried to the airport and, due to a few different hold ups (the rental car return being one of them), we nearly missed our flights!  We didn't even have kids along!!  But it was such a whirlwind.  A quick trip, but filled with memories that I will always cherish.  Ireland now has a place in my heart (and we didn't even have to try the whiskey! ;) )