Jules and John like books, long road trips where John drives and Jules sleeps, and pretending to be retired. A wide-eyed, spirited little girl by the name of Beatrice joined their family on July 2, 2011, followed by her peaceful, lovely sister Jovia on May 22, 2013. These are their stories..
I am dropping off the face of the earth more and more frequently these days. A lot has happened around here lately. My sister got married. Jovia turned one and Beatrice turned three. Soccer and school are both over, and since I only work 4 days a week, it’s a three day weekend every weekend! This summer is the best and we’re taking advantage of every minute of it.
Around here lately:
- is now one and could care less about walking. She get’s downright angry if you try to make her walk while hanging on to your hands. If she was my first child I’d probably be freaking out, but since she’s the second she get’s a “whatever”, because surely she’ll walk eventually.
- loves, loves, LOVES water. She drinks a ridiculous amount of water and crawls around with a cup hanging out of her mouth. She puts her hand in any cup left unattended. She wants to be playing in the water table/bathtub/sink/etc whenever possible.
- she mimics the noises we make. My favorite is her fake snore.
- before she goes to sleep she needs ample time to flop around on our bed. It’s really weird but it’s probably the best part of her day.
- includes ‘Reynolds’ in our names (Mama Reynolds, Daddy Reynolds, Jovie Reynolds)
- she says the same word twice with an ‘and’ in-between. Examples: yummy and yummy, no and no, stinker and stinker.
- Remember Lambchop? Jovia has a Lambchop puppet, which has become B’s favorite thing of the moment. This means I spend much of my day talking in my Lambchop voice to Shamu, who is Lambchop’s bff. Lambchop even reads the bedtime stories these days.
- as excited she was about her birthday, she still won’t own up to being three. I think this is because she knows three means potty time.
John & I
- We go on bike rides almost every night. This is so fun for me that each time we go I think that maybe we should stop having kids. If we have another baby that means I’ll either be way pregnant or fresh off of childbirth next summer which means no bike rides either way. If you know me well, you know that these bike rides must be really great if they make me not want to have any more babies.
- We’ve been in our house for a year and are FINALLY making it our own by painting and doing other little projects. It’s addicting and exciting.
- We need a nanny asap. If you would like the job, let me know.
We’ve been singing the Brown Squirrel song, and today Beatrice told me that she doesn’t have that movie yet but would like to get it.
Unfortunately for her, the Brown Squirrel song is from my preschool days, circa 1988, and not from a movie. Although I think we have a vhs tape lying around somewhere, with my siblings and I singing our own version of the song (maybe while wearing thanksgiving costumes made out of paper bags? I’m not sure.).
Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel, Swish your Bushy Tail.
Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel, Swish your Bushy Tail.
Wrinkle up your Little Nose.
Hold a Nut between your Toes.
Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel, Swish your Bushy Tail.
I remember the night before Beatrice’s first birthday like it was yesterday. I didn’t have a smash cake for her and went out late at night to find one. I roamed the aisles of Meijer, having a panic over the fact that the first year was already over. It happened so fast - too fast. I mourned the end of her babyhood, and worried about whether I was missing it all by going to work every day.
When Jovia turned 10 months old those feelings returned. I would find myself staring at her, wondering where the time went. On the nights when she would fall asleep while nursing, I would rock that little girl for as long as I could. I couldn’t talk about her upcoming birthday without getting choked up. I want these girls to be my babies forever.
A friend of mine unexpectedly lost her 2 month old baby this weekend. Suddenly I’m looking at the passing of time differently. Time is precious, and I should be celebrating each moment I’ve had with my girls, not mourning days gone by.
After work today I laid on the floor of Beatrice’s room while she and Jovie played. I watched Beatrice lick her toe, and I laughed. Both of their little heads shot up and they crawled over to me, climbing right on top of my body while giggling. Jovia snatched my glasses off of my face and when I got them back on and my vision returned, there were two little sets of eyes staring at me from 4 inches away.
There’s a quote by Kurt Vonnegut that says, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.” Today, Beatrice’s toe-lick, their giggles, and these matching sets of brown eyes were one of those little things that I’ll remember forever.
We are a book loving family and our collection is wonderful. We both had a lot of books before we became a couple, but our preferences are different and I don’t think we had a single overlap. I brought the fiction and classic literature to the table, while John added his history and nonfiction books. Now that we have the girls our collection continues to grow with not only baby books, but also books I think they’ll like as they grow.
There are books wherever you turn in our house and we are always adding to our stock. I read on my kindle half of the time, but there’s nothing like having a proper book in your hand. Besides, I feel like we’re constantly staring at screens and I think it’s good for the girls to see us looking at an actual book instead of yet another screen.
Our Beatrice continues to be a creature of habit, so we’re reading the same books, in the same order, every single night. This latest set is only 2 or 3 months old, and in our world that means they’re practically brand new. When we’re still reading them in September, come save us.
Now Presenting, Beatrice’s favorite books at 2 years, 10 months, and 7 days old (in the order that they are read every night):
This is an enormous book and we don’t read all of the pages. It is vital that we visit the recess page (and play ring-around-the-rosie with the car of B’s choosing), and the doctor page. The doctor page is really out of hand. We act out a whole visit to the doctor. Sometimes her cars visit the doctor. Sometimes I cry because I’m so tired and just want to go to sleep. These big Richard Scarry books are great because there’s so much to look at on each page. My grandma Yoder had them when I was a kid, so it’s like a blast from the past every time I read them.
Obviously Bearice is obsessed with this book - are you surprised? She’s really great at finding Goldbug on each page. She asks me questions about vehicles she hasn’t seen before (like the steamroller) and then is excited when she spots them in real life. This is a good church book because of the whole Goldbug aspect. He’s hidden just well enough that it takes awhile to find him, but not so long that Beatrice gets bored.
A couple of months ago John lost his mind after reading Our Town for 6 months straight. We packed the girls in the car and went to every book-selling store within a 20 minute radius looking for something new. Beatrice snubbed every book we found, but finally this one peaked her interest. Of course, when we got home she decided that I would be reading it, not John.
That night Our Town disappeared… desperate times, you know…
Anyway, this book is great. It has little rhymes that are easy to remember and we tend to recite them as we watch the construction trucks in our neighborhood (perks of living in a new development). This is one of my favorite kids books. I’ll probably be buying a copy for all of the upcoming baby showers I attend.
Because of this book Beatrice is now obsessed with the idea of getting a yellow cement truck for her birthday.
We’ve held a pretty strict 3 book rule at bedtime, but a few weeks ago Beatrice started slyly slipping this book into the stack. It was hilarious to watch her be so sneaky, and I guess she caught me at the right time, because now this one is in the regular rotation.
This book has lots of sound effects - booms and QUIETS and kerthumps - and I often hear Beatrice making the noises after I’ve left her room for the night. It’s another fun book to read, mostly because it cracks Beatrice up, which in turn cracks me up. She reads along with me and her favorite line is “my eyes popped open”, which she then does her own impression of.
This book was given to me at my baby shower by my sweet friend Elizabeth Koch. She wrote a note in the front and it makes me smile every time I open up the book.
Four books and 5 hours later, it’s John’s turn. Beatrice is very particular about what books are to be read by me, and which ones are John’s, so I haven’t read the following books very often if at all. He reads:
John has been reading this book forever. We’re talking 8 months I bet. I’m not sure how he does it. He has different voices for each of the fish, which is probably how he got in this hole. This is one of Jovia’s top 3 books too.
Ah, a classic. Beatrice has loved this book forever. It was in my set of bedtime books a year ago, but now it’s John’s turn to read it. Beatrice loves dogs and cars, so it’s only natural that she’d be obsessed with this book!
When Jovia hit the ten month mark, I started to panic a little bit. Suddenly everything was going too fast, and I felt overwhelmed by the fact that she’d be one so soon. I really like the baby stage – I say that about all of the stages – and Jovia isn’t going to be our last baby, but still, I’m just not ready to move forward quite yet.
Because of this I’ve been far too sentimental the last month and a half. I can’t talk about her upcoming birthday without tearing up. I cleaned out Jovie’s closet and had to tell myself that our next daughter will be wearing these precious little sleepers soon enough in an effort to get that lump out of my throat. I sit and stare at her like a freak, trying to file away her little antics in my memory. And Beatrice! She’s almost three and we’re looking at preschools! Bahhh!
The sap, it’s everywhere.
I think part of my sentimentality is due to the fact that I can hardly remember Beatrice at Jo’s age. It all seems so long ago and the details are fuzzy. I am grateful for this blog and the ability it has given me to go back and relive those moments that would have otherwise been forgotten.
Ok, moving on.
Jovia is actually 11 months old, but we’ll just continue the trend of recapping a month late….
Ten months is such a great age. Jovia is doing something new every day and it’s fun to see how excited she gets about her accomplishments. At 10 months she started pulling herself up and cruising along furniture. She’s pretty proud of herself.
Her four top teeth all broke through the gums at the same time. This brings her teeth count to 6. The drool is unbelievable. She’s a trooper though, and you wouldn’t even know she was teething if it weren’t for her soggy shirt.
The girls play well together. They have a lot of fun racing around the house, and Jovia is entertained by just watching Beatrice. Jovia really likes B’s hair and pulls it every chance she gets, but Beatrice is learning how to avoid these situations. Sometimes Jovia destroys Beatrice’s neat lines of cars, but other than that they’re great friends. The love their joint bathtime and Jovia starts to panic during the 5 seconds between the time I put Beatrice in the bath and the time Jo gets in. Does she think B is going to get a bath and she isn’t? Calm down.
She eats everything. I’ve never seen a child so obsessed with food. She’ll easily eat as much as I do during a meal, AND still gets around 20 ounces of breastmilk a day. Keeping this child fed takes some serious effort. She had her first graham cracker and I think she would consider that to be her favorite food.
She’s still little, wearing 6 month clothes at 10 months. My mom likes to joke that she has a parasite. I’m pretty sure she’s just active. *here’s hoping*
She has two favorite books. They are Peek-a-Boo Baby and Baby Touch and Feel Animals. She likes to lick the mirror on the last page of the peek-a-boo book (of course), and she’ll sit quietly turning each page of the touch and feel book, rubbing each of the animals.
Jovia is far better at independent play than Beatrice was at this age, which I think is interesting. Shouldn’t the middle child be the one who needs someone to play with? Jovie is happy to explore the house and examine all of the new things she discovers. She has a special affinity for outlets, but I always seem to forget this when I’m at the store so we have masking tape over the ones she frequents. She loves to play with doors, and is a pro at removing those spring door-stops that prevent your door from hitting the wall. Her eyes gleam with mischief and I have a feeling she’s going to be a handful the more mobile she becomes.
My favorite thing about Jovia right now is how vivacious she is. To her, everything is thrilling. You can hand her an empty bowl and she’ll nearly explode from excitement. How fun would life be if we were all as excited about the little things as Jovia is?
I think about food all the time. I like to cook and I certainly like to eat, but the task of keeping my family fed haunts me. I even had a nightmare about cooking dinner last night.
We all have different desires when it comes to food. I want interesting flavors and lots of vegetables, while Beatrice and John could eat hot dogs every day of the week. Jovia likes everything, but she’s at that stage where she wants to feed herself, so it’s a challenge to find a variety of foods that are finger-friendly. Also, I have this little thing called a day job, which takes up all of the time I could otherwise use buying groceries or prepping for meals.
Anyway, today Beatrice was put down for her nap 3 hours early (ironically, because she refused lunch) and I found myself with an unexpected span of alone time while both girls took extra-long naps. Since most of our meals are made to appeal to the picky two in our group, I decided to use this time to make myself a proper Julia-lunch of red lentil soup. Jovia gave it her stamp of approval when she woke up, but that’s not saying much - she approves of all food.
The soup was so good, that I wanted to share the recipe here.
I didn’t have an onion on hand, so I used a frozen onion & pepper mix, and I think the peppers were a great touch!
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.
1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.