Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Kids' True Identities

I was watching Disney's "Snow White" with Charla today. At one point Charla declared that Gregory is a prince and she's a princess.

(good likeness... just pretend they're brother and sister)

When I asked what Leora is, she thought about it a moment, grinned and said, "A ladybug." I have NO idea where that came from!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learning English

I guess maybe we need to expand our children's vocabulary, or at least explain some bodily functions to them...

This afternoon Charla was quietly playing on the floor and suddenly passed gas. She gasped and exclaimed, "MY BUTT BURPED!"

You bet I had a good laugh!

Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Flowers are Waking Up!"

Spring is in full swing here in lovely Ohio! We started the week lingering around freezing, and today will reach 80.

The ground has been so saturated, but it's finally dry enough to walk barefoot in the grass and let the kids roam without them squishing too deep.

(hanging out by the fire hydrant..?)

One great unexpected surprise popped up a couple weeks ago. Apparently the previous tenants planted tulip bulbs. They sprouted all on their own! The only thing I've done to the garden was pull a few weeds yesterday. Our tulips are some of the last to bloom on our street, but it's been something the kids have been looking forward to.

Charla was closely checking all the flowers this morning. Only about half of the tulips have bloomed, so she was exclaiming, "They're waking up!" I hope they'll all be "awake" within the week, so we can see the whole garden in bloom all at once. I had so much fun taking pictures of them poking around the flowers. This is definitely a new thing for them.. and for me!

Our photo session ended after I snapped a few pictures of my girls together. Charla is usually not too crazy about Leora invading her "space", but I guess the pleasant weather softened her.

(near the end, blowing spit bubbles was more interesting than posing for pictures)

Cute story:
Gregory has been learning about how plants grow in class. He even brought home some sprouted seeds that we've potted. Most of the yards here are yellow with dandelions, that are starting to get their fuzzies. A few monstrous ones have taken up residence in our garden. When Gregory asked what kind of flowers they were, I explained they were actually weeds. Of course he needed a further explanation, so I told him weeds sometimes kill flowers. You can imagine this definitely concerned him!

A couple days later we were leaving a friend's house and their daughter, who rides the bus with Gregory, asked me if she could give him a flower. She plucked a yellow dandelion and offered it to him. He eyed it suspiciously, but finally accepted. As we walked home he gingerly asked if she had given him a weed. I had to try hard not to laugh, but somberly nodded my head. He threw it away when we got home. He didn't want to risk it getting too close to our flowers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter 09'

We had a really pleasant Easter this year. We started sharing our building with the Single Adult ward this Sunday, so our ward met an hour earlier, but that didn't dampen the Easter spirit! It was a great incentive to get the kids through church (bribery of egg hunts later)!

(she was so proud of herself for finding such a huge "egg"!)

It actually started the night before. I'd come across someone who said when her children were little they left carrot cake out for the Easter Bunny, kinda like leaving cookies for Santa. I thought it was such a fun idea, but was also concerned about focusing too much on the commercial frivolities of the holiday.

(I just love this picture... it's rare I get them all in one shot)

I found a recipe online for carrot cake from scratch. Fred accepted the challenge, since I was elbow deep in finishing my plans for my first Primary singing time the next day (which went surprisingly well). We allowed Gregory to stay up and help.

(This was awesome- she'd find eggs hidden in the cars and casually throw them out, so she could drive the car)

Then inspiration struck- we asked him to tell us what the Easter Bunny would bring. He said, "eggs." Then I went on to explain why eggs are associated with Easter: Jesus emerged from the tomb, perfect, like new- resurrected.

(her basket wasn't very frilly, but I don't think she minded)

It was so simple, yet I think he could actually wrap his head around it. After that I didn't feel as bad about carrying on the Easter Bunny charade. (I can't find the picture Fred took of the partially eaten cake piece left on the table for the kids to see evidence the bunny had, indeed, paid us a visit).

(He would shake each egg and get excited when he found ones filled with jelly beans)

A really, super special treat about this Easter was the candy. I did buy some Butterfinger eggs and a bag of jelly beans, but the highlight came in the mail a few days before Easter: a box jam-packed with a wide variety of German chocolates from my Oma Gisela (my mom's mom who we visited in February). I relish every bite of those delectable chocolates (WAY too many bites!).

I managed to throw together what was my family's traditional Easter Dinner, complete with a spiral ham and my grandma Jensen's "Yummy Potatoes", or what others call"Funeral potatoes"... I prefer my grandma's title for them- they sure are yummy! For an special touch we lit some tiny candles. We'd never done that with the kids before- they loved it!

(my lil' guy is so good lookin'!)

Charla really dug into the candy in her basket, so by the time we were ready to go egg hunting, she was dead to the world.

I knew she wouldn't want to miss it, so Fred laid her on the swing outside- it didn't take long for her to wake up eager to hunt (makes her sound like a vampire).

Fred did a great job proxying for the real Easter Bunny. Gregory was a little speed demon, but surprised us when he started sharing eggs with his sisters from his own basket. There's hope yet!

(It looks like he's snitching eggs, but he's really giving her some of his)

Sorry this got so long- I'm so indecisive when it comes to picking which pictures to use- believe it or not, there were many more! We hope you all had a wonderful Easter :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baby Omega's Name

Figuring out this baby's name has been quite the evolution!

In the beginning we planned on not finding out the gender, so we let Gregory come up with a gender neutral name just for the duration of the pregnancy. So, for 5 months, we all referred to my belly as "Baby Lou."
(32 weeks)

Then I caved after the 20-week ultrasound and found out we were having a boy. Nothing immediately came to mind, so we again turned to Gregory to come up with a temporary name. This time my belly was christened "Logan". Neither name was chosen after I suggested it- Gregory came up with both on his own.

It's been a struggle to find this baby's name (although figuring out a girl's name was a breeze). I find that names that made my "Favorites" lists with previous pregnancies don't hold the same appeal to me.

I kept getting the impression that I should explore Scandinavian names (my siblings are Lars, Inga Dorothea, Anja Katherina, and Dora Antje-Maria... my mom thought she was giving me a unique name when she picked out "Deborah"... I suppose it does sound unique to a European). I kept my ears open in Germany and even did a few searches online, but nothing sounded right.

We finally found it in a letter from my brother, who's right now serving his mission in Germany/Austria. He just casually mentioned helping a return missionary who got stranded in their city- nothing about the guy's character or personality. Just his name.


I couldn't read anymore of the letter. It was overwhelming, because in that moment I KNEW this was my baby's name. Just like when I came across Leora's name in a book at the LDS bookstore and broke down into sobs right there in the store. It was less embarrassing doing it at home.

I searched for it's meaning (if it had one) and the first result it pulled up was, in fact, Scandanavian, for "rejoice." It's like the baby had picked out his name and I'd finally found it. When I told Fred about my experience, he agreed it just felt right.

Apparently it appears in many other languages:
"Ocean" in Hawaiian
"Willow tree" in Navajo Indian
"Keeper of the keys" in Scotland and Wales
"Victorious, triumphant, or happy" in Chinese
"Lovable" in Ghana
"Beautiful" in South Africa
"Fire" in Ireland
"Leader" in Japanese
"Young" in Latin
"Warrior" in German!

As for his middle name, we've decided to use "Logan." Charla still refers to the baby as "Logan" most of the time. It's not a name I ever had on any lists, but the story behind it is too sweet.
(33 weeks- today)

So, in roughly 7 weeks, our tiny Kai Logan Olsen will join our little Ohio Olsen clan. We're all so excited!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gregory Logic

I LOVE my son! There's certainly something to be said about this being a fun age, but he's just such a great kid!

Charla's current favorite movie is "Sleeping Beauty", which I don't mind since it's my favorite Disney cartoon, too.

Yesterday, Gregory came home from school near the end of the movie. He was watching Prince Philip dancing with Princess Aurora, while the 2 fairies were repeatedly changing Aurora's dress color.

Gregory looked concerned and finally said, "I hope they don't change the prince to pink!"

In all the years I've watched that movie, it never occurred to me to worry that the fairies might miss the princess and hit the prince.

Here's a few pics of took of my lil' guy loving his cat yesterday.

Charla's Hair

Before I get into her hair, I thought I'd mention something cute she said today.

Gregory is usually my builder, but Charla pulled out some stacking toys and was determined to stack them as high as she could. When I asked her what the tower was for she matter-of-factly told me, "I'm making a tower to Arizona!"

I don't exactly follow her logic, but I thought it was so cute!

Some may wonder why I keep Charla's hair so short. While I do think she pulls off the "pixie" look very well, it's not that way entirely by choice.

Ever since before Charla turned 1, her busy little fingers have fiddled with her hair. For a long time she just twirled it, but it would twist and often end up coming out. Before she was 2 I gave her the first haircut (click to see YouTube video I made of it) in an attempt to dissuade her, theorizing that if it was too short to wrap around her fingers, she'd give up.

It seemed to help, so she's never had pigtails since, because she would get a haircut whenever it got long enough to wrap around her fingers.

When we moved from Arizona to Ohio last May, it got noticeably worse. Fred was also gone for most of the remainder of the year. Instead of just twirling her hair, she started tugging on it, pulling out several strands at a time. At that point she still would focus on one area of her head, usually just above her ears, so the rest of her hair managed to cover it up alright.

(October 2008, at the Cincinnati Zoo... see the otter?)

My brilliant idea proved useless in January this year when we got her hair cut like usual. It backfired. Since she couldn't get a grip on her hair, she started just pulling it out all over the left side of her head.

We figure she favors the left side simply because she's right-handed and is constantly pulling, even when she's busy coloring, eating, etc.

(current picture)

When we got back from Germany, her hair (or lack thereof) was the worst yet. So we got in to see one of the pediatricians on base, who then gave us a referral to Dayton Children's hospital. I had attempted this while Fred was at training last year, but the pediatrician I saw on base then didn't take me seriously, and kept insisting she'll just grow out of it (which is still highly likely).

One of our main concerns, besides her facing ricidule in the future if this persists, is that we'd learned about a disorder called Trichotollomania (click to find out more). It is often associated with OCD, but is treated differently. We were determined to see a professional who could at least evaluate her and give us an idea of what was going on with our little princess, especially if it was Trich.

That finally happened yesterday.

Dr. DeWitt is a child psychologist. She mostly talked with us while Charla played with toys in the room. We met with her for about an hour. She listened to Charla's history, taking notes, and asking questions. We told her we were concerned that Charla's hair pulling, her persistent reliance on her pacifier, and the extreme temper tantrums she throws, may all be connected somehow.

In the end she assessed that it is more likely that Charla's hair pulling has evolved from a habit that has gotten out of hand, than that she has a dissorder triggering the perceived need to pull at her hair. She said that many children they've helped through this simply needed something else to keep their hands busy, like squeezing a stress ball, fiddling with beads on a string, etc.

She said they only get concerned about pacifier use if it alters the child's ability to speak, which Charla has no problem with. She received testing a few months ago which determined her speech was exactly as it should be for her age. There was no indicator that her pacifier use has caused any speech problems.

She also was pleased to hear that our daughter is so stubborn, explaining that they like to see that in young children, because it often indicates that they will have a stronger self esteem and resistance to peer pressure as they get older (we can only hope!!).

She pointed out that even though Charla was in an unfamiliar environment with a stranger (Dr. DeWitt), she hadn't observed our daughter touch her hair once during the visit. She felt this indicated that a situation that would typically make children anxious didn't have that affect on her, or that if it did, she didn't manifest it by pulling on her hair.

Instead, Dr. DeWitt feels it's more likely that Charla has busy fingers that need to be doing something, and so the most convenient thing is to run her fingers through her hair, tugging on it.

She asked us to watch Charla closely, looking for triggers or times of day that the hair pulling is worse. She recommended we let Charla pick out some hats and/or bandanas, and she left it up to us whether we insist Charla wear them all the time, or just when we see her messing with her hair. She said there was no harm in explaining to Charla that we are trying to help her allow her hair to grow back in, but obviously not to call negative attention to it.

We all agreed that medication isn't even a consideration at this point, and probably won't be, seeing how young Charla is. The doctor also thinks we should hold off on breaking the pacifier habit until this is resolved, since both wouldl be a lot for Charla to deal with, especially throwing a new sibling into the mix.

We'll meet with Dr. DeWitt in 2 weeks again, and consistently after, until we feel it is under control.

SO, it's going to be a challenge, but our little Charla is totally worth it! We've also been assured by many people, like my uncle who is a prestigious pediatrician in Cincinnati, that the vast majority of children with this habit, simply grow out of it.

New Calling and New Haircut

No, one did not inspire the other, but I guess it was just time for change.

The mass exodus of members from our ward has begun. I've heard there are 15 families moving out!! Of course this means all their callings will need to be reassigned.

When I was asked to come in to chat with the second counselor, I made the mistake of assuming that I would be offered some extra help with my current calling as Ward Activities Chair, since 1/2 of my committee has moved and I'm due with baby #4 in May.
Never assume.

Instead, they extended me the calling for Primary Chorister... and explained I would be keeping my current calling. You might say I was a little surprised, but I understand the pressure they're under to fill callings, so I said, "yes."

You might say I was a little stressed, considering how I'd balance it all. So, this past Saturday Fred graciously gave me some "me" time and I went to aimlessly wonder the mall. I've only been there a handful of times and ended up lost in some secluded corner upstairs.

There was a sign outside a small salon that advertised haircuts for $14.95. Without hesitating I strolled in, put my name on the waiting list, and picked up one of the hairstyle books to get an idea of what I wanted.

I admit, I was a little nervous- every single hairdresser had pretty outrageous hair styles and each had a different bright color dyed into their hair. But I think it turned out really good! I realized I'd just been pulling my hair back in a ponytail for a long time, so this is a welcome change.