*Caveat – more pictures to be added over the next week. My phone is being used for white noise right now – and some standard shots, like the chair picture, aren’t possible to do in FL!)
On Dec. 19th, we celebrated Natalie’s 4th Birthday! (For her cute 3-year-old blog post, click here: http://linvilleusa.com/2013/12/happy-3rd-birthday-natalie/) With her birthday so close to Christmas, we try especially hard to make sure it doesn’t get swept away with all the holiday festivities. She was lucky enough to have many celebrations:
1. Girls Lunch at the American Girl Cafe in late Nov. (Thanks, Nana!!!) Nana, Aunt Jira, Natalie, Baby Ellie and I went…. and Natalie took home a new doll, Stella! (Thanks again, Nana!)
2. A Princess Ballerina Birthday Party the weekend before her actual birthday, with 8 preschool friends and Grandma and Grandpa. The birthday activities included Pin the Nose on Olaf, Bozo the Clown game (where you throw a ball into a bucket to get a prize), necklace making, dress up clothes, and a ballet lesson by her awesome nanny, Alison!
3. A FL Family Birthday Party on her actual birthday, with Frozen cupcakes! Natalie especially loved reconnecting with her (second) cousins Brogan (10) and Devin (5).
Height/Weight: 40 lbs (75th-90th percentile), 40 inches (50th percentile).
Questioning (Examples: How do we get up to heaven? Dad, why do you call Mama, Shabs?)
Silly & Goofy – and maybe sometimes gross (Ex: Natalie has her own bummy shake dance. She thought it was hilarious when Pop sang a song about boogers. She likes you to close your eyes and tricks you by using your finger to pick her nose – or lick your face. Seriously, is she really my daughter?!?)
Enthusiastic, Creative, Imaginative.
Emotional. (Ex: For the past 5 days, I have heard everyday – this is a bad day. I want to go back to Chicago. This is mostly brought on when she hurts herself or trips – and gets embarrassed.)
Sweet. (Ex: Everyday, “I love my whole family.” Tonight, she picked up on prayers when I was yawning – and when we got to the blessing part, she started us off with Jesus, Mary and Joseph – yep, proud mama moment – and included a whole bunch of people – our extended family, preschool friends, and even the son of her friend’s former nanny. Her arm was also wrapped around her brother’s shoulder for an entire Daniel Tiger episode tonight)
She can also have a strong sense of justice, when the victim is herself. Elliott’s favorite trick as of late is to pretend to offer a toy but then snatch in back. Natalie did this herself a ton at the same age, but she always tells Elliott that it really hurts her feelings (or just tattletales to me).
Favorite Activities: Playing with friends, Having her favorite people over (like Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Pop), Naked Chase, Running around and Dancing to Under the Sea (with Jordan chasing her, being King Triton shouting “Ariel”), Princesses (of all sizes – favorite ones are Elsa, Cinderella, Belle and Jasmine – even though she hasn’t seen all these movies), Watching TV (she gets a 25-min episode of her choice, often Daniel Tiger, for less than 3 time-outs a day), Playing with her dollhouse / dolls/ figurines / fairies, Running (she’s legit super fast – her friends will often complain b/c Natalie is always in front of them), Reading (I think she got 17 stories yesterday), Going to the Park (haven’t done a lot of that lately), Writing her name. Compared to when she was 3, playing kitchen and playing hide and seek are a little less in favor.
Favorite Foods: Grilled Cheese. Milk (still warmed and in a sippy cup – milk was her fav food from literally the first few minutes she was born). Peanut Butter and Jelly. Honeydew (“green melon” – since canteloupe is now out of favor). Applesauce packets. Yogurt pops. Cereals like Cracklin Oat Bran and Oatmeal Squares. Strawberries. Crunch carrots and red bell peppers are the only veggies she’ll really consider eating right now. Some of her favorite sometimes treats include: ice cream, cupcakes, graham crackers, pumpkin muffins.
Milestones: She can write “NATALIE”! Sometimes, she writes it in order; other times, not in order. She also draws super cute stick people. She can “read” very simple books – like Little Animals (Dog can Run, Horse can Run”. We are (fingers crossed) nearing the end of potty training after more than a year – I hope I’m not jinxing myself here, because when she gets lazy or stubborn about it, its the worst. I resorted to putting her in pullups less than a month ago. She continues to work on negotiating social situations when she doesn’t get her way.
Favorite Friends: Ever since her Uncle Mike got her the Frozen movie last spring, its been all about princesses and fairies. I also think her friends have heavily influenced this interest. I try to narrate the positive attributes of princesses – Belle likes to read a lot, Cinderella is super kind, Jasmine likes Adventurer, Taina follows her dream of owning a restaurant. Dora the Explorer is less in favor, but Natalie still likes those books and dolls on occasion. Her favorite dolls are Baby Ellie (American Girl Bitty Baby which she got for her 2nd birthday), Stella (American Girl doll which she got for her 4th birthday), Cutie Pie (a really cuddly babyish doll that rattles), Baby Elsa.
Favorite Books: Books about princesses – I think we have 6 different versions of Frozen. Berenstein Bears are still a favorite – though, I try desperately to steer her towards the older ones, not the newer ones, which have at least 50% more words than needed and less good writing. Some others she likes are Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins. The website www.wegivebooks.org offers a variety of books to read on the computer, which is great. One of my favorite books is “I am Amelia Earhart” by Brad Metzler (warning – the Abraham Lincoln one is not as good) because its non-fiction, has great messages about following your dreams, etc. but she doesn’t like it as much.
Her relationship with her Brother: 9 out of 10 times, they love on each other. 1 out of 10 times, she probably wishes she was an only child (yet though she has requested another baby in the family.) Runaway Naked Chase, Jumping on Beds, Crazy Dancing, etc. are all definitely better with a brother. Some activities – like baking, particularly when it comes to sharing the bowl (but I try to position Natalie is the “teacher” here – are tougher with a brother. There are many things that she doesn’t want to share with her brother, and she gets really frustrated when she asks for something, he says no, she asks if she can play with it later, and then he still says no. (Going back to that strong sense of justice!)
We love our little Nat-bug, Nat-pillar, Ssss (Elliott’s name for her – Sissy) so much and are so thankful for the joy, laughs, hugs, and kisses she brings each of us. I am really proud of the independent, caring young girl she continues to be. I love her to pieces.