Friday, May 13, 2016

To Iyla Grace at 3.5 Years Old

Sweet Iyla Grace, you are now officially 3.5 years old (as of yesterday, May 12th) and growing up SO FAST right before our eyes! You are so full of creativity and imagination, and continue to be one of the most intelligent and empathetic kiddos I've ever known.

Here are your official 3.5 year old updates!

How big? You are wearing 3T still for most clothes, though still fit into 2T pants (they are admittedly short on your long legs, but that works perfectly as "capris" for the summer!) You wear a 7.5-8 shoe, and now have two favorite pairs you can put on 'all by yourself'.... sparkly silver Crocs and sweet sparkly Melissa Mary Janes (which I scored for $30 off on the Zappos' site).

You've been VERY particular lately about how your hair is done. Requests orders are usually for "dumbo ears" (two ponytails) or a bun.

Favorite foods? Here is a list of foods that are almost always sure things in your book:

*Honeycrisp apples
*Cliff Bars (Peanut Toffee Buzz)
*Gummy bunnies (you consider these a huge treat!)
*Sausage (you love Applegate's chicken and apple sausages)
*Pasta (either Annie's mac n cheese or any version of butter noddles)
*Corn on the cob
*Chicken tenders
*French fries
*Green curry soup
*Cranberries and raisins
*Cheddar goldfish
*And last but certainly not least- CHOCOLATE. Anything chocolate elicits immediate bliss for you.


Favorite toys/activities:

*You LOVE playing with toy horses. You have two different 'sets' that don't co-mingle: your My Little Pony set (that were mine when I was a kid!) OR your Melissa and Doug set. Your very favorite is the My Little Pony you call "Rainbow Uni."

Speaking of horses, you recently surprised Papa and I by wanting to ride a real pony! We had arrived for dinner at a favorite local spot- Contigo- and it just happened to be their 5 year anniversary party, complete with pony rides, tattoos, and apple bobbing. You rode those ponies no less than 10 times and could not get enough of them!

*You love putting on shows. Shows where your horses perform, other dollies perform, or shows where YOU perform (often with princess dresses and pom-poms). You'll ask us: "do you want to know what this movie is called?" and then proudly announce the official name.

*Hide and seek! All day every day. Every time Papa or I first come into the room you tell us to wait while you hide. It's always hilarious, because you direct us on just how to play. We'll say "I wonder where Iyla is?" and you'll call out "check behind the chair! Check behind the bookshelves!"

*You have a little set of colored bees & hives that you adore. Your teacher at school once told me how much you loved bees and that you tried to 'pet' them; it's no wonder you got your first bee sting AT school ON the palm of your hand.

*Lately you've been having one stuffed animal buddy that HAS to go to bed with you and accompany us throughout the day. The chosen animal can change week to week, but 'white bunny' (pictured below) has been going strong for almost 4 weeks now:

*You love playing with ribbons or strings, and call anything of this sort a "doodle-y."

*You love wearing your pink "Sleeping Beauty" dress. You definitely are a girly-girl through and through on the fashion front, and if you had your way you'd pick out fancy holiday dresses to wear (I love that you also love playing in mud and getting down and dirty- the best of both worlds!)

*You have a set of magnetic letters that you love and are showing so much interest in learning your letters and making words.

*You still LOVE your books, and never tire of reading aloud together. I've noticed that if I try to skip or alter a sentence in any given book you will quickly correct me with the exact written wording. You've seemingly got them all memorized, and these are NOT short picture books I'm talking about! Lately your favorite book is a Disney chapter book with multiple princess stories in it.

*Baths/water. You would sit and play in the bath for hours if we let you! You have a set of dinosaurs in there that get a lot of play time. You also continue to love your weekly swim lessons.

Sleep? Naps have been pretty much MIA since you turned 3 years old. We still try to enforce a daily "quiet time," where for an hour you rest and play quietly in your room. Usually 1-2x/week you will fall asleep during that quiet time.

Bedtime is typically around 8pm, and you fall asleep in the 8-8:45 window (later if you've taken a nap). You usually wake for the day around 7:15-7:30.

I will say that for the last two weeks you've been giving us a REALLY hard go of it with quiet and bed time- pretty much since our return from California. This happens a few times a year where you get extra clingy and throw monumental tantrums and screaming fests when it is time for us to leave your room. I suspect you will soon be emerging with new perceptions and skills, as you always do after a time of unrest. In the meanwhile... GOOD GRACIOUS. We may need to come up with some creative new routines for you! ; )

New skills?

*The most amazing thing I've observed in the past couple of weeks is that you are now actively engaging other kids your age to play. This is definitely a new thing for you! On two different occasions we've been out with other kiddos and you'll go up and ask things like "do you want to race?" or "do you want to play hide and seek?" It's pretty awesome.

*Learning your letters. You have had such a heightened interest and enjoyment of naming letters lately, correcting identifying almost all of your upper case letters and many lower case as well. We play games where you'll see a short word and then will have to pick out the correct letters that go with and spell out that word. You also LOVE to rhyme, and are very good at it!

*Number concepts. We've never worked with you on recognizing sight numbers, but you absolutely can count to 10 if not 20, and will easily remark "let's play with these 3 bunnies" or something of the like, always getting the quantity correct.

School? You absolutely love going to your sweet little school, which you attend MWF from 8:45-12:30. Every day at pickup I find an elated, glowing little girl (often in dress up clothes!). It's been such a lovely place for your first school experience.

Your Papa and I recently got the call that you were accepted into one of Austin's most prestigious and hard-to-get-into Montessori preschools for the fall. We were initially offered a spot in January, but that felt too soon for our family. However, thinking ahead to the fall? I definitely think you'll be ready! Yesterday I mentioned to you that you'll be starting at a Big Girl School next year, where they will help teach you to read. You were very excited by that prospect, and got further excited when I told you the school even has its own playground ("I want to go there and play on it!"). I really think you will thrive and grow so much in this new environment. Here's hoping!

Personality? At 3.5 years old:

*We are working a lot with you to re-think and re-word things "kindly." You have quite a knack for making DEMANDS when Papa and I play with you.... getting very frustrated and telling us NO! if we don't repeat things you tell us to say exactly right, or play exactly the way you had in mind.

*You are an extremely sensitive and empathetic little girl. You are not a kid who needs 'time outs' for discipline; all I have to do is raise my voice slightly and firmly when I mean business and this alone often elicits genuine remorseful sobs from you. You are quick to notice and react if you see another person sad or crying. You also do not like when Papa or I say we are feeling mad, sad, or frustrated at your behaviors. You'll immediately cry "don't be mad! Don't be frustrated!" I try to make a point to you that everyone feels these things, that these feelings come and go (and won't last forever) and that we still love you even when we are feeling those emotions.

*You are so creative and imaginative, constantly making up stories and games with your toys. You still prefer your smaller plastic figurine toys to regular sized dolls; you've actually not shown an interest in any kind of baby doll since you were around 18 months old. Wonder how you'll feel about a baby sister?

*You are still not a very physical kiddo. We have yet to find a bike you like or will ride (and we've tried around 5 types already!) and you are still quite hesitant with new physical feats. You do NOT like to be rough housed with, and are definitely not the type of kid who wants to be held up by her feet or put in any compromised horsing around position. I totally get this, as I am exactly the same way!

*You are an observer, and very slow to warm to new people or people you haven't seen in awhile. In our music class, there are several other kiddos who will come up to me and snuggle in my lap affectionately. I've NEVER seen you do this with anyone other than family or those you are extremely close to (like your nanny or teachers). People definitely have to take the time to earn your trust and affection.

*You have a strong sense of self and never do something just because everyone else is doing it. In fact, if you see a group of kids all doing one thing (like singing in music class, or following the teacher's lead in dance class) you often will purposefully do something different (run to play in the curtains, do an alternate dance move).

*You are still amazingly good at sharing with other children- which I observe over and over again as an anomaly for your age group (and you've always been this way!)

*At a recent parent/teacher conference with your school teachers, they remarked how much they genuinely LOVED having you at their school. They said you were always kind and concerned for the other kids, were well liked by all your peers, and were an excellent listener during group activities. Papa and I thought: "darn right!"

We love you so much sweet Iyla Grace- thank you for making our worlds so incredibly bright! Happy 3.5 years to you.

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