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Portrait a Week: 16 of 52

YearAndAHalf022Sweet, observant, talkative, cheerful, and spunky! How is our sparkly girl a year and a half already?!

A Year and a Half

Dear Isla,

You turned a year and a half on Friday, April 17. You were so smiley and filled with spunk the moment you awoke next day. This is usually how you wake up, but you were extra sparkly this morning. Your joyful attitude helped take the sting out of your 5:30 am wake up time. You asked to be “nakey girl!” in that cute singsong voice you use when you wish to wear nothing but your diaper. You accessorized your Huggies with ladybug boots, a plastic necklace, and an Easter bunny sticker on your arm like a tattoo. Your hair was wild, and loosely held in pigtails from the day before. Daddy and I must have commented on how insanely cute you were a hundred times! We just could not help ourselves. We are so crazy about you!

I never want to forget the time we spent together that morning. We had so much fun! You painted, colored, ate countless cheerios, played peek-a-boo in the curtains with Daddy, and giggled non-stop. You have the most adorable laugh. It is bubbly and absolutely infectious! It draws smiles from even the grumpiest of faces.

There are so many details about who you are right at this moment that I want to hold onto forever. I am doing everything I can to cement them in my mind, for as cliche as this may sound, time is flying faster than we could have ever imagined. We are so enamored with, and proud of, who you are, sweet Isla!

Right now, we call you our little parrot. You have an amazing vocabulary and love to talk. At 14 months we wondered how many words you knew and started to make a list. It exceeded 1oo words. By now, I am certain that list has grown exponentially. You are copying new words every day and beginning to string together two, three, and four word sentences to express yourself. You can count to 10 with ease and you know various chunks of the alphabet (b-h, i-k, m, p, r, s, t, v, x, y and z!) You say and do some of the funniest things…

“No singy.” No, thank you. You say this a lot, and it is so cute! Well, most of the time. You have started experimenting with a few little tantrums, and sometimes scream, “NO SINGY!!!” While we appreciate your effort to remember your manners, we have been encouraging you to use a kinder, more appropriate tone when you are frustrated. You have begun to challenge us at times, but that is okay. Your sass is a sign of your strength and intelligence, and we are thankful you are already developing your own mind.

“Mommy/Daddy, hode joo?” Mommy/Daddy, hold you? is what you ask when you want to be held. This melts our hearts every time we hear it.

When you are trying to convince us of something, you ask for what you want, then immediately smile and say, “okay,” or “sure,” in your most sugary sweet voice. It is as if you are leading us to the answer you want to hear. You are so clever.

“Mommy/Daddy, big toot!” Yikes, kiddo! You aren’t supposed to call us out on that stuff!

Keenly observant from the moment you were born, you never miss a thing (hence the toot comment above!). We sometimes wonder if you will end up being a scientist. You are curious, adventurous, and love to be outside. “Owside, pees?” Outside, please? “Wee Park?” This is how you ask to go to the park. You say “wee” because that is the sound you make when you go down the slide. “Yeeves, wadi?” Leaves, water? Your latest obsession is picking up “yeeves, wocks, and tigs” (leaves, rocks and twigs) and throwing them into the pond near our house. You carefully observe the splash each item makes before bounding off in search of something new to drop into the water.

When you are excited or want to show off, you dance by stamping your feet as quickly as you can. Your happy feet dancing is accompanied by twinkling eyes, a crinkle-nose grin, and a chorus of your sweet giggles. You crack yourself up.

If you fall down, you say, “boomba!” You learned this from Nana J. She says, “Ka-boomba!” when you knock over your blocks, and you think it is hilarious. You are a pretty tough little cookie, and usually brush yourself right off after you fall. Then you furrow your brow, point at the ground or whatever you tripped over, and give it a good scolding. Your dear ayi, Sue, taught you to do that. We love that you are strong.

You are fascinated by anything with wheels. You can identify taxis, buses and cars, and you like to beep at them. You stare out the taxi windows with great interest and make announcements like, “Taxi coming!” Sure enough, a taxi will pass by a moment later. You tell us that wheels go, “wound and wound and wound” (round and round and round). A born traveler, you are absolutely giddy when we go to the airport and you squeal with excitement when you see the “airpanes!”

Whenever Daddy watches sports, you say, “Go, go, go! Go, Daddy’s team!” You love to play catch and often carry around two balls at once. When Daddy was reffing a basketball game last week he held a whistle in his mouth. From across the court you noticed this and said in a surprised tone, “Daddy, ooh ooh?!” I loved that you thought Daddy was sucking on a pacifier. You still LOVE your ooh ooh! You sound like Maggie Simpson, especially when you are really sleepy. Daddy was holding you this morning as you were sucking on your ooh ooh. He looked up at me and said, “That is the best sound in the world.” I have to agree, because it is a sign that you feel happy and content.

You are an enthusiastic eater, and to tell us you are hungry you say, “Hun-gey, fooda?” When you like food you say, “Mmmm!” and “Yummy!” and “De yish us!” Your favorites include pasta with pesto and peas, cheese quesadillas (you call them “key-guhs”), beans, turkey sandwiches, stir fried vegetables with “nood-ohs”, cucumbers (you call them “cumbumbers”), cheerios, rice, spinach, apples, strawberries, blueberries and bananas. You eat confidently with your “foke” and love to cheers your water bottle with our glasses.

Perhaps more than anything else, you love animals! You can make the sounds of a cat, dog, bird, rooster (cock-a-woo-woo-woo! Mommy’s favorite!), cow, pig, horse, sheep, mouse, snake, lion, hyena, hippo, monkey, fish, frog, and a dragon (you say “go, go, go!” because you’ve heard us cheering at so many SCIS games). You love looking at pictures of animals in books, snuggling your stuffed animals (like your beloved rat and piggy), and of course, interacting with real animals. On walks, you meow at all the cats, wave to every dog, and can spot the tiniest birds tucked away in tree branches. You ask to visit our cats at least once a day. In fact, you have somehow made hand-feeding the cats kibble part of your bedtime routine- along with brushing your teeth! You ask, “Mi yuh, Fafa, food?” And then make a “ch, ch, ch” sound to symbolize brushing your teeth. Sometimes you try and brush Miller’s teeth too. Those cats are wonderfully patient. I think they know how much you love them. At school there is a class bunny, named Marvel. He is actually a giant, white hare- you two are nearly the same length! You are completely crazy about him and ask to visit “Marble” the minute you arrive at lunch time each day. You feed him alfalfa pellets and apple cookies, and he is so very gentle with you. You have a small white plush bunny at home and you named him “Baby Marble.” You hold, pat and kiss him with such great affection.

You share this same kindness and love with the people around you. Sometimes, for no apparent reason at all, you lean over and plant a kiss on one of us. Then you immediately go to the other parent and kiss them as well. Just recently you began telling us that you love us.  I snuggle you so close that our foreheads touch and we nuzzle our noses. “I love you,” I whisper. You grin, your eyes sparkling, and whisper back, “I yuh you.” Those words are the sweetest I have ever heard. You have such a tender, compassionate heart already, precious girl! What a gift it is to the world. I pray you will always act with great love, and will do everything I can to help nurture that beautiful heart of yours.

This past year and a half has been the greatest adventure. Our lives are filled with more joy than we ever knew was possible, thanks to you. While at times we feel twinges of sadness that your sweet “baby” qualities are fading, we are so charmed with the spunky toddler you are becoming and completely fascinated by the growth you make each day.

Here’s to you being a year and a half- and oh, so wonderful!

I love you with all of my heart,



Sandy Marshall - April 21, 2015 - 4:51 am

Isla, your Papa use to call your Daddy “spunky” at your age! You have the joy and precious smiles just like your Daddy! <3 We love you with our whole heart! Papa & Nana

Rachel van Baggen - April 21, 2015 - 5:06 am

Simply beautiful…makes me mist a little :)

Deb Marshall - April 21, 2015 - 12:24 pm

Very nice. Great to see you all growing together. Any Chinese words in the mix?

Jan Crocker LaRocca - April 22, 2015 - 11:21 pm

Precious girl – precious parents. xoxoxo

Isla’s Easter Egg Paintings

I wanted to share a little more about Isla’s Easter Egg paintings. They were such a simple and fun toddler art project, and they looked so great as the centerpiece for our Easter table! We still have these sweet paintings around the house as a part of our spring time decor.

Supplies needed:

– water color paper

– water color paints/paint brush/water

– white construction paper (or mat board)

– X-acto knife

– scotch tape

– 5×7 picture frames

IslaEasterEggs_0001To make the Easter Egg paintings, we cut 8.5 x 11 inch water color paper in half and let Isla paint to her little heart’s content. She painted numerous pictures over the course of several of weeks and we set them aside for this project. To create the egg-shaped matting, we cut white construction paper to fit a 5×7 inch frame, sketched an egg shape into the middle of the paper and then cut the egg out using the X-acto knife.  We used this first page as a template to create several more egg shaped “mats.” (Instead of using construction paper, you could use mat board or have mats cut at a frame shop) We then placed the mats atop the dry paintings, moving them around until the most aesthetically pleasing portion of each painting showed through the egg-shaped opening. We applied a little piece of scotch tape on the back of the painting to hold the mat in place, trimmed any excess portions of the paintings that stuck out past the edge of the mat, and popped them into the frames. Easy peasy!IslaEasterEggs_0002I plan to have Isla do this project each year, so that we grow our collection of Easter Egg paintings. Some thoughts for next year:

– Have Isla color with crayons prior to applying the watercolor to create a crayon resist painting. This method will make it look like there are designs on the Easter Eggs.

– To create a more polished look, I plan to go to a frame shop to have mats cut with the egg-shaped opening.

– I think I will paint the frames in coordinating pastel colors as well. I had hoped to paint them this year, but ran out of time. I will be ready for next year!IslaEasterEggs_0003

Easter 2015

Easter 2015 will forever be known as, “the Easter that Mom brought an entire sprial-cut ham to Shanghai in her suitcase.” For real. She also brought Gruyere cheese and leeks. Love my mama!

150405Easter001Easter morning was dark and drizzly, but that did not damper our spirits. The Easter Bunny was busy this year and had baskets for Isla, Daddy, and Nana. Isla also had Easter presents from Nana J and Nana and Papa! What a lucky little chick- she was opening goodies all morning! I was so excited for this Easter, because Isla is old enough to start really getting into our celebrations. I’ll admit, I have been dreaming of her first Easter egg hunt for months…150405Easter002150405Easter003150405Easter004Isla first seeing her Easter baskets.150405Easter005She went straight for the bunny!150405Easter006Isla has been visiting a class bunny, named Marvel, at my school every day. She calls him, “Marble”  and she adores him. The bunny that Nana J got for her happens to look exactly like Marvel, so he promptly became, “Baby Marble.”150405Easter007150405Easter008Playing with her Easter card.150405Easter009Meeting “Bunny” from Nana and Papa.150405Easter010150405Easter011It was also love at first sight!150405Easter012150405Easter013Hair bows! Isla was thrilled and insisted upon wearing them immediately. All of them…150405Easter014150405Easter015150405Easter016Thank you, Nana J, and Nana and Papa, for all of the sweet Easter goodies!!!150405Easter017150405Easter018Isaac’s beloved headphones got left on a train ride earlier this year- huge bummer! I had planned to give him these for his birthday, but knew that he would NEVER expect them in his Easter basket, so I opted for the surprise. He was indeed surprised.150405Easter019150405Easter020The Easter Bunny had so much fun finding goodies for her basket. Inside were some really awesome new books (TouchThinkLearn: Numbers, Little Yoga, Pantone Colors), a toddler Once Upon a Yoga Mat DVD, toothbrushes, bubbles, crayons, a fun bath toy, and some darling headbands.150405Easter021Inside the eggs were three of these sweet turban headbands!

Black and White Headbands. Leopard Print Headband.150405Easter022150405Easter023The “bubb-ohs” were a huge hit and Isla chased them around all morning.150405Easter024150405Easter025New “cuh-yers!” Isla was pumped. She immediately set to work creating masterpieces and trying to peel the paper off of each crayon (one of her favorite pasttimes).150405Easter026150405Easter027150405Easter028150405Easter029150405Easter030150405Easter031The Easter Bunny brought Isla THREE new toothbrushes, since she gnawed her first toothbrush down to practically a stub!150405Easter032After Easter baskets were finished, Isla modeled some of her new spring/summer clothes that Nana brought from the states. She was in love with her darling new jellies and pranced all through the house in them.150405Easter033150405Easter034Later that morning, Isla dyed her first Easter eggs. She loved it!150405Easter035150405Easter036150405Easter037The little wire egg holder was a bit challenging to use, so Isla opted to pick up the eggs with her hands. She happily dunked her eggs over and over.150405Easter038150405Easter039We hosted dinner and Nana set up this beautiful table scape, all centered around Isla’s beautiful Easter Egg paintings.150405Easter040150405Easter041Nana also brought all of these yummy chocolate Easter bunnies. They made for cute decor, and yummy card-playing snacks later that week.150405Easter042The rain subsided long enough for us to dart outside and have an Easter egg hunt with Isla and Lucas before dinner.

Isla spots her first Easter egg…150405Easter043Gets distracted picking up cherry pits…150405Easter044Aaand she’s back on track. Success!150405Easter045Isla collecting her first Easter egg.150405Easter046It did not take long for the kiddos to understand the objective of the hunt, and they were off!150405Easter047150405Easter048150405Easter049There she goes! Love that determination!

150405Easter050150405Easter051150405Easter052Lucas was first to discover that the eggs opened and there were stickers inside.

150405Easter053150405Easter054150405Easter055Gotta be quick!

150405Easter056150405Easter058150405Easter059150405Easter060150405Easter061I love this sweet qipao dress that Auntie Molly and Auntie Amy gave Isla for her birthday! I knew right away it would be the perfect Easter dress.

150405Easter062150405Easter063150405Easter064150405Easter065After all of the eggs had been found and collected, Isla and Lucas played outside on Isla’s car.150405Easter066Here Lucas is asking if (and trying to convince Isla that) she was finished on the car. Too funny!150405Easter067Woo hoo!

150405Easter068Lucas found Isla’s new headbands. Thug life.

150405Easter069150405Easter070Love these two little Easter cuties!

Jonna Jorgensen - April 18, 2015 - 5:11 am

I die! Seriously the photo of Isla that’s your profile photo is such a favorite and a keeper! And thug life lol! The shot through the trees and the hand reaching on the chair, the jellies! the bubbles shot, love it all :)

Isla’s Easter Egg Paintings » Wayfarer Family - April 19, 2015 - 7:02 am

[…] were such a simple and fun toddler art project, and they looked so great as the centerpiece for our Easter table! We still have these sweet paintings around the house as a part of our spring time […]

Portrait a Week: 15 of 52

PortraitAWeek_0015Isla’s first manicure, compliments of Nana J.

For days after her nails were painted, Isla would point to them proudly and say, “Nana.” She then proceeded to blow on her nails, as Nana had done to help them dry. It appears our baby is becoming a girly girl.