Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy Third Birthday Lana!

Three years old. I can't believe it. In some ways I feel like you have been with us forever and in other ways I feel like you were just a tiny little baby like 10 minutes ago. Where has the time gone and why is it going so fast? Don't get me wrong, I would not like to rewind time to those colicky days of your infancy or the frustrating moments where you couldn't talk because you were too little, but clearly had so much to say. But holy cow--3 years old???!!

Now you are this miniature person. So full of energy and ideas and creativity. I see you mature a little bit each day. I love our conversations and I love watching you have conversations with other kids and grownups too. So many people ask me, does she ever stop talking? The answer is no, no you never stop talking. We start our day with you asking me what day is it and what we will be doing today and the questions and commentary does not stop until you wave goodnight to me with an "I love you very much. I love you a little bit and a lot. See you in the morning! Sleep well." Occasionally you add in a "See you in the middle of the night..." just to see if I am paying attention. Ah yes, you are always testing me to see if I am listening, although sometimes you find listening to be a challenge, but that's okay, you are 3 years old.

You love to paint, to cut paper, to glue things. Play-Doh and coloring are still really fun. You love your sandbox and to play in water. You love to help Baba with the gardening, plucking weeds, watering the flowers and berry plants. You especially love to squirt Baba with the hose. I am amazed with how fast you learn new things and that brain of yours! I don't know if I can keep up! You have recently learned to sing full songs by yourself, like all the verses of Mary Had a Little Lamb and We Wish You a Merry Christmas (which is odd to sing in summer, but whatever).

We have some challenging days, but mostly you are a sweet and independent girl. You give hugs and kisses, but only when you want to. You are social with your friends and have terrific sharing and taking turn skills. You are quite impatient, but hey--at least you know what you want and when you want it. This may be a really big problem once your little sister arrives! The other thing we are working on is learning to wait your turn to talk when grownups are talking.

I know you are going to be a great big sister. You will be a teacher and example to her and I know she will look up to you. Plus you are pretty bossy, a true characteristic of big sisters I am told. Baba and I are not sure how its all going to work, giving you a sibling, but I suppose we will learn all together and I am sure we will make mistakes sometimes. Until then, I promise to enjoy the summer together as the three of us, before we become a family of four. I promise to spend lots of time playing with you and taking you fun places and teaching you things.

Thank you sweet daughter for the past three years. I really didn't know true happiness (or true fear) until I saw you. I didn't know pure laughter until you made me laugh. Thank you for making me forget my seriousness and act like a kid again. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us all.

Happy Birthday Lana-Ru!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Question for you all

I am taking an informal poll from all of my blogfriends:

Alliteration on same-gender siblings is
A) Cute
B) Confusing
C) I hate it
D) Indifferent (thanks Laura, I thought about that just after I posted)

I generally don't dig it b/c I find it confusing (less so for brother-sister pairs for some reason), but Bill and I cannot agree on a name. We have it narrowed down to two names, one of which is another "L" name. Maybe I am just obsessing, but that is what I do best, so humor me. I want your opinion!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What NOT to do

We had a very eventful long weekend which deserves its own post, but I must share this little story. We went away for the weekend and took my inlaws with us. We got home on Sunday night, late--around 11pm and as we were dropping them off at their house, I saw that their front door was wide open. As we pulled into the driveway, I said--"Hey, your front door is wide open!" Once we pulled into the driveway, you cannot see the front door, so Bill and his parents jumped out of the car to go take a look. Mistake #1. Bill stood at the door and yelled into the house that he called the police. Mistake #2. He heard a noise--a shuffling noise, so he turned around and walked away from the house. Then he saw a cat run out of the house past him. He turned around and went into the house. Mistake #3. Meanwhile my mom called 911 and the first thing they said was NOT to go in the house. So now I get out of the car and yell at them to all get the F-- out of the house. Bill seriously looked at me like I was crazy. I made Bill and his parents get back into the car to wait for the police.

The police came, checked out the house--all clear, nothing was stolen. It seems that the door did not get locked and the wind blew it open and the cat entered. Can you say LUCKY??? If that happened in our neighborhood, the house would have been totally ransacked. What is even luckier is that there wasn't a criminal in the house as Bill entered it. I don't know what he thought he was going to do if he saw someone, especially someone armed.

After our adrenaline surge wore off, we had a long talk about what mistakes were made and what the right thing to do, should this ever happen in the future. Bill agreed that what he did was stupid and we should have just stayed in the car and called the police. Period. It is so hard to think clearly in an emergency. You just act.

I wanted to share this story b/c home invasions are fairly common and we literally did everything wrong. We just got lucky.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby #2 is a...

GIRL! Whoa, what a shocker! We had our ultrasound on Friday and I felt so nervous as I got up on that table. Not about gender, about abnormalities. I just so hoped that everything was going and growing okay in there. This pregnancy has been so easy and comfortable (so far) that I often forget I am even pregnant, so the pessimist in me has been thinking things have been going a little too well. Plus we have heard so many sad stories from our friends recently, from infertility to miscarriage to stillbirth. Just yesterday my friend's sister almost died from complications from her repeat, scheduled C-section and is in ICU. Anyway, the baby is fine--all structures look good and I made them check twice that it truly is a girl. We are so grateful for a healthy baby and pregnancy and we don't take it for granted, not for a second.

That being said, finding out it was a girl was a surprise. All of my friends and family swore up and down that this must be a boy b/c the pregnancy is so different from my first. I was so sick with Lana and it was the whole time (except for month 6), whereas with this one I was only a bit queasy. Last time I had no headaches at all--this time I have headaches probably 3 times a week. Last time I could barely eat anything and if I did, it was all fruits and veggies. This time veggies ick me out and I want spicy, really flavored foods and a lot of junk food. I mean, I actually ate cheese fries the other day--with the liquified orange cheese and it was AWESOME!

Anyway, when we saw the girl parts on the screen, all I could think about was how disappointed Bill is. He looked so sad. He wanted a boy SO bad and we had decided previously that 2 kids is my limit. So I promised him on the spot that we would wait on permanent birth control and see how it goes with having 2. I really don't want 3 kids, but when I was 20 years old I declared that I didn't want any children, so I know things can change. After the initial shock wore off, Bill is warming up to the idea of 2 girls. In Chinese culture, having a boy is kind of an important thing, so I was wondering how his parents would take it, but they insisted that they are not traditional about this and they are thrilled to have another granddaughter. I think this helped him feel better too. If this all sounds strange, remember Bill and I are both only children. We don't understand sibling relationships--the good or the bad. We are in for quite a ride! Most of the sisters I know are quite close and are great friends as adults. I hope that my girls are no exception.

I am super excited to re-use a bunch of Lana's stuff. A lot of the baby clothes are not going to work b/c her 0-3 month stuff is summer wear, but the shoes, the winter boots, the raincoats, the girly toys, and the toddler clothes (especially that hand-knitted purple sweater that Lana's Aunt Nancy made her) will totally get a second use! Even so, I am itching to go shopping :)

So we are settling into the idea that we will have 2 girls. We are a little scared about the teen years, but we have some time to prepare or at least cross our fingers. I want to pick a name as soon as we can so we can get Lana used to the idea of her baby sister. Its really hard to pick another same gender name when you have already used your favorite. We bought a name book and we can only find 2 names we can agree on as possibilities. Good thing we have lots of time to decide.

Miss Lana is going to have a hard time adjusting to a new baby no matter how much we prepare her. She loves to be the center of attention. She loves me to do everything with her and she is so used to it. She is in for quite the shocker. I am really working on getting her to do things more independently, but at the same time I want to really enjoy each other this summer. I often have moments where I wonder what the heck was I thinking to have another kid. Like the other morning when she was freaking out screaming at 6am about how she didn't want to go to school or me to leave and it just went on and on and she was following me around and covering my clothes with snot and tears and I literally couldn't handle the noise and ridiculousness of the tantrum and I screamed at her. All I could think about was how will I ever do this with 2 kids? I will take any advice given to me and I will be grateful for it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I love preschool!

Two weeks ago Lana started preschool. Just two mornings a week. This preschool let her start mid-year, well, actually its almost the end of the year because I explained that since the new baby is coming in September, it would be great if she could get started this spring to get used to the process. Especially because she is so clingy to me, I thought it would be good to transition now. But she had to be potty trained, so the minute she was I called up the school and signed her up.

So we talked it up with Lana. She loves Richard Scarry's The Great Big Schoolhouse--we used it as a tool to get her psyched about school. We bought the backpack. We took a tour of her classroom and met the teacher. I knew she would cry when I left, although I wasn't sure for how long or intensely. I warned the teacher that she is loud, persistent and she does NOT want to be hugged.

Here is how it went: GREAT!!! She cried, but it stopped after I left and she had a great time! She loves craft time and recess. She comes home singing new songs. She tells me all about her day and what the snack was. She talks about some kid named Broderick and Chloe who has earrings. She still cries when I drop her off and we have to go through this ridiculous routine of a hug, a kiss and a squeeze. Then a, "See you in a while! I love you a little bit and a lot! I love you very much! Have a good day! Bye-Bye!" Once I am outta there, she is fine, even though she obsesses a bit on the drive to school about how she doesn't want me to leave.

I have to say I am so proud of her. I am proud that she is so outgoing with the other kids--they are all about a year older than she is. I am proud that she can talk so well with the teachers and with me about all of the cool things she is doing. I am proud that every morning she asks me if its a school day and she gets disappointed if its not. I feel like she has just matured so much over the last 2 weeks, to do something without Mommy and to be okay with it. I have even noticed at home she can play by herself for a little while, whereas before she started preschool I couldn't even leave the room for a second without her following me and pulling on my arm.

The reason why I REALLY love preschool is my free time! From 8:30-11:30 on Tuesday and Thursday I have nothing in particular to do! I just don't know what to do with myself, but I can tell you that I can get a lot accomplished in those few hours. I know, I better enjoy it now before the new baby arrives--there goes my free time--but that's okay. For the next month, I will enjoy some free time and Lana's new found independence as a big girl who goes to school!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mom stress

Last night I went to my bookclub meeting and was complaining a bit about Lana and her tantrums as of late. She definitely goes through stages where she just cannot cope with the rules, even though she knows the rules and the consequences. Oh, there are some days when sweet Lana is around when she is so agreeable, but on other days she basically says "no" to everything. Actually she says, "no because..." and then some reason why her answer is no. She defends herself, although most of the time the reason is not very convincing. When we have a "no because" kind of day, a tantrum or a visit to the listening corner is inevitable and I just try to remain patient and remind myself its a phase. Last week there was an incident in Target where she did not want to leave the toy section. I counted to 3, no action, so I put her in the cart. Actually, my mom and I both struggled to get her in the cart while she screamed and kicked. She freaked out. Imagine the worst public outburst you have seen in public and that was me. We left immediately and it took the both of us to get her in her carseat all the while she screamed like she was possessed. I broke down in tears. Tears of frustration, embarrassment and probably some other shit that is going on in life that just made it all feel worse.

But this post isn't about Lana's tantrums, because I am sure that I am not the only one out there going through this from time to time (RIGHT?). When I mentioned this incident at my bookclub last night, one of the women who is a bit older than me, but does not have children said that she feels that her decision to never have kids probably has saved her a lot of stress in life. It got me thinking: Do I feel more stress having become a parent?

I should state that stress and I are not buddies. In graduate school I developed chronic heartburn which led me to lose too much weight and later, I got an ulcer. Once I graduated, my heartburn went away. I have always been pretty critical of myself, a perfectionist and I almost always felt a little inadequate in my profession. It sounds like I have self-esteem issues, but I don't think that's it--I think my job stressed me out to the max. I feel more confident in other areas of my life, but there was something about the academic environment that always made me feel that way.

Back to my question. I thought about this all day and I think that while I have moments or days of stress as a parent, its a different kind of stress. Oh, there is still that self-doubt--am I disciplining her consistently enough? Am I feeding her too many snacks? Does she watch too much tv? Does she feel feverish or am I imagining things? Beyond this, I feel so relaxed most of the time. We do so many fun things together. I am so proud of her accomplishments. The love she gives (when she is in the mood) is so fulfilling. Sometimes I could simply burst with joy, just in the simple moments of parenthood.

I will say that if I was working, as a scientist specifically, with the stress I used to have when I was working--I don't know how I would cope with the added stress of parenthood. Kudos to working moms everywhere!

So while I feel like yes parenthood can be stressful, my job was way way way more stressful. I think I am the most zen I have ever been in my life, so I certainly can't complain about that. Plus the happy, hilarious moments of being Lana's mom totally outweigh the crazy tantrums in Target.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tulip Festival 09

A couple of weekends ago, we went to the Tulip Festival nearby--its only a 20 min drive north, but you feel a million miles away--its wide open farmland. We often go to this area in the summer to pick fruit, but we went to the Tulip Festival last April too and thought it was just too beautiful to miss. Of course the tulips are in full bloom for a very short time, so if the weather cooperates even a little bit, everybody and their brother goes on the same weekend. So we went in early morning (hence the sweatshirts) and got out of there by noon, just as traffic was starting to pick up. We took my mom and my inlaws (have I ever mentioned how much I love my minivan b/c we can pack the whole family into one car?) and had a fun morning. Here are some photos:

Finally photos

I have finally had two seconds or so to load some here goes:

Here is Lana doing some watercolor with my dad--doesn't he look GREAT?

Lana enjoying herself at the Children's Museum of Richmond--she was proud of her building:
Lana and I enjoying some gelato--we ate way too much, she was bouncing off the walls after:
Lana really enjoyed reading "Where's Waldo?" books with my dad--here she is making her funny face--what a hambone!

As I mentioned briefly before, we had a wonderful opportunity to get together with Beth from Working it Out and it was super fun to catch up. Beth mentioned after that it is so hard to have a coherent chat with the distraction of two kids, but I always feel that way and I only have one kid! But I am totally used to not having coherent thoughts these days--I think not working has only increased my mushy brain syndrome--so to me, it was a perfectly fine chat! Its kind of odd getting together with someone you KIT with via blogging b/c you know so many random things that are going on with each other, even though you don't talk in real life or see one another on a regular basis. I find myself trying to remember what I have blogged about so I don't repeat myself. Its so funny though b/c I found it so ridiculously easy to hang out with Beth--like no time has passed at all since our last get together which was almost 2 years ago! It was so fun and I know we will do it again when I am back in VA or if she decides to visit the west coast at some point.

I totally LOVE this photo! Aren't they so cute? There was some silly rule about not taking photos in the mall, but Bill thought it was so ridiculous that he broke the law just because it was a stupid rule.
Here is the group photo--not bad for 3 wiggly kids--okay they have funny faces (and so do I), but Beth looks great and poor Seth found something very interesting in the parking lot, but oh well, it was the best of the few shots we took.
I love that I have photos of Lana and William together before they could even walk! Lana was doing the log roll and William did a mean army crawl. Its amazing to see them so big--like little people now who can talk and share and do big kid things. And Seth, sweet Seth--that smile is infectious! And those eyes! I had a great time remembering what a one year old was all about and this kid is seriously charming! Thank you so much Beth for taking time off to come and see us--I can't tell you how much I needed the distraction and how much I appreciate the effort :)