Monday, March 29, 2010

Household update

I have been having a tough time finding time to blog and when I do, I am generally so tired that I can't come up with anything too inspired or cohesive. I have been really trying to unplug and connect with Bill in the evenings b/c we have a hard time finding time to tend to each other and it bugs me. I am afraid that if we don't make an effort to connect, the days all blend together in the routine of parenting and I worry that a couple of years will go by and we will look at each other like, "Hi there, who are you again?". Its definitely not easy to nurture your relationship when you rarely get time away from the kids and evenings are filled with screen time and then we dive into bed hoping to get a couple of hours before someone wakes up. So we are working on that.

Here is what has been going on in our house:

We are in the throws of remodeling our house. Our back yard is all mud and there is a big hole with the cement poured for the foundation. Its especially lovely when it rains. Especially b/c we have to go through the back yard to access our garage (we have alley access to our garage only). We are becoming one with mud and dirt and noise, which has made me care even less if my house is clean and tidy. I am not sure what is going to happen when they tear down the wall and we don't have use of our kitchen. A shitload of take-out, I imagine--LOL!

Lana is such a joyful kid lately. So sweet and kind. She laughs a lot, has a ton of energy and TALKS. The talking can sometimes totally overwhelm me. She just keeps on going from the moment she wakes up till the moment her eyes slam shut. Her behavior has been stellar (I'm sure I jinxed myself many times over here), except for a few instances of not listening, which usually leads to me raising my voice, which then promptly hurts her feelings and she "needs a minute" which means she goes to her room for a few minutes to either cool off or cry. There has been no major behavior issues, no leaving public places kicking and screaming like we used to do, no time-outs in the corner with the timer, no privileges being taken away. I am enjoying this moment of calm b/c I know it can be fleeting.

She has been doing great in school. Lana loves her teachers and her classmates. She is beginning to sound out words, read a few and her writing is impressive (I think, at least). The art continues to amaze me, mostly b/c she is so into it and she takes it so seriously.

Lana is also becoming interested in her sister, finally. She has always been very kind to Lacey, but she has seemed a little afraid of her, mostly b/c Lacey was so tiny and delicate and we were always reminding her to be gentle. Now Lana wants to hold her, feed her with the spoon and "play" with her. Lana has never said anything mean to or about Lacey, which has really surprised me. I am so looking forward to watching their relationship develop and I hope and pray everyday that they like each other most days.

Lacey, sweet Lacey is 6 months old!!! I know this deserves its own post. She is such a happy and calm baby. She loves to cuddle and be held. She has such an easygoing personality and it still amazes us--we literally had no idea that babies could be like this. I can't help but compare Lacey to Lana when she was a baby and the differences are astounding! Things that were a HUGE deal for Lana (like immunizations, or strangers) are no biggie for Lacey. Of course, Lana slept through the night by the time she was 6 months old and well, we are no where near that goal with Lacey. But I know one day she will sleep and so will I. It may be a year from now, but at least its possible. A couple of days ago, Lacey had some great nights where she was only up 3 times in 12h (with a 5h stretch!). But last night, she was back to her every 2h business, which sucks. The sleep training has helped her take longer naps and she has a pretty predictable schedule now, but nights are still all over the place. It is SO hard to listen to crying in the middle of the night especially b/c she tends to cry for a few minutes, stop for a few minutes, then start again and stop--this can go on for an hour or more. I know 5 minutes of nursing will put her back to sleep (and us too), so I often cave after about 30 min of the on/off crying. Things have gotten tons better overall, but like I said, we are not even remotely close to sleeping through.

Lacey only rolls from belly to back at this point probably b/c we are always holding her. She sits up pretty well, but she will topple over after a few minutes. We started introducing solids a couple of weeks ago and she is doing great with it so far. She loves rice cereal and sweet potatoes. She does pretty well with prunes and apples, but butternut squash she sends back every spoonful. I am amazed at how much volume she can eat of the solids. So far I am doing some trials with the Gerber stage 1 foods, but I just bought a mini blender and some ice cube trays so that I can make my own foods. I never did this with Lana, but I am going to try with Lacey and see how it goes. I can only hope that Lacey is half as good of an eater as Lana. So far, so good though! I have to admit that the whole baby food stage is not my favorite. Its so messy and the poops get really gnarly.

I finally had Lacey allergy tested. Her eczema was not getting better. Well, it gets better as long as we keep the steroids on her skin. As soon as we stop, the eczema comes right back. But even when you can't see any rash, she still seems itchy. Its the worst on her head, forehead and around her ears. She scratches like crazy, especially at night. Up until a few days ago, she has been swaddled arms in because of the scratching. We did one arm out, now both arms are out. But, I have to keep her hands covered when her arms are out so she doesn't scratch. It is getting hard to find shirts with the hand-covers on the wrists in her size. So we are going to try the second line treatment for eczema and I took her to the allergist to see if there was anything in my diet that may be contributing to the eczema. The skin test revealed a very strong allergy to milk (I am already eliminating dairy from my diet), but no other allergens showed a positive result, thankfully. I am so glad I know b/c there was some question about whether I should eliminate soy as well b/c so many milk allergic kids also have soy allergies. But now I know that soy is okay. They say kids frequently outgrow eczema and milk allergies, so we will re-test when she is about 2 or 3, but for now we will be dairy free, which really isn't that hard.

I can't believe I have made it 6 months of breastfeeding! YAY! The thrush a few months back almost did me in. I was on diflucan for almost 2 months and I still had pain. I almost threw in the towel, but I am so glad I didn't. Lacey gets one bottle of formula every 2 or 3 days, mostly so she stays accustomed to the taste of it and now that she is on solids, the demand for a huge supply is much less. I really hope to make it for the full year. This is a major accomplishment for me, even just the 6 months.

I love this baby so fully. I love looking at her face, kissing her cheeks, making her giggle. Her gummy smile never ever gets old. I love that when I hold her, she kind of grabs on and hugs back. We call Lacey "Bill's special friend" b/c they have such a strong bond, but really both girls are our special friends--I feel so blessed to have them and they fill my heart with happiness every single day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ask Lana what she wants to be when she grows up and she will always say an artist. Its her favorite part of school. We also do art or a craft every afternoon during Lacey's nap. Sometimes its just coloring or drawing, sometimes its something more involved. I personally like the craft kits you buy, since I am not creative myself and the kits have everything you need. The problem with most kits is that they can be completed in about 10 minutes and then its done. Nothing makes her happier or quieter than being creative. I love that she loves it and I love her creations. One problem is we have no designated craft space--we do not have an eat-in kitchen (yet--we are remodeling to include one), so we do crafts in the dining room, with the new furniture and area rug (yikes!) and a lot of plastic drop cloths. The other issue is what to do with all of her creations. Holy crap, we have crafts, masterpieces, beautiful drawings, decoupages, paintings, magnets, frames, etc. That doesn't include what she brings home from school or the endless supplies. What do I do with all of these things? I display some on the fridge, I save my favorites and a lot end up in the recycling bin. Please don't tell her. I have pulled a lot of, "I don't know how THAT got in there--must have been Baba."

I have decided to photograph some of her latest creations in a variety of media, but of course these are just a few of many, with new masterpieces each day.

Here she is doing watercolor (I painted the flowers).
Here is a person with a very tall ice cream cone--many scoops and they are all strawberry.
A project from school--she loves to paint.
Even the chalkboard is fun still:
Even shaving cream is an opportunity for drawing:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Six months later

My dad has been gone for 6 months and at times I still find it so hard to believe. I am not a sentimental, "anniversary" type of person, but I am taken aback by how sad I feel each month on the 27th, marking another month that my dad has been in heaven. The tough part is that Lacey turned 5 months on Feb 28th, so each time I celebrate her reaching another month, I am reminded that my dad was taken from our lives one month and one day before she was born. I wonder if I will ever be able to be happy about Lacey turning another month old without first thinking about how long dad has been gone and how much he has missed.

I think about visiting his grave often, but I haven't been able to do it since his birthday in November. Its just so painful and raw to see his name, on a grave marker. The loss feels bigger and deeper and in-your-face. I feel a little guilty about not going and bringing flowers and making sure there are no leaves or dirt on the stone.

In the 6 months that have passed, I feel like I view the world a little differently. I have always been a worst-case-scenario type of person, but it seems worse now. All the cliche things about how you never know what tomorrow will bring, live your life to the fullest, etc. seem so urgent all of a sudden. At the beginning of 2009, my dad did not have symptoms or a diagnosis of cancer. He never saw 2010. I find myself thinking of morbid possibilities like I could die in a car crash, have an aneurysm, something could happen to my husband or worse, one of the girls. Its not all-consuming, or something I obsess about, but the thoughts occur to me sometimes. I am so less focused on a clean house or whether the dishes are done. I want to enjoy the moment, focus on what's important. I try to drink it all in--the smell of my baby, Lana's laugh, Bill's smile. Who really knows what tomorrow brings. There are truly no guarantees in life.

I can't believe my dad is missing all of this. I wish he could see the mother I have become. I wish he could hold this baby who loves to be held and see the beautiful artwork that Lana creates. As we are getting ready to remodel our kitchen, I wish I could call him and ask his advice. He was very handy, did a kitchen remodel when I was growing up and sold appliances for many years--he could give us so much advice, but more than that, he would be so interested and involved. I feel the loss each time we talk about the project. Its these little things that all add up. For me this is what grief looks like 6 months later.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I love living here

Beth recently asked me how I like living here at a time when I am literally in love with the Pacific NW. We have had a very mild winter (sorry to all you east-coasters) and spring is in the air. We have had many sunny days with bright blue skies. The cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and line the streets of our neighborhood. It looks like pink cotton candy trees. The daffodils are in bloom, the magnolia trees are starting. We live in a very old, established neighborhood, so the trees are huge and everything is so green from the rainy winter. That is one of the things I love about the climate--we never get that brown frozen tundra season that I experienced on the east coast and midwest. The winters are rarely really cold--I think we had a few days of record cold which was like 20 degrees ABOVE zero, but mostly its in the 40s during the winter months. The evergreens keep things looking green and our grass is green all winter too. People complain about the rain, but I don't think its that bad. The beautiful weather we had this past February was wonderful! I took the girls to the park, we did sidewalk chalk the other day, Lacey and I went for a couple of walks. We all wore winter coats, but we didn't need hats or mittens. I can't wait for summer so we can spend more time outside, have playdates at the parks and beaches and picnics too. I also have been really appreciating the beautiful snowcapped mountains--on a clear day they are breathtaking and I can see them anytime I am just driving around running errands. We have lived in many different places, from cities to the burbs, from the east coast to the west coast and this is just such a good fit for our family. Imagine if I was like an outdoorsy person! I would love it even more, but even for a city girl like me, I love it here and Seattle is only 20 minutes away. Anyone want to come visit?

Monday, March 1, 2010

I actually put on some lipstick

We did something this weekend, we have never done before: we got a babysitter! Woo-hoo!! When Lana was a baby, we never got a babysitter because we were new to VA and didn't know anyone, certainly not anyone we would leave our precious new baby with. Plus Lana was high-maintenance, its not like a babysitter would be too excited about watching a screamer for hours. When we moved here to the NW, Bill's parents soon followed and we had instant babysitting. But Lana was 18 months old and was not too keen on staying anywhere without me. She would spend one day a week at her grandparents' house. She did one overnight at their house when Lana was nearly 2 and it was a disaster--she cried and cried and said she never wanted to do that again. So we didn't push the issue and we have always returned before her bedtime.

Bill and I almost never go out. When my mom lived with us, she watched Lana once a month or every other month, while we went out to dinner, but I always felt bad about it b/c my mom was at home all week with me and Lana and was sad about not having a job. It felt kind of rude to ask her to stay home on a Saturday night. But its so important for our relationship to have a date night once in a while. An overnight in Seattle is still a dream for us at this point. A weekend away seems like a total impossibility. Lana is still not receptive to staying at her grandparents house or my mom's house overnight and now having Lacey too just compounds the problem. Part of the problem is that Bill's parents and my mom each had one child, 30-some years ago, so dealing with 2 kids, one being an infant is kind of overwhelming for them.

So this past weekend, we had a fundraiser to attend and Bill's practice was sponsoring the event, so we really needed to go. We hired a babysitter! My friend has a babysitter that watches her kids during the day and she is magical. She has 4 kids of her own, all grown and she thinks watching 2 kids is no biggie. Plus Lana knows her from playdates at our friend's house and she feels comfortable with her. Everything went great! I didn't even wonder how things were going, I just went to the event, had 3 glasses of champagne, (which totally made me silly), spoke to grownups and most importantly I had a nice time with my husband. When we came home, both girls were sleeping and the magic babysitter even did the dishes and folded laundry! WOW!

Bill and I really need to get out alone more often. We love spending time with the kids, but so often he takes one, I take the other and we don't see each other at all! Whether its the magic babysitter, or some other babysitter, I don't want it to be such a rare event.

The best part? The next morning Lana says to me, "Mommy, I missed you last night!"