Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And just like that, Lily turns one. ONE!

Lots to say about lots of things but for now I will share this video that has been occupying most of my free time. It's a highly self-indulgent montage of my baby girl's first year including the excellent pregnancy news reaction by Max and also a zippy line-up of those pregnancy belly pictures and (of course) way too many pictures and videos of my big-eyed treasure baby. Cliche, cliche, cliche but time has gone so fast. To see Lily doing things that Bella and Oliver did in their first years and then to see Bella and Ollie looking so big as they help care for their baby sister...oof, the feels! Good gut punch but still: ouch.

And in case the embedding gets wonky on mobile phones, here is the link.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hodge Podge

Hello my friends.

I'm sad that I can't keep up with my blog these days. I miss it. Not enough to be less lazy and write at night, of course, but enough to feel the sadz. Priorities: I have them. I do regularly update with Instagram if you would like to follow me there. It is set to private but you can request me. If you are also private I might friend request you back just to make sure you are not a creeper. :)  Some of these updates will be things I already put on IG so I am sorry for the redundancy if you follow me there!

1. Winter
So so so over it. Duh. What is actually killing me dead about winter (how is that for redundancy?) right now is the car seat situation and the winter clothing. Buckling and unbuckling those car seat buckles while I stand in the freezing cold and dealing with prodding children into and out of coats/hats/mittens/snowpants/boots multiple times a day is a dark and terrible thing. Also, mittens have been lost and snowpants have been grown out of and I am never prepared for that so once again Target is like "Bikinis! Shorts! Tank tops! No mittens for you!" starting in January and I am left making Oliver wear two pairs of knitted (and therefore non-waterproof) mittens that get soaked after 10 minutes. The entire Midwest (and probably Northeast) has been in a surly mood. Old ladies at the grocery store growl at me when I try to maneuver my cart past them as they are planted in the middle of the aisle bossing their husbands around: "Marv! Get me the can of beans! Not that one, Marv! Godammit, Marv!" (Poor Marv.) One memorable morning I realized too late that my gloves were at home (because fun fact about car seat buckling: gloves generally make the entire process that much more challenging so you get to be that much more cold and aggravated at life!) but it was negative something out and actually quite painful to have my hands exposed in our not-yet-warm van so I dug in my diaper bag and...voila!
Call me, Honest Company. We can work out a sponsored post about this, I'm sure.

But! The forecast is looking glorious starting today with temps in the 30s! Then 40s! Then...[pause for dramatic purposes]...FIFTIES!!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!! So. That is most promising. The idea of needing to only put a light jacket on my children to go outside sounds like vacation. Actually, 50s = t-shirt weather in the spring in Minnesota so why bother with a jacket? Let's go to Target and get some bikinis!

2. Vacation
I was trying to recall when I last had a night away from the kids since I am feeling so so squirrely and deeply entrenched in parent-ville and my brain tossed out "When you gave birth to Lily in the hospital!" TRY AGAIN, BRAIN. Although that was a nice little break. The cable TV and the food delivery and such was great. The actual last kid-free night was December of 2013 when we went to a B&B in Wisconsin and our sitter watched the kids. Realistically it's not even feasible for me to get away for the night right now because Lily flips her shit half the time at night if someone else try to put her to bed or soothe her (think piercing screams for over an hour) g-fri wakes 2-4 times a night these days. We are actively trying to fix this, obviously, but this makes me really reluctant to try for a hotel night anytime soon. This is too bad because sleep is also elusive. Oh well. Maybe I can have a hotel night in the basement. (Actually, this is not a bad idea.) I think we might go away for a night or two as a family for Spring break. Maybe Duluth? Something simple. We shall see. In the meantime I will make plans for a kid-free week long Mexico trip to take place in 2032 when I am 52. *Cries softly into my pillow.* **Cries louder when spellcheck shows me that I just typed cries as crys and didn't notice it on my own because so tired.**

3. Business Idea
What if there were a place where parents could go during kid-free time that is modeled after being able to stay home? Max and I were discussing this the other evening when we were on a date and were actually longing just to lay on our couch in our pajamas. (Fun fact #2 of this post: We wear matching flannel pajama pants and socks because I have taken over his pajama pants and socks collection as my own. This is what he gets for marrying a tall sturdy Midwestern woman.) So here is how we think this business should work: basically the setting would be a huge warehouse-type building set up like an Ikea show room. Think lots of little "rooms" that feel like cozy living rooms or bedrooms perhaps, but each room is still open to the hallways and visible to other people to curb anyone from getting randy and creepy. (Don't be getting randy, Randy!) So you could pick out a room and it would be yours to hang out in for X number of hours. Then each room would have an iPad where you can place an order for food and drinks that will be delivered to your cozy living room setting. I also feel each room should come with a mini-fridge stocked with beverages (both N/A and alcoholic, both caffeinated and non) so you can immediately get to relaxing. Pajamas are encouraged for dress code. We debated adding things like a pool and hot tub and swim up bar and napping rooms but then it introduced a weird sexy/randy/swingers element and that messed with it being a place where pajamas and bad hair are the dress code. So we are keeping it to being simply a living-room land where you just lay on the couch and watch a movie or chat or read or take a nap and eat and drink to your heart's content. I could go there instead of a coffee shop on Friday mornings and I could also use it as a date night place. Is this or is this not the best idea in the history of all time?

4. Cloth Diapers
I have officially thrown in the towel (or perhaps I should say "thrown in the microcloth") on my Bum Genius diapers. I'm over the diaper stuffing of pocket diapers and the fussy nature of microcloth. I bought a 12 pack of Green Mountain Diapers pre-folds and have been using those with my Thirsties diaper covers and it's making me weirdly happy. Much simpler and easier for me to follow through with than those BG pocket diapers. I think I will try to sell the Bum Geniuses on Craigslist for $100 since I have kept them in good condition and they are functional. In the end I made my money back on my initial 2009 CD investment so I feel good about that.

5. Funny Pet News
Bella's K class did a fish unit and at the end there were four fish to take home. The teacher asked the parents to let her know if we wanted our kid could be entered in the drawing. I said yes and crossed my fingers Bella would not win. She won! Ha. So I had to buy a fish tank and all that jazz. Fishy came home and then died one day later. Bella sobbed at the idea of flushing the fish down the toilet and we didn't feel right about making up a fake story about how he was disposed of given her questioning nature so we tried coming up with other solutions. She really preferred the idea that we keep him in the freezer until spring so we could bury him. Except she missed the part about burying him and thought we would keep him in the freezer forever. And Max missed the part where I said he needed to put the fish in a bag and then the bag in a box and the box in the furthest corner of the deep freezer far away from my delicate eyes. He opted to put the fish in a random produce bag and toss him in our main freezer where I later pulled it out wondering what it was (since I keep an oddly intense mental inventory of all things fridge and freezer and pantry) and I saw the RIP Fish through the green bag and OH HELL NO NOT WHEN I AM A SUSHI EATER. So! One week later we went to PetSmart and picked out a new fish; a little baby female betta this time.  Bella named her Grace after herself (her middle name). Bella struck up a conversation with the cashier as we were buying Grace that I shared on Facebook.
Bella at PetSmart: "My dead goldfish is in the freezer"
Me at PetSmart, observing the faces of the cashier and others in line and attempting to remedy the situation with trademark awkwardness: "So the fish died and she wanted to bury it, so we are waiting for spring and..."(more observing of the crowds' faces)"...Yeah, so this should probably be a family secret."
Grace has remained alive for several days, which is most encouraging.

6. Sad Pet News
Toonses is maybe dying again or maybe not. He started breathing really loud and raspy so I brought him to the vet to get looked at. The problem wasn't clear and nothing showed up on the xrays so he got an antibiotic and some pain meds and was sent home. Over the next 24 hours he quit eating and drinking and started hiding from me and not letting me touch him which was heartbreaking. I spent a lot of the week shuffling him to vet appointments (with 2-3 kids in tow for all but one appointment - funsies!) and nothing has been revealed as the culprit although a lot of signs point to cancer. We are waiting on some results and then deciding what the next step would be. Happily, he has perked up a ton since his exploratory procedure yesterday and he cuddled with me all night and is eating and drinking once again.

Anyway, I am trying not too think about this too much and I had already half-prepared myself for losing him after last year's near-death-post-tooth-extraction experience but it's tough. It's extra confusing when I try to make decisions on what to do because he is a 14 year old cat but he is a healthy 14 year old cat. It's not easy or clear cut but I am leaning heavily towards the side of just trying to keep him happy and comfortable, but not doing much diagnosing or treating.

Toonses has been my boy since 2000 and we have lived in eight homes together and he was there when I met and then married  Max and he has been there for the birth of all my children and he immediately bonded and accepted those children as his people. He comes running when I sing "Maria" from West Side Story and he still chases ribbons or pounces on tissue paper and he does naughty things like jump into high cupboards to sit among drinking glasses. He and I grew up together and his loss will be felt very deeply. Oh my heart. But for now he is happily curled up on my lap so for this moment all is well. I will hear back about some biopsy results later today and then go from there.

Is it wrong that I think his x-ray is the best and I want to hang it up on the wall?

He's like a baby dinosaur on the inside.

7. Kid News
Bella longs to lose her first tooth. She wants this so much that she preemptively wrote a letter to the Tooth Fairy thanking her.
While she is not losing teeth or even getting a tooth to wiggle the tiniest bit, she is gaining teeth in the form of six-year molars! I didn't know/forgot about these so it was a little startling when she was complaining about her mouth and I looked inside and found she was cutting two new teeth. Kind of funny how she and Lily are both in a teething phase of life. Bella seems to be growing a ton height-wise and suddenly looks much older.

She is rapidly learning new skills in her swimming class and I could see her getting into swimming as a sport. Or maybe even synchronized swimming! Her favorite part of school is "free choice" where they get to either draw or play or, uh, freely choose what to do and her least favorite part is "quiet reading" because she has to do that independently. So independent play remains a much despised activity, although she will read at home if we let her stay up past her bedtime. And if you tell her we are actually putting her to bed early and therefore do not mind her staying up reading then I will kick you. Let the girl think she is getting away with something!

Oliver seems to be finally fully healthy after a rough month. He got antibiotics for a double ear infection that would not clear up on its own and then he got a terrible full-body rash from the antibiotics.
It was scary. No more 'cillin'-type antibiotics for him. Ollie is in a phase where he is rapidly showing some new skills. He continues to make advances in his private swimming lessons (group lessons didn't go so hot so we switched him back to the teacher he knew from lessons with Bella) and even more importantly, he is gaining confidence in himself and with being in the water. He can write his name and recognizes all the letters and can do simple addition problems. Interestingly, he sometimes writes his name in a perfect mirror image, which is apparently quite common as kids start to write.
I feel like he is the cleverest because he has worked out a system to add numbers that involves tapping his nose. So if we ask him to add three and four he puts up three fingers on one hand and four on the other and then taps his way finger by finger to accurately arrive at the number seven. Bubs and I enjoy watching cooking shows together and we are cooking up a storm in the afternoons and I continue to really treasure our daily one-on-one time while Bella is at school and Lily is napping.
 As a fellow middle kid I know that his solo kid time is limited so I'm glad we can have that.

As for Lily, she is out-eating her siblings on the regular and she now flat out refuses anything that resembles baby food. It is so crazy and has required me to step up my game at meal time. It's like I am running a farm house kitchen now and have demands for hearty, square meals three times a day.
It's probably good for me but it's messing with my ability to do the "Look kids! A snack-y meal!" trick. Lily will not accept any snacky meal or pureed anything. "Where's my meat and potatoes, woman?" She remains the cutest but she is a fussy teether and has been waking up a lot. I feel like the best sign that I have to indicate that I have an actively teething baby is that I have an urge to run away from home by 4 pm on those days. (Is this where I hashtag #keepingitreal?) She is also cruising up a storm and navigating her way around the room on two feet. Still no crawling, just butt scoots that gets faster by the week. Another new trick is practicing playing the trumpet while nursing. She makes sure her mouth is full of milk and then blows while still latched on and effectively sprays her face and my chest/clothes with milk. 50% naughty/50% cute/100% creepy.

8. School Lunch
I am eating lunch at Bella's school today. As a lover of many classic school foods (grilled cheese, pizza dunkers, french toast sticks), I am a little bummed out by today's non-exciting choices (hot dog, chicken noodle soup, PB&J) but I will soldier on as I am doing it for the children. I am a hero.

Enjoy your weekend, kids!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lily Update: 6-10 months

All things Lily for the past four plus months!

Current size - We didn't do a 9 month appointment but a recent urgent care visit (baby's first double ear infection, poor girl) showed her weight to be 20.5 lbs. She fits best in 12-18 months clothing. I think she is maybe a couple pounds less than Bella was at the time but probably around the same height as her big sis. Oliver was for sure bigger at this age, but he always was and is at the top of all the growth charts. Her head is huge, like the others, too. She is so delicious.

Hair- Is Awesome. She constantly develops little dreads in the back that I have to comb out with heaps of conditioner. I generally regard her hair as my lovey as it's very nice to pat given its springy ways.

New Skills - Waving (CUTE), scooting around in a seated position (but no crawling and cries if we try to get her to be in a crawl position), loves standing far more than sitting at this point, not interested in practicing steps with a walker yet (although Max reports some walking while pushing a chair this morning which is brand new). Possibly has some words? Hard to tell. Lots of vocal mimicking including Toonses' meows and also a siren noise which was hilarious to me.

Teeth - 3.1! The last upper tooth (so tooth 4) just poked through yesterday after an impressive 3 weeks of having a super bulging gum. It was kind of icky - her gum just kept stretching down as the tooth was coming in - it refused to cut through. So we started calling her "long in the gums."

Disposition - She wakes up happy to the point of belly laughing in the morning and after naps.  She is fairly smiley at strangers, although she can be cautious and give a dead-pan "you are not amusing" face to some cooing adults. It takes her a bit to warm up to family members since we don't see them often, but after an hour she is usually happy to let others hold her. She is very attached to me and will often cry for me to hold her if I'm in the room. Our sitter and Max report her happily playing on her own and being in great spirits on the same days she is very challenging for me. I will walk in the room those days and she will start crying and fussing the second she sees me - in other words, she often saves the drama for mama. She gets easily frustrated about movement and physical stuff and is mad when she can't convince one of us to immediately bring her whatever she wants in her little paws (interestingly, Bella and Oliver automatically cater to her so much - she truly is the baby of the family!).Her sense of humor is developing and she tries to make us laugh which is so wonderful and one of my favorite parts of babies growing up.

Eating - Holy cannoli, she is the our best baby eater of all three (obviously this is all subject to change any minute, especially all the minutes between ages 2 and 4).  We started solids later and very slowly (due to her not pooping more than once every two weeks) but once things fell into place she took off. She eats truly everything and gets really mad when I attempt to give her "baby" food (although a squeeze pouch is acceptable when she is starving and we are out of the long as no one else has real food in her vicinity).  She is a focused eater and has a great pincher grasp and - most importantly - chews so well. So I can dump a pile of spicy Indian food and spinach on her high chair tray and she will go to town feeding herself for the next 15 minutes. There has been more than one meal where she out-eats her older siblings. And being a third baby, I will say we have given her some things we would have never ever given Bella or Oliver at this point - Papa Johns pepperoni pizza on Friday comes to mind.  She can also drink from a straw, bottle, sippy cup at this point.

Nursing - Not much of a comfort nurser and will push me away if I try to nurse when she is not hungry. Likes to rake her nails on me and pinch me while nursing. She consistently refused to take a bottle pretty much the whole time so the fact that she now will chow on solids has made it far easier for me to be separated from her. But I don't know if I have been away from her for more than 3 hours tops. The exclusive nursing thing was challenging but like most baby struggles, it passed with time.

Sleep - Not the best but decent. I know very well that it could be so much worse. Generally wakes twice in the night and lately that seems to occur at times which means I never get anything more than 3 hours at a time (which drives me slowly crazy). I'm hoping the recent tooth poking through might allow her to go back to one wake-up a night so I can get more quality sleep. I feel like her sleep will bounce between really decent/good when not teething and 2-3 wake-ups/night when a tooth is sloooooowly making it's way through. She is a great and predictable napper.

Pooping - No pooping was a big big big problem forever and now it is mostly not. Her little system is very different from big brother and sister - just one of those genetic things that seems interesting to me given the kids all getting similar diets as babies (although Ollie had formula).

Toonie loves her, too.

Other - She has started to enjoy book reading which is precious to me (and I don't call things precious), LOVES water at the pool or in the tub, likes being held upside down, thinks swings are a blast and will laugh and laugh on them, delights in being tossed in the air, is always purposefully falling backwards from a standing position (we play trust circle on the regular...whether I want to or not), is a big fan of electrical outlets, she loves her lovie "Lambie" and Lambie is a nap and bedtime requirement- she is my first baby to take so completely and quickly to a lovie.

So that is our Lily in a nutshell. We all remain head over heels in love with her and Max and I talk about how we can see how the baby of the family can get babied for so long. She makes me so glad that we got the chance to have one more baby to love and enjoy.

PS - A few more pictures, because THIS BABY!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A DITL Announcement and a V-Day Photoshoot

For all those who participate in the Day in the Life round-ups or who enjoy following along with those posts - I will be passing the reins over to Julia at Life in Transition starting with Spring 2015. It has been fun hosting all these years, but I'm ready to dial down the blog responsibilities :) I will still participate regularly and will make sure to give a heads up on my blog each quarter. Thank you so much, Julia!!

We had a very calm Valentine's day weekend as we are still recovering from recent colds/ear infections/busy time at Max's work. I decided to do a quick impromptu photoshoot with the kids. It's still fairly crazy to me that I have three of them.

I can't believe Lily will be one at the end of next month!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: The Biggest Little House in the Forest (Children's Theatre Company)

We are in the doldrums of February and that stir-crazy feeling is at a high so I was very excited for the chance to take my family to see The Biggest Little House in the Forest at the Children's Theatre Company. We made it a family date, including dressing up and then getting dinner afterwards (Brasa: how I miss having you so close!) It was a fun day all around and a bright spot in what can be a gloomy time of year.

The Biggest Little House in the Forest is geared towards younger kids (ages 2-5) and it runs just under an hour. The first thing you do when you enter is exchange your shoes for some booties. Bella and Oliver were beyond happy about this as slippers are their jam. They insisted that Max and I don the booties too, so we did.

Bella Booties and Mama Booties
While we waited for the show to begin, the kids were able to get some energy out and run around a bit in the space outside the theater. The actual show began with the performer (Autumn Ness) coming out on a bicycle, tinkling a bell, and it was cute to see the kids all stare at her and quickly follow her Pied-Piper-style to enter the theatre and sit down.

This show is in the smaller Cargill theater and the kids are able to sit very close to the performer on little kid-sized benches (parents are just behind them on parent-sized benches).  I loved the set and Max and I both agreed that it felt magical in there - kudos to the set designer and lighting designer! It felt like we were tucked into a cozy little part of the forest.

The play was a one-woman show, but it was more of an elaborate puppet show and there were several characters.

It has been a week since we attended and Oliver is still talking about it, "First dere was duh butterfly and den duh mouse and den duh fwog and..." I think that really speaks to how well it can capture the imagination of a little one. The show is interactive and has lots of exciting moments (think feathers, bubbles, and a dance party) and it is very thoughtful in the way it brings live theater to a young audience. I also have to note that the actor did such a great job with subtly handling the expected disruptions as kids attempted to touch the set or stand up - she easily guided them back to their seats in a way that felt natural with the show.

Here is a video preview:

My favorite part of the show was watching my kids reactions. I couldn't see Bella very well but I knew she would enjoy it and be able to sit quietly. Oliver, on the other hand - I wasn't quite sure what he would think. Would he get wiggly and distracted? As it turns out, he loved it. He sat up the whole time and listened with big eyes and laughed at the funny parts and hopped up and started dancing during the dance party and it was SO DARN CUTE. He is normally very self-conscious about dancing in public and will refuse to show his awesome dance moves (very Footloose of him) but not this time: he was jamming with the best of them. This is professional theater, but absolutely kid-friendly and it's a really great show first show for young children.

The Biggest Little House in the Forest runs now through March 15 and while there are tickets still available for many of the shows, it would be best to purchase them sooner rather than later. Tickets are priced at $16-$21. If your child has special needs, please note that there is an ASL & AD performance (Saturday, February 28 at 11AM) and Sensory Friendly Performances (Sunday, March 1 at 12PM & Friday, March 6 at 10:30AM ).

Disclaimer: Tickets were generously provided by the CTC for my family but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

These are the Days of Our Lives: Winter 2015

Thanks to all of the participants this quarter! Lots of new ones in the mix which is fun. Get ready for some quality reading time and give some comment love if you get the chance. Enjoy!

Live Inside My Bubble