Monday, January 31, 2011

Big Step for a Big Girl

Ever since the car accident in 2007, I'm a nervous driver, especially on the highway. I have gotten into the habit of always letting Brian drive when we take long trips on the interstate, which has certainly made it worse. Last Friday evening, I took a white-knuckled trip to meet my mom between here and her house in Pittsburgh. But it wasn't just the highway that was making me nervous - I was getting ready to send my baby girl to Oma's for the weekend - by herself.

As it turns out, of course, I had nothing to be nervous about.

Katy couldn't wait for me to turn my car around in the other direction, and they had a blast.  She barely spoke to me when I called, and mom says that they only sadness she expressed while she was there was, "Gee, I wish David were here." (He was missing her, too, and gave her the biggest hug when she came back)

Part of the reason for the trip was that my mom and Greg took Katy to see the Laurie Berkner band. She falls into the category of "kid's music that is tolerable for parents, too." The concert was downtown at Heinz Hall and my mom had made MATCHING DRESSES for her and Katy in sparkling peach. Katy thought this was the best part, and hasn't wanted to take off the dress since.

So we all enjoyed a different sort of weekend (it was certainly quiet around here without her. I took David swimming which he thought was a special treat.), and Katy did her best to wear out mom and Greg. I consider it a glimpse into the future of Big Kid stuff.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reflection on the Almost-Three-Year-Old

In two months' time, David will be three. THREE!! Many have mentioned lately that he is really growing up, and it's so true. He's getting longer and leaner and SO talkative. He picks up language from Katy and uses it, whether he understands it's meaning or not.

On one of the rare mornings in which we were able to sneak David out of the room without waking Katy (he always wakes up first), he was lying in bed with me while I hemmed and hawed about getting up. All the sudden he said, "Mommy, I need to wook in the mirror," and he hopped up and went to look. "Mommy! I don't have eyebrows!" he claimed as he laid back down. I laughed and said, "Yes you do, Buddy, they're just so light you can hardly see them." I ran my finger across his eyebrows and he said, "Don't touch them, Mommy, they're reedee reedee fragile."

Another phrase that he picked up somewhere is to exclaim, "THAT'S interesting!" after everything we say. "What are we having for dinner, Mommy?" "Spaghetti." "Spaghetti?! THAT'S interesting!" Is it really? I'm pretty sure we have that every week, Bubs.

This week he uttered the words, "I have to go to the baffroom," which I took as my signal that it is Time to Train. But we're taking a different approach than we did with Katy. I just don't have the time/energy/motivation to do No Diaper Boot Camp. So we're working on it when we're home, but wearing diapers when we go out (still trying to stop and go potty every 30-60 minutes as it's possible). I'm sure it will take longer overall, but I kept putting if off because I thought it had to be all or nothing. We've tried this for a few days and it seems to be working ok so far. He's been good at staying dry, but we haven't had any poopy successes yet.

On Thursday mornings, I go to a mom's group/Bible study at my church, and he and Luke stay in the childcare area (the same rooms where they stay during weekend services). I think David thinks it's his preschool. He is so excited, asking, "Are we going to church today? I'm going to play with cars, and go to the big play gym and have a snack. Will Frank be there?" He and Frank (my friend Kate's son) like to wrestle and be boys.

So I was just thinking that we're approaching the halfway mark on that Difficult Year that we always talk about from 2.5 to 3.5. But maybe David's time frame will be different, because so far? Things are going well for my middle child. Of course, he has emotional meltdowns every. single. time we go outside about how cold his hands are (yet takes off his gloves).  But overall, it's not the consuming stress that I remember from last time. But perhaps that because he's still sleeping in a crib and we just started potty training. Perhaps there are many new challenges to come in the next year. Who knows. But he's a good kid, my David. A sweet boy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vehicular Woes

Over the past couple of months, we had noticed that the Corolla was having trouble accelerating and that shifting between gears was getting more difficult. I've owned one other manual transmission, a Nissan, which blew the clutch at around 112,000 miles. That's the exact mileage on the Corolla, so I was suspicious. One bitter cold January morning, Brian couldn't get it out of the driveway, and $600 later we had a new clutch. While they were in there, they found another problem, which luckily only cost us $60 for the part since they already had the transmission out (if you know anything about cars, I probably sound like a 2 year old in my level of understanding about the whole thing).

Then another morning, I loaded the kids into the van in the garage to take Katy to school and couldn't start it. Many of my immediate neighbors are not able-bodied to jump start a car, but I was able to recruit two (one with a car that runs and one that could help me push the van from the garage) to get me on the road to a field trip (which I had forgotten about until I called the school to say that Katy would be late).

Ten days later, in a Panera parking lot, my friend Stephanie and I huddled over the same van with the same jumper cables and a cell phone to our ear to walk us through the process. After working out the logistics of getting the van to the shop (I can't give Brian a ride there because we can't fit all 3 kids into the Corolla to drive back home), the mechanic said his "best guess" was the starter ($250). So we fixed that and hoped for the best. We got our van back last night.

This morning, my radio alarm went off and the news lady had a new tidbit for us: "All Ford Windstars from 1997-2003 have been recalled." You have GOT to be kidding me. Another repair (at least it's free), at the dealership, which will take more rearranging logistics. If they find a certain problem, it will take several days and they'll give us a loaner (oh, please, no, moving 3 car seats to a loaner?).

But still, all of this is cheaper than a new car. So I'm thankful for our vehicles, which will keep clunking along, if we can finally get them in working order again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This KID!!!

Seven months of spit and vinegar!! Our current challenge: feeding. I have nursed my other two children to a year and beyond, and I've had one baby who struggled from day one and one baby who was easy cheesy and never had a sip of formula. But I'm struggling here, at 7 months, with nursing. He's biting, arching, will never nurse for more than 30 seconds during the day, and even then he'll only do it in a completely quiet and dark nursery. As IF! I've been trying to pump. But pumping, washing pump parts, feeding a bottle, and then washing bottles is quite demanding. Not to mention that I also have to strip him naked to feed him solids twice a day.

So he's getting some formula, and I'm starting to wonder if this is going to naturally lead to weaning. The only time he is nursing well right now, of course, is in the middle of the night. Several times in the middle of the night, in fact.

Maybe I need to perservere. Maybe this is the result of having 3 kids under 5. Maybe he's just really a stinker. I don't know, but I'm tired. Keeping him fed is a demanding job at the moment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Testing the Waters on the Ice

Back in December, I heard about a chance to obtain free tickets to Disney on Ice for participating in a diaper drive for the YWCA. (local moms, next year I will spread the word, I don't think I believed that it would actually be as easy as it was or I would have told others.) I pictured a sweet date night for my daughter and I to grab dinner together and then watch the excitement of a Disney show. But due to her intense fear in the past of shows, puppets, characters, loud noises, and the like, I first showed her the video online to see if she thought she would like to go. She was thrilled. We placed it on the calendar and counted the days.

I should have trusted my instinct.

Our first obstacle was a perfectly-timed snow storm. I considered not going, but she was so excited, I decided we could leave early and take back roads. We ate dinner at 4:30 instead of eating out beforehand, and the evening proceeded like this:

5:30pm - Katy and I pull out of the driveway. She asks if this is going to be a long drive.

5:40pm - Oh, my. We're barely out of the neighborhood.

6:05pm - Katy asks me for the 100th time - how much longer? Why are we driving so slow? How far is it?

6:20pm - Truck does a 360 in front of us on a side street.

6:40pm - I can see the arena, but we're at a standstill trying to get to the parking lot.

6:50pm -  We park, I'm dragging a happy princess through the snowy downtown.

6:57pm - Bathroom (it's been an hour and a half, after all).

6:59pm - We sit in our seats, closest seats that aren't on the floor.

7:05pm - In the seat next to me, Katy is bright eyed, watching Tinkerbell glide across the ice.

7:10pm - Now she's in my lap. Complaining that it's too loud.

7:12pm - Genie is pretty loud and there's smoke. Hands on the ears.

7:14pm - Uh-oh. The first villain, from Sleeping Beauty. Her head's in my lap.

7:18pm - She's pretty upset. We get up and move to the back.

7:20pm - Even in the back, she's really scared. Ursula from Little Mermaid is terrifying. Now we're standing with the ushers.

7:30pm - The usher gets her earplugs. His name is Howard.

7:45pm - We take a break in the lobby. We talk about the difference between real and pretend. Katy says she doesn't want to leave, but she's too scared to go in. She's completely sincere.

7:55pm - She picks cotton candy as her one treat for the evening. Even though it comes with a crown, I don't understand how Disney thinks they can charge $10 for sugar and air.

8:15pm - After intermission, Katy feels brave enough to give it another try. We still go back and forth to the lobby several times, and I fight back tears at the vision I had for the evening.

8:45pm - Finally, Cinderella wins her over. Not too scary, and we actually SIT in the backrow for the final 20 minutes of the show.

9:15pm - Trudging back through downtown, fielding comments about my princess from guys leaving the bars (they were really nice, actually).

9:20pm - Brushing and scraping the new snow from the car, and getting creative since 2 of the 4 doors are frozen shut.

9:35pm - Send Brian a text that we're on our way.

9:50pm - I still wimp out on taking the highway, and the roads are still terrible. There's no school tomorrow, they announce.

10:00pm - Lots more comments from the backseat about what is taking so long. Why oh why didn't I bring Blankie?

10:30pm - We pull in the driveway and I am so relieved. Katy tells Brian about it like it was the perfect evening.

10:45pm - After she collapses in bed, I tell Brian that despite the struggles, I'm still glad that we went. It's certainly an evening that I will never forget.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Keepin' Busy to Stay Warm

So it's the 17th of this month, and I've only posted twice so far? Part of it is that January isn't all that exciting. But we must be doing SOMEthing, because I feel so busy I'm exhausted. This coming week is cah-razy with activity, so here's what we've been up to before I forget:

-The biggest time-suck is that we are getting attic and wall insulation installed this week. You may remember our ice damming problem from last year, which was fixed partially by a new roof, and will now hopefully be completely prevented in the future with this insulation. We're getting a smokin' deal due to rebates from the gas company and the government for making our home more energy efficient. The reason it's making us busy is that Brian was forced to hurry and complete 5 minor home improvement projects before the attic insulation makes them much more difficult to accomplish (bathroom fans and venting, adding electrical outlets to all 3 bathrooms, building a box around the attic fan, etc). So I've been doing my best to keep the kids busy and out of his hair for the past 4 days.

-I came home from church with the kids on Saturday evening (LOVE Sat. church, by the way) and found a human sized hole in the ceiling at the top of the stairs where Brian had lost his footing and stepped through. I am so thankful that he didn't fall, because he could've been badly injured and he was home alone. He had such a good attitude, too, my husband, because he was really frustrated for about 10 minutes, and then he was laughing about it and noticing how he could now get his supplies to the attic more easily. And now, 48 hours later, new dry wall is up and mudded. He's an amazing worker.

-January would not be complete without a little school fret. This year I'm fretting about two kids and two places. Of course there's kindergarten for Katy. When we moved here we assumed we would send her to the little neighborhood school, and I still hope to, but I have heard very concerning reports about the kindergarten teacher to which Katy would be assigned. And it's not just one disgruntled parent, I've now heard it from 10 people who don't know one another. So we've been thinking about the options and we definitely plan to meet with the principal in March.

In addition, it's time to think about preschool for David. (I know: WHAT?!) Again, a decision to make. I really have no complaints about Katy's current school. She's been happy there, I like the teachers and they have a lot of amenities like enrichment classes and fieldtrips and the option to stay for lunch for an extra fee. But there's another school just down the street about which I've heard great things. It's smaller, with fewer bells and whistles. But maybe that would be nice? We haven't really gotten to know the people at Katy's school because it's so large. There's also an option to be a typical peer for a Special Needs Preschool classroom in the public school system. I've heard great things about that program in our district, and I could see David doing well there (and it's, ahem, cheap). But it's four mornings a week, and I'm not sure I want to do transportation for him 4 mornings a week plus Katy 5 mornings or afternoons a week (we'd walk to our neighborhood school or drive in bad weather). So there you have it: fret.

-Katy's doing a ballet class, and it's going really well. Last year when we did the informal class at the church, her behavior was a struggle (she just wanted to dance around, for heaven's sake). But in this class through the rec center, she's taking it very seriously, which is about as cute as it sounds. She is hand-on-the-bar, eyes-on-the-teacher, feet-in-position at all times. It's hilarious.

 -David is getting so mature. He's currently obsessed with letters and their sounds, and he can quote Letter Factory from start to finish. He picks up a box of cereal and tells me all the letters on it and what sounds they make. He got fridge phonics for Christmas (but not for $37, holy cow, Amazon!), which was timely. Of course, he still plays with cars all day long, he just stops every couple of minutes to talk letters.

-Oh, Luke. Where to begin? He wants to move. NOW. He's getting really close to crawling, I might even think that we're days away. But no matter where he is, he wants to be somewhere else. Feeding him is a wrestling match that I did not sign up for. He'll nurse for 30 seconds, arch his back and scream, climb over my shoulder while I try to burp him, jump out of my arms trying to get to the bottle, but chew on it and squirm away when I try to feed it to him. I'm nursing, pumping, bottle feeding, formula feeding, solid feeding (even tried my hand at making my own baby food in the food processor) and it is exhausting. One good sign of progress is that he's only gotten up once the past few nights, which is a big improvement over the past several weeks. All of this could be different tomorrow, though, they change so quickly! is your January going?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

6 months (and then some)

Six months. SIX. MONTHS! Wasn't he just born, like, yesterday? I was thinking about 2011 and that by the end of this year he'll be 18 months. I know that mathematically that's a big "duh" but I just can't wrap my mind around it. He's growing up so fast!

On the one hand, I want him to stay this age forever. He's so chubby and cute and babbly and sweet. He gave me a big wet semi-kiss the other day and my heart melted. And the kids dote on him and it's so fun to watch him develop. He's already scooting around on his belly! And rocking back and forth on his hands and knees! He bounces like crazy either on your lap or while you are holding him. Carrying him around is quite a workout!

But on the other hand, Luke has been wearing me out lately. It's just typical baby stuff, but all together it's exhausting. He's been teething (has 2 on the bottom now), has literally had a runny nose since September (we've had it checked multiple times, it's just one cold after another), and now has added an ear infection to the list. The antibiotics messed with his tummy and therefore his diaper area. Then this week, he's been on a nursing strike. Each day has gotten a little better, but on Monday he didn't nurse all day and I was having to pump and give bottles. The combination of these things has made him cranky, tired, and difficult.

Hopefully it's just a rough patch, and we'll soon go back to the sweet and cuddly baby boy. Yesterday he had a well visit (as if we haven't been to the dr.'s office enough lately!), and he weighs 17 pounds, 4 ounces (40 %'ile) and is 27 inches long (65%'ile). As a point of comparison, David was pushing 20 pounds by this age, so Luke seems small to me.

Katy loves to take pictures of him with our old camera. And yes, besides the cheerleading outfit, she wears dance costumes. She only really gets dressed to go to school.

So the first six months have flown by. I can only imagine what he'll be like in June! If you'd like, here's 3 minutes of Lukey: