Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Last Few Weeks

Before we went to Ghana back in November, I had only a few pictures of Grace. I remembered thinking to myself that when we saw her and when we had her I was going to take so many pictures of her to make up for lost time and lost pictures.

I took over a hundred pictures of her during the four days that we were in Ghana the first time. Once she came home, I was typically taking at least one picture of her a day, if not more. Every significant or cute or random moment throughout the first few months she was home I had my phone ready and I took another picture.

It was pointed out to me the other day that I hadn't posted a blog in a few weeks, and so I got ready to post one today by looking at my phone and seeing what pictures I had on there that I hadn't posted yet... and there actually weren't very many. Which means in the last few weeks, I haven't taken many pictures of her.

In some ways this made me sad to think that she is becoming such a normal part of life that I don't feel the need to record her outfit or her smile or what we did for the day. On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing. She isn't a novelty any more, she is my daughter, and I love her, and I think she is precious, but I don't feel the need to record her smile, because I get the pleasure of seeing it every day. I don't need to take a picture of her coloring, because I know I will get to see her color again tomorrow. For the most part, life has been normal, with nothing huge going on, and that is a good thing! It is what we hoped for all those months as we completed the adoption process. The chance to get her home and have a normal life with her.

Not to say that I haven't taken any pictures, I did take a few.

This first one was made possible thanks to the fact that Blake can be prone to typical male problems like the rest of his "species." Long story short, a minor infection in his nose kept getting worse and worse until it spread to half of his face AND the swelling started to make his eye swell shut. At this point (instead of in the days earlier when it was less of his face) he FINALLY decides that he should go to the ER (shocking, right?) When he arrives, they basically tell him that he let the infection get so bad that he needs an IV pumping antibiotics into his body as soon as possible, and that they were surprised he didn't come in earlier.

He also was told to take the next three days off work, and even now, four days after starting antibiotics, his nose is still swollen, but starting to improve.

Anyways, during his days at home, he did give me some breaks from Grace as he rested, he also read to her. This one was particularly cute as I had her wearing the crown she made last week in princess ballet.
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This video was originally taken to demonstrate Grace's current fad of loving sauces. Ketchup, mustard, A-1, etc. the sauce itself doesn't really matter as I think her favorite part is dipping whatever food she is eating in the sauce. In this one, she was eating watermelon and a peperoncini dipped in ketchup. But as toddlers do, the movie changed as I was recording it to one of her feeding the dogs, and I had to end it to stop her from continuing. 

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This is her playing with the blocks at the local fair. 

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This next video is another one of my belly. I posted one a while back that showed the tiny little movements our boy was making, and you had to watch closely for them. Well, he continues to grow and the movements do too! This one shows a big movement at about 27 seconds in and then a few more till about 58 seconds. The rest of the video he is calm again, so you don't have to watch past that. 

So those are my updates... not much to report... just living life, loving my little one, and looking forward to our second child's arrival in a couple more months.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

No Dull Moments

Before we became parents, both Blake and I would have phases where life just seemed to be in a lull. Not always, and never to the point of depression or anything like it. Just times where every day, every week, seemed to be the same more or less, and so we would get bored.

At those times, we would usually have to do something to break the lull, like a new video game, or starting some hobby, or even just cleaning the house or rearranging a room. Something to break up the days of ordinary.

We talked about how we knew having a child would change that, and honestly it was one of our many signs that we knew we were ready for the kid stage of life.

Grace has not disappointed. Probably partly because I am also pregnant, but we both feel like life goes faster now, and every day is filled with something, because every day she is doing more, and experiencing more, and it is fun to share those moments with her.

In the last month, we did our first couple of cautious peanut butter tastes, just a little each time, to see if she would have an allergic reaction. Both times passed without incident, and now peanut butter has become a common occurance in her diet. She loves it!

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This morning at breakfast, we saw just how much she liked it again, as she ate her offered piece of English Muffin with peanut butter, and then wanted more. I didn't have more of the English muffin to give her, but my mom had offered her a turkey sausage. On a whim, we put the peanut butter on the sausage... yep, ate that too! Then we gave her the ramekin that the peanut butter came from (it still had some in it) and she happily licked the peanut butter off that as well! It is nice to have an easy protein to give her that is such a consistent win with her.

Along those lines, we have been able to reintroduce dairy to her recently, and that seems to not be causing her any trouble either, so we are transitioning her off formula and onto just milk, and cheese and other dairy products are becoming more of her daily food too.

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We had our first "Parent and Me: Princess Ballet" class last week, and she looks adorable in her ballet clothes! I wish I could say the class was a huge success... but honestly she is a bit young/behind for it at the moment. The class age is from 1 1/2 to 3, and since she is just past that bottom age requirement, is still catching up on English, and is behind developmentally... there is a lot in the class that she can't do.

She liked the walking around in a circle part, and thought it was really fun when they gave her a wand to hold/play with. There were parts of the class that she tolerated being basically my puppet, where I moved her arms and legs how they were supposed to, but there were other parts where she would get frustrated having to sit when she wanted to walk around, or that she literally couldn't do what they wanted (gallop, hop, etc.). But my hope is that she will improve every week, and more importantly it is a good life skill for her to learn that she can't always just wander and do what she wants, she needs to be able to follow directions, even those she doesn't like.

Blake says that I put her in this class just for me, and it is true that I am so excited to do the "parent stuff" that I can see I somewhat jumped the gun on this one. But that wasn't the only reason I chose to do this class now, as she just is old enough for it. The bigger reason is that every day I am more aware of the fact that I will have an infant as well as a toddler in just a few short months. Once he arrives, it will become really difficult to do things like this until he becomes significantly older, so he could stay with a grandparent or calmly stay in his infant carrier while I did the class with her. I wanted to do a class with her while it is still just me and my daughter... because her time as an only child is short and I want these moments before they get stressful with having to watch a second child.

In other news, Grace had her first trip to the local fair today.

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At the petting zoo, she was afraid of the animals at first, and really wanted to be held, and didn't really want to get that close to them.

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But as Blake worked with her, she got more comfortable with them in the time before we left the petting zoo.

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She enjoyed eating corn on the cob with my mom, but was not a big fan of the chicken... although she liked the sauce. She would put a piece in her mouth, suck off the sauce, chew it a little, and then take it back out. Fun stuff.

We have been taking Grace to the neighborhood playground by us more often as something to do in the early evening before dinner and bedtime, and also as a way to get her to exercise and thus make her more tired as extra insurance so she doesn't wake up at night.

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She likes to climb up the slide (with help) more than sliding down it (though she does both).

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Then she climbs down the stairs.

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Today, she had the opportunity to try to hang independently for the few seconds she could before she lets go into Blake's waiting arms.

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Every park trip also involves some walking on grass time as it is supposed to improve her balance and walking skills.

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For a short time, Blake's mom joined us at the playground, and they had some fun together.

Which also meant we were able to get a family picture:
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If you haven't seen me in a while... you might notice that my belly is rather big at the moment.
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I am currently at 31 weeks, and very much feeling it. Sitting for extended periods of time is not comfortable... not on the couch, or chairs, or in the car, etc. I notice the extra wait when I walk, or go up the stairs, or pick up Grace, or pretty much whatever I do. My latest pregnancy symptom is acid reflux, which means I have had to change some of what I eat or suffer for it. All of this conspires to make a part of me very ready for when my body can start the process of getting back to normal.

On the other hand, besides he isn't fully baked yet, I need at least the next 9 weeks to get ready, and a bonus week or two might not be bad either. To say his room isn't ready yet is a massive understatement. You see, up till recently, that room was a "guest room"... except we only had someone stay there years ago... and thus it really was a storage room. An easily ignored, catch all, not nicely organized storage room. A spot for those things that don't have a great home, like luggage and card tables. A spot for all of my second grade teaching things that I want to hold on to for possibly a future teaching position in that grade again (I taught second for 4 years before moving to 4th). A spot for my craft supplies that don't fit in the office. You get the idea.

Long story short, before this room can become his room and a nursery, the first step is cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of stuff.  We have made some headway in that department. First, we cleaned up our garage to make room to store his things. Then we gave some furniture in there to relatives who wanted it. Next, I have been purging magazines from bookcases in other parts of the house to make room for the picture books that were previously in the cupboards, and now are residing on a bookshelf in the hall for when the kids grow old enough to read them. So steps have been taken in the right direction, but there is still a ways to go before it is empty, and only then can we start the fun decorating and preparing steps.

Besides getting his room ready, the other way I have been nesting lately is in preparing meals for the time after he is born when I don't want to cook.

I have read many times online of others doing freezer meals. If you haven't heard of them before, the general idea is that you prepare everything for a meal, usually a crockpot meal, but you don't actually cook it. Instead all those frozen ingredients go into a freezer bag, and then on the day you want to eat it, you take the freezer bag out, thaw it enough to get the contents out, and then have the crockpot cook it for the day, and you basically have a homemade healthy meal with minimal effort and stress.

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Some of these women do one massive prep day and then make all their meals for the month. Intense. We just made ten on Saturday, and that seemed pretty intense. Blake was quite done cutting vegetables by the time we finished. But the good news is that we now have ten meals in the freezer that I can see myself making even with little sleep, a newborn and a toddler. My goal is to have 30 total before he arrives, plus some soup mixes in jars made too.

But I did promise Blake that it wouldn't be next week, I don't want to wear out my best helper.

As you can see, life is not boring around here, and between Grace and preparing for the new baby, our life is full and fun.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fourth of July and Other Fun

I finally got around to pulling off the pictures from my phone from the last few weeks as well as the last few days.

My blog posts seem to be either lots of words with few pictures or lots of pictures with few words.

This is a heavy picture post, with just short captions to go with each.

*Note to my family who gets this in an email, go to the actual blog this time for a cute video of Grace eating/playing with her spaghetti. :-D

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My parents walking with Grace after a breakfast together.

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Grace having fun wandering away from us during church (we sit outside).
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Grace and I went to a small farm near us to see the animals, but overall it was mostly a bust. She was freaked out scared of the animals, including the ones smaller than her like the chickens, and she insisted on being held the whole time (which is getting harder as I get bigger). The only exceptions to this was getting to see the milking demonstration and then at the end when she was willing to go down to see the baby goats. These she wanted to pet.

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There is a neighborhood Fourth of July parade near us and the first batch of photos are us going to that and watching the parade together. She liked watching the kids and dogs in the parade, at one point she tried walking out and joining! Though, when the local school marching band came by, she was a bit intimidated by the drums, and didn't like the noise of the firetruck's siren. Later, Grace helped me prep the lettuce for the barbeque we host every year for family and friends. She has gotten quite good at helping me tear the lettuce and put it in the bowl. To protect her sleep, we didn't have her watch the fireworks this year. Maybe next year.

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We attempted a second beach trip today, with still less than "ideal" results. For one thing, we tried going in the morning to beat the crowds since recent mornings have been hot, but today was not. Secondly, she is still scared of the water, and refused to be put down anywhere near it. It was actually quite funny, we would put her towards the sand, and she would raise up her feet and legs to not touch the sand, just to prevent being put down. Over the course of the morning, we gradually relocated her sand and water bucket closer to the water, but she still didn't want to go near it. Then she started shivering, so we knew not to stay too long. She did have some fun being pulled around on my dad's boogie board, and meeting a pet bird that gets to visit the beach once a week.

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She has eaten spaghetti multiple times, and always loves it, but makes a huge mess. Today, we got smart, and had her eat in just her diaper... and it was a good thing we did!

That's our most recent fun and pictures, with more good things ahead, like her first ballet class (Parent and Me, so I will be attending and helping her, and it is designed for kids her age), and a trip to the lagoon near us with a couple friends.