Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Months Old

Dear Noel,

Last week you turned one year old. Girlie, it's been a good year. I cannot imagine life without you, life without chasing you and your sister down, breaking up a fight (usually it's her wanting whatever you're playing with, but you've recently started to pitch a fit when you want what she's got), changing tons of diapers and washing loads and loads of laundry. My life would be so much easier without you, but it's so much more full with you, and that is what I focus on when I'm overwhelmed at raising the two of you. You and Lane just light up my life, and I can't believe that God has been so good to me in giving me both of you. He didn't just give me one daughter, He gave me two. I am so blessed to have you both.

This month has been a fun one. You're walking well now, and you are fast. You're not running yet, but you might as well be, because you can book it and be in another room before we even have a clue that you're gone. You still fall a good bit, but it's usually because you've tripped on a rug, gotten too excited and careless as you're going fast, or because Lane is chasing you and you're trying to escape. =) It's so fun watching you walk around...there are few things cuter than watching you from behind as you waddle along.

    Except maybe you sticking your tongue out. That might be cuter. =)

No more teeth this month, but your bottom two molars are working their way in. Your gums are swollen and I can feel that they'll probably pop through any day now. You are definitely cranky if you don't get some Ibuprofen regularly. Seeing how miserable you are without it makes me very grateful for modern medicine!

You're just about all into 12-month clothes now, although you still have a few 9-month onesies that you wear occasionally. Sometimes I look at all the clothes you have and feel like you have a ton, but you actually wear almost all of them, and I think it's because you're usually wearing tights, socks, pants, a onesie, and another shirt. And maybe a zip-up hoodie, too, depending on how cold it is. I have no idea how much you weigh, really...I need to weigh you with me one day when we're at a friend's house. I know you're bigger than Lane was at your age, and you are by no means a fat baby, but you are definitely healthy! I wish I could plot you on a growth chart, but it'll have to wait until we can see a pediatrician at some point.

    Taken on your birthday. You crack me up!

This month we moved you into Lane's room, so you two are sharing a room now. It's going pretty well...tonight we actually put you both in bed at the same time and there wasn't much fussing or crying or anything. I'm hoping to hear you both wake up tomorrow like I did today: making each other laugh. It was a joy to my ears this morning to hear you both in there cracking up. Speaking of bedtime, you have a blankie and a bunny-blankie that you absolutely love. And you definitely like the paci, too. You have exactly one pacifier, so we keep close tabs on it. Maybe after all your teeth are in we'll try to wean you from it, but for definitely helps soothe you, so we'll be keeping it around for awhile longer.

You're a big fan of table food these days. You still love scrambled eggs, and I still keep some barley cereal around just in case, but for the most part, you'll eat what we're eating. You love soups and casseroles, and you like most veggies, too. You've started drinking milk from a cup, and while you can lift it to your mouth to take a drink, I don't usually let you because you get overzealous and dump it all over yourself. You point to your cup when you want a's very, very cute. You love dried fruit and crackers with soft cheese, pancakes or toast with peanut butter, baked oatmeal, soup, chicken divan, and spaghetti. You're still nursing in the mornings (and occasionally in the middle of the night these days, with you waking up from teething), but I don't think you'd miss it if one morning I just didn't nurse you. I think you'd be fine, but I'm holding off for a bit because I really do like the fact that it does soothe you if you wake in the middle of the night from teething pain.

Noel, you are starting to love to play. You like to play with all our kitchen stuff, both play food and dishes in your room, and real plastic dishes and pots and pans in the kitchen. You love the magnets on the fridge, a small Minnie Mouse figurine, and books. You've started bringing books to me, saying "buh!" and coming to sit on my lap while I read it to you. You also like balls and have a great time with our blow-up beach balls. You're starting to figure out how to play with Lane (or rather, she's starting to figure out how to play with you), and you girls are going to be friends, I just know it. It might take some work and some teaching you both how to love each other well, but you're going to be friends. I can see it it the glimpses of laughter and smiles that you draw from each other occasionally.

    Playing with Lane at your birthday party...we were having a "dance party" and you were cracking up at Lane dancing around and being silly.

Noel, I love you so much. I'm so grateful for a whole year with you, and while I pray for many more, even I don't get them for some reason or another, I'm grateful for what I've had. You have brought much joy into my life. I love you.


Life Lately

Ahh, where to begin?

Why doesn't anyone tell you that once you have more than one child that you'll never have free time again?

Ok, that's not fair. Since we've had two children we've moved twice, one of those times to another country. We've traveled internationally regularly. I've been studying some language or another the entire year. I just keep praying that the pattern of this last year is not the pattern of our lives in general, or I'm going to burn out by the time I'm 40.

Where was I going with all that? Oh, yes, free time. Just so you know, I have virtually none of it. The little bit that I do have is spent writing emails (does that count as "free" time?), watching one or two episodes of 24 with Shannon each week, and...that's about it. I do pop into Facebook every day, but I've managed to do ok with only checking it when the girls are asleep and I'm not doing homework.

So, a bit of life lately:

1) Home: You all know we moved. Our apartment is gradually getting set up. Just last weekend I finally got to a market and got someone to fix a set of black-out curtains for the girls' room. It cost me $6. It just takes so much time to do things here, especially if I don't want to have to haul two kiddos around with me, then I have to wait on a time when Shannon can watch them... Anyways, we're getting set up. We borrowed a drill and got pictures on the wall, hooks hung, etc. We have an IKEA list that we're going to go have ordered hopefully this weekend, and maybe we'll actually have the stuff by the end of January and have it all put together/hung up on the walls (a shelf and mirror) by mid-February...

    Brown curtains behind the pretty ones. Only took me almost two months to get them fixed!

2) Language: Blah. Will I ever not have to study another language? I go to a private lesson for six hours a week, have someone come to my house for conversation practice for eight hours a week, and then I do homework and try to study for another six or so hours a week. That, my friends, is where all my free time has gone.

3) Snow! And cold!: Oh my goodness we get a real winter here! It's -8 Celsius right now (about 17 Fahrenheit) and we have snow. I love it. Lane loves it, too. And, Shannon let me buy a new winter coat before we left Istanbul, so I'm all toasty warm in my mid-thigh-length, down coat. And I bought new winter gloves at the aforementioned market, and they actually have fur on the inside and are long enough for my crazy-long fingers. So much warmer than the cloth gloves I had. Win.

    View from the girls' window.

    Lane's favorite thing to do in the snow? Eat it.

4) Girls: Ahh, yes, the girls. I've already mentioned how Lane broke her collarbone and then had an ear infection. Well, now Noel is in the process of dropping her morning nap and is cutting two molars, and I think an eye tooth as well. She's a crab. Ibuprofen three times a day, an average of 4-5 nasty diapers a day (we've switched to 'sposies for the time being...with no diaper sprayer, nasty poops are hard to clean off of the cloth ones!), and just a general crankiness is making her...challenging to deal with. It's hard to be frustrated with a baby/toddler whom you know just doesn't feel good, but still...I'm ready for my happy baby to return.

    Taking a snooze in our room. Totally zonked.

And, yesterday we put the girls in the same room for the first time since August (I tried it for a week while Shannon was gone and it was a major fail). It went alright...better than in August, but we still didn't get a good night's sleep. Here's hoping it just continues to go better and better and that by the New Year (at the latest!) they're completely used to each other. Our apartment had some remodeling done on it before we moved in, and one of the things they did was extend the rooms into the space that used to be balconies. They installed closets, cabinets, and so on, but they didn't insulate them all very well, so Shannon's office (where Noel was sleeping) is by far the coldest room in the house, and now that it's gotten cold, well, we just couldn't leave her in there!

5) Menu-planning, shopping-list planning, cleaning-planning: Otherwise known as, organize-my-life. Sunday night I spent about two hours chopping veggies for the week, cooking chicken and beans and rice, and just prepping meals for the week. It's been fabulous. I think I've saved time in washing dishes, too, as I'm not having to wash the same knife and cutting board (and my poor, dry hands) over and over and over again. I've been trying lots of new crock-pot recipes (here's a new favorite!) and am hoping to have a solid month's worth of dinner menus (with accompanying grocery lists) planned by a month from now. After five weeks of planning and trying new recipes, I think I have two weeks' worth of good recipes. It's discouraging to think of all the time I've put into planning our meals, just to have half my recipes turn into duds. But I'm pressing on, hoping that it pays off and that next winter I have some great recipes and grocery lists already compiled.

So, there you go. Life is busy. But good. I'm excited for next week, for Christmas. No classes. Shannon won't be working as much. Maybe Noel's molars will be through by then. And we'll hopefully just get to spend lots of time together and do some fun things while we remember our Savior's birth.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And Then She Was One

   Noel at her party on Sunday, wearing the same dress that Lane wore to her first birthday party.

My baby girl turned one a week ago today. We kept it low-key on her actual birthday, since it was a weekday. Noel woke up before Lane, so we got her up, I nursed her and then let her eat a banana while I started making pancakes. We woke Lane up so she could take part in the singing. We helped Noel open a few gifts and then it was onto a weekday as usual.

    Birthday pancake. It was in the shape of a "1". (Forgive the bad's rather dark around here until about 8:30.)

    Helping daddy open a present from Mimi and Papa.

    Lane helping Noel open the present from her.

    Daddy bought roses, one for each of his girls, on Noel's birthday.

This past Sunday we had Noel's birthday party. I spent last week baking cakes and freezing them (one per day for four days), and then Saturday night it took me three hours to put the cake together. I'm rather pleased with how it turned out. Here's the recipe I used for the white-cake-from-scratch. If you need a white cake recipe, this is a pretty good one. It's a bit more dense than a cake-mix-cake, but it was good nonetheless.

    N, O, E, and L on the sides, 1 on the top.

    And different colored layers!

Sunday morning we put up a few balloons and streamers and after lunch with friends, we all sang Happy Birthday and ate cake and ice cream.

    What is with my girls not liking their first birthday cakes? She actually cried when we put some in her mouth.

    But yesterday she was all over it. 

While I'm in just as much unbelief over Noel turning one as I was when Lane turned one, I do have to say that I didn't cry this year, and not because it's not a little bit sad to me that my baby is already growing up. But as I think of three good friends who have lost newborns in the past year or so and then about Sandy Hook and twenty children dead, I have nothing to cry over (in my own life). One whole year with another beautiful daughter. It went by quickly, yes. But I'm grateful for every single day. 373 of them so far.

    So grateful for my family!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This Blog is Not Dead

I promise. It's just on hiatus. =)

A quick summary of our last month:

Lane dove off our couch and broke her collarbone. Cue trips to the doctor, x-rays in a foreign language, and a sling for a week, and a follow-up x-ray just a couple of days ago.

Immediately following the sling-for-a-week, Lane got an ear infection that we had no clue about (neither girl has ever had one before) and was a complete crank until her ear drum tore and released fluid and pressure and dripped down her face and we finally figured out what was going on. Cue ten days of antibiotics and a cranky almost-three-year old who still didn't have complete usage of her left arm.

In the middle of all that, I caught the plague and felt like death for about three days. Seriously, one night I just laid down on the floor and cried while Shannon was working away in the office because all I wanted to do was go to bed but I couldn't because he was working and I had two girls to watch. Seriously.

Today we finally hung some pictures on the wall. We've picked up a couple of Christmas/birthday packages from the post office. Noel turned one today so I'm in the process of making a 4-layer block birthday cake for her party on Sunday. We finally got decent internet about two weeks ago. We've been on the hunt for various spices, birthday presents, winter boots, plastic cups and muffin tins, and so on. I'm taking 14 hours of language class each week and making good use of my crock-pot since I don't get home from class until 6:30 four nights a week.

So that's life. I just wanted to let you all know that this blog will return to regular posting, hopefully soon after the new year. So keep visiting, don't delete me from your blog subscription list, just please have patience as we adjust to our new life here. And stay tuned for pictures of a birthday girl and a birthday cake after her party. Because I will post those as soon as possible. =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yet Another Home

I think I mentioned awhile back that we were moving again. We've moved countries, so of course that means a new apartment, a new language, new language teachers, and so on. Forgive me if it takes me awhile to get back in the swing of updating...our internet connection is choppy at best.

We've been here three weeks now and have mostly been focusing on trying to get our apartment livable. That has meant buying furniture (some of it, anyways), learning how to grocery shop so I can cook here (so we can eat here...), buying basic things for our apartment (towels and washcloths, glasses and cups, printer paper, brooms and mops, and so on), getting cell phones, fixing things that don't work (like our washing machine, the light fixture in one room, an outlet in another room), trying to get a better internet connection, and so on and so forth. We've dabbled a bit in public transportation and other adventures, but mostly we're just trying to get our place livable. And any of you who have ever lived in a foreign country know that things just move more slowly over here than they do in America. So, lest I keep you waiting any longer, pictures of our new place, the morning after we got here.

    The kitchen.

    More of the kitchen.

    Living room. Everything in this room belongs to the landlady (and unfortunately must stay in the apartment! Nice we don't have to buy furniture...don't love the style of it all, though!). The mat on the floor is the "mattress" out of the pullout couch, which was just so uncomfortable that we couldn't stand sleeping on it so moved to the floor.

    The girls' room.

    Shannon's office by day, Noel's room by night. Pullout couch (incredibly uncomfortable) that Lane slept on until we got her bed. Couch and chairs come with the apartment.


    Entry way with all our bags.

So there you have it. What we woke up to our first morning here.

I think that as rooms get "finished" I'll post a series of photos for each room. Rest assured, we now have mattresses and our apartment in general looks better...but it's still got a bit to go. Hopefully soon we'll get some things finished up!

11 Months Old

Dear Noel,

Yesterday you turned 11 months old. I still can hardly believe that's it been that long. It seems like you've always been with us. And I like it that way.

This month has been a pretty big one for you. You took your first steps and now are up to 10 or 15 steps before you lose your balance and plop on your bottom. You're a little bit more reserved in your walking than Lane was...a little bit more calculated, but nevertheless, you're walking and I'm not sure I'm ready for it. You particularly love to walk to me or daddy and dive into us instead of taking the last three or four steps to get to us.

You also got two more teeth, putting your total up to eight. You have twice as many teeth as Lane did when she was 11 months old. These last two teeth were awful, too, and you didn't sleep well and were very clingy and grumpy. I think it might have something to do with the fact that you got three other teeth right before these two, and you got five teeth in six weeks, I think. I'm very glad that it appears you might get a small break before the molars start popping through!

We finally transitioned you into a crib, so you sleep in the crib at night in the office and in the pack-n-play in our room during the day. Eventually we'll put you in the bedroom with Lane, but I'll confess I'm waiting until your molars come through...I don't want to just get you girls settled into being together and then you start teething again and not sleep well. So, a few more months of this arrangement and then you'll start sharing a room with your sister.

You say a few words now, which is really fun. Of course you say "mama" and "dada," but this month you started saying "nite nite" and "bot bot" (bye bye). You kind of say "nana" (banana), too, but that one's still iffy. You are a jabber-jaws, though, and I bet you start talking soon.

Noel, you love to eat. I mean, seriously, you love food. You act like we starve you, too, screaming and screeching at us if we're not shoveling it in fast enough. Your favorite foods are toast with peanut butter, scrambled eggs, and grapes. You love, love, love those things. This month you also tried various beans, pumpkin, applesauce, store-bought buckwheat cereal (what can I say, we moved and buying cereal just was so much easier!), soft cheese, noodles, and rice (not ground-up). You're a big fan of almost everything. Actually, you like it all and will eat it all, but you're starting to express preferences as to what you want to eat and when you want to eat it. For example, you will no longer eat bananas if they are cut into small pieces. You want to hold it and bite it yourself and will just throw the pieces on the floor if it's not given to you as a large piece. Stuff like that shows us a bit of your personality and it's fun to see you becoming a little person with likes and dislikes and preferences.

You really enjoy knocking over block towers now. In fact, you enjoy it so much that you rarely let us get a second tower more than two blocks high before you're knocking it over again. You also love balloons. You will shriek in joy playing with them, and have figured out to hold onto the balloon at the knot so that you can crawl around with it. You're really funny. Also, you finally like bath time again. There were a couple of months where you didn't really like the bath...I think due to where we were living and how loud the water coming out of the faucet was. But you are over it and enjoy playing in the tub again, for which I am grateful.

Noel, you are such a gift and such a joy. You are easygoing and laid-back and are very content with life as long as you are fed and rested. I love having you as part of our family and am so excited to see you grow and find your place in our little family. We just wouldn't be complete without you.

I love you,

*Sorry there aren't many photos, baby girl. We moved and taking photos has just not been a big priority these days!*

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10 Months Old

Dear Noel,

Ten months. Ten whole months you've been in this world, and as each day goes by I can scarcely believe that yet another day has gone by. And each day you just get cuter and cuter. You are such a pleasant baby, happy and smiley so much of the time. You're starting to learn how to actually play and it's really, really fun. You love peek-a-boo and for someone to "chase" you on our hands and knees.

We play this game with you that is just hilarious: we start to fill your shape sorter with shapes and other small toys, and you immediately know what's coming and try to attack it, but we make you wait until we've got it full and the lid on, and then we say "go!" You beeline it for the shape sorter and rip the top off and chuck it and all the shapes and toys out of the bucket and over your shoulder. You don't stop until you have emptied the bucket, and for good measure, also thrown anything else in the vicinity over your shoulder as well. It is so funny.


This month you got some more teeth. You're up to six already. You have your front four teeth, and both of ones to the right of those front four (three on top, three on bottom). You're a teething champ, and while you get a bit fussy, you really handle the whole thing pretty well, especially considering you've gotten two teeth on the same day twice already.

A few days ago you signed "all done" and "more" for the first time, and while your signs are still pretty sketchy looking, it was obvious that's what you were doing, and I'm excited for you to start signing more as you get a bit older. Also, the other day after dinner I said to you, "Are you all done?" and you, clear as day, said "Aw done." We were shocked, but you seem to keep saying it, so maybe you actually have a new word already! You still say "mama" and "dada," and you also say "Uh oh" or "Uh" when we say it. I think you're going to be more verbal than Lane was, at least early on, and that you're going to be a bit less physically agile, at least in the beginning.

    You've watched Lane do this so often that now you want to draw, too!

While you do like to walk while holding onto our hands, you have no desire to try it for yourself, and you prefer to drop to your bottom and crawl after anything you want. You're getting good at squatting and standing back up, and one of these days we're going to see you stand yourself up right in the middle of the floor.

We took you for your 9-month checkup a couple weeks ago, and you're up to 18 pounds and 28 inches long. You love to eat, which explains why you've tripled your birth weight in ten months! You're still fond of purees and still get rice cereal, oatmeal, some pureed veggies, and yogurt almost every day, but you're finally starting to take interest in table food that's not completely smooth. You'll eat scrambled eggs, bananas, grapes, regular oatmeal, raisins, and some veggies if they're very, very soft. You'll also eat quinoa or bulgur that's been in soup and is soft and watery, but you are not a fan at all of regular rice. I also let you have some zucchini bread this month, and you loved it. You ate an entire piece and would have eaten more had I let you.

    You like to put your fingers in your mouth while you're eating and then run them through your hair...

You're still sleeping pretty well, although we've had a few rough nights this month. I think the three teeth you got gave you a bit of trouble and you'd wake up, but would always go back to sleep after I nursed you. You still also usually wake up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning wanting to eat, but after I nurse you you'll go back to sleep for another hour or two. I'm looking forward to the day you start to sleep past the crack of dawn on your own! But until then I'll just soak up the early morning snuggles with you. You're finally nursing well and I've enjoyed nursing you this month, a welcome change after the past six months. You take your time now and don't get frustrated, and it's made me much more happy that I didn't give up. You'll even nurse for comfort now, something I never dreamed we'd be doing. I'm so happy that I don't dread nursing you any longer.

Noel, I love you so much. I was talking with your Aunt Rachel just the other day and she was talking about how she couldn't imagine loving another baby (the one in her belly) as much as she loves your cousin Maddox. And I told her that it really is just amazing, that you love the second child every bit as much as the first. Your heart just grows to love someone else, and it really is amazing that God made us that way, capable of loving multiple people every bit as much. I'm so happy that you're part of our family, that God has given you to us. I'm sorry for the times I fail you, but I promise that I'm trying to show you love and to cherish every day with you. I hope you remember that when you are older; not how clean our house was or what kinds of food I cooked for you, but that I loved you with everything I had. Because I do.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Well, Slap a Sticker on Me

I voted.

And let me tell you, it's a lot more work from over here than it is stateside. Be proud of me.

The whole process to make sure that we could vote started about three months ago when we realized that I wasn't registered to vote in Alabama at all, even though I'd changed my residency over two years ago. In Alaska, when you get a driver's license, you automatically get registered to vote, so I'd assumed it was the same in Alabama. Not so.

So, we printed off a form to get me registered to vote, put it in an envelope, and waited until someone was going to the States from Istanbul who could drop it in the mail, because of course, in Alabama, everything has to be done via USPS. We waited a few weeks and checked my registration status, and when I was registered to vote we printed off our applications for absentee ballots. We filled them out, put them in separate envelopes (because in Alabama, not only does everything have to be done via USPS, everything also has to have its own, separate envelope), and waited again until someone could take them to the States for us and drop them in the mail.

Then, a few weeks ago, Shannon and I each received emails instructing us as to how to go about placing our votes.

Step 1. Print off your ballot, an affidavit, another piece of paper with "postage paid" printed on it, and another two pages which comprise the two sides of a "security envelope."

    A four-page ballot, complete with bubbles to fill in, completely, with either black ink or #2 pencil.

Step 2. Assemble envelopes. Cut on sketchy lines, place blank sides of paper on inside, and tape three of the four sides of the envelopes closed. Do this with the "security envelopes" and with the affidavit and "mailing label" side of the larger "envelope."

    Place your filled-out ballot in here.

Step 3. Find two over-18-year-olds to witness you vote. Fill out the affidavit yourself. Have your two witnesses sign the affidavit. Fold your ballot twice, place inside the "security envelope," and close it with more tape. Then place the security envelope inside the larger envelope which has the now-signed affidavit on one side and the address on the other side. Seal with more tape.

    And then put your security envelope in here.

Step 4. Mail. Laugh at the idiocy of the Alabama Voting People (fancy name I gave them, huh?). Because you know, you just assembled your own envelope for your absentee ballot which has postage paid if mailed within the US (Let me give them credit where credit is due: if I wanted to make the 3-hour trek to the US Embassy, they would mail it for me for free). Instead of mailing as is (and really, who wants to mail something that has your name, address, birth date, and signature right on the outside of the "envelope" for all to see?), place in a large manilla envelope addressed to the Absentee Voting Manager of your respective voting precinct.

Step 5. Hand off to yet another person who is going to the States, along with 2 lira for postage. Because you'd rather pay your own postage and mail something in a real envelope than get free postage and mail your absentee ballot in an envelope you constructed yourself with scotch tape and printer paper, which has half the information needed to steal your identity printed on the outside of it.

Step 6. Sigh a big sigh of relief that you don't have to do this again for four more years. And pray that Alabama figures out a better way for their overseas citizens to vote absentee (i.e. online or through fax). Because this is enough to make someone not take advantage of their right to vote.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Things I Never Want to Forget

There are plenty of things about my oldest daughter that I would just assume forget. Like her ├╝ber stubborn nature and the eight bazillion spankings or time-outs that she gets every day of her life for being disobedient. Like how last week at church she questioned Shannon, "Daddy, you have boobies?" for all to hear. Like how she gets out of bed at bedtime and will request which parent she wants to give her her spankings. Like how she will not for the life of her share anything with her sister.

But let's not go there tonight. Let's face it, parenting a toddler is hilarious. It's stinking hard, too, and frustrating to no end, but every day, all day long, I'm reminding myself that God gave her to me. And I don't know how long I get her. So while I'm trying to raise her to love Jesus (and to be a respectful, obedient, and polite member of society as well), I'm also trying to focus on the things I love about her and the things I will miss one day when she's more obedient and socially appropriate.

Current faves of mine:

How she hikes her shirt up and holds it under her chin while going potty, no matter how short or long the shirt.

That when counting: if there are more than 13 or 14 items, she gets to 13 and then repeats 13 (or sometimes she makes it to 14) over and over and over again until she's gotten to the last item when she proudly states "13!"

    Actually playing together for once...hoping this becomes a more common occurrence as they get

That anytime she says her tummy hurts and we suggest that maybe she's hungry (because most likely she's refused to eat all of her breakfast/lunch/dinner and isn't getting anything to eat until she finishes it) she replies, "Or proby need go poo poo. Which one?"

How at certain points in certain books she giggles and proclaims, "Dat funny!"

She still calls a bathing suit a "behmin suit" and helicopters "hot doctors." I don't care how long she says these things this way.

She loves farm animals. Still. And now she's always saying things like, "Dat not rooster, mama. Rooster have dis big fwuffy tail." Or, "Dat chicken. Or hen. Or rooster. Which one?" (Can you tell she likes to give us choices and say, "Which one?")

    Working the "Asia" puzzle. With help, of course, but she can pretty much put all the countries in by
    herself if we help her get the edges and water in.

We have a puzzle of the U.S. and Canada with pieces shaped like the states/territories. As I handed her Nunavut earlier today I said, "Here's Nunavut. Can you say 'Nunavut'?" She replied, "Nunabut." Cracks me up.

She does things that crack me up all the time, but I just wanted to write a few of them down so I don't forget...because God knows, one day I will forget.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Bit About the Blog

You know, I hate it when people who "blog" don't do so very frequently and then, when they do get around to writing a post, they apologize for not blogging more often, promise to do it more often, and then, lo, the cycle repeats itself. So I'm not going to apologize for not blogging more often than I do these days. But I will let you all in on a bit of a secret:

I'm enjoying other things. And breaking a bad habit.

I think that living overseas takes the negative things about social media and exacerbates them even more than when you're in your home country. You feel so disconnected from friends and family that you cling to anything you can get, and often, while it's "enjoyable," it doesn't really help things. You envy things you can't have, places you can't visit, foods you can't eat, and so on. You idolize America (or wherever home is for you) and think that life would just be better if. But it's all a lie.

   Lane's learned how to draw faces. I love it.

Then, to top it off, there's the addicting desire to see what everyone's up to. To compare your life to theirs. To look at photos of where they've been, what their kids are doing, what their newest toy is, etc. So you log into Facebook, or Twitter, or Blogger, or wherever, a million times a day (or, let's face it, you don't ever even log out). Information overload is only a click away.

So, I've been trying to check myself a bit on my time spent engaging in social media. I usually check my blog subscriptions and Facebook in the morning, and I'm trying my hardest to not look at them again until after my girls are in bed in the evening. I tell myself, "You don't need to check Facebook. It will still be there later." Eventually my goal is to only check once per day, and to not feel like I'm missing out if I miss checking it that time.

I also think that social media is stealing our my time. What does it communicate to my girls when I pop my computer lid up to check Facebook or my blog subscriptions when I'm supposed to be playing with them? It communicates that I don't desire to focus on them, to engage them, to be with them. And while it's so easy to do...I'm trying hard to stop it from becoming a bad habit. This is also one reason that I'm infinitely glad I do not have a smart phone. And as much as I'd love some of the features that they have...I think I'm going to avoid getting one at all costs, at least for awhile. I know myself too well.

   Hungry? Get a croissant, slice up some leftover spiced chicken, and add some cheese. Layer and
   warm in the oven until the cheese melts. Add sliced tomatoes. Drool.

All that being said, I've been a) packing up our household, b) moving to temporary housing, c) studying language, d) reading real books, and e) engaging my kids. And while I miss blogging a bit, honestly, most of what I miss about it stems from what I want people to think of me, and not from my actually missing the blogging part of it. I like reading my old posts because it's like a journal of a kind (and I don't actually journal at all), so I will continue to post when I have make time and want to remember something specific (like my girls' milestones each month), but as far as "fluff" just to make someone want to read my blog...

I'm sorry. I'll be enjoying my children. Or my hubby. Or a good book. Just like before social media ever existed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

9 Months Old

Dear Noel,

A couple days ago you turned nine months old. This has been a really fun month for you. You've become very adept at crawling and it is now your preferred way of getting around. You also started cruising along the furniture, and you can stand on your own for a few seconds, although you don't do it often. And you also learned how to drop to your bottom when you're tired of standing up, for which I am very grateful. All of this newfound mobility has opened up a world of things for you to do, and you have a great time getting into everything. You especially love getting into anything that Lane is doing, and her favorite new phrase is, "No, Noel." She tells you "no" about everything, even if you're not actually getting into anything she's doing, she's still telling you "no." It's hilarious. But she also loves to play with you, tickling you and giving you zerberts on your belly. I'm very excited to watch the two of you play together in the near will surely be the best of friends.

What you can't see here is who you're smiling at: Lane's on the couch playing with you.

This month you got a new tooth! The top right one finally came through after what seemed like forever (but was probably actually only a week) of bothering you. You didn't sleep well and woke up at least once, if not twice, a night wanting snuggles and some medicine. It's finally through, though, and now there are two more on their way. They don't seem to be bothering you nearly as much, though.

Feeling a tail on the "Tails" book.

Cute things you're doing this month: when we go anywhere, you start screeching, "Ah! Ah! Ah!" and Lane usually echoes you, and sometimes the rest of us join in. You started babbling "dadadada" and "mamamama," and although you don't know what they mean yet, it sure is fun to hear you say them. You also have figured out how to softly exhale on purpose and do it when nursing quite a bit. And you like to make funny noises with your mouth, popping it open and closed. You like to stick your fingers in my mouth when I sing to you, just like your sister did when she was your age.

Cruisin' along!

You are fascinated with cords and we're having to tell you "no" now, which you don't like too much. You like to look at toys for .03 seconds before you drop them and go for the next one. And you love to watch television with Lane. I tried really hard to keep you from watching it so early, but now that you're mobile I can't really keep you out of the room that she's in. So, watch, you do.

We're finally settling into somewhat of a routine, as well. You wake up between 6:00 and 7:00 most days and eat. Around 9:00 or 9:30 you nap for 1 1/2 hours. Then you eat again. You nap at 1:30 or 2:00 again for 1 1/2 or 2 hours and then eat again. And then you nurse and are into bed at 7:00 or so. Every now and then you need a third, short nap, but most of the time this is what your day looks like.

Eating: your favorite pastime.

You're still a good eater and are getting really good at shoving Cheerios into your mouth. This month you tried some wheat products (pancakes and toast), some meat, cream cheese, broccoli, plums, watermelon, and cantaloupe. It's been a pretty boring month for you as far as food goes because we've been packing up and I just haven't had much time to dedicate to introducing you to new things. I've started letting you try our table food, though, and while you turn your nose up at it most of the time, every now and then you decide you like something (like celery out of soup, or pancakes). I'm looking forward to making some more things that you can try, as you certainly still are a big fan of food! We're also still nursing four times a day and while I'm so ready to wean you (you are a lazy nurser, girl, and it gives me clogged ducts all. the. time.), I also know that this is what's best for you and that we can make it three more months. You're learning how to drink water from a regular cup, though, and we'll introduce you to cow's milk in two or so months, and I'm glad you'll be able to get it from a cup instead of a bottle.

Noel, this has been such a fun month to watch you grow and develop and learn. It's so different this time around, watching you interact with Lane and not get to be the center of attention all the time like she was. I feel like you make our family a family. I'm not saying we weren't a family before, just that it's like you were meant to be a part of it, and now you are and it's just right. Life is a lot more work now, no doubt. But it's more fun, too. And you're totally worth it.

I love you,