Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who's Who?

After catching a glimpse of Noel playing on her play mat the other day it struck me how much she looks like Lane did.

Check it out:

The question is..can you tell who's who?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Home, Sweet Home (part I)

Welcome to our home! (I'm totally only showing off the rooms that are clean today! Other rooms will be shown off at a later date.)

When you walk in, this is what you see. Lane's room and Shannon's office are to the left. Turkish toilet and regular bathroom down the hall to the left, our bedroom at the very back. Kitchen to the right, living room directly ahead.

In the living room, to the right.

Standing near the television and looking to the back of the room.

Standing at the dining room table and looking into the living room.

Looking into Lane's room from her doorway.

Lane's bed, bucket of blocks, and the ABC cross-stitch I did for Lane.

The back corner of Lane's room (door is left of the kitchen). Kitchen, book/toy shelf, princess tent, chest of drawers.

Head down the hallway and on the left:

The big bathroom. Washing machine, lots of cabinet space, and...

The bathtub! Previously seen here.

We are very, very blessed to have such a big and nice bathroom here. Generally bathrooms are small, crowded, and...just not very nice!

Then at the back of the hallway is our bedroom:

Looking in from the hallway.

See that door in the corner? No, it's not a closet. Or I guess it is...of a kind...

Our second (or third, if you could the Turkish toilet) bathroom. It was very useful when I was pregnant and getting up a couple of times a night to pee. Now that the weather has turned cold (it's in the 20's today) we've closed it off and are just using the big bathroom, because it is cold in this bathroom! We can't close the little window, so the cold air from outside seeps in, making our entire bedroom cold. Now we're just keeping Lane's last birthday present in there (saving it for a rainy day, since she doesn't know the difference).

Ok, back into our bedroom:

To the right (from the bathroom): our wardrobe (since there are no closets). That bugger is big. It will stay right there until we move again.

Noel's corner of the room. Chair, boppy, basket of cloth diapers, bed, and changing station.

Who needs a crib?

One of our enclosed balconies, located behind the black chair. It's out of use right now since it's freezing out there, but we hang laundry there when the weather's nice.

And there you have it. Or about half of it. Upcoming: the kitchen, Shannon's office, and the Turkish toilet. It might be awhile before you see those...they tend to be the catch-all's of the house...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

24 Months Old

Two whole years. I still can't believe it.

Lane continues to seem like she's becoming a little girl, as opposed to the whiny, needy toddler that she has been. She's still needy, don't get me wrong, but she's just seeming to...grow up...a bit more every day. She is quite the joy, and quite the work as well!

At 24 months (and 6 days) old, Lane:

*continues to get better and better at playing pretend. She likes to "cook" in her kitchen, brings me and Shannon food or drinks, gets bites of pretend food and feeds it to Elmo or other dolls/animals, and so on.

*is learning new words almost every day. I'll never forget about a week ago when she was on the potty and just started saying "yes" and "no," working out the sounds until she was saying them correctly and then repeating them over and over again. It was amazing and hilarious. Some new words this month (I'm sure I'm forgetting some) are: black, backpack, hi, hello (sounds like "yellow"), I, two, nine, bye-bye (bye-bye-yuh), spaghetti (pa-geh-ee), please (peeze), yes (yesh), no, doll, m, love (wuhve). She can also say correctly the letters B, E, I, and O. We haven't taught her any more sign language, but she still uses the signs she knows, accompanying them with speech if she can say that word.

Sitting on the potty!

*is showing signs of being ready to potty train. We've been letting her run around the house without pants on a lot of the time and most of the time if she needs to pee she'll say "poo-pa" (we're still not sure what that means...peepee, poopoo, or potty?) and we'll all run off to the bathroom and she'll pee in her potty. She's had a couple of accidents, but only a couple. She is not interested in pooping on the potty though and will wait until nap or bedtime, delay it for hours (getting up, saying she needs to "poopa," not going, and so on), finally go in her diaper, and then fall asleep. We'll probably start "officially" potty training her in a couple of weeks, at least for awake periods of time.

*is 34 inches tall and weighs 25.25 pounds. We've all been to the hospital way too much in the past two weeks, once for her 2-year checkup, again for her Hepatitis A shot (she was sick at her 2-year checkup so I didn't want her to get any immunizations then), and again for nursemaid's elbow. She's actually gotten nursemaid's elbow three times now (once in November, I think, once last Thursday, and again this past Tuesday). On Tuesday when it happened I managed to fix it myself...how sad is that, that I've watched doctors fix her arm enough that I can do it myself now? Sheesh.

Just readin' a book.

*is getting better at letting us brush her teeth (she needs to be since she's getting so many cookies for peeing in her potty!). The trick that finally worked?: let her hold a toothbrush while Shannon or I brush her teeth, then let her brush them. She hasn't shed a tear yet with this method.

*holds up two fingers and says "two" when we ask her how old she is. She can also hold up either one or three fingers, but doesn't know the numbers that go with them.

*loves the color blue. I think it's mainly because it's one of the only colors she knows how to say, but she only wants to eat out of her blue bowl, drink from her blue cup, and wear blue diapers. It's quite comical.

My happy girl at the aquarium on the last day of her second year.

*is just plain funny. She was carrying a pretend cupcake on a plate last night and as the cupcake would tip over she'd stop and put it back upright before continuing on her way. She also likes to blow zerberts on our bellies, gallop around the house, jump down stairs (while holding onto one of our hands), or just jump down the hallway.

*is still fascinated with farm animals and the song "Old MacDonald." She still bounces animals (or other things) in front of us to indicate she wants us to sing Old MacDonald with whatever animal she's showing us. It's really funny when she bounces, say, Elmo in front of us. What does Elmo say? So we sing Old MacDonald with all sorts of weird animals: alligators, giraffes, seahorses, elephants, frogs, and all the normal animals, too. Pretty much if it makes a sound at all, we sing Old MacDonald with it.

*loves a couple of new books this month: Llama, Llama, Red Pajama and A Potty for Me.

Christmas jammies, a crazy ponytail, and a fake smile.

*has started asking us to pray at random times for people: baby, mama, dada, and all the grandparents. She folds her hands and then says who she wants to pray for.

*is pretty obedient most of the time. The things she gets spankings for the most are: hitting and/or kicking us (usually when she's upset that she's getting a spanking for something else), screaming, or just being plain disobedient. She pitches a fit sometimes, but generally speaking she's good and obedient, and most of the time if she's pitching a fit it's because she's tired and needs to go to bed.

And there you have it. Parenting is a lot of work, but it really is just all worth it. Even when I want to pull my hair out just one look at Lane's big, hazel eyes and curls falling around her face will cause me to stop and be so thankful for her. Where else can you get a giggling, squealing ball of energy tugging you to go play with her or blowing zerberts on your belly?

***Sorry for the lack of photos...it seems that taking pictures has not been very high on the priority list these days...***

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Remembering Noah

Life with two children is tough. And life overseas is tough. Add the two together and I often feel like I'm simply surviving, floating from one moment to the next, living from one thing to another. In the past six days alone I've been to the doctor twice (once for me, once for Lane) and the ER once (for Lane...stinkin' nursemaid's elbow. Again). Our hot water heater (which also heats our apartment) went out. Again. Lane has learned that if she says she needs to go potty that bedtime or nap time gets postponed, so she's been getting to bed late. She's skipped two naps and had a third that lasted just 45 minutes. I have a bare-bottomed girlie running through my house, peeing on things occasionally, pooing on the floor occasionally. Thursday and Friday nights I got approximately 4 hours of sleep for staying up late working on a certain birthday cake. And of course Lane always needs something from me the minute I sit down to nurse Noel and daddy's not home.

To say I've been stressed would be an understatement. It seems that life is never "normal," like I want it to be. There's always something. Something breaks and needs to be repaired. Somebody needs to go to the doctor. Some paperwork needs to be filled out (currently it's Noel's application for a social security card, which will need to be followed up by a 3-hour round-trip excursion to the Consulate to drop it off). Laundry needs to be hung, floors need to be vacuumed (how on earth do they get so dirty every. single. day.?) Things need to be scrubbed, meetings need to be attended. Languages need to be learned. Spilled milk needs to be wiped up, photos need to be uploaded and saved. Babies need to be bathed, hair needs to be washed, and new cell phones need to be learned how to be used (because the old cell phone got sent through the washing machine). Phones run out of minutes when you least expect it and you have to take an hour to go put more money on them, babysitters cancel, and life just keeps going, crazy as it all is. And it's easy to get caught up in the frustration of just putting one foot in front of the other.

I am tired.

Last year a friend of mine gave birth to her first child, a boy named Noah. There were complications with the vaginal delivery and when she woke out of the anesthesia of her emergency c-section, she learned that Noah was delivered with no heartbeat. The doctors got his heart started again, but he never did breathe on his own, and 23 days after he was born, they took him off life support.

I think about her every day.

I think about how she would give anything to be exhausted from being up in the middle of the night nursing her son. I think about how she would gladly sacrifice "alone time" to hold her baby when he just won't go to sleep on his own for a nap. I think about how her body has to recover from pregnancy and she has to deal with all the same things (hormones, hair loss, extra pounds), but she has no baby to hold to make it all worth it. I think about how she'd be more than willing to put her baby back in bed ten. million. times. after he got up to go to the bathroom, because it would mean that he was still here and that she had had two wonderful years with him already.

And I'm determined to live differently.

This New Year, instead of resolving to lose weight, or to eat healthier, or to be more organized, I'm resolving to be more grateful. To live with more joy. Not to necessarily enjoy every moment, but to be grateful that I have been given that moment. I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I am not guaranteed another day with my children, and how sad would it be if today I lived my life, frustrated at all the frustrations, being short with my husband and daughters, wishing the moments away until bedtime, and then tomorrow came their time and I never got another day with them? How much would I regret today?

This year, I will live in joy. I will be thankful for each moment with those I love, even the moments that are frustrating, the make-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out moments (or days). I will choose thankfulness over dissatisfaction. I will tell my daughters that I love them, I will kiss their heads and ask them if they know I love them. I will ask for forgiveness when I'm harsh. I will practice patience. I will be grateful for every moment, even those I don't enjoy. I will be thankful.

When Lane is up past bedtime, trying to use the potty, looking at me with big round eyes and a grin on her face, I will try not to focus on how annoyed I am that I've been trying to get her in bed for two hours. I will be thankful that I have the opportunity to parent her, to teach her how to use the potty.

When Noel is up at 2 a.m., nursing and snorting and grunting and pooping, I will try not to think about how completely exhausted I am. I will be grateful that she is healthy and strong.

When I can't seem to get anything done around the house because the stars seem to be aligned against me, my husband is gone, and my girls are cranky, I will try not to put my self-worth in my productivity. I will thank the Lord that I have a home, a husband, and not just one, but two healthy girls, none of whom value me solely for my day's output.

This year I won't necessarily Carpe Diem. But I will be thankful for it.

I will remember Noah.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And Then She Was Two

12ish hours of work for a Sesame Street cake...she was thrilled, so it was worth it!

Just checking out the fish at the Istanbul Aquarium.

Family photo with Poseidon.

Skyping with grandparents and opening presents.

Climbing in a "shipwreck" at the aquarium.


The top of her cake. She got to eat the Elmo.

Feeling the iceberg.

Kissing the shark.

Noel just chillin'.

Lane with her buddies who went to the aquarium with us.

Ooh, a lobster!


Birthday pancake this morning. Still can't believe she's two!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life Lately

So, I'm thinking that "Life Lately" might be a regular post on this blog for awhile. It just seems to sum up everything pretty well for those who want a quick snapshot into, well, life lately.

Today was a great day. Especially after the past week of Lane being sick, recovering from being sleep-deprived, and just crabby, today was nearly perfect. Shannon and I both got up at (ugh) 6:00. I fed Noel (who only woke up one other time, at 3:00, praise the Lord!), took a shower (and cleaned the tub), had my Bible and prayer time, and got one load of laundry folded, one hung, and another load started all before Lane woke up. We had breakfast, got Lane dressed, made the bed, and got most of the apartment vacuumed (we took down our tree yesterday so there were needles [fake, but still] and glitter everywhere) before 9:30 when our babysitter showed up. Shannon, Noel, and I all walked to Starbucks and then studied for about an hour and a half before Noel and I headed home and Shannon headed out for business meetings. I stopped by the store for milk and spinach, came home, and warmed up leftover vegetable beef soup for me, Lane, and our babysitter. We said goodbye to our babysitter, I nursed Noel, and Lane and I played some before nap time. I changed her nasty diaper, and shortly after changed Noel's first real blowout...I think we have a couple of ruined onesies, but hey, that's ok. Nobody sees the white under-onesies anyways, right? Got Noel in bed. Got Lane in bed. And proceeded to have an entire hour of the house to myself with both girls asleep.

My girl has got bed head down.

I cleaned up from lunch. I cleaned the bathroom sink and mirror. I chopped all the veggies for dinner. I listened to Turkish (brushing up after a month off) while doing all my chores. I reassembled cloth diapers and hung the aforementioned load of laundry I started this morning. Noel woke up at 3:00 and I fed her and spent time snuggling her. I actually answered a few emails. Lane woke up at 3:45 and daddy walked in the door ten minutes later. Daddy and Lane played while I got dinner going the rest of the way and all the dishes done. It started snowing, so after dinner, Lane and I went out in the snow for a few minutes. When we came in I let her watch a couple of dvds before bedtime. My weekly Bible study got canceled because of the snow, so we leisurely began to get Lane ready for bed. She had a snack. And then she went pee on her potty and seemed to actually understand what she'd done. She got lots of high fives, silly dances, and a cookie as a reward, and she didn't fight me brushing her teeth. We read a Bible story and she went to bed without any fuss.

Snow! It snowed on Saturday, too, but it was wet and slushy and didn't stick. Look at this beautiful stuff!

And now I'm bleaching bath toys and moving pictures from my old computer to my new one (which I've had for eight months now, so you can see how big of a priority it's been!). And blogging, which it seems I never have time to do anymore. The snow is sticking outside and I'm so excited to maybe let Lane play in it tomorrow when it's daylight. I don't have to cook dinner tomorrow because we have leftovers for lunch and dinner, so instead I'll make brownies for dessert for the week and start baking cakes for Lane's birthday cake.

In short...I think we're figuring life out a bit. I've come up with a few things to help myself be more organized and purposeful in life (and therefore hopefully less overwhelmed), which I'll blog about in another post. Some days are still rough and busy. Some days I just want to pull my hair out and cry. But some days...some days go like today and give me hope that I really can do this parenting-two-children-overseas gig (without going insane, that is).

Friday, January 13, 2012

1 Month Old

Dear Noel,

Yesterday you turned one month old. And as seems to characterize my life these days, I didn't have time to write you a letter yesterday. You got pushed to the back burner, or at least this "not-so-important-thing" did. All your primary needs got met! I'm really hoping that this is not a trend for your entire life, and I intend to make you just as much a priority as your sister is in my life...once you're old enough to understand it, that is. I'm still trying to figure out this "parent-of-more-than-one-child" thing. For now you seem perfectly content to get your belly filled, your diaper changed, some snuggles before bed or nap time, and to be warm and swaddled when I lay you down for bed. The honest truth is that I love you every bit as much as I love Lane, but I don't have the time to dote on you the way I did her when she was little. I guess that's the case with all children who aren't firstborns, but it doesn't make me feel any less guilty for not giving you the same kind of time and attention I gave her, even before she was aware of it. Now she knows, and while she loves you and wants to shower you in kisses, she doesn't want me to spend any time away from her. Don't worry...she'll learn that you get mommy time, too.

Looking at big sister Lane. You love to look at her.

In the past month you have gone from a sleep-a-holic newborn to a little baby with a bit of personality. You're starting to smile sometimes and to coo a little bit. You like to look in the mirror we set up for you, and you don't seem to mind tummy time. You're quite strong and can hold your head steady for probably 30-45 seconds when held upright, and can lift your head up to look in the mirror or to turn it from side to side when on your tummy. You gained one inch in length, putting you at a little over 20 inches long, and two inches in head circumference, putting you at 15 inches. And you gained about 2.25 pounds in your first four weeks of life, which is still just amazing to me since for the first 2-3 weeks it seemed like you hardly ate anything. You also took your first airplane rides to Antalya, Turkey, and you did great.

Your very first outing (other than going to the doctor). You snoozed the entire time.

Noel, there aren't words to express how happy your daddy and I are that you are part of our family. You're a lot of work so far, and we're pretty tired, but we wouldn't trade it for the world. We're so blessed that you are happy and healthy, and we want you to know that we love you and thank God for you every day. We have lots of friends who have recently lost babies, or have found out that their babies have serious health problems, and while our hearts break for them it makes us even more grateful for you. You are a blessing to us, and we will always consider you a blessing, even when times are tough, even when you don't get as much attention as your older sister, and even when we discipline you, know that we love you and are grateful to God for you.

Mommy (and Daddy)

Your first Christmas Eve. You slept through most of it.

Daddy gave you your first bottle. You weren't too keen on it, but you did drink from it.

My beautiful girl. I love you.

A Quilt from Joyce (part IV)

As some of you may remember, my stepmom is an awesome quilt-ress (nice word I made up, huh?). She's made me and Shannon a quilt, Lane a quilt, and at my request, pillowcases to match our quilt. And of course, since we have a new addition, she just had to make Noel a quilt. She sent it to someone in the States to bring over by hand (since we have such fantastic luck with packages disappearing), so we just got it last week. Isn't it beautiful?

Noah's Ark.

I love the detailing...Joyce does all the stitching by hand, which makes it even more impressive!

Thanks, Joyce, for the beautiful quilt for Noel! It will be treasured for many, many years!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Know, I Know.

You're all wondering where I've been.

First, our power went out. On my birthday. So I had to make my birthday pancakes in the dark (we had them for dinner, not breakfast) since I was midway through making them when it went out.

Cocoa-chocolate chip pancakes. Yum.

Then Noel took her first flights to and from Antalya, Turkey.

Yeah, this is boring, Mom.

Lane learned how to "smile" for the camera.

I can only imagine what future "smile for the camera" smiles are going to look like!

Noel got her first bath.

She's still not sure if she likes the water or hates the water.

My friend Melissa sent Noel some baby booties she made.

So cute! And they fit her perfectly! Thanks, Melissa!

I've gotten lots of newborn baby snuggles.

I know you're not supposed to let them fall asleep on you, but...who can resist?

Lane discovered a new game.

Let daddy run and push you as fast as he can! Oh so fun!

And in between it all Lane got a cold, threw up about eight times and didn't sleep all night for a week. I've washed about six loads of laundry in the past four days. We've gotten passport photos for Noel taken and all the documents filled out to apply for her certificate of birth abroad and U.S. passport when we go to the Consulate tomorrow.

Forgive me while I recuperate from the last twelve insane days. Why is it that when it rains, it pours? Seriously...I can't wait for life to return to "normal!"