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.