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. =)