Monday, February 25, 2013

Life Lately

It's been awhile since I did a Life Lately, so I figured it's about time to do one! Life is busy, busy, busy over here. Here's a few snapshots into what's going on on this side of the ocean.

1) Noel's Social Security card. A little over a year ago, we applied for Noel's certificate of birth abroad and passport. After we had received her certificate of birth abroad, we applied for a Social Security card for her. They told us it could take up to six months. Well, last July we called the Consulate in Istanbul because we still hadn't received it. They said to wait a year. So, this January, when we still hadn't received it, we called the SS Administration. After an hour on the phone we knew this: Noel did have a Social Security number, and they would not mail us a card. We'd have to apply for one in person. Sigh. Thankfully, after asking Shannon's mom to check our pile of mail again, she did find Noel's card. Now we can file our taxes!

Gotta love the attempts at a photo of both of them. This is so perfect, though, Noel smacking on Lane while Lane mouths off to Noel. It's so...real.

2) Dora the Explorer. I had really, really hoped to avoid the Dora phase. I mean, we do live overseas so I thought we had a decent shot at it. I was really happy with Mickey Mouse, and I find Dora, quite frankly, annoying. But some friends sent us a couple of great packages, and included were, you guessed it, a couple of Dora DVDs. And Lane loves them. So, here we are in the Dora phase.

3) Packages! I've been horrible about getting photos of packages lately, I think mostly because now we have a preschooler who wants to open them with us and then play with everything, and what she doesn't notice right away I hide right away, and then I forget what was in the package, and so on. But recently we have received some awesome packages. Coloring books, DVDs for the girls, pajamas, tons of cooking and candy-making stuff from my mom, spices, regular books, SOS pads, arts/crafts supplies, stickers, and so on. THANK YOU if you are reading this and have sent us a package. We really feel the love!

A month or so ago we took a weekend trip to another city a few hours away. Shannon went skiing one day, and on our way out of town we visited an old church on the top of a hill/small mountain. Thanks to some friends we got a decent family photo!

4) Class. One day I'll get around to a "Day in Pictures" post, but for now, my life looks like this:

Mondays and Wednesdays I have class in the morning. I rush home around lunchtime to relieve our nanny. I spend the afternoon playing with the girls, cooking, baking, etc. After the girls go to bed I wash dishes, hang or fold laundry, and then study for about two hours. If there's no laundry to do and Shannon does the dishes, every now and then we watch an episode of 24, but usually after I'm done studying and he's done with any work he's been working on, we fall into bed around 10:00. I feel so old going to bed exhausted at 10 p.m. OLD, I tell you.

On Tuesdays Shannon teaches a class at a local institute, so he's gone nearly all day. I bathe the girls on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We play, hang out, eat lunch, get Noel in bed for her nap. Our nanny comes after lunch and I head to class. I rush home, we all have a snack, and then I work on dinner. The evening looks about like Monday and Wednesday's evening. Thursdays I watch the girls until around 3:30 when Shannon stops working and takes over. I go to class from 4-6, then head to a Zumba class at 6:30. I usually get home around 8 or 8:30, when I eat dinner and try to study for an hour.

The first time Lane wrote her name on her own, on Valentine's Day. This is the inside of the card she made for can see that she traced the "I love you," but when I asked her if she could write her name, she did without looking at anything. Child prodigy, I tell you! =)

Fridays are our family day and we try really hard not to work on Fridays, but inevitably I end up doing homework, or Shannon ends up working a bit, or he has a meeting, and so on. But we try to spend some good time together. Saturdays are usually full of miscelaneous errands, grocery store runs, a trip to the market, meetings, and so on. Shannon usually works some, too. And on Sundays we go to church, eat lunch there, and spend a lot of the day with the people we fellowship with.

5) Winter. Is it not. It's been in the 40's for weeks. I find it incredibly depressing that we bought Noel a snowsuit for Christmas that she's only worn once, maybe twice. It's been gloomy and grey and rainy. I miss the snow and cold.

6) I bit the bullet and went to get my hair cut here. I learned a valuable lesson: when they ask "is this a good length?" you always say "yes," even if you actually want it shorter. Because they'll keep cutting. I ended up with a cut so short that I thought she shaved my neck. Thankfully it's been a month or so now and is more to my liking. It's good that when your hair is really short, it appears to grow quickly.

Yikes, so short! Glad it's grown a bit since then!

So, that's a bit of life lately. It's super busy, and super crazy. I keep telling myself that even if we lived in America that we'd still be really busy, right? It's just the stage of life we're in...little kids, lots to do, etc. So I'm trying to just be grateful for the girls and the chance to be busy, instead of longing for our pre-kid days when we could sleep all day on Saturday if we wanted to!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

14 Months Old

At 14 months, Noel:

*says: muh (more), muk (milk), duh (done), mama, dada, yayne (Lane), bobo (poopoo), poo (spoon), bye-bye, nite-nite, uh! (up), buh (book), minnie, bah (bath). It's so weird having a kid that's talking so early, compared to Lane who only really said three words until she was 21 months old.
*gives snuggles and kisses when asked.
*loves "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."
*loves to be outside.

*looks up at you, throws her arms up, and says "UH!" to be picked up.
*can stack blocks six high.
*has 12 teeth. She got her last molar this month, thank goodness.
*loves, loves, loves books. She often brings us a book and plops herself into our laps. She'd probably rather look at books than do anything else (except maybe go outside).

*can drink from a regular cup (although she still likes to overturn her cup a lot) and a straw.
*is completely weaned.
*is a good eater. She really likes food, and while there are definitely things she doesn't like, most of the time she'll try anything.
*plays peek-a-boo by putting her hands on her head (nowhere near her eyes) and saying, "buh!"
*likes to "color."

*is down to one nap a day most days. She probably still needs two, but usually won't sleep for a second nap.
*can identify her head, belly, tongue, and ears.
*says "moo, moo" when asked what a cow says.
*likes to haul her overnight diaper to the garbage in the morning. Actually, since she's cut so many teeth recently, she's been in disposables for a couple of months now. So she always likes to put her diaper in the garbage.

It's so fun watching Noel grow up with a sibling...I was watching her and Noel playing on our bed the other day and I thought, you know, it may be a lot more work and a lot more inconvenience to have more than one kid, but I think we really did give Lane the best gift we ever could have: someone to share her life with, a friend, a confidant. And while I think the first year really was probably the hardest adjustment, and I know that the fights and squabbles aren't over, I'm so excited to watch these two girls grow to love one another.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Home: The Bedrooms

Well, hello there! I'm actually going to show you what our apartment finally looks like! We received the rest of our furniture in late December, so our place is nearly completed. All that's left is the small things: lamps for our bedroom, pictures for the bare wall in our bedroom, a place to hang the girls' artwork, etc. The majority of the big stuff is done. Here's the grand tour of our bedrooms, with photos so you can see the progression over time.

The girls' bedroom:

Mid-late October, when we first moved in. Noel slept in our room, Lane slept on the pull-out couch in Shannon's office, and Shannon and I slept in the living room on the floor (on a paper-thin foam "mattress" from the "bed" in the couch).

Late October. We bought a bed frame locally and it was delivered the next day. Note the foam mattress from the pull-out couch stuffed into the bed frame.

Later October. Our friends took a trip IKEA (7 hours away) and came back with some furniture for us! The girls got a dresser and a shelf (and basket) for their toys.

Mid-November. Lane's mattress arrived! And we bought another basket for the girls' toys.

Late December. We purchased a shelf to hold fragile things, as well as things to keep out of Noel's reach. We hung hooks for Lane's dress-up clothes she got for Christmas. In early December we moved Noel's crib into the room, about the same time we got black-out curtains hemmed.

Late December. Pictures are finally hung.

Diaper center. Out-of-rotation books and blankets are in the cabinet, as well as extra disposable diapers and a fan.

Still to come in the girls' room: the bed is a daybed, so the bottom pulls out. It won't hold a regular mattress, so we'll buy some large pieces of foam and cut them to fit. We won't need to do this until Noel moves to a regular bed, so next fall or early winter. We'll also buy her a comforter, (hopefully) matching duvet cover, and pillow and case. I'd like a large basket of some kind to hold the diapers instead of stacking them, but honestly I'm hoping Noel is potty trained by next December, so I may not even bother with a basket specifically for diapers. And I'd like a different light fixture, as the one that came with the apartment is hideous. And maybe a rug one day. But for the most's done.

Our bedroom:

Mid-late October, a few days after we moved in. Some friends let us borrow their air mattress.

Late October. Our friends brought us a bed and two nightstands from IKEA.

Mid-November. Some other friends went to IKEA and brought us back a chest-of-drawers for our room. Noel's pack-n-play has been moved and she naps in our room. We ditched the hideous curtains.

They also brought us back a "full-length" mirror that's only about 3 feet long. I used it there, as it wouldn't work as an actual full-length mirror, and our bathroom has no power outlets, which makes it hard for me to fix my hair in there.

Late December. We hung pictures on the wall. We purchased a mirror.

Early January. The mirror is hung!

Still to come in our room: If you look closely, you can see spots to the right and left of the mirror where holes have been drilled in the concrete and anchors put in. I'd like to figure out something to cover them up, but I'm not sure what to do. Maybe some kind of lantern that holds a tealight candle or something? Any ideas out there? The wall across from our bed is completely empty. I'd eventually like a lot of photos on that wall...some on canvas, some in frames, etc. I want lamps for our bedside tables. Curtains. And while I'd love a fun chair instead of the pack-n-play, we still want more babies, so I have a feeling somebody will be sleeping in our room for at least a few more years. I'm also ready for a new color scheme in our room. I want some warm red, I think. Oh yes, and I'd like a light fixture in there.

So there you have it. Our bedrooms, nearly complete. Any suggestions out there for how to make them look even better? I'm no interior decorator, but I'm so happy to finally be in a place where I get to decorate how I want to, buy furniture I like, and so on. It's so nice to feel like my home is actually my home.