Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Random Smatterings

*When we lived in Istanbul, I could've cared less if we owned a stroller. The sidewalks there are horrible and public transportation is pretty good. I used our old Graco stroller some when we lived about a 20-minute walk away from a nice park, in a nice area of the city (and therefore decent sidewalks), and other than that, I never used it. It was just easier to wear Lane in the ERGO. When we went to the Canary Islands a year and a half ago, we bought an umbrella stroller for the airports. Then after Noel was born, if I really needed to go somewhere with both girls and without Shannon, I'd push Lane and wear Noel. We planned on making Lane walk when Noel got too big for the ERGO. We always said we'd never buy a double stroller.

Well, then we knew someone who got a Phil & Ted's and loved it. And then we moved here. Also horrible sidewalks. Parks within walking distance for Lane, but not for her to walk there, play, and also make it home. Wearing Noel in the winter (with bulky coats and boots and scarves and hats) is just no fun. Lots of potholes in the roads and sidewalks here. So we decided to bite the bullet and buy one. And I love it. I've had it less than a week and think that no one should ever bother buying any other stroller, except maybe a light umbrella stroller for traveling. And even then...I'm not sold that you'd want it after using this one!

Phil & Ted's Explorer. I'm in love. With the girls, too. =)

*I think this may be the first year in a very long time that our taxes are not done by this late in the year. I told Shannon last week that I need to finish them next week. No excuses...it has to be done. Once again, blech. I also find it highly...interesting...that while Shannon is the one who handles all of our day-to-day finances (balancing the checkbook, checking accounts online, making transfers to savings, etc.), I'm the one who does our taxes every year.

*We bought a car last week. Here, you pay in cash. Hence, Shannon paid with this:

That's our Jesus Storybook Bible on the left, just for comparison's sake.

*Last week there was a bit of outdoor construction going on in our parking lot. Some diggers and cranes and other large trucks come, and they dug up the ground and replaced the pipes. They turned our water and gas off one of the days. And then, after three days, they covered it all back up and left us with the large pile of dirt you see on the right. Yup...we still have it, sitting in the grass/parking lot. How kind of them.

*I'm in the process of "training" my hair to only need to be washed every other day. It's involved about a week of somewhat-greasiness, but it hasn't been that bad. I like having my hair short, but I really don't have time to blow-dry and straighten it every day. And I'm really dreading summer, when I'll be blow-drying and straightening it with no air conditioner. So I'm trying to train it to not be washed (and therefore styled) every day. I think it's working. If you see me and I'm slightly greasy, well, forgive it for another few weeks. After that, tell me it's not working and to wash my hair.

*Every evening (and morning, for that matter) around sunset, the buildings and trees around us are flooded with birds. I mean, thousands of birds. The sky practically gets black from all the birds. It's straight out of Alfred Hitchcock.

This photo doesn't do it justice at all, but if I waited until all the birds were there, it would be too dark to see them.

*I've been spring cleaning, when I have a few minutes. A couple weeks ago, I cleaned out the kitchen pretty well. I wiped down the insides of all the cabinets, the top of the fridge and cabinets, and organized random grains and beans and flours into better containers. I vacuumed behind the fridge and cleaned the stovetop and microwave. Last week I cleaned most of our windows, inside and out. I vacuumed off all the blinds. I washed our comforter covers. Up next: wiping down all baseboards, the tops of door frames, vacuuming cobwebs out of the corners between walls and ceilings, and cleaning Shannon's office. It's the room that gets the most neglect, since he's usually working in there when I'm cleaning, so therefore I don't clean it. Blech.

At least my helper is cute.

*We're back on the cloth-diaper wagon. It was nice having a break from washing diapers for oh, six months (three in transition and three of nasty teething diapers), but I'm glad to be using them again. If nothing else, here diapers cost around $23 for a pack of 60ish size 4's, which means that we were spending around $60 a month on diapers. I'm looking forward to getting that number back down to $15 or so (one per night and Noel wears 'sposies on Sundays, since we're gone almost all day).

*A week or so ago we went out with some friends to a place where they camp, rock-climb, hike, and so on. I played ultimate frisbee for the first time in about six years. Unfortunately we couldn't stay all day, as Shannon had a meeting that afternoon, but we had a grand time that morning, and we're looking forward to going more often this summer. I'm looking forward to rock-climbing. And Lane...she's looking forward to zip-lining again. I can't remember the last time she was that excited about anything. "Do it uh'gen, mama, do it uh'gen. I wanna fly uh'gen, mama, wanna fly uh'gen."

I mean, check out that smile. If that's not the face of someone who had a good time, I'm not sure what is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

15 Months Old

At 15 months old, Noel:

*says (new words): hello (heh-doh), kitty (key), help (hep), baby, clap (cap), hi, uh-oh, wow, banana (me-ah me-ah), cracker (kacker), poop, yuck, duck (duh), balloon (ba-oon), hat, shoe (soo), socks, Dora (do-wah), boot, yes (ses), no.
*can identify (in addition to last month's list): her hair, nose, teeth, hands, mouth.

Playing in the sink with Lane.

*loves television. I'm not sure whether I should be happy about that (hey, 22 minutes of both of my children watching TV so I can cut chicken, wash dishes, cut veggies, or whatever) or ashamed of myself. Her favorites are Dora and Minnie/Mickey.
*is weaned from her pacifier.

She's getting pretty good at using a spoon, although she still makes a huge mess most of the time.

*has learned to climb. She can pull the stool over to the kitchen counter and climb up onto the counter. Scary. She can't get onto beds or couches yet, but she can get onto chairs and our stepstool, and she can get herself down from couches or beds.
*knows animal sounds for cow, rooster, horse, chicken, elephant, cat, and dog.
*knows when she's pooping and says "poop" before she goes. She is completely opposed to going on the toilet, though.
*loves to stand on our windowsills, looking for cats outside.

This girl loves to be outside!

 *is officially down to one nap a day. She sleeps around 11 hours at night and then takes a nap for around 2 hours at noon or so.
*gives us big, long kisses, complete with the finishing, "mm-ah!"
*loves to play with Lane, although a lot of the time Lane is not so keen on how Noel is "helping." Noel likes to hand Lane blocks, play chase (where Lane teases her with her blankie), and just do anything Lane is doing. She is quite good at playing by herself a lot of the time.

Playing in our bed...one of her favorite things to do.

Friday, March 8, 2013

More of Life Lately

Just because I can. =)

1) Single-mom'ing it. Shannon's out of town this weekend. He and some friends went skiing, back to the same place we all went in January. They drove over today, will ski tomorrow, and will come back on Sunday. I'm hoping he doesn't come back with one of these, which is what he came home with after his last skiing adventure.


2) Adventures. The girls and I are living it up over here while he's gone. This morning we went to the grocery store. Yes, all of us. Shopping with two kids alone is something that I try really hard not to do over here. I either have to carry Noel in the ERGO or I have two kids in a cart that's not more than half the size of one in America. Today I opted to put both kids in the cart and carry my cloth bags and purse. Noel sat in the seat, Lane in the basket as I piled food on top of her (I wish I had a picture, but no iphone here!). After one juice box, one chocolate milk box, $55 worth of groceries, one fit pitched, and one pair of pants removed, we left the store with my sanity mostly in tact, even if I did get stares while leaving with a pants-less child (who just happened to squeeze chocolate milk all over her pants while I wasn't looking. Since I had to carry her in the ERGO to the car [since there are no elevators to bring my cart to the main level and then to the car] I didn't want chocolate milk all over my own clothes as well).

3) Weaning. We've officially weaned Noel from her pacifier. We had one rough night (the first one...she cried for an hour before falling asleep), one really early morning (she woke at 5:30 the second morning and couldn't get herself back to sleep), and other than that, she's been doing pretty well. She still has trouble falling asleep for some naps, but overall, she's doing great. And I'm glad we pulled the plug (haha) when we did. She only used it for sleeping, anyways, and I had said that we were going to take it away at some point when she wasn't teething, and here we were. That being said, I'm pretty sure she's cutting her eye teeth now. Sigh. Poor girl. She got four molars and two other teeth within two months...now come the eye teeth, probably all at once if I know her. At least we'll be done afterwards, though! (Until the 2-year molars come, that is.)

She's getting better with a spoon, and better with a cup. She still likes to dump her drink out when she's finished with it. So we've reached the 6-months-or-so-long phase of eating most meals in nothing but a diaper. Saves me from unnecessary laundry. Now if only we could get her to keep her hands out of her hair...

4) Menu-planning. It's been interesting, moving to another country after living in Turkey for over two years. I think I had taken for granted how familiar I was with what's available there, how much it costs, and so on. I spent the first three or so months here trying to figure out what I could cook, how much it would cost me, what wasn't too much work, what Shannon could complete on Thursdays when I'm not home for dinner, and so on. After three months of work, I finally came up with a menu plan. I've made a document with four weeks' worth of menus, links to the recipes, and an accompanying grocery list. By then end of April I hope to have enough meals collected that I can make another document. Then, next winter, I'll have two months' worth of menus. I can rotate them during winter. And I won't have to make a grocery list, other than for snack foods, breakfast items, toiletries, and the like. Although eventually I'm hoping to get the breakfast menu added into the dinner menu, too. It's a lot of work now, but I'm telling myself it's going to pay off in the long run...

Having a picnic on the trampoline. Notice how the dolls don't have clothes on. Do all children go through phases where they think everyone all their dolls should not wear clothes?

5) Oddities. There are just some funny things about living in a country that's not your own. Just things that you notice that locals probably would never think twice about. Like... *Speed bumps always come in pairs here. There is never just one. *Cows just wander around certain parts of town, looking for some grass, with their owner kind of herding them along to make sure they don't run off. *Older people here always have candy ready to give to your children. Yesterday we actually had someone give Lane a piece of candy in the elevator as we were heading down and then make us wait while he went to his car to get her some more. Umm, thanks? *It is rarely cheaper to buy products in bulk. It's generally cheaper to buy them in the smaller containers. Drives me nuts. *If you go to the local market, you'll find all sorts of animal products for sale, and all sorts of people clamoring for you to come and buy their chicken feet, pig feet, chickens-with-the-neck-and-head-still-attached, etc. *Speaking of chickens with their heads still attached, for New Year's people here eat turkey. So you can find turkeys at the local malls. On tables in the foyer (or whatever you call the big open spaces in shopping malls), laid out all pretty-like, with their necks and heads hanging down off the side of the tables. No plastic wrap, no covering. Just some good-ole dead turkeys on the table at your local shopping mall for you to peruse, much like you might peruse crafts at a craft fair.

6) Glimmers of hope. I catch these sometimes. I'll see Lane and Noel actually playing together for a few minutes and I'll get a glimmer of hope that soon they'll play together nicely and for more than two minutes. I'll see Lane apologize to Noel and hug her and tell her she loves her, all with very little prompting, and I'll get a glimmer of hope that she will learn to be empathetic, loving, and to accept responsibility when she's wrong. I'll chat with someone for a few minutes and realize that I really do understand more than I did four months ago when we moved here, and I'll get a glimmer of hope that I can actually learn this language and that I won't have to study forever am improving.

Playing on mommy and daddy's bed, or dancing on it. Never gets old.

And I could go on. But instead I'm going to go wash the rest of the dishes from our daddy's-not-here-so-let's-eat-pizza-for-the-second-time-this-week dinner. And then I'm going to go to bed before 10 p.m. Because I'm 33 and have two kids and I roll like that.