Sunday, June 30, 2013

Life Lately

It's been a busy, busy few months. We left today for vacation and are enjoying a break back in our old stomping grounds of Istanbul before heading to Cyprus next week. So I thought I'd take the chance to update the ole blog since I rarely have time to anymore. What's been keeping us so busy?

1. The Circus. We took the girls to their first circus. It was small and slightly rinky-dink, and about a thousand degrees inside the tent, but they loved every minute of it. There were lions and poodles that did tricks, a man who breathed fire and a clown. What's not to love?

Before the circus began, when they were giving pony rides and letting people hold snakes and stuff.

2. A cold snap. Back in April it got so warm that they turned our heat off about five days early. We were all glad because we were sweltering. Of course, a couple days later it got cold. Like, really cold. So cold that Noel had to wear her snowsuit for trips to the market. So cold that we were wearing multiple layers of clothing inside the house and drinking hot tea and coffee all day long. So cold that we had to dry our clothes on the oven because they wouldn't dry just hanging on the rack:

3. A girls' trip. A few of the other ex-pat ladies here and I took a short trip to another city. We got to sleep in, eat our dinner without having to feed anyone else theirs, linger at the dinner table, and swim in an awesome swimming pool. It was my first night away from both girls and while I missed them, it was great to have some girl time.

The awesome pool where we ladies stayed.

4. Laundry. Sometimes I feel like it never ends. But at least in the summer I can hang it out to dry and it dries in an hour or two.

5. Camping. A few weeks ago we took our girls on a camping trip with some other ex-pats. The first day it rained all day and we were wet and miserable and sure we'd made a mistake by going. The second day the sun came out and made it all worth it. We ate s'mores and picked wildflowers, ate shashlik grilled over a campfire, climbed rock walls, and just enjoyed being out in nature.

Staying dry in the tent while it was pouring outside.

Playing with a beetle. This girl loves bugs.

Rock climbing for the first time.

6. Visiting friends. We headed out to some local friends' "farm" one day. The girls enjoyed fresh raspberries, currants, cucumbers, and saw other fruits and veggies that weren't ripe yet. They loved all the plants and the berries, and Lane enjoyed "swimming" in their small pool. While we're still learning the cultural rules around here, we're grateful that we're starting to make some local friends and acquaintances.

The girls exploring the tomato plants.

7. Canning stuff. One friend loaned me her canning equipment and another friend showed me how it all works here, and I've started canning some stuff. So far I've done some strawberry jam, strawberry-rhubarb jam, apricot jam, strawberry syrup, and one jar each of barbecue sauce and salsa. I have no idea how any of them will turn out (if my seals sealed correctly), but it's been fun and neat to know I'm making this stuff on my own, and hopefully making my life a little easier come winter.

8. Playing outdoors. With summer and warm weather have come lots of mornings and evenings to run around, pick mulberries, play in the dirt, ride rides at the park, and burn off energy. I've greatly enjoyed letting the girls run wild in the many awesome parks (not playgrounds, those stink, but the parks are awesome) here.

Riding the kids' train at the "big park" here.

9. Cooking. It's always an adventure around here. Last week I bought a couple of chickens to roast. The first one was completely normal. The second one looked like this when I took it out of its package:

So there you go. One long, long-overdue blog post. Hopefully now that I'm not studying every evening for the next few weeks (hooray for vacations!) I can update a little more. But no promises...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

18 Months Old

Every month when Noel turns another month older, I go back and read Lane's corresponding post. It's so fun to me to be able to do this, and I'm so glad that I'm keeping track of some of these things!

At 18 months, Noel:

*is great at playing by herself. She is easily entertained and it's amazing to me to watch her imagination unfold at least a year before Lane's did. Watching her big sister has really helped Noel's ability to play at age-appropriate things much earlier than Lane was able to.
*is a royal hoot. We laugh so, so much because of her. I think that the fact that she's talking so much just makes her so much cuter. A couple weeks ago she went through a phase where she was saying all the time, "Fwiper, no fwiping! Ahh, mant!" She would repeat it over and over again, with an emphasis on the "t" at the end of "man." I find it hilarious that she was emphasizing the "t" when there isn't a "t" at all at the end of "man," yet that's what she was hearing I guess.
*still loves accessories. Bows, necklaces, bracelets, shoes, all of it. She's a mini diva.

*still has not cut those stubborn eye teeth. They've looked like they were going to pop through tomorrow for about a month now. (Update since I started this at least a week ago and haven't had time to finish it: at 18 months old she didn't have them, but at 18 months and eight days she has cut three of the eye teeth with another on the way soon.)
*is still pretty picky about what she'll eat. As a result we've cut out snacking, at least in the morning. We end up eating lunch pretty early some days, but I think it's helping her to at least try the food on her plate, or at least to eat what's there that she likes instead of shunning it and asking for a cracker.

*weighs 24 pounds to the best of my deduction. We'll get her to a pediatrician in a couple weeks for the first time in about nine months. She's in all 18-month clothes and in a size 5 shoe.
*has been on her first camping trip. (More to come on that in a "Life Lately" blog post one day, hopefully!)
*loves: strawberries, cherries, milk, peanut butter, pancakes, cooked bell peppers, beans, rice, Mickey and Minnie, Dora, shoes, necklaces, books.
*is doing much better at sleeping all night. She and Lane actually go to bed at the same time most nights now and they seem to do ok with it.
*is showing signs of being cognitively able to potty train. I'm not sure if she's actually ready or not, but I think we'll try a 3-day blitz in August when Shannon is traveling. We're just talking it up a lot until then, talking about going on the potty, about panties, and so on.

*has unfortunately picked up some bad habits from Lane. Lane is not very good at sharing, so neither is Noel. They bicker a lot. I feel like I usually can't leave the room for more than about 20 seconds before Noel will be screaming because Lane took her toy, is trying to play with her in a way she doesn't want to be played with, or because she wants something Lane has that Lane won't share with her. Today I taught Noel how to say, "my turn!" so hopefully they can start to understand the concept of taking turns. Often when other children come towards Noel when she's playing with something, she'll gather it into her arms and scream, "no!" at whoever is coming towards her. It's humorous (because she looks just like Lane when she does it) and sad all at the same time.
*can stack blocks at least 10 high.
*can walk up and down stairs when holding onto someone's hand. She can't do it alone yet, but she does pretty well when holding onto someone's hand.

*can say at least 242 individual words. That's when I stopped writing them down about two weeks ago. She also says lots of phrases: "I find mama!" "I wuv you, mama." "da doggie's gonna get you!" (a game she plays with Lane and Shannon) "my chomps on da couch." (my alligators are on the couch...I love how she calls alligators "chomps.") "get out," "get on da bed," "my turn!" and so on. Today she told me after I got home from class that Lane got a spanking for throwing a toy. Of course she didn't say it just like that, but I understood that that's what she was communicating.

Here's a list of the words she was saying before we left on our camping trip on June 7th (I haven't written any new ones down since then):
elephant, tiger, kitty, fish, sheep, pig, cow, frog, bunny, cock-a-doo (rooster), chicken, duck, moose, mouse, monkey, octopus, bee, goose, giraffe, panda, fly, lion, turtle, hippo, rhino, crab, bug, ladybug, snake, rabbit, zebra, doggie, birdie, apple, coffee, cheese, cracker, candy, cookie, rice, strawberries, banana, lemon, carrots, bean, water, milk, orange, olive, egg, juice, pancake, noodles, apricot, kiwi, broccoli, nut, raisin, sandwich, bread, corn, chip, yogurt, cherries, walnut, muffin, mama/mommy, dada/daddy, Lane, Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Cinderella, Dora, Boots, Harper, Micah, Matt, Courts, Jennifer, Erica, Marvin, Shannon, Noel, Brittni, Dan, Mark, Ashley, Calvin, Faith, Luke, Whitney, Grant, Janna, baby, Elmo, Abby, Ernie, friend, you, me, I, guys, come, go, splash, run, swim, drop, jump, find, hide, tickle, sit (down), drink, bonk, sleep, cry, dance, eat, help, sing, play, clap, hug, kiss, color, yucky, mine, yummy, blue, pink, sad, silly, ugly, funny, hot, gross, white, red, green, yellow, purple, garbage, ball, pillow, book, potty, zoo, blankie, bath, balloon, phone, poop, puzzle, boat, pee-pee, clock, flower, sun, moon, slide, hat, bed, fork, spoon, plate, cup, leaf, tree, button, show, jammies, pants, shoes, shirt, socks, bow, dress, coat, glasses, rock, blocks, train, bite, feet, hand, teeth, eyes, belly, face, medicine, clothes, house, marker, octagon, towel, map, lotion, necklace, tree, up, one, two, three, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, yes, no, yeah, more, done, sorry, oops, bye-bye, nite-nite, please, again, amen, hi, hello, boo!, wow, ok, boo-boo, on, where, the, a, this, that, and

And that's it for now. I'm sure there's more but seeing how I'm already so late...I'll go ahead and hit publish and try to come back for another update in three weeks!