Friday, October 26, 2012

Latest House Update

Two months after our house was delivered, it's nearly ready for us to move in.  Our builder is just about done with his work on the house, while Ryan or I have continued to go out in the evenings to put in a few hours of work every night.  Most of the main floor is painted now, and Ryan has been busy working on putting in the quarter round.  We're learning about the seemingly odd things that are required for an occupancy permit, such as shoe molding and shower curtains.  So Ryan is almost done with the shoe molding, the shower curtains should be arriving tomorrow.... and then we're just waiting on the last box of flooring to come in next week so Ryan can finish the last few rows.

Ryan and I had decided to do the flooring and painting ourselves to save the money -- since we couldn't justify spending (well, rolling into our mortgage) thousands of dollars on something we could do ourselves when that money would be better spent going towards a paved driveway instead -- but it has definitely come up a few times over the last couple of months how much nicer it would have been to have at least the painting done for us.  It has been more painful than expected to paint the house, and that's even after we've put the upstairs painting on the back-burner for now, and we won't even be touching the basement for a while until we get around to finishing it.

We're also doing a geothermal heat pump, so that's been part of what added time onto the original 4-week estimate we'd been given for when the house would be ready to move into after delivery.  The two wells were done being drilled last week, and the loop was just hooked up so that heat and cooling should be working in the house now.  

So hopefully we'll be ready for the occupancy permit next week!  Although then we'll still need to go through the actual awful process of moving, which neither of us are looking forward to except for it being done and over with.  We're definitely excited about our house itself (even more so now, with the added blood, sweat, and a few tears we've put into it), but it's been about a year and half since we first started talking about moving, so we'll be very glad to finally be settled for what we intend to be a good long while.

[Our builder has done all sorts of fun little extras we weren't expecting, including the stone retaining walls we're in love with] 
[The front yard with the initial landscaping done - we'll find out soon enough if these plants are in fact not something the resident herds of deer are interested in eating]
[The kitchen is pretty much done - appliances in, painted, flooring, counters and backsplash done] 
 [From the dining room looking into the living room - I was interested in seeing how the two colors looked against each other, but really, most of the colors ended up being very similar in tint and/or tone anyway so I guess there's not as much concern about clashing ;)]
[The hall bath with the solar tube in full effect - it's amazing how bright it gets in there without the lights even being on!]
[From our bedroom looking through the closet to the bathroom]
[Our bathroom, pretty much done except without the ever-so-important shower curtain and before I finally took the painters tape down]
[The bonus room, i.e., the room that seems to invite the most running around in a circle yelling, so far... video to follow in my next Josie-related post ;)]

Monday, October 15, 2012

15 Months

As mentioned in the last post, Josie is now officially a walker!  Although she went right back to crawling when she first woke up the day after she had started walking on her own, so it almost felt like a dream that she had started walking.  But then she remembered again, and I don't think she's crawled since except for once, when she was crawling around to be funny :)

I think it really helped that she walked for months with help before striking out on her own, since she seems to have skipped the stage where she can walk but falls often.  She's definitely fallen a few times, but her balance is really quite good already.  She hasn't quite worked up to running yet, but has been delighted by jumping lately.

Josie can also multi-task (somewhat) now, and has started carrying things more as she walks around. After a shaky start where she tried to carry a full bottle of water but kept toppling over, she now totes around water bottles, and can already talk on the phone and carry my keys around too... is this a preview to her teenage years? ;)

Josie now has eight teeth through - four on the top, and four on the bottom (including one that just cut through in the last couple of days).  Her first molar is just starting to work its way through too, which she is very unhappy about.  She was very clingy yesterday (as in, she attached herself to my leg at the playground, which is very unusual for her), and then cried the entire time I was getting both of us ready this morning.... and then I saw the little bit of tooth poking through her gums, and all the whining made sense.  Poor thing.

Josie has also added a few words to her vocabulary this month, and seems to understand what they are more now rather than just mimicking us.  So now she says "bye-bye" (with waving!), "hiya", "mama", "dada/dadat", "no", "uh-oh", "whoa", "hat", and a rough attempt at "banana".  I'm still on the fence on if she is actually saying "doggie", "bacon", and "baby".  But even if she isn't actually saying "baby" yet, she does at least recognize the word now!  The other day I asked her where the baby was, and she grabbed her book with babies on it.  I also asked her where "Polar Pals" was, and she went right over and grabbed that book too!  Which I'm kind of surprised she recognized, since we normally refer to it as "that awful book" rather than its real name.  For whatever reason, it's Josie's favorite book, but Ryan and I both despise it.  It's only four pages long, and it just seems highly unlikely that a polar bear would be frolicking and enjoying a cold beverage in an icy lake with a seal.
[Waving and saying bye-bye]

Josie is really making big strides in trying to do things on her own now.  It's really been amazing to see how observant she's being and how quickly she goes to mimic us now.  We went over to the new house yesterday, and Ryan was trying to get some of the floor to lie down better.  Once he was done, Josie went over to grab the rubber mallet, then dragged it throughout the house, occasionally tapping it on the floor just like daddy did :)  Then she followed that up by putting her bottle on a coaster just like a big girl and putting on Ryan's headphones too.

She loves to put on her shoes, and will grab her socks when asked and then holds up her feet to have her socks and shoes put on.  She also attempts to comb her hair, dry herself off, and snap herself into her car seat.  We have a little routine now where Josie carries my keys for me from the car to the front door, surrenders them to me to unlock the door, and then demands them back so that she can then attempt to unlock the door herself.  She has gotten the key in the keyhole maybe a couple of times, but her determination and patience is really quite admirable.

Josie has started to get more adept with using a spoon and fork now.  Her spoon usage is a bit spotty, since she normally holds it upside-down, which limits just how much she can scoop up - which is probably for the best, since she seems to usually flip the spoon over someplace between her tray and her mouth :)  With enough time and intent, she was able to spear some banana and broccoli with her fork the first time she used it.

[She has discovered that feeding Ryan her dinner is fun too]

Given all of her developmental advances and teeth cutting through, it probably shouldn't be that surprising that Josie's sleep pattern is all over the place again.  Some nights it takes 10 minutes for her to fall asleep, sometimes up to a couple of hours.  Sometimes she falls asleep all on her own, sometimes she needs to hold my hand for half an hour first.  Sometimes she's up for the day at 5:30am, sometimes she sleeps in until 10am (although we (sadly) had to put a stop to that since it would mess up her schedule for the rest of the day).  Sometimes she sleeps through the night, sometimes she cries out (and occasionally wakes up) roughly every hour from 10pm until she's up for a bottle around 3am.  And yet almost the worst part of it is the pinching.  She likes to pinch us as she falls asleep, and it is driving us crazy.  We've introduced a lovey now, and are trying to redirect her to pinch on that if she feels the need, but she really has had pinching on the brain lately.  Even as she walks around, she looks like a crab with her fingers going like little pincers.  

Miscellaneous cuteness:

[The cabinet where we keep our storage containers is a current favorite of Josie's]
[Little imp :) ]
[Dinner is not a quiet affair with Miss Josie. My favorite part starts around 23 seconds left, when she starts pausing for emphasis while yelling, and then a carrot suddenly reemerges from her hand]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

London and Beyond

A couple of weeks ago we all went across the pond for a week in London and then a weekend in Bishop's Stortford (about an hour northeast of London) for our friends' wedding.  I had been wanting to travel for a while, and figured we should probably go sooner rather than later, since I imagine Josie is easier to travel with now than when she'll be when she's 2 or 3.  She actually did quite well on the flights, especially seeing as how we were essentially asking her to stay in a 4 sq ft area for about 8 hours each way.  So she slept some, read, watched some tv/movies, and did fuss (and ok, scream) a little bit, but for the most part, she did just fine.  The flights were what I had been worried about for this trip, although it turns out there were plenty of other things to worry about instead (e.g., how the time difference would affect her, finding restaurants with high chairs to help contain a suddenly much more squirmy child, how to navigate many sets of stairs with a stroller, etc.). Traveling with a toddler is such a different experience than any traveling I've done before, and so although it was a good week, I don't think I would say it was much of a relaxing vacation.  We still had fun though, so read on for the recap and all the neat stuff Josie was up to for the week... :)

Our hotel was about a block away from Trafalgar Square, so that was naturally one of our first stops (after the grocery store, though).  Since Ryan was working all week, Josie and I were on our own to entertain ourselves, so we did a lot of walking and spending time outside.  The weather was really nice - I think it only rained once, and the temperatures were in the 60s or low 70s the whole week.
[Trafalgar Square]
[Horse Guards Parade (although we didn't see a single horse, so sad), and also the closest we got to the London Eye (off in the right background) - I was trying to avoid any attractions that cost money and had a set time attached to them, since our schedule was a bit unpredictable with Josie ;)]

Josie and I had a picnic in St. James Park, and we happened to go during recess time so there were lots of schoolkids running around playing tag.  I had thought Josie would join in the yelling, but instead she sat completely silently, sucking her thumb and watching them for quite a while.  As soon as they left, she did in fact start to yell... at the pigeons.  Turns out she loooves pigeons, as I discovered when she dragged me all around the park so she could chase them and yell at them.
[Watching the other kids playing]
[Calling to her little pigeon friends]

We went to a couple of indoor play areas, which Josie really liked.  Unfortunately, they weren't too convenient to get to, and I found out pretty quickly that it's very difficult to travel using public transportation with a baby and stroller when escalators and elevators are few and far between (although I did use the carrier for shorter excursions, but at close to 30 pounds, she's too heavy to carry for long).  Luckily, except for a couple of sets of stairs I struggled with on my own, people stopped to help me carry the stroller every other time, carrying it up and down the stairs with me (and a few times with a sleeping baby in it!).  
[Josie was a Tube veteran by this point - and although I didn't get a picture of when we were standing and she mimicked me and held onto the pole the entire trip, trust that it was ridiculously cute ;)]

I was trying to pick most of our destinations and restaurants during the week with Josie in mind since it turns out high chairs aren't necessarily ubiquitous in London, and I discovered it's not too easy for me to eat with Josie on my lap, although it did make it easier for her to steal my food - it turns out she's partial to egg and watercress sandwiches too :)  However, there was just one place on the "Stacey" list: the British Museum.  I love Greek mythology, and so I really wanted to go back to see the Elgin Marbles again... which Josie did very well for, although I pushed my luck by trying to go through a special exhibit on horses, which I ended up doing at a near run since she started screaming midway into it.
[Partial reconstruction of the Nereid Monument at Xanthos]
[Statuary from the east pediment of the Parthenon]

When we weren't out sight-seeing, Josie proved to be very entertaining back at the hotel room.  She was into everything, and was helpfully rearranging things, taking things out of their homes and putting them back in different homes, etc.  All the while, she kept up nearly a steady stream of babble, which was comprised largely of "mama" (yay!)... and "no" (boo).
[Josie decided that her diapers didn't really need to stay in the bag.  Also note her "throne", which was just a rolled up towel we were using to try to contain her for diaper changing - she hated it for its intended purpose, but loved to sit on it other times]

Along with pretty consistently using "no", "mama", and "dada / dadat" correctly, she also added "uh-oh" to her vocabulary that week.  She sometimes got the syllables mixed up, but whether it was "oh-ah" or "uh-oh", it was adorable all the same :)

Probably the toughest part of the trip was that poor Josie did not adjust well to the time difference. We struggled to get her to sleep even a couple of hours earlier than normal, and I started waking her up at 4am our time each day since otherwise we weren't leaving the hotel until afternoon, which made it more complicated to spend any time outside and get food (since eating dinner at 11pm London time for the first couple of days we were there didn't really work well).  Along with all of that, her naps weren't very good either, so she was a sleep-deprived, cranky mess by the end of the week.  She also started waking up screaming several times a night, so we ended up keeping her in bed with us more and more as the week went on, which really helped (and now things are mostly back to normal, so at least there doesn't appear to be lasting damage!).
[Josie co-opted my pillow one morning]

The week before we left, I noted that I thought Josie would be walking on her own within the week, since she was starting to stand and take a couple of steps unassisted.  But by Wednesday, I was thinking it just wasn't going to happen.  She was happily walking to various pieces of furniture, turning herself around, and walking back to me, but she wasn't trying to strike out on her own at all.

However, within a couple of hours of having that thought, Ryan came back to the hotel while I was in the bathroom washing her bottles and Josie was attempting (yet again) to climb into the bathtub on her own (fully dressed).  I told her to go to daddy, and she did.... she walked right out of the bathroom, turned the corner, and went into his arms.  Our jaws dropped, and I could practically see the light bulb go on in her head as she realized she could walk wherever she wanted, not just between Ryan or me and a piece of furniture.  So she finally really walked on her own, and then just kept walking - doing laps around the hotel room and generally being delighted with her new discovery.
[Right after she realized she could walk on her own]

[I took this picture because it struck me how much she looked like a toddler - little did I know she would actually live up to that a couple hours after this picture]

After our week in London, we took the train up to Bishop's Stortford on Friday.  We unfortunately didn't have much time to explore, and we basically only managed one meal, some grocery/diaper shopping, and coffee/tea in the downtown area and breakfast at our B&B during the short time we were there.  We had rented a car from Stansted Airport to drive to the B&B and to/from the wedding, and then to Heathrow to catch our flight on Sunday.  The drive to Heathrow actually went the best, with only a couple of missed turns near the end and not much traffic to contend with.  The first trip and subsequent time spent driving in the countryside was a different story, though!

It took us probably an hour to figure out how to install the car seat that we had rented with the car, so it was already dark when we finally set out from the airport.  We belatedly discovered (directly after we entered our first roundabout!) that the headlights didn't turn on automatically on our rental car, so absent any other good options, we ended up recreating the "Hey, look, kids!  There's Big Ben, and there's Parliament!" scene from European Vacation - just minus Big Ben and Parliament, since our particular roundabout was bordered by trees.  After maybe five times around, Ryan found the headlights (answer: on the dashboard) and we were on our way.  Ryan has driven on the other side of the road before in Aruba, but this was the first time he was driving from the right side of the car too - it turns out that actually made it more difficult instead of easier!  So he did very well, but it was still stressful since his spatial awareness and perspective weren't really calibrated for that vantage point.

On Saturday, we headed out to a village in the English countryside for our friends' wedding (actually, blessing / vow renewal, since they had gotten married in the States last year).  We actually got to the wedding on time (very unusual for us), except Josie got sick in the car on the way there, poor thing :(  I'm not sure who was most traumatized by this: Ryan for having to scrape the vomit off the car seat, Josie since she wasn't feeling well, or me because I just felt so bad for her.  So instead of heading into the church on time, we ended up scrambling to clean up the car and her, with Josie sitting in the car trunk at one point, crying and wearing nothing more than her diaper :(  I hadn't brought a second "nice" outfit for her - I really should know better by now, but I had reasoned that she couldn't possibly mess her nice outfit up for the few hours she needed to wear it.  Ha.  So instead she went to the wedding in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt.  Ah well.

Besides that bit of drama, the wedding was really fun!  The reception was in a tent in the field behind the church, and we had fun chatting with old friends and new, I indulged in some Pimm's, and Josie played with some of the games they had (giant Connect Four, croquet) and was delighted with a dog that was there.  We headed out just after dinner since we had to get up pretty early for our flight the next day.  I'm so glad we went and it was great to spend so much time with Josie, explore England a bit more, and see our friends again - although I also hope to avoid traveling that far again, at least for a few more years ;)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[She was so proud of herself for having walked on her own to this post, which she then hugged like it was a long-lost friend :)]
[Taking care of her bib when it got in her way - her chin is a useful holding area]
[One of her games where she puts stuff on her feet and then violently kicks it off]
[Having fun sticking her bath letters to herself]