Thursday, June 26, 2014

16 Weeks

This was a pretty big - and fun! - week for Audra. My dad and stepmom came down to visit over the weekend, so Audra has now met all of her grandparents :) It was so nice to spend some time with them, although it still went by too quickly, especially since we probably won't attempt the trek up to Michigan with both kids for at least another year or so.... although if Audra gets over her hatred of the car, we may try it sooner ;)
My brother and sister-in-law also came over on Saturday, and we hung out at home for a while before going out to eat.... and we actually witnessed Audra rolling over for the first time! She was trying sooo hard to roll from back to front too, but couldn't quite get there yet. Here's her second time ever rolling from stomach to back, though:

After that we headed out to Josie's favorite restaurant (Chick-Fil-A), where Ryan then stumbled upon the perfect combination to get Audra laughing. We had only heard a few chuckles out of her before this, so I thought this was just wonderful, and I've watched this video probably more times than I should admit to :)

Then on Saturday Ryan and I went with the girls to their first carnival. It worked out perfectly - not too sunny or hot out, somebody gave us their leftover tickets as they were leaving so we didn't end up having to pay for any rides, and Josie loved everything she went on. I went on one of the circle rides with her, but since that didn't agree with my motion sickness (at all), Ryan went on the rest of the rides with her instead while I hung out on terra firma with Audra. It's funny, the little snapshots of our lives that stick out as cherished memories, and that moment became one, as I cuddled with Audra after a fulfilling and fun weekend, just enjoying spending time with her and loving on her.
Then it turned out that it wasn't just motion sickness that had my stomach roiling, but a stomach bug instead, as discovered while we were out for dinner that night. I'll leave out the details, but suffice it to say that I had a pretty miserable few days after that, trying to build up my strength after having next to nothing in my stomach for over a day (which is a big deal, given how much I need to eat at the moment) and easing ever so slowly back into eating again in hopes of having everything stay down.

This also caused another first for Audra - the first night she slept entirely in her crib :) Since I was so sick and sleeping heavier and more fitfully than normal, it just wasn't safe to keep her in bed after her first wakeup like I usually do, so instead I swaddled her back up after that and moved her back to her crib. She then slept more than twice as long as usual (4 hours!) before her next wakeup... which was awesome, until she decided she was actually done sleeping for the night after that. At 4:45am. But regardless, I was encouraged by how much longer she slept back in her crib, so I tried that again the next few nights but without the same success... and since having her in her crib also meant I wasn't catching her as quickly when she was starting to wake, she was waking up fully and was much harder to get back down in the early hours of the morning. So that was a good experiment, but I think I'll be holding off on pushing more crib time for a few more weeks, given that she should be going through a sleep regression in about, oh, two more weeks anyway.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Standing like a big girl!]
[Baby kicks!]

Monday, June 23, 2014

House Update

Finally, a new House Update: Leave Edition. Just as a reminder, here is where I last left off.

So while we were on leave, my main job was taking care of the baby, while Ryan's was keeping me fed, and lots and lots of house projects. Here is photographic evidence of some of the stuff he accomplished in our 10 weeks at home.

First up, our driveway. We originally had this section paved about a year ago, and it very quickly started breaking up due to a base failure. We finally made it through the winter and were able to get it repaved (and expanded), which was not without its own challenges, as apparently marine clay does very unpleasant things to asphalt. So they had brought enough material to redo a normal driveway, but that was only able to cover a fraction of ours... and ours was like walking on a moonbounce by the end of the first day, as it sucked up all the moisture from the ground and basically started floating above the base. So with many, many more inches of asphalt put down the second day, we're in good shape now.
[Starting to prep the driveway by removing the damaged parts]
[Repaved driveway, now 4' wider after the retaining wall, with a second parking space/wider turnaround and parking blocks]
[Added a parking space and parking blocks here too]

The pile of stuff in the preceding picture ended up being a project unto itself too. It took several days and many, many trips back and forth with the tractor and trailer for Ryan to move all of the pavers and cinderblocks and other heavy stuff to their new homes.
[Ryan built a retaining wall]
[Practice layout for the pavers and benches around the firepit]
[Patching the asphalt for the patio]

Ryan also did a lot of cleanup throughout the yard - moving some of the dead trees and fallen branches from the woods up front, and still plugging away on trying to get the giant stump to burn down.
[Pile o' wood]
[The stump that just won't die]

Josie (and eventually Audra) also got a new blackboard in the garage for winter-time (and super-hot summer-time) fun. After looking at prices for blackboards, we decided to build our own. I think Ryan did a good job :)

The biggest project by far was the garden. Ryan built a fence (that has so far successfully kept the deer out - yay!), and has been doing battle with poison ivy as he's working to clear some of the brush along the edges of the garden. We tested out a design for the raised beds, although the design we went with (that he is still diligently working on building) is a little different. Besides the Earth Day peach tree, we don't have any plans to plant anything this year, and instead we'll be working on improving the soil so that hopefully we can plant next spring.
[New fence!]
[Test design for the raised beds]
[Apparently that big ball of stuff hanging out to the left of the trees is poison ivy...]
[ Ryan learned the hard way]

Next up:
  • Continuing to work on the garden (getting rid of the poison ivy, building the raised beds and trellises, and getting lots of compost and other good organic material in there)
  • Setting the pavers for the firepit and building benches around it
  • Doing water sealer for the stairs by the garage, back door, and our front stoop, and the retaining wall
  • Sealing the asphalt section of the driveway and the patio

Thursday, June 19, 2014

15 Weeks

I can't really pinpoint what it is, but Audra seemed like a whole new baby this week :) I struggle a bit more with the newborn stage than any other stage (so far), so right from the start, I was pinning my hopes on 12 weeks as being when I'd turn the corner. And while the first 12 weeks were fairly tough for me, there were still plenty of bright spots and enjoyment in it. But the last couple of weeks I've just enjoyed Audra and the stage she's in more and more, and I'm just delighted with all of her new accomplishments :) That was something I was a little worried about, since this is not our first time through these phases with a baby and I wasn't sure if I'd be as excited as when we went through these early days with Josie. But I guess the part I didn't understand was that while, yes, this is our second time through this stuff, it's the first time through it with Audra - so I've been just as thrilled with every little kick and accomplishment of hers too :)

So Audra is moving differently now, with more smooth and controlled movements (punctuated with some adorable self-satisfied lip-smacking). She is able to lift up her head (and sometimes shoulders) into a little baby sit-up when she's on her back - maybe this is a precursor to rolling over? Either that, or she's just working on her abs ;) She is also able to grab her toys more precisely and is really showing more interest in them now.
She continues gnawing on her hands at every opportunity, but is especially diligent about it while we're trying to get her dressed. For some reason, Audra's hands become even more appealing to her as soon as they're covered by fabric, so it's a daily struggle to get her sleeves through the gantlet of her mouth and grappling hook thumb. She has started to get just a single finger in her mouth, though, so she's edging ever closer to being a finger-sucker (although last night she succeeded in gagging herself instead, so she has some work to do on this still). Audra is just fascinated with her fingers, and is easily distracted by them. She also gave Ryan her first high-five this week :)
[What did her hands ever do to her?]
[Oooh, fingers]

Audra and I both have colds again, so although she seems to be almost better now during the day, she's still been congested at night which I imagine (slash hope) is what's affecting her sleep again, as she has been waking 3-4 times a night. She has been wide awake (and happy!) a few times around 4am too, so she's been getting some quality time in with her swing then. Once she started fussing after just a few minutes (and then nursed right down back in bed), and once she slept the rest of the night there, so it's a bit hit or miss. I'm not above using the swing for as long as we can (as I'm nervously eyeing the 25-pound weight limit) to help us all get more sleep, though, especially since I was so tired last week that I was genuinely surprised I made it to work in one piece. Not good.

Audra has been doing pretty well at daycare lately. She's been sleeping a little bit more (2-2.5 hours the last few days), eating the 16oz I'm sending with her each day plus some frozen, and apparently is happy and laughing a lot during day :) She has also been falling asleep in the car every day in the evening, which helps take the edge off for her so I can eat dinner relatively peacefully (although still rushed) before nursing her to sleep, and also makes for a far less stressful drive for Ryan.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
IMG_1741IMG_1737  IMG_1734
[Super excited about things!]
[Voicing her concerns to Ryan]

Monday, June 16, 2014


May was a pretty big month for Miss Josie :) She started in the "big kid" Early Preschool class at school, and that has gone very well. Her transition was fine, and she seems to have learned many more songs and stories that she likes to regale us with :) She memorized a few nursery rhymes now too, and on one memorable night, got a bit obsessed with Georgie Porgie... asking repeatedly why he ran away and seeming quite worried about him. She also memorized some of her books, and can call out the name of the book if I say a few lines of them (turns out I memorized some of them too!), and apparently learned most of the words to "Go, Dog. Go!" after having only read it a few times at that point, since she proceeded to "read" it to us with remarkable accuracy.

Josie is also mostly potty trained now. She had just a handful of accidents over the month, is only wearing a diaper at night now (and probably doesn't even need that), and has proven herself a pro at going to the bathroom while we're out (in fact, she seems to prefer it!). She generally does pretty well with at least trying if we ask her to, and otherwise can just mostly take care of things on her own if we leave her to it.

Josie also finally got tall enough and coordinated enough to use the glider we got her for her birthday last year. Once she figured out what she was supposed to do, her balance quickly improved and she and Ryan now ride down to the river or the playground all the time :)
[One of her first rides - we raised the seat up since then and now she can actually glide]

Our 8th wedding anniversary was on the 10th, so we went out for sushi  - my first sushi in over a year, and Josie's first sushi ever! She did a great job with her huge plate of food, although she was flagging by time she got to the tempura, and she claimed her Japanese soda was spicy (it wasn't, just very carbonated). That's the first soda we've ever given her, and I can't say I did anything to encourage her to try it again ;)

We also got our first international mail in a very long time. Our sweet friend in Germany sent us a package with all sorts of fun stuff for each of us, and Josie got her very first purse (that now must go with her everywhere) and a princess mug.
Josie had her first Kinder egg too, which she was quite excited about. She loved the toy inside it, although she didn't agree with me that it was a monster, first deciding that it was a crocodile, then settling on it being a dinosaur. Regardless, she liked it, and also liked the egg itself, which was made of chocolate. She had previously announced that her pretend cake (made with erasers) and a date both tasted like chocolate, so it was a novelty for her to eat something that actually did taste like chocolate ;)

[Josie's picture of me with her monster]

Josie has still been doing quite well with Audra. We've been trying not to push her too much where Audra is concerned and to let her come to her on her own terms, and Josie has started showing more interest in her now. She loves it when Audra smiles at her, although she's less enthusiastic when she gets caught in the line of fire when Audra's kicking. She does like to help me with Audra, though, and will fetch burp cloths, help me pick out clothes for her, and helps with diaper changes and getting her ready for bed. But one day I asked her if she liked Audra, and she replied that she liked airplanes - not quite the answer I was expecting, but it was better than a denial at least!

It hasn't been all fun and games, though. Josie continues to express her intense toddler emotions through lots of crying, which I'm pretty sure I prefer over tantrums, but it can still wear us down. One night Josie burst into tears no less than five times within ten minutes. At least now she is starting to be able to explain why she's upset, which is much more useful than asking her why she's sad and having her respond "Because I'm sad" like she had been doing. Poor thing. And after handling my frequent absences very well when I take care of Audra, Josie has also been wanting more mommy time lately. I wonder if she was doing so well before because I kind of was just out of the picture - for the first several weeks after Audra was born, I'd just see Josie for a couple minutes in the morning before school, and maybe a few minutes in the evening afterward, but that was it. Now I'm taking her to and from school and spending at least some time with her in the evenings, so I think having me back in the game has reminded her that I am an option.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Wearing her favorite shirt]
[Jumping on Ryan's stomach remains a favorite pastime]
Screenshot 2014-05-10 at 3.11.10 PM  
[She is a dramatic sleeper]
[Ryan learned the hard way that Josie is not too good with the clippers]
[She claimed she was calling cousin Riley here]
[Playing at cousins Taylor and Christian's birthday party]

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

14 Weeks

Audra discovered her hands this week :) We thought she had been showing more control over them the last couple of weeks, but it was nothing compared to what she's doing now. She's now able to reach out and grab hair, toys, etc., and I've caught her watching raptly as she moves her hands around and admires them :) Unfortunately, sometimes this admiration happens in the middle of the night, but what can you do? They're fascinating appendages. She also deliberately hit the toys on her bouncer - very slowly and carefully - and pulled the handle on the frog to make the music play.
If that wasn't enough for one week, Audra has also finally started laughing! She apparently laughed at daycare during the week, and it wasn't until Sunday night that she finally decided to bestow on us her happy little chuckle :) I haven't figured out what makes her laugh quite yet, but I am determined to figure it out soon. For as loud as she is in everything else, she seems quite stingy with her laughs so far!

With all of these developmental changes, it should have come as no surprise that her sleep would be affected too, although it's always easier to make that connection in hindsight. So we had a few nights of her waking the first time around 1:30am, then nursing the entire rest of the night... or if she wasn't actually nursing, she at least wanted me close by in case she decided to later, since she'd start flailing around each time I moved a muscle. Then as soon as I started getting a little panicky about this new state of affairs, she went the other direction, and still woke up a couple times over the course of the night and flailed around a bit in-between, but refused to nurse when I'd offer to help her settle down.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Clean chubby baby]
[Caught in the act of hitting her toys]

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

13 Weeks

We realized last weekend just how little awake playtime we get with Audra at the moment when we put her on her tummy and she propped herself right up on her elbows. We didn't know she could do that yet, so at least daycare is taking care of tummy time ;) We're still in a bit of survival mode due to the current daycare sleep situation (i.e., where she still only sleeps for maybe 1.5 hours a day vs her normal 4-5), although it's not as stressful as it could be since it's all just temporary (as I keep reminding myself!). So every morning we let her sleep to the last minute we can until she needs to get ready for daycare, and then in the evenings we're basically running around (sometimes literally) trying to get me fed and her ready for bed before she completely melts down, usually within about 20 minutes from the time she gets home.

So needless to say, we don't want to exacerbate this by delaying bedtime to play with her during the week, but last weekend she was struggling with her naps again so we at least got plenty of playtime in with her then ;) She kept falling asleep but then popping right back up within minutes (sometimes with the biggest, saddest pouty lip ever), so she primarily took naps on Ryan the whole weekend but was pretty happy besides that.
Anyway, so Audra can hold her head up pretty high now, and can roll to her side from her back, but is only listing to the side on her belly so far. She is gnawing on her hands like there's no tomorrow, but hasn't figured out how to get just one of her fingers into her mouth quite yet... I assume that's coming soon though. In the meantime, she's been working on her kicking. She seriously kicks so much, and with such determination and forcefulness that it makes me laugh almost every time :)
I'm realizing that I could use more playtime with her too... I focus so much on her sleep and trying to get things done around the house that sometimes it's hard to slow down and just enjoy the moment, whatever it is, but I tried to do that more last weekend and it was wonderful. I just sat outside with Audra and we talked to each other, and I made faces at her and pulled her up to sitting a bunch of times (which is her favorite thing at the moment, just after kicking). And one time that she woke right back up after finally falling asleep, I could hear her making cute little baby noises but was determined to pretend that she really was going to go to sleep (so that I could too) and kept my eyes closed for a few more minutes before finally opening them... to see her adorable little face gazing up at me, with big eyes and a big grin :) I was even able to have our first storytime with both girls, as we propped Audra up on the couch next to Josie and read several books together.

I'm still working on perfecting my diet too. I somehow forgot that ketchup has tomatoes in it, so lo and behold, Audra's poor face broke out again and she had some digestive issues last weekend after I had some fries with ketchup. So it looks like tomatoes, dairy, and strawberries are definite possibilities for what she's sensitive to, but wheat and asparagus seems to be ok. I'll probably test out peanuts soon, and maybe broccoli, but in the meantime, I'll just keep updating my list of foods I'm looking forward to having sometime next year ;) Calzones and lasagna also just got added to the list, since it was almost physically painful to have to turn down the lasagna Ryan's sister made last weekend. I'm still thinking about how delicious it looked. Sigh.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[One of the outtakes]