Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Although it's over a month later (turns out it's really hard to keep up with writing with two kids, the holidays, and a busy month at work!), I can now confirm that we had a really nice Thanksgiving ;)

Josie had a luncheon at her school the week before Thanksgiving, which went sooo much better than last year's. She was still getting used to her new school last year and her language skills weren't as good, so leaving her (sobbing) after the luncheon so she could attempt to take a nap in a room full of other (sobbing) kids was heart-breaking. But this time we were able to explain to her that we would be coming for lunch, leaving afterward to go back to work, and then would be back after nap time like usual. Being able to prepare her seemed to work really well, since she squealed and ran up to hug us both when we got there, saved us seats next to her (so cute!), did well eating, showed us some of the stuff around her classroom, wanted to be held just for a little while, and then happily pushed us out the door when it was all done.

For Thanksgiving proper, we hosted for both sides of our local families again, and everything went off without a hitch (with no side dishes discovered after everyone had left like last year!). I'm not sure if I can entirely blame this on the fancy new meat thermometer Ryan splurged on, but it possibly made a huge difference that we knew immediately when the turkey got up to temperature so we could pull it out and just keep it under low heat until everyone got there (it ended up done almost 2 hours earlier than usual too - maybe from not opening the oven a bunch of times to check the temperature?), since it was remarkably moist and delicious, even in leftovers. Josie had fun playing with her cousins, with Taylor braiding her hair into an "Elsa braid", and coloring and drawing with Christian. She got to sit up with her cousins at the "big kids" peninsula (for the first time without any parental hovering!), and claimed she was thankful for Mommy, Daddy, and Audra :)
Ryan and I actually both had off the day after Thanksgiving, so Josie was excited to get to go to "baby school" with Audra while we spent the day relaxing at home... by going outside in the freezing cold to build a greenhouse. After quickly settling into the most optimal division of responsibilities (I was in charge of the instructions and setting up the parts, tools, and hardware for each step, Ryan was in charge of putting it all together), we got it almost finished after working on it all that day and for a few more hours that weekend, with just the doors and windows remaining. We actually just got the doors installed and windows fixed last week, so now we have a greenhouse! We're not sure what we're going to plant in there yet, but we can figure that part out later ;)
One of Josie's "firsts" for last month was going with me to vote. She was very excited to go to the "grown-up school" (our voting place is at a university), and adorably started whispering when I did once we got to the voting room. She did very well entertaining herself while I voted, appointed herself the carrier of the directions sheet, and helped feed the ballot into the box when we were all done - when she was quite happy to receive an "I Voted!" sticker for her efforts ;)

She also had her first official play date, which she kind of pushed me into organizing for her after she and her friend had decided on their own that N. was going to come home with us after school, which led to some shenanigans several days in a row as I tried to get out the door with only my kid in tow. I figured if they were going to put that much effort into having N. come over, I could at least try to actually make it happen :) So we set up a play date for the next weekend, and Josie was so excited for N. to come over after their naps that Josie barely slept and then she came out of her room on her own afterward (still a rare occasion). They were both a little shy at first, until a switch suddenly flipped and they both started running back and forth, from where we were in the sun room to the living room to bounce off the couch there, screaming with glee the whole time. They did very well playing together, and once Audra got back from her walking nap with Ryan, they included Audra to some degree as well - N. was enthralled with her, and Josie suddenly started laying more claim to "her baby" than she normally does ;)
We also had some friends over for dinner one night, and Josie had a lot of fun playing with their kids, particularly the youngest, who is about a year younger than Josie. They stuck together, running around and doing stickers, then running races outside in the dark too... which was fun until Josie inevitably fell. I had been thinking about turning off her nightlight in her room, but after that experience and her plowing right into the door when the light turned off in the garage one night, I'm thinking she's perhaps not ready for that yet. Anyway, we were all outside toasting marshmallows, which she turned down at first, then decided that she would try after the oldest of the kids explained exactly what a s'more was to her. After eating a couple, she was quite thankful that he had convinced her to give them a try ;)

Speaking of sweets, Halloween just about drove us crazy. Josie is normally a very good eater, but we couldn't quite find a satisfactory way to deal with the candy she got for Halloween. She was fine with only having one piece a day, but no matter if she had it before, after, during, or nowhere near a meal, she devolved into basically taking a "no thank you" bite of each thing on her plate for her actual meals and then calling it good. I took several passes through her candy to thin it out (gradually leaving her with one of each thing and bringing the rest to work), and it still took over a month to get through all of it... and with her annoying eating, it seemed to take all the longer. But then she would also decide whatever I was eating was infinitely more appealing than the (usually comparable) food on her plate, and tried to convince me through flattery to give her my food ("I like your carrots, Mommy, they're so beautiful").

We also had our very first parent-teacher conference last month, which Ryan went to (and recorded for me) while I stayed home with the kids. Her teacher confirmed that Josie is doing very well, and does a good job advocating for herself. She's doing particularly well with her letters, and can now write "Josie", "Mommy", and sometimes our last name on her own ("Audra" is taking a bit more time!), and a favorite pastime lately has been for her to announce different words for us to spell so that she can write them.
Menus are much more interesting now, as she pointed out different words for us to try sounding out together. She also likes finding letters in different ways (e.g., a "J" formed from a piece of spaghetti), and is having fun picking out the letters she recognizes in signs. She also seems to have a quota for pictures (or fans) she must make in a day, since each day we end up bringing a pile of paper home in her backpack. But it's hard to mind when her pictures are so adorable (and happy!) :)
Josie seems to be on the cusp of "getting" puzzles now, since she started doing so much better just over a matter of a few days with matching up colors to figure out how the pieces fit together. She also continued to be really into blocks last month, building lots of castles and telling me it was for "decoration" for my birthday - and one time she added to that by saying she had to go get food for my birthday upstairs in her kitchen. When I told her she didn't have any food up there, she put her finger under my chin, said "I promise, I have real food in my kitchen," then flounced off to the stairs. Well then.
Josie has been very good about sharing things with Audra lately (as long as it's on her terms!), and has just been very sweet with her in general. She has been telling Audra she loves her and gives her hugs without any prompting (which Audra still isn't too sure about, probably because they usually resemble a headlock), she squealed over how cute Audra's little baby feet were with me, and she really liked being able to hold Audra's sippy cup for her as she drank from it.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[School pictures!]
[Hanging out in the bathtub, naturally]
[Lots of Thanksgiving goofy faces]
[When Josie realized a chili pepper was not a little carrot :( ]

Friday, December 26, 2014

42 Weeks

As of this week, Audra has now been an outside baby longer than she was an inside baby :)

In addition to that milestone, she also took her first unassisted steps! :)  Ryan stood her up a few feet away from him, and while she normally stands for a couple of seconds on her own before dropping down to crawl towards him, several times she instead took a handful of steps on her own - it was adorable to see how proud she was of herself! :) Alas, no pictures or video, though, since she wouldn't do a repeat performance once I grabbed my camera. She is also starting to cruise now, walking herself around with the help of our furniture.

What else? I'm becoming even more convinced that she is saying her first words. She very clearly said "da" ("duck"?) as I brought her up to her duckies picture the other day, although if her "ah-da"s are actually her saying "Audra", then that one's really the winner as her first word since she's been saying that for months.
[Ah-da! and some cruising]

We gave the ok to daycare to start giving her solids there - we had been holding off until we could introduce more foods ourselves so we could watch her for allergies (so far, she just appears to have a contact reaction to garlic) and until we felt more confident in her ability to feed herself without scaring her caretakers (she still gags quite a bit, which is perfectly fine but can look like choking). We had already introduced most of the foods they feed there, so we sent along a list of foods to avoid for now, but just decided to let them feed her instead. We'd rather her feed herself rather than be spoonfed, but she really, really wants to eat people food with the other kids, so we're going with it for now, and continuing to have her feed herself at home at least. We also started brushing her teeth (just with water), and she's actually pretty good about it. She lets us do it for the most part, then will try to brush them herself too (and actually, she tries to brush her own hair whenever she gets her hands on Josie's brush - so cute!). I also have a newfound appreciation for her toothbrush, since it entertained Audra the other night for long enough for me to actually be able to clean up the kitchen without her ever-so-helpfully climbing into the dishwasher like she normally does.
We went to another holiday party on Saturday, which was really nice since it was a neighborhood party that did not entail buckling any children into the car :) We've been in our house for a couple of years now and have really only met a handful of our neighbors, so it was really fun to get to know more of them - especially the ones with other kids around Josie's and Audra's ages ;) Audra is in the process of dropping down to one nap a day (usually 3 hours, around 11am-2pm), but had napped around 9am that day so her second nap was pretty late. The party had started at 3pm, so I sent Josie and Ryan on ahead until I finally woke Audra around 4:30pm. The party was just up the hill from us and a few doors down, so that seemed close enough that I decided to just stick Audra in the carrier and walk it. How quickly I forget 1) how out of shape I am, and 2) just how steep that hill is. I was huffing and puffing the whole way up it, which Audra found highly amusing :) She did well at the party, making her happy squishy face at people as she rode around on Ryan's shoulders. Then we all piled on the tractor and rode it back home, with Josie yelling "this is so fun!" and Audra swatting at my hair in amusement :)

We had Christmas with the local side of my family on Sunday, which was also really fun. My mom, aunt, brother, and sister-in-law all came over for presents and tea/snacks in the morning. We dressed Audra up as an elf, and she helpfully sat on presents and tried to eat everything... until she discovered that she could actually see out of the windows in the sun room, and then she spent a good part of the time banging on the window and licking her reflection.
Audra had started getting a little fussy that afternoon, and then that evening she was very upset and wasn't able to get back to sleep after nursing around 10:30pm. We cycled through trying to nurse her, walk her, and just hold her for the next hour or so, before realizing that she probably had an ear infection (given the cold she had had all week, and the goop she had started having in her eyes). I gave her some Tylenol then, and she finally fell asleep in the carrier with Ryan for maybe half an hour before nursing back to sleep in bed and then having a relatively normal rest of the night. She seemed almost back to normal in the morning, but I still brought her to her pediatrician's walk-in hours anyway, just to double-check... and, sure enough, her left ear had some fluid in it but didn't look infected, but her right one definitely was infected. So now she's on amoxicillin (which she HATES now, in contrast to when she would suck it out of the syringe herself when she was last on a few months ago) and is doing much better.

She is also over 25lbs now, cut her two bottom teeth on either side of the middle teeth, and is starting to get some swelling in her gums where her molars will be coming through, perhaps sooner rather than later. Weee :)

Besides a few rough nights of sleep due to her congestion/coughing and ear infection, she had a few awesome nights last week, only waking 2-3 times some nights (with 4+ hour stretches), and falling back to sleep several times with me just patting her back.

And finally, here is what (I think) is a hilarious video of Audra figuring out exactly how to work Roomba for her purposes. Of course, now that she's figured this out, it's even harder to keep her away from what is now her FAVORITE TOY EVER, despite my attempts to explain to her that it is actually a very expensive (yay craigslist) complex bit of robotics that is the only way I'm able to keep our floors relatively clean.
Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Sometimes she just topples over and lays there like a turtle]
[Helpful hands pulling her back up :)]

Saturday, December 20, 2014

41 Weeks

Audra has decided that her new goal in life is to be responsible for our power bill :) Now that she's gotten pretty good at turning off lights, she really just wants us to carry her around (with her finger outstretched) so she can turn off any and all lights she comes across.
Audra has really just been so much calmer and more pleasant lately (my "Wonder Weeks" book tells me we are in another "sunny" phase, although I suspect the 3-hour naps she took both Saturday and Sunday played a big role too!), and it's so cool to see the more playful side of her personality coming through now. She really likes my phone charger, and raced to grab it one day when she woke from her nap - I grabbed her around the belly and instead of getting upset that I thwarted her (like she normally does), she just erupted into giggles before flopping over onto her back like a turtle. She is also just delighted whenever she finds an errant pacifier laying around the house, although she doesn't actually want to suck on it... oh no. Instead she likes to hold it out to Ryan before changing course and offering it to me instead. We've said the word "psych!" more times lately than probably anytime since the '80s ;)

Audra hasn't said her first word unprompted yet, but will usually mimic us if we say "baba" or "dada" (she's still not too sure about "mama"). However, when I asked her where her duckies were the other day, she looked right over to where they are and then said something that suspiciously sounded like "duck". What are these duckies? Only a Warhol-esque picture of a bunch of ducks that kind of creeps me out but that she inexplicably LOVES. It's right next to her closet, and her face just lights up whenever we go in that general direction, so we usually have to make a stop at her duckies so she can pat at them and attempt to rip the picture off the wall.
As it turns out, Audra also loves bacon (which is actually stuck to her lip in the duckies picture above), and yogurt. Ryan gave her only a tiny bit of his yogurt since we're still holding off on really introducing any foods to her directly that she doesn't tolerate me eating yet, but as soon as she had a taste, she was just about mauling Ryan to try to get more.

We went out to another holiday party last weekend, which she did really well at. She only fussed a little bit in the car on the way there and back (despite it being about a 20 minute drive in the afternoon/evening), and was quite entertained with all the commotion and people watching that she could do at the party. And while she just about got whiplash frantically looking back and forth at everything/everyone when we first got there, she felt comfortable enough (or overwhelmed enough?) to let other people hold her too. She normally is pretty shy at first - even around family - but she was doing so well that she was able to be passed around a bit :)
In kind of a related vein, Audra has been doing really well with going to bed later the last few nights. This is just a temporary situation, but so that I can work on Christmas-related stuff, we've been going upstairs to the guest room (i.e., baby play room, since it's the only carpeted room with a door in the house) after dinner each night until she gets fussy, so she's been going to bed around an hour later from normal. She also seems more sensitive now with how we interact with her - if I say "ow" a little too excitedly or "no" a little too sharply, her lower lip immediately drops and the tears start.

Her sleep continued to be going well enough, although I think we're heading into another rough phase as she's about to cut a lower tooth and she's coming down with a cold. But until then, I've been enjoying 4-hr stretches of sleep :) Lately she's been trying to nurse while laying on her belly, which doesn't work all that well, but if it does and she's able to fall asleep on her belly, she tends to sleep a little better/longer than on her back. I've also finally admitted to myself that I do actually like sleeping with her - I like having her close by me and to be able to easily comfort her and support her at night... although I also have to say that feeling goes away kind of quickly when she has a rough night ;) But if I really wanted to change the situation, I would certainly be trying harder than I am right now - but despite any complaints I have about bed-sharing, I am still making the choice to do it, and I do still think it's the right decision for her (and me) right now. As I've been saying, we'll revisit this at 12 months (although I've started to push this off to 18 months lately... we'll see).

The nights seem to break into three main categories now: a good night (where she sleeps longer stretches and is able to get back to sleep on her own at least once), a bad night (where she wakes a million times, needs help getting back to sleep each time, and/or wants to nurse the whole night), and a "just chuggin' along" night (where she has a decently long stretch of sleep but wakes about every 2 hours besides that, and needs help getting back to sleep almost every time she wakes). I actually prefer the "just chuggin' along" nights - which happen the most frequently anyway - since good nights make me get my hopes up too much the next night that I'll get more sleep again (and it's harder to go back to a "normal" amount of night wakings after a good night), while it's probably fairly obvious why I don't prefer bad nights ;)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Doubling the use of our trivets for the year ;)]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

40 Weeks

Last week was unexpectedly dramatic, as Audra came down with... something. She felt pretty warm and was acting quite sick on Thursday (making me almost too scared to fall asleep that night), although her temperature never registered much above 99 degrees (and, oddly enough, her hands and feet were freezing and blotchy). Her fever broke around 2am that night, and she seemed to be doing better on Friday, although she had a very inconsistent low grade fever throughout the day. Her temperature was completely fine on Saturday, except then we noticed what looked like a rash developing along her hairline. The rash was apparently very itchy, and she scratched up her face pretty badly and had troubles sleeping Saturday night since she was so itchy. By Sunday, the rash had spread down her face and her torso, so I took her to spend some quality time at Urgent Care that morning. The doctor seemed to think the rash looked the most like an allergic reaction to something she had come in contact with, but given the preceding fever, thought she might have roseola instead.

She slept hard that night (3-hour stretches and barely moving whenever I shifted), and we kept her home on Monday since her rash hadn't cleared up yet. She was super thrilled with Ryan in the morning, then good for me when I relieved Ryan at lunch-time (even letting me get in an hour of work over lunch!). She really does like the bathtub for some reason, so we hung out in the bathroom for quite a while before she took an almost unprecedented 3-hour nap (and I got a lovely nap in as well!).
[Eating the bathroom rug... sigh]
Tuesday her rash was completely cleared up, but she had her 9-month appointment anyway, so Ryan brought her to that... where she apparently screamed the ENTIRE appointment. The doctor was unconcerned with her rash, thought she had an ear infection, and gave Audra a shot (and now she's all caught up with her vaccines again). Since Audra wasn't exactly being helpful in letting the doctor see her ears, we think she might not actually have an infection, since she just was not acting like her ears were bothering her. So we held off on giving her the antibiotic (since it messes up her system so badly), and several days later now, she still seems fine.

Audra continues to get more playful, which is awesome! She started playing peekaboo, and will cover her face with a towel, burp cloth, etc., before pulling it off with a big grin on her face. She hasn't quite figured out what part of her face she's supposed to cover though, and will sometimes just hold something up to her chin before pulling it away to wait for the resultant claps from me :) She also has started to hand us things, like one night when she handed her slipper to Ryan... who handed it to me... and I handed it back to (a delighted) Audra to repeat the cycle several more times :) She also, rather randomly, started curling her lip up and snorting like a pig when she's especially happy. Happy is good, although (and I say this with love) I was slightly disturbed by the fact that I found the opportunity to use the word "porcine" for the first time, and it was in reference to my adorable daughter ;)
In a very promising development, I've discovered we can redirect some of Audra's vocal energy to some degree. A few times when she started screaming, I answered her with some babbling, which she (thankfully) picked up and started repeating back to me. This only has worked so far when she's screaming just to make noise (not because she's upset), but at least loud babbling isn't quite as ear-piercing as screaming :) Speaking of which, we discovered one way in which the girls are exactly the same this week - their screams. Audra was trying to grab a toy Josie was holding, so Josie screamed at her - which is maybe not the most useful reaction, but they are already pretty well-matched physically, since unless Josie is willing to actually get up and leave, Audra can actually wrench things right out of her grasp. Anyway, Audra sat back, looked at Josie for a second, then very deliberately screamed back at her - at the exact same pitch. It almost didn't even sound like they were both screaming, it was so perfectly matched. I found this hilarious.
Audra continues to work on her walking, and although she has certainly gotten speedier (as long as she's holding onto someone), she only tried to take a step on her own once, and promptly fell down. She is starting to step on things though, lifting her leg up and experimenting putting her foot on other things (like toys or rungs on the kitchen stools) or in things (like her toy box). I assume this is part of the whole learning process, as she learns how to control her body better. In the meantime, she has one more method at her disposal for abusing her toys.
[Walking around at the birth center's holiday party]
Oh! And Audra did her first "joke" last week :) One night she didn't fall asleep right after nursing, so I laid there watching videos on my phone, waiting for her to settle down so we could try again. She joined me by laying down next to me with her head on my pillow for a while. Suddenly she sat up, and I saw her face looming over me in my peripheral vision. I didn't look at her right away, and she continued hovering there until it got awkward enough that I finally cut my eyes over to see what she was doing. As soon as she saw me look at her, she busted out laughing and then gave me a kiss (i.e., put her mouth on my nose). This was the first time she did something that she found funny, rather than just laughing at something we've done. Silly girl :)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[(Not) helping me with laundry]
[(Not) helping me with Roomba's charger]

Saturday, December 6, 2014

39 Weeks

Last week was Audra's first Thanksgiving :) Anytime there are a bunch of willing arms to hold her and food to eat, she is generally a pretty happy camper, so she had a great time :) Although she did have a contact reaction to some of the food smeared on her face, but we're not really sure what caused it since there was so much food involved :-\ But we washed her face off and the redness cleared up eventually without any other issues, so that's good at least.
[With my brother and sister-in-law]
[Having a good talk with Ryan's dad]
Audra seems to be developing some food preferences now, with hummus and really any kind of meat being at the top of the list, and green beans being towards the bottom (given how quickly they sail over the side of her tray). In addition to trying just about every Thanksgiving dish that didn't have dairy in it, she also helped Josie with her meal when we went out to eat that weekend, and had salmon, potatoes, and cauliflower without any problems. This kid just loves to eat, and it shows - I noticed the other day that her belly roll over her pants was actually casting a shadow ;)

Ryan and I got a greenhouse kit a couple of weeks ago, so we took advantage of both being off work the day after Thanksgiving to put it together.... except, 8 hours later, there was still a lot more work left to do on it. So with some help from Ryan's parents watching the kids on Sunday, and going out with one or both of the kids a couple of times over the weekend, we were able to get it as done as we can right now (we're still stuck on the window and door installation). Audra did super just hanging out in the carrier (as long as we kept moving!), providing encouragement for Ryan (by yelling DADADADADA!), and then helping do quality control inspection once we got all the panels installed.
Audra is maybe starting to wave - or at least, is capable of doing the motion now, since she's deliberately opening and closing her fist. We're thinking of doing some baby sign language (just a handful of the more functional signs, like "milk", "food", "more", "all done"), and since that kind of waving is pretty similar to the sign for "milk", we're trying to teach her some signs now. She is also starting to throw books (and whatever else I give her) over the side of the change table as a game, since she'll immediately toss it over and then will give me a quizzical look (like "oh, look over there, however did that happen?") until I pick it up and give it back to her to throw again :)

For sleep, she did a few 3-hour stretches overnight, and is doing pretty well with naps at school (weekends are still a bit hit-or-miss). She's usually able to get herself back to sleep on her own at least once overnight without nursing, although it can be a bit harrowing for me to give her the opportunity to try, because she'll basically push herself up to crawl while she's mostly still asleep, falling over and laying still for a couple of seconds before getting back up again, and doing that a few times before finally going back to sleep after one of her collapses (or, alternately, getting more upset, which is when I take over again and nurse her back to sleep). She also tolerated not going for an evening walk/nap pretty well a couple of days during the week, so hopefully her ability to stay awake for longer is coinciding neatly with winter, when it's not quite so convenient for Ryan to take her outside in the cold and dark for walks.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[The new favorite place to hang out]
[Our little helper]
[After Audra painstakingly styled my hair for me - this is actually the front of my head!]