Wednesday, April 29, 2015

13 Months

3/5/15 - 4/4/15

Audra's 13th month marked her worst illness so far. Just as the weather got a bit nicer and I thought we had made it through the winter pretty well (with many sicknesses, but at least a few breaks in between), then she came down with a really bad virus.

Before that, though, I had brought her to the pediatrician for her 1-year well baby appointment. Audra measured in at 28lbs 9oz, 33" tall, and 18 1/4" head circumference, which tracks pretty well with her previous measurements: so she's still off the charts for weight and height, and her head is in the 75-90th percentile. She also got her hemoglobin level checked, which was good (12.5 gm/dl). The doctor said the ~5 words that Audra tries to say is good, and seemed happy with Audra's eating and nursing, was completely unfazed by our sleep arrangements, and also agreed to postpone the 1-yr vaccinations (which we only would have done MMR anyway, and saved the others for a separate visit) until the rash on Audra's back cleared up, since it was clear her immune system was already dealing with that and we didn't want to add new vaccines on top of that.

And then two nights later, Audra (and I) had an absolutely horrendous night of sleep, when she woke up upset about every hour at first, then was basically up from 1:30-4:30ish, coughing, nursing, crying, crying, crying, falling asleep but immediately waking up coughing again. It was awful. She was just burning up overnight too - I could feel the heat emanating off just her hair. So I gave her Tylenol around 2am, which seemed to only marginally help. She still cried as she was coughing, had some spots on her tongue in the morning on Sunday, and had goop coming from both eyes, with one even gooped shut. Ryan and I stayed home with her (tag-teaming so we could each work a bit) Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as she continued to be super fussy, with lots of coughing, congestion, and eye goop. She even threw up for the first time, after a crying fit that abruptly ended when she fell asleep sitting up, and when I picked her up to move her to a more appropriate sleeping location, I guess that jostled her just enough that her stomach full of phlegm revolted :-\
[Booger snots]
[Eyes gooped shut]

Audra barely ate solids while she was home with us and still slept horribly, but she did well nursing the whole time (thank goodness), and was starting to have longer and longer stretches when she was content and able to start playing again, so we sent her back to daycare on Thursday. I think they knew how far behind at work Ryan and I were (and that I had a full day of meetings that day) and were trying their best to take care of her for us, but it became very apparent when Ryan brought her home that she really should have stayed home, as she basically just laid on the floor whimpering until I could get her off to bed :( Ugh, I still feel bad about sending her to daycare, and this is one of the few times that I think I made the wrong decision with trying to balance work with family. But then, naturally, she perked back up as soon as I tried to nurse her down that night, which is what she had done the night before too, and part of the reason we had sent her to daycare, since she had happily played on her own for a good two hours before she finally agreed to go to sleep around 10:30pm.

We had talked to a doctor at the beginning of Audra's whole illness, who said it just looked (and sounded) like a bad virus, but after yet another horrible night of her mostly being awake from 1:30-5ish as she kept coughing or just waking up, I brought her back to her regular doctor that Friday. They also thought it was just a bad virus, but saw that she had a double ear infection and her blood oxygen level was a bit low too. So we put her on amoxicillin and attempted nebulizer treatments, but luckily her wheezing cleared up pretty quickly because she got so upset about the nebulizer that we only did it a couple of times since she fought it so hard that she wasn't inhaling much of the medication anyway. The next day she finally seemed like she was on the mend - still plenty congested and coughing, but at least sleeping somewhat better and eating and drinking more normally again. And by her follow-up appointment a few days later, she was almost completely better.... including her back rash, which had completely cleared up while she was most sick. I guess that was a silver lining of her immune system having to kick into overdrive because of the virus, so... yay?
[Still sick, but finally feeling a bit better]

Besides all that, we had a pretty good month :) Just as I'd suspected/fervently hoped would happen, her sleep started improving almost as soon as she turned one, so she began waking less frequently, got back to sleep more readily on her own without nursing, and even slept on a cot at daycare for a couple of hours on her own :) She even had a night where she only woke twice, which was very exciting... except for the fact that then she was up for the day earlier than normal. She was moving around a bit and I thought she was resettling herself, until she suddenly reared up and landed on my mouth to give me a (toothy) kiss :) We also upgraded from the futon we had been sleeping on, so now we're on a full-size memory foam mattress (which will eventually be used for her "big girl" bed) on the floor. This is a huge improvement as far as I'm concerned, since it's so much more comfortable and I'm no longer waking from the pain in my hips and legs if I fall asleep on my side.
Audra has been just so much happier and more content playing by herself lately, although she does throw some pretty ridiculous temper tantrums if I tell her no or take something away from her. She'll just lay herself down on the floor - sometimes on her back so she can kick her legs, sometimes on her belly so she can apparently bang her nose against the floor - and scream and carry on... until she sometimes abruptly stops, and then is perfectly fine again. Given this (and just how infrequently we actually see tears from her, or hear her genuinely sad/hurt feelings cry), it's pretty clear that much of her crying is less due to emotional distress now and more just to express her displeasure. And apparently she never does this at daycare, so that's nice (but not all that surprising!).

Anyway, she has spent many a busy morning moving things from place to place and playing more independently with the various toys (or non-toys) in the house. She really impressed us with how quickly she figured out the jack-in-the-box, and how dexterous she is, as she's able to not only stuff the jack back in the box herself, but she can turn the crank to make the music go, and knows that when she's ready for the jack to pop out, that she can just manually release the catch herself ;) Speaking of her dexterity, she just loves snaps and buckles, and will happily work on anything she can get her hands on for an impressive amount of time.
[Occupying herself by snapping together all the straps on her carrier]

Audra and Josie have been hugging and kissing each other more, and playing together more lately, chasing each other and playing their own version of hide-and-seek/peekaboo in the kitchen cart. And while it's so nice to see them have fun together and enjoy how hard they can make each other laugh, it ends in tears probably a majority of the time still, as they sometimes play too rough. I imagine/hope they'll work it out eventually, though, and until then, we have touching videos like the one below, that I abruptly ended as Audra attempted to forcibly remove Josie from the cabinet by pulling her out by her hair :-\
Audra also continues to show a lot of interest in her surroundings, and she especially likes the decals on the walls of her room now - she'll point to each thing individually so that we can name them and make the appropriate sound, with her favorite probably being the bees ;) She just laughs and laughs when we buzz at her, and she'll sometimes attempt to buzz too :) She is also definitely saying "hi" and "bye" at the appropriate times now (complete with waving), and is starting to mimic us more, like when she helps me fluff my pillow at night or pretends to put on lotion with me.

After being a little less enthusiastic about solids for a couple of weeks, she has really been eating more lately. We did fine after testing strawberries a few times, so we're both able to eat those now :) I think it's just eggplant and dairy that's left on my "avoid" list now, although I've been starting to reintroduce dairy too. Now that Audra is (usually) only napping once a day and is (usually) no longer a mess in the evenings, we've been able to go out all together for lunches and dinners more, and restarted family dinner night on Sundays with Ryan's family. She is just ridiculous/amazing, though, as she shovels in food with both hands, and eats more than Josie on more than the occasional outing. We've also had some success with her eating more vegetables, after we started playing the biting game that we used to do with Josie (and which may be at least in part why Josie still likes asparagus so much). So now Audra will readily eat asparagus, baby corn, whatever she can bite down on as we pretend to struggle and strain to pull it back out of her mouth :)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[She had some serious playing to do with the owl puppet]
[Climbing, as usual]
[She seems to be drawn to sunbeams :)]
[She was quite upset that she couldn't use the spoon or eat the berries on the oats container]

Friday, April 3, 2015


It looks like I broke my streak of only being up to a month late for the monthly updates, since it's now April and I'm just now getting to write the February Josie update :( The March update will follow... sometime.

The big excitement from February was that we did a spending challenge ("Frugal February"), so that led to some changes from our normal routine. We usually eat out for every lunch and dinner on the weekends, and are pretty quick to make use of our Amazon Prime subscription, so we decided to curb all discretionary spending for February... meaning, no eating out (unless it was free, so birthday parties (with presents bought in January) were ok), no clothes, no costs of any kind beyond groceries and other necessities. Naturally, things immediately started breaking (the greenhouse, my phone, the kitchen faucet, Ryan's car), but beyond that, it went really well and was a bit easier than expected. It made us take a much closer look at what (and how much) we're eating at restaurants, as Ryan did all the cooking on the weekends for us, and will hopefully make us think twice before we buy whatever the latest thing is that we've decided we need from Amazon.

We also made good use of the pool passes my brother and sister-in-law gave us for Christmas, with Ryan and Josie going swimming nearly every evening and the entire family going on the weekends. As it turns out, Audra's skin reacted pretty badly to the chlorine, so she and I skipped the last weekend once we finally made that connection, but our goal with Josie was just to get her more comfortable with the water and it seemed like that definitely happened over the course of the month. So she went from crying just about every time her face got wet to being able to go underwater -- with her eyes open! -- and grab rings from the bottom of the pool :) She doggie-paddled a few feet on her own, but that's about it so far on actually swimming, but she blows bubbles and is starting to figure out how to move her arms and legs to be able to stay afloat, so we'll see how much more she improves once we're at the lake for a week this summer :)

February was also Josie's first full month in Pre-K. The first few dropoffs didn't go super well, with her quite upset - while she willingly walked away from me, she was slumped over and dejected, which just broke my heart :( A boy from the older Pre-K class also called her a baby during her first week, and perhaps I was already overly sensitive about her age since I was/still am second-guessing our decision to move her up to Pre-K when she was a bit young for Preschool anyway, but I totally told on that kid and he got a talking-to by the teacher :-\ Dropoffs started going much better after the first week, though, and her teachers continue to assure me that she is fitting in very well with her class, academically and socially, so it seems she'll do all right. In fact, they were quite impressed by her attempts to sound out and spell different words on her own, and her interest in writing different words, as she asks for help spelling anything she can think of.
[Poor Audra is crying in most of Josie's pictures :-\]

As seen above, Josie had been working on trying to spell "Audra" but kept forgetting the "d", but she can proudly spell it correctly now, and has moved on to learning her and Audra's middle names :) She does like to write every name she can spell on her papers, so -- also as seen above -- her "name" is usually "Josie Mommy Daddy Audra" at the moment :) She also continues to enjoy the "kitty game", which has led to some days where she insists on only communicating via meows. She has extended the game so it's not just her playing, though, as she'll now ask "Who wants to be my kitty or doggie, raise your hand!" and then we all have to volunteer. I'm usually the kitty, Audra is the doggie, and Ryan is.... the treehouse. Hey, he picked it. I also walked into a whole herd of baby kitty cats crawling around when I picked her up one day from school, although it wasn't clear if all of the girls played that game anyway, or if Josie was the/an instigator.

The weather was a bit crazy in February, since it ranged from Josie being able to actually play outside at school (they haven't sent them out when there's been snow on the ground this year) to it being cold enough that our pond froze. So she gets to play on a new playground now, since she moved up to a different playground for Pre-K too. This one has a tire swing, which appears to be her current favorite, although it also caused a reappearance of her motion sickness since she threw up after spinning around on it a little too much :( So we had a talk about recognizing when it's time to get off the tire swing, and the three ideal locations to aim her throwup (including the barf bag I've kept in my car in case of emergency, given how bad my motion sickness has been ever since my pregnancies). And then a week later, we had almost a foot of snow and Josie got to make her first snow angel. She did not like it one bit at first because she got all wet, but after putting on her snow pants she was dropping every couple of steps to make a new snow angel :)
[Ryan inexplicably shoveling the pond, and Josie making yet another snow angel]
As far as developmental stuff, Josie suddenly seemed to have gotten very good at her puzzles and word search games, so I initially suspected she had just memorized them but now I think it just clicked for her and she "got" them better. She also legitimately beat me at a memory game, although shortly after that she realized if she laid out the cards that she could just put the matching pairs right next to each other, which makes it so we're more consistently evenly matched but also makes the game significantly less interesting (for me, at least - I suspect she's ok with it). Josie also seems to be impressively good with delayed gratification - we suspect she'd ace the marshmallow test ;) She gets a cookie every Friday from school, and she'll hold her cookie the whole way home (since we don't normally eat in our cars) without trying to sneak a single bite. She just seems to like to hold onto whatever it is I've told her to wait on (food, stickers, whatever), and seems to be fine dealing with any temptation.

We also tried some different foods for February, especially since we were eating at home much more than usual. We've been putting more thought lately into the quality and source of the food we're consuming, so in preparation for Frugal February, Ryan went out to a local farmer and picked up a whole bunch of different cuts of grass-fed and -finished pork and beef for us to experiment with. We've been reading more and more about how lard is not actually as bad as we've been taught it is, so one of my requests was for him to get some back fat so we could render our own lard... which led to me spending an absurdly long time cutting it away from the skin and then it becoming very apparent that I had severely underestimated how long it would need to be in the crockpot (we put it in around 4:30pm, and Ryan checked it several times overnight, finally considering it done around 3am). But now we have a couple containers of lovely white lard, which we've been happily (and deliciously) using for cooking ever since :)

We also learned the hard way that there is such a thing as too many cracklings. We had maybe a good-sized bowl full of solid bits left over after the fat had turned to liquid, so we fried those up and ate the whole bowl.... when a couple of bites for each of us probably would have been more than sufficient. Josie only had a few pieces and seemed to fare better than Ryan and me, as we felt a little gross the rest of the day and then barely ate any dinner. They were still delicious, we just need to pace ourselves a bit more! Also new for last month, given the abundance of snow we had available to us, I explained the nuances of eating snow to Josie (eat the snow that's white and doesn't have any footprints in it) and then that's pretty much all she wanted to do after that :) We gave snow cream a try too, and she certainly seemed to like it, since she kept adding to it and asking for seconds.

Josie also had plenty of funny things to say last month. I told her I loved her one morning, and she flatly answered "Good." Not quite the response I was expecting! She also called me out on my driving when I had stopped short and her head came forward off her seat - she said I wasn't following the rules, and "no, thank you" to making her head go like this.... and then demonstrated (repeatedly) her head falling forward. She got into it with Ryan one morning since she was being poky and not getting dressed, and it clearly stayed on her mind since she brought it up on her own in the car on the way to school. She told me that she got so mad at Daddy, and he was grumpy, angry, and roared at her (this was perhaps an overstatement). I suggested that she and Daddy hug after school and say I'm sorry for being grumpy and roaring and for not being a helper, and then they'll be ok, and she was like, naw, I'm ok now. Well, then. And finally, Ryan and I wearing smart watches has apparently rubbed off on her, since she yelled "ok, Google!" at her (pretend) watch on her wrist, and asked it if Chick-Fil-A was open :) 

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Helping Ryan with his yoga]
[The picture of innocence]
[Playing with a shoulder bone, naturally]