Monday, June 29, 2015


After the initial success of our "stop Josie's finger-sucking" campaign, April was marked by some setbacks, as Josie switched from her finger (which we had been taping to help remind her not to suck her finger) to her thumb, which she then refused to keep taped. She wholly stopped sucking her finger/thumb during the day, which is great, but then she seemed to just stop trying for nap and bedtime. While she tried to hide it at first, eventually the excuses started pouring out: she sucked her thumb at naptime because her friends were talking, then because she was talking, and then because her baby doll was talking :-\ So not only was she sucking her thumb, but then she wasn't napping, so we had more moody evenings filled with meltdowns. Sigh.

So, as I mentioned in Audra's 14-month update, we had Easter at our house again this year. Josie helped me dye eggs for the first time, and while they may not be Pinterest-worthy, they were fun to do together and we liked them :) We used those as part of the table decorations, along with some little napkin bunnies I had made (ok, those were from Pinterest ;) ). She did a good job hunting for her eggs, and at least this year she didn't insist on eating all of her food from eggs for the next week ;)
[Ready to start dyeing]

We are tentatively restarting Mommy/Josie outings, although we're trying to keep it more low-key this year so they will probably be more spontaneous than the planned outings last year that I loved but always seemed to stress me out. So Josie and I went to the local farm where we get our meat now, and we had a good time walking around and seeing all the animals. Josie was super excited about the animals (particularly the cats), and we pet the cows and the horses, got closer than I've ever been to a tom turkey (turns out I'm a little intimidated by them), and shared a nice little snack of a scone and San Pellegrino Limonata (Josie's choice, although she found it quite "spicy" ;) ). All of that, and yet I found it funny that the only picture I took was this one:
This is perhaps a bit cheesy, but I was surprised at the sense of kinship I felt with this hardworking mama (although I'm only feeding one!). I was cooing "oh, look at the babies!" in such a reverential tone that I think Josie was more than a little bit confused. ;)

Josie does tend to be very perceptive though. I read something that I found really moving (this, believe it or not), and I was perhaps tearing up towards the end, and she immediately noticed when I looked up and she asked me why I was sad. So I tried to explain that in addition to sad crying, mad crying, and happy crying, there's crying when you're so touched by someone's connection with an unexpected friend on the other side of the world -- all because of a stolen cell phone -- that you get a bit verklempt ;)

Josie's language skills just seem to be so much more complex again. She seems to be understanding more that the order of the letters in a word matter, especially one morning when she kept rearranging letters that spelled out "Olaf". I would read what it said and then tell her if it was a word or not (spoiler: most weren't), and I could almost see the light bulb go off for her as she kept rearranging and I kept trying to pronounce the results. She has also really been into counting lately. We counted to 100 (repeatedly) for nearly the whole (20-some minute) drive back home from the farm. I didn't even realize she could count that high until that moment (she tends to hold back a bit more at home, I think), and she did really well as long as I took the evens and she got odds, since the tens would still trip her up on occasion.

Josie continues to be a silly, fun kid. Her favorite words to describe others are "silly goofer" or "silly goosey". She had some big belly laughs one day when I pulled her tights off her sweaty foot and it made a rude  noise, so I asked her foot why it farted ;) We've settle on it being ok to use "potty words" at home, but not at school, since otherwise Ryan and I would be getting in trouble all the time with Josie, since we apparently use a lot of words that are considered potty words (which include anything in the construct of "[noun/adjective]head". Well, I guess it's never too early for her to learn the nuances  of code-switching ;)

She asked me to help her paint her car when she's a grown-up - she wants a silver car (which she's going to "flatten" first...?), painted with dark pink, dark purple, dark gray, and dark green. I am noting this here for posterity... we'll see if her tastes change once she's a grown-up :) She now has best friends at school, too... they change quickly, though, as I feel like I'm playing a never-ending game of catchup as she declares one of the kids at school as her "best friend", asks for them to come to her house, and by time the playdate comes around, she's already on to a new best friend she wants to come over. It's so cool to see the friendships blossom, though, and although Josie used to be slower to warm up when she'd first get to school, saying she needed more time before she could handle talking to her friends, she will now squeal and even hug her friends back :)

Since the weather was getting nicer out, we ended up doing a lot more outdoors stuff in April. Josie had fun celebrating Earth Day by planting kiwis and building a fence with her Aunt Alyson. We were finally able to plant out all the berries and fruit trees that had been delivered back in January, I believe. In accordance with instructions, we sheltered them from the wind by putting them in the greenhouse, and got them at least partially in the ground immediately to avoid the roots getting too frozen... and then the next week, we had a bad windstorm that basically destroyed the greenhouse, followed by some severely cold days and enough snow to bury the plants, since they were now no longer sheltered by the greenhouse. So we'll see how many survive in their more permanent locations, although some have even started budding out, so they're not dead yet!
[The bed for the kiwis]
[Our sad-looking greenhouse]
[The (multi-graft) cherry tree, and bags full of blueberry plants]
[Kicking off another season of underwhelming pictures of seedlings ;)]

And now that the weather is nicer again, we've also been granting Josie a little bit more freedom by letting her go outside for a little while on her own (ok, I'm still watching from the window, but she doesn't need to know that). She especially seems to like being out in the rain, and has taken some walks down the driveway with her umbrella, or will just swing and swing on her playset. She has also gotten more adventurous by hanging upside-down from the side of Audra's crib before she happily falls into the crib on her head. Josie read books to Audra a few times (which seemed to delight them both), and apparently Josie singing to her or holding her hand in the car are additional ways to keep Audra content :)

And finally, as an update on the work-front for me, just before I was asked to serve as the contracts lead for the integration effort (as mentioned here), I had started applying for other jobs since I had been certain that my function would be eliminated after my company was acquired. So I stopped applying (and withdrew my name from consideration from any companies I heard back from) as soon as I accepted the integration role, since I figured I was set... until I heard back from the one company for the one position I had been most interested in (contracts manager at Amazon). I would have always wondered "what if" if I didn't see that one through, so I ended up making it through multiple rounds of questionnaires, writing samples, and phone interviews, culminating in 4 hours straight of in-person interviews... before I think we mutually decided it just wasn't a good fit (the job sounded great, I just don't have the ability/desire to work more than 40 hours a week). But at least I won't wonder about that now, and the day after I heard back from Amazon confirming I didn't get the job, I went to my director and accepted the management position he had offered me instead :)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Yep, this one's my kid]
[Our geese came back! And had babies! And then abandoned one... :( ]

Monday, June 8, 2015

14 Months


Audra's 14th month was also her first Easter that she got to participate in. She was fascinated by the fact that her eggs opened and closed - let alone that they had food in them - and was quite happy running around, pointing and yelling at everything :)
Audra also got to wear some bunny ears, and although they didn't stay where they were supposed to, she still seemed to enjoy them.

Audra seems to be understanding so much more now. She does still hit a lot (although thankfully doesn't pull hair as much), but if I say, "gentle, Audra", she'll immediately start patting gently instead of whacking us. That said, she did throw a can of playdough at me when I didn't open it for her (with a rather defiant expression on her face), so she hasn't softened too much ;) She'll also climb on the bed herself if I point to it and say "go get on the bed", and one of her favorite tasks in the morning is to fetch Ryan's shoes for him when asked. She's learning names too... except for me. Ask her where "mama" is and she has no clue. But Ryan is instantly recognizable as "dada" to her, she'll pat her chest and say "Audra", and if we ask her where Josie or big sister is, she'll search out Josie wherever she is to yell at her :) She's charmingly insistent with saying "hi" to people (including complete strangers), and will keep saying it until someone acknowledges her... and even then, she'll probably say it and wave a few more times for good measure.

Her night-time sleep really improved, as she was mostly down to around 3 wakeups some nights (although she did only wake up ONCE one night!!) and starting to do some 5- to 6-hour stretches too. I think I'll start leaving her at night whenever she consistently is only waking once a night - since it just doesn't seem worth it to me to relocate if I'll be doing so multiple times a night - although I will miss her terribly when I do (and I'm sure the feeling is mutual), so I'm really not in any rush. The current setup is working well for us now, and it won't be for forever. I'd also miss ridiculousness like the one night when she was nursing for so long in her sleep that I finally unlatched her, and as soon as I did, her butt immediately shot up in the air and then she suddenly flung herself backwards on my chest. She apparently fell back asleep as she was airborne, since she slept through me uncontrollably giggling at how she was splayed like a starfish on me... until I apparently managed to fall asleep like that too.

Audra has also figured out how to get out of bed by herself, so when she wakes in the morning as I'm getting ready for work, she'll push the cushion blocking the way off the bed out of the way, then come screaming through the house to find me :-\ I do seem to have a certain flair for ruining things for her, since she'll be happily playing with Ryan or Josie, but as soon as I come in the room, she'll immediately start crying and want me to hold her. Again, I know this isn't for forever that she'll feel such an intense need to be close to me whenever I'm in sight, but it's still a little disheartening that I seem to inspire so much crying. She also has started attaching herself to my leg, so there have been many a night now that I've had to prepare dinner while doing a poor imitation of a three-legged race.
[Cooking her own dinner of My Little Ponies]

It would have been odd if we had gone a week without an illness in our household, so Audra obliged with some scary breathing issues and yet another ear infection. It seemed like she was just getting congested, so when daycare called to let me know that she was having problems breathing, I assumed it was like every other time she's had "problems breathing", and just her nose was stuffed up. But when I went to pick her up and her entire torso was moving with every breath and she just seemed to be laboring to breathe, I packed her right up and drove straight to urgent care. They suspected RSV, diagnosed an ear infection in her left ear, but strangely didn't seem that concerned about her breathing... perhaps because she was clearly not listless or blue or any other sign of decreased oxygen, and was in fact, I quote, "quite ornery". So we got to take another stab at doing nebulizer treatments at home with her, which went so much better this time than the month before, since the urgent care doctor recommended just holding it under her nose vs using the mask that she hated so much. We got a stronger antibiotic for her ear (since she had just had antibiotics for her last ear infection), but decided to give it a little more time before starting her on it, and instead did garlic mullein in her ear twice a day and monitored it with our otoscope. A couple of days later and her ear looked fine, so garlic mullein (and lots of massage around her ears) is quickly becoming our go-to way of heading off and treating ear infections.

It appears that I can eat everything again, at least in moderation. The last holdouts were eggplant and dairy, and while I still can't drink too much milk, that's now because of my own reaction to it rather than Audra's. But I had small amounts of eggplant without Audra having any issues, and with the same lack of any reaction when I ate butter, my life just got a whole lot better :) All I wanted was some butter and hopefully a milkshake in my near future, and that makes any burden of continuing to nurse seem much lighter :) I don't yet have any plans to wean her, but it looks like we will have to introduce cow's milk pretty soon because I've pretty much blown through the freezer stash. It seemed to happen all of a sudden, so I'm a little freaked out about it, but we had a good run and I know it's not the end of the world that we'll have to start supplementing. It just looks like it will happen a little sooner than I thought.
[Not much left of the freezer stash]

Audra continues to get more interested in books. She'll bring books to us to read to her more often now, but still seems to lose interest midway through... except when Josie read her a book. She was enthralled, and sat the whole way through an entire book :) She also seems to especially love it when Josie pushes her on the swing, and also when we buckled her into Josie's tractor and Josie drove the both of them around for a while. Audra has lots of hugs to give to Josie, but also lots of hitting - Audra just comes at her sometimes with her arms flailing, and slaps at Josie without any (recent) provocation. One night when Josie was innocently attempting to do some yoga, Audra was apparently grabbing everything she could get her hands on (including a pan lid) and hitting Josie with it :-\

And speaking of Josie, Audra wants to do everything like her big sister... or us, really. She loves to clean up after herself, tries to wipe her own mouth, and uses a fork for everything (so she officially uses a fork more than Josie at this point). She loves Josie's toys especially, and does a surprisingly good job playing with them.
[Cleaning up]

I had in my notes several times that Audra was "giggly", which, given the amount of screaming she normally does, is not a usual descriptor for her. But the sunnier side of her personality seems to be shining through more now. She has always been a picture of extremes, laughing super hard at just about everything but then also screaming even louder when she's displeased. But giggling is something new, and is utterly adorable :) She giggled when I just put my face really close to hers, giggled when Josie patted or kissed her, giggled when I was chasing Josie around while carrying Audra. Audra even has a "happy dance" now (entailing stomping her feet and some arm flailing), done usually when she first gets her shoes on, but also for the ceiling fan :)

Audra is starting to show some interest in drawing, as she drew a little with crayons and sidewalk chalk... before she went to her default approach of trying to eat them. I have never met a child more determined to eat non-food things before. She still eats paper, and has added dirt, rocks, and sticks to her "diet" as well, but at least will usually readily hand over whatever she's attempting to eat. She has gotten more opportunity to satisfy her apparent craving for dirt (seriously, she chews on it... ugh) now that the weather is nicer and we're able to be outside more consistently. She just really wants to be outside, and is usually so much happier out there... unless I'm outside too and not holding her at all times, of course. Then she screams. ;)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Yay! Clap clap]
[Audra approves of Ryan's summer haircut]
[Part of a series of Audra seeking out sunbeams]    IMG_3951
[Rather unimpressed with her breakfast]
[On the other hand, she was quite excited about her first popsicle...]
[...once she figured out how to eat it ;)]