Saturday, December 26, 2015


The big news for Josie for October is that she can read now! She has been trying harder to sound out words lately and was very excited to tell me that she was reading, and that she wanted to practice every day. However, she still mainly only seemed interested in trying to read books she was already familiar with, so I couldn't tell if she was actually recognizing the words on her own or just reciting from memory with the book as a prompt in case she forgot the words. But she was reading "The Cat in the Hat" one day with Ryan's mom, and since she was able to read it despite never having seen it before (as far as I'm aware, at least), that's enough evidence for me to believe that she can actually read now :)

Josie had a few days of crying when I dropped her off at school in the mornings, which is unusual for her (at least, when she's not going through some sort of transition at school). I don't know if they had been reading some monster books at school (since we don't really have any at home), but she had a newfound fear of "creatures". So she kept telling me she was scared of creatures, sometimes specifically dinosaurs, which I feel like I was only partially successful at assuaging her fears of. Dinosaurs were easy ("They're all dead now, so they can't come get you." "Oh."), but I didn't really know what to do with the generic "creatures". I was able to get her laughing once by trying to imagine what a scary creature could be and then making that creature ridiculous (yes, I just took a page out of Harry Potter - Riddikulos!), but I also wonder how much she was actually scared or how much she was just trying to get extra comfort... because it turns out that she had an earache at the same time, so I suspect she was feeling down and just wanted some cuddles, since her fear of creatures quickly dissipated once her ears were feeling better.

Josie's outfits that she picks out have always been a little outside the norm, which is fine, given her age and the fact that she hasn't been beaten down by conformity yet ;) But they've been more over-the-top lately, especially once she settled on her unofficial Friday outfit. She wears a uniform the rest of the week for school, but Friday isn't a uniform day, so she planned her Friday outfit all week: Elsa shirt under her blue polka dot dress, with a crown and her hair in an Elsa braid. I did put my foot down on her wearing that crown to school, but the rest she wore to school pretty much every Friday for at least a month.

[Wearing "fire color" headbands in honor of the firefighters visiting her school that day]

Maybe it's testament to how infrequently I get fancied up nowadays (and how infrequently we use the oven), but Josie burned herself for the first time in October. I was drying and straightening my hair (for the first time in Josie's lifetime), and despite me telling her not to touch my flat iron since it was hot, she found out the hard way just how hot it gets :( She grabbed it and immediately let go, but she was so calm about it I wasn't even sure at first if she had gotten burned. I put her hand under cold water and she seemed fine, but maybe 10 minutes later it was hurting her more. She had maybe a half-day of discomfort, but luckily seemed to heal from it quickly.

School is going well for Josie again, now that she has settled into the new classroom and routines. She even impressed her teachers so much with her description of fall (fall is the same as autumn, birds find food and go somewhere warm, animals find food and hide for the winter) that she got a letter home about it from her teachers and she got to bring home a little stuffed animal for the night. Josie was so excited about the latter in particular, and kept describing it as Henry, the tiny, cute polar bear, although she wasn't as keen on the fact that she'd have to return him to school the next day. She told me she wanted to "keep him forever and he would be a new toy for [her] and Audra... but no."

Josie does a good job helping at home now too. Along with clean-up time every evening, as we've been doing for a while now, she now knows to bring her plate, cup, and placemat over to the sink when she's done eating, and to hang up her backpack and sweatshirt and put her shoes in the closet every day after school. She is starting to put away her clothes after I wash and fold them, and she also changed the toilet paper all by herself for the first time, even putting it on the right way (i.e., over the top), after correcting it on her own :)

As I mentioned in Audra's post, we went to a pumpkin patch with my side of the family just before Halloween. Josie had a lot of fun on the jumping pillow, although she did want everyone to take turns so that she could jump on it all by herself for a little while (that didn't happen). Her little jumps were so funny though - she was jumping and jumping and yet barely made the pillow go down at all, like she was a little bird jumping on a crust of snow. She also loved all the different things to play on there (Jack O' Lantern playground, random blow-up cows), and liked her pear cider and her ridiculous lunch of a chicken sandwich with no condiments, a handful of pickles and onions, and a doughnut.

Given how much Josie liked the jumping pillow -- and the trampoline at Ryan's parents' house -- we decided to look into getting a mini trampoline for our house. After approximately 2 minutes of effort, I located one on craigslist and set up a time to go get it - triggering the most poorly thought-out craigslist pickup of my life so far. So the plans were for me to pick it up from a storage facility after work, which played out as me following a strange man (who probably had more than 100 pounds on me) into the deserted, gated storage facility (that locked from the inside too, as I found out later), at night. I realized that things were not as safe as they could be after I got out of my car, so we conducted the rest of the transaction with my finger on the trigger of the pepper spray in my pocket :-\ I also didn't think through how exactly this 6'-diameter trampoline was going to fit in my little car, so after trying every option to get it through a door, the perfectly-nice man ended up tying it on to the roof for me. So I finally made it home safely with this trampoline, and the girls loved it (jumping and falling and laughing and hugging each other), so it was all worth it :) Ha.

Josie decided she wanted to be a cheetah for Halloween this year, so that's what she was. She had a parade at school that afternoon, and then we went over to Ryan's parents' house afterwards to get the kids ready for their first time trick-or-treating together. I painted Josie's face again, and then we headed out in the neighborhood with the wagon, since we were anticipating that someone's little legs would give out at the furthest point away from the house... and although they probably would have, we don't actually know since both kids insisted on riding in the wagon the whole time between every house. Josie was so excited about all the candy she got, which Ryan and I were decidedly less excited about, since it basically triggers a month of negotiations as she doesn't do as well eating her regular meals since she's so focused on getting her one piece of candy each day. So it takes about a month to get through all of her candy that way, and that's with me skimming off probably half her candy, and her pretty freely sharing with me and Audra ;)

Josie also helped me carve pumpkins this year, and although she didn't especially like pulling out the slimy pumpkin guts, she certainly did love the roasted pumpkin seeds that were the result of that work ;) This was the first year that Josie picked her own design for her pumpkin, so I started going down the path that my dad did for my brother and me, of drawing up a selection of Jack O' Lanterns for her to choose from... and then I remembered we have the internet now ;) So Josie picked a (surprisingly scary) design off Google images, and I picked an owl for Audra, since she's still obsessed with owls, and then I got busy with the Dremel (which was also the first time I had attempted pumpkin carving with a Dremel vs a knife, and I'm pretty sure it was so much faster, but it also sent shards of pumpkin all over the kitchen and myself). They turned out pretty well, although, true to form, once Josie saw hers she decided it was too scary and asked to switch with Audra's instead.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Playing so nicely together]
[Silly girl]
[Having a moment with the cow]

[Playing with the "Yo" app, which literally just Yo's people, but we all are amused by it]

Saturday, December 19, 2015

20 Months


After the excitement of Audra sleeping through the night last month, we settled back down to more of her normal: waking anywhere from two to "many" times overnight. I was half-heartedly hoping that a switch would flip once she had slept through the night once, and she would just start sleeping through the night all the time. I also didn't really think it would happen, so I wasn't too disappointed when it didn't ;) She was also sick through most of October, so waking a bunch of times from coughing didn't help matters.

On the other hand, she is starting to wake up more calmly. Normally when she wakes up when I'm getting ready for work in my bathroom, she gets out of bed, turns off the fan, shuts the door, and then crosses the house to me - all the while, screaming at the top of her lungs. This is a slightly traumatic way to start the morning, so it's been a welcome change that she has done her whole routine and come to find me without crying at all... one time even coming in, giving me a hug, and then quietly laying down on the floor. She is not one for being still or laying down when she could be climbing on or dismantling something, so this was especially surprising to me ;)

And then on the other other hand, one morning she was just being a bear, and was screaming and yelling "my milk!" at me and wanting to nurse the second she got up... despite the fact that she had just been nursing up until the minute we got up. I put her off as long as my eardrums could handle it to try to finish up getting ready before nursing her, and then she was perfectly pleasant and happy again afterwards. And that right there is one reason we're "still" nursing (well, besides the bonding and nutritive aspects of it, etc. ;) ). While she does now sometimes accept hugs or books to help calm her down when she's upset, nursing is still the easiest and most effective reset button for her.

[This is what Audra looks like when she's saying "milk"]

More talking-related stories:
  • On the occasions when Audra does keep sleeping after I leave her in the mornings, I'll sometimes bring Josie with me to wake her up. One morning, Josie was saying something to her but Audra was just not interested in being woken up, so without even opening her eyes, Audra just told her to "stop it".
  • Audra is starting to say "dad-dy!" when prompted now (instead of "dada"), so Ryan tried to get her to say "mommy" and instead she yelled "milk!". 
  • She also is steadfastly refusing to even say "mama" now. She'll repeat everything else after us, but when I ask her to say "mama" she just says "dada"... I'm pretty sure she's just messing with me at this point ;)
  • Audra screamed in the car almost the whole way home one evening, and then abruptly stopped and announced "happy!"
  • Audra is helping with our routines now too, coming home one evening and yelling "Jojo! Backpack!" since she's so used to Ryan immediately yelling to Josie to put away her backpack.
Audra is suddenly more interested in electronics. While I wouldn't normally be excited about letting her watch TV or play with a phone, she was never interested in it before and getting a short break from the relentlessness that is taking care of Audra is most welcome (she is a most wonderful and impressive child, but my word, is she high-touch and so very busy), even if it's just to sit down and watch TV with her. So she has apparently learned that if one were to say "OK, Google" to a watch or the TV remote that magical things would happen... so now she grabs the remote or our watches and yells "Oh, Google!" and then whatever search term she's most interested in at the moment, usually owls or boats. Although it's never once worked for her yet, this is beyond adorable :)

We went to a pumpkin patch with my side of the family, and Audra had a wonderful time. She loved all the animals, but especially the goats, which she shouted "baa" at and fed them leaves. She was so thrilled with lunch that she kept bursting out into giggles, since she got to sit on the bench next us (rather than sitting in a high chair) and eat a pile of meat and pickles. This also marked the first time that I figured out (or really, attempted at all) to do a back carry with the carrier. Audra appeared to especially like the part where she was balanced precariously on my back, and wanted me to strap her in and let her out repeatedly. Due to the "balanced precariously" part of this exercise, we unfortunately had a different opinion on how much times we should undertake it ;)

This year was also the first time that Audra went trick-or-treating, and although it also seemed to be a bit soon for her to go (since how much candy does a 1.5-year-old really need, anyway?), she did have a great time anyway. She was a little unsure of the costumes at first, and preferred to stay in the wagon (where she inexplicably decided that she had to grab Josie's seat whenever she got out, so they just rotated seats for the first few houses), but then realized that she would get to ring doorbells, grab handfuls of crinkly stuff, and have people coo over her if she went with Josie, so then it was on.

Audra is definitely a kid who does better when she has a job, and so it's usually to everyone's benefit if she's able to be involved with an activity rather than trying to keep her away from it. So I've finally begun including her in certain chores, even if the chance of disaster is fairly high, like unloading the dishwasher... and she actually does a really good job with it (and no broken dishes yet!), handing me each item individually without too much distraction (usually announcing "here!" each time). She also is on point with throwing things out, which has been quite helpful to me to be able to give her my trash to throw away instead of Ryan (who is decidedly less enthusiastic when I do that to him ;), and getting her ready in the mornings seems to go a little more smoothly now that she's picking out her own shirts.

Audra managed to fall right on her nose on the side of the coffee table, and had brown blood coming out the rest of that day, which seemed fairly reasonable, but the blood seemed to increase two days later (still brown, but still). I brought her in to the pediatrician just to be on the safe side, she got checked out (and she is now a robust 34.4 lbs) and her nose appeared to be fine. However, since she was otherwise actually healthy, she finally got her MMR vaccine (which is first recommended at 12 months, but she was apparently sick enough for the last 8 months that this was the first opportunity she was healthy enough to get it). She only flinched a tiny bit for the shot itself, got a bit grumpy in the evening and said "ouchie" about the injection site on her leg, and went to bed a little earlier than normal that night, but that was really the full extent of her reaction. Josie had a tougher time with this shot in particular, and I naturally much prefer it if the fevers, swelling, rashes, whatever, are kept to a minimum after vaccines.

For as fearless as Audra is about most things, it always surprises me when she's actually scared of something. I brought her to the party store just before Halloween, which was apparently not the best idea for her, since she was scared of just about everything there (e.g., the giant blow-up Frankenstein, the ghosts hanging from the ceiling, etc.). We also randomly (and hopefully fortuitously) met the owner of a stable that's located just 10 minutes from us, so we went out to see his horses one weekend (and although I didn't secure a horse to ride yet, I'm hopeful for next year, when I assume I'll have a little more free time to start riding again). Audra was simultaneously intrigued and terrified of the horses, saying "neigh!" to them very excitedly, followed quickly by "neigh, bye!" and clinging to Ryan.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Charming as always]
[Mr. Potato Head mouth]
[Not entirely sure what's going on here]
[Getting attacked by a flower]

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Josie moved up to the Pre-K2 class at school in September. Almost her entire class moved up at the same time, so while it was a different class and teachers, we thought that transition might be easier than normal because the kids were the same. And while transition overall went better in the sense that she adjusted more quickly than she has previously, there were still several days of meltdowns in the evenings, and dropoff not going that well in the mornings. During one crying-filled evening, it came out that while she had napped at school (which is not that common for her anymore), she very sadly told me she wanted to go to Pre-K1, not Pre-K2...  :(

[Celebrating cultures parade at school]

Whenever things get shaken up at school (e.g., new class, new kids), Josie tends to act a little outside her norm at home too, and this transition was no exception. She started backtalking more, and flatly turning us down when we ask her to help, which is very unusual for her. She was also even more sensitive, and seemed to be struggling with doing the right thing when part of her didn't want to. Like the day she took away the egg shaker from Audra and Ryan mildly noted that that wasn't very nice - Josie burst into tears, ran to me to get a hug, and when I asked her if that was why she was crying (since she wasn't offering any other reasons), she said her head told her to be mean and take the egg shaker from Audra.

It's also possible Josie wasn't acting like herself since she wasn't feeling well. She felt warm for several days, although her temperature still showed as normal. But her emotional highs and lows were more pronounced, and in one particularly rough episode, she got upset with me because I didn't let her bring home the evening snack from school. So she kicked and screamed and refused to come with me out of her classroom, and then when I did finally manage to get her to the car, she curled up on the floor under Audra's car seat and cried and screamed and refused to get in her car seat. After a brief standoff, I ended up picking her up and putting her in myself, with more crying the whole way home, although she did finally calm down once Ryan got home. And then the next day, she was back to her usual sunny self, cheerfully and quickly leaving school with me without any issues... although she did do a re-enactment of how she had screamed on the car floor the day before. Even though it was just pretend this time, it was still too soon for my tastes, though. :-\

As I mentioned in Audra's last post, we drove up to Pennsylvania to visit our friends. Josie was so excited about the "tree mountains" we went up and over on the way there (they are indeed mountains covered with trees, although I suspect Josie thought it was the trees themselves that were so tall, rather than the ground in which the trees were growing). Josie had a lot of fun playing with the boys, even with them playing a little rougher than she's used to... although that may have been the price she was willing to pay to get to play on the tire swing ;) She just loves tire swings (even when they make her motion sick). We also went to a lake where the water was pretty shallow for quite a ways out, so she was having a great time being able to play in the lake without me.

[Dazed by sweets and "Uncle Grandpa" (which has since been banned in our house)]

September was also notable as being Josie's "first day of nail polish". She had been asking for nail polish for a while now so I finally ordered her some, which Josie eagerly anticipated the entire week. It finally arrived on Thursday (a whole 3 days after I ordered it, but it seemed like foooooorever to Miss Josie), so I painted her nails then, and she was absolutely enthralled. HOWEVER... Josie picks at her nails so most of the nail polish was all scraped off within a day or two, and after repainting her nails a couple of times and admonishing her to stop picking her nails (to no avail), the nail polish is now put away for the time being. Ah well. She did note that when she's a grown up, she would like nail polish that is pink, purple, yellow, green, blue, black, white, and sparkle. It's unclear to me whether this is a single nail polish of many colors or separate nail polishes, but she asked me to remind her of this request when she's a grown up, so I'm putting it here to help remember ;)

Josie is getting more involved with Audra now. She's very excited about all the new words her baby sister knows, and she likes to help dress Audra and change her. On the flipside, Josie also seems to be more jealous of the attention Audra gets, or that we no longer let Josie just take anything she wants away from Audra. While baby Audra didn't care so much that Josie switched out her old water bottle for Audra's new one, toddler Audra feels a bit differently about things now ;) Josie has also said that Audra is her "mean friend" since she hits and pushes her... and we unfortunately can't argue with that.

Josie is also good at coming up with ways to interact with Audra in the car, which is so very helpful because it can really shorten Audra's screaming sessions. So they have a game called "baby, baby, baby, ow!" that appears to just be repeating "baby" over and over again while holding hands, and then letting go of each other on the "ow!". I love this game, not only because it stops the screaming, but because they came up with it on their own and they both find it delightful :)

Funny Josie-isms for September:
  • Audra was screaming (and I was getting noticeably upset by it), so Josie said, "It will be ok, Mommy. We have a nice house, it has lots of pillows."
  • Josie couldn't remember what a pineapple was called, so she called it an "apple... whatever."
  • Josie refers to the speed limit as "speed lemon". Now Ryan and I also use this term instead :)
  • We were discussing what Peter Pan's clothes are made out of, and while I'm fairly positive (without checking) that his clothes are made of leaves, I wasn't sure about his shoes. and then Josie suggested that they're made out of chocolate.
  • After I explained the purpose of a urinal that she had seen out our friends' house, Josie proclaimed that it was "so beautiful".
Josie loves to play "store shop", where she is the "cooker" who takes my order and gives me food. This cracks me up, mainly because it makes me think of my favorite episode of Peppa Pig (yes, I have a favorite now), where the kids are playing shop keeper and sell a carrot for a million thousand pounds. Josie also is a good helper in the garden, and helped me spray fish emulsion on the blueberries one day. She unfortunately got downwind as we were spraying though, and then noted, quite accurately, that she smelled bad.

As for me? I finally chopped off my hair in September. I had gotten it trimmed once since Audra was born, but had decided after the first year of not cutting it that I would just let it grow for another few months before donating it this time. So off came ~15 inches of my hair that I sent off to Locks of Love, but not before my disembodied braids stayed on the counter for a few days, where Josie longingly asked to play with them.
[The last picture of my hair in all its glory, courtesy of Josie]

[Slightly creepy braids]

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Many houses (with eyes?)]

Saturday, December 5, 2015

19 Months


Another month, another trip ;) Once we got started traveling again in July, for the first time since Audra was born, we just kept going. Four hours seems to be the upper limit of what we're willing to drive right now (timed just so that we're leaving late morning, stopping for lunch, and then the girls are getting a post-lunch nap so they're well-rested by time we reach our destination), which, conveniently, is as far as our friends live away from us in Pennsylvania. So we went up to visit them in September, which was a really nice trip. Audra did very well in the car both ways, although she did have some trouble on the way up as we were going through the mountains. So she cried then from her ears popping, which was a bit upsetting that she just had to suffer through it. There wasn't a whole lot else we could do besides shoving various food and drinks at her to try to get her to swallow, which she wasn't interested in doing, given how much her ears were bothering her.

Maybe it helped to be in a different environment and have all new stuff (and people!) to entertain her, but it was a surprisingly scream-free weekend on Audra's part :) She only got really upset once, when she snuck away from where I was sitting in the living room and climbed the stairs up to the loft herself, then got super upset when she realized she could see me from the loft but then couldn't get to me. Silly girl.
[Ryan's good save]

We drove up on Friday and stayed until Sunday morning, so Saturday was our only full day there. We spent a good part of Saturday at a beach, though, which seemed to be all the girls could have hoped for in life, so it worked out well ;) Audra contented herself with splashing in the water and playing with the sand... and ditching us when we weren't giving her all the food she demanded and trying to ingratiate herself with other families who had more interesting food. Given how closely she normally stays to me, it was pretty unusual that she was actually trying to evade me when I went to collect her, but I guess she was properly motivated ;)

The other big news from Audra's 19th month, besides her first trip to Pennsylvania? She slept through the night. At long last, she finally did it, showing that our patience in waiting for her to sleep longer on her own volition (without pushing it along by sleep training) was maybe not entirely misplaced ;) We're still bed-sharing, so who knows how much my presence helped her resettle, but she went from 9:30pm-6:30am without any overt support from me. I'm fine with still staying with her, in case my presence can serve as a safety net of sorts for her as her sleep naturally matures, but this was a nice bit of encouragement for me :)

Our sleeping arrangement is working just fine anyway, with my current plan being that I'll start leaving her at night when she's more consistently sleeping through the night (or only waking once), since otherwise it's just not worth it to me to lose out on sleep by having to get up and go to her at night (and I also realize she'd probably sleep through the night better if I night-weaned, but given that I work all day and nighttime has turned into our cherished bonding time, I'm not currently willing to do that). It's just so much easier for me to get back to sleep if I don't have to get up, although even now I sometimes have nights where I can't get back to sleep after she wakes overnight, so I'm awake for the day at 4am :( Anyway, Josie's sleep really improved at 18 months, then more at 2 years, then more at 2.5 years, which I believe is sort of how the big developmental leaps track at this age anyway, so that's what I've been banking on for when Audra would start sleeping better. So hopefully in another 6 months or so she'll sleep through the night again, since she hasn't done it again since ;)

Some other excitement for the month was that Audra started to actually cooperate with us on occasion ;) She has some strong opinions on things, and she hasn't agreed with pretty much anything we've asked her to do that she didn't already want to do before, so this was very exciting for us. For example, she was turned around standing in her car seat (hugging the headrest in front of her), and I asked her a few times to turn back around and sit down and... she actually did it. Whoa.

Audra is still adding lots of new words (although not quite at the breakneck pace she was doing last month), so some of the words she learned in September were Google, cold, open, neigh, rock, pull, push, down. She also has started putting together two-word phrases, like "sock off!" and "apple eat". She maybe said "I do", and said something that certainly sounded like "I want my book!" but I have to imagine that she's not quite that advanced yet :)

[Happy dancing]

The girls have actually played together now without it inevitably ending in tears, as it usually does, since Audra likes to pull Josie's hair, and Josie likes to take things from Audra and then hold them out of her reach. They played well together on the various beds as I was trying to make them, since they like it when I snap the sheets over their heads (and, truth be told, I think they like how I flustered I got about it, because I was SO IRRITATED that I couldn't just make a bed in a peace, and yet I kept laughing through my irritation because they were having so much fun). Audra also loves it when Josie drives them around in her tractor, so Audra will run right over to it and buckle herself in, patiently waiting for Josie to join her ;)

Audra likes to do whatever Josie does, so I shouldn't have been surprised that after Josie asked for a (temporary) tattoo on her belly, Audra immediately pulled her shirt up and slapped her belly until I gave her one too ;) And after months of trying to copy Josie, Audra was finally successful in learning to walk up our legs and flip over. She loved it, yelling "more" and "mine" (and throwing herself down and crying) whenever Josie had a turn, although it seemed she was starting to figure out that taking turns meant that she would get to do it again after Josie, and therefore temper tantrums were not required to ensure she'd get another shot ;)

[Josie wears headbands, therefore Audra wears Josie's headbands too ;]

I took Audra to the pediatrician since she finally seemed well enough to get her MMR vaccine... except it turned out she had an ear infection. This was a complete surprise to me, since normally it's pretty obvious when her ears are bothering her, but she had had only a mild uptick in fussiness the preceding few days. Odd. Anyway, so her doctor agreed that we could wait a few days before starting antibiotics, so I promptly went home and started doing garlic mullein oil drops in her ears (for the bacteria and to ease any pain) and massage around her ears (to help the fluid drain) the multiple times a day... and at our follow-up visit a few days later, her doctor was pleased to see that the infection cleared on its own ;) Audra still had some fluid remaining in both ears, which apparently can take 2-3 weeks to drain, so I'm still keeping an eye on that with our otoscope, but I do like it that we've been able to avoid antibiotics (and the GI distress that usually accompanies it) several times now with lower-impact remedies.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Best hat ever]

[Sitting on the chair like a big girl]