Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Seventeen months!

Phew, this month went fast!! As of right now, our moving POD is stuffed to the gills and we are all sleeping on travel beds. Charlotte seems to be handling this transition gracefully, with just a few minor meltdowns and sleep adjustments. We are very grateful, and so so proud of our big girl. 

This update will be a different format from some previous months, as I don't want to forget to hit "publish" before we start our cross country road trip tomorrow. 

Charlotte loves: animals, buses, trucks, balls, taking rides in the stroller, her water table, being outside, eating lunch, climbing UP and going down slides, running, her family, and reading books. 

Charlotte is great at walking, running, climbing, eating, giving hugs, blowing kisses, snuggling for very short amounts of time, being flexible with her naps, sleeping at night. 

Words: buh bye, ball, bus, dada, amen, iPad, momma, baby, rabbit, teeth, bath, no no. 

Body parts she knows: hair, ears, tongue, teeth, eyes, ears, nose, toes, feet, legs, fingers (sometimes)

Fun things this month: we went to Brooklyn, NY, for a night. We said goodbye to many precious friends here in Glenside. We packed up our house. We saw Charlotte's little brother on the ultrasound screen (and confirmed that he is, in fact, a brother). We played outside A LOT, went out to eat a lot, and played at a lot of parks. 

Not so fun things: this month I thought Charlotte was starting to adjust to taking one nap. We had a difficult week trying to help her transition before realizing she really still needs two naps. The trickiest part is that she doesn't wake up at a consistent time each day... If she gets up before 6am, she is desperate to nap pretty soon after that, but if she sleeps until 7 or 7:30, she isn't tired for a while and it's hard to fit in two naps. We are all doing our best to be flexible :)

Parenting challenges: lately Charlotte has been wanting to do EVERYTHING by herself. We are trying to support her independence and be extraordinarily patient. It's challenging, though, especially when she spills her water or makes a mess, or gets hurt and cries very hard. It's also challenging because she is working hard to communicate, but we often can't understand exactly what she is trying to do, or what she has planned. There have been a few frustrated tantrums on her part, and more than a few tears on my part. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

the chaos of NOW

In less than two weeks, we will drive away from this house, this town, this neighborhood we have come to love.

Charlotte woke up before 6 the last two mornings and, though this isn't completely abnormal, we're all pretty exhausted. She wakes up happy, but is tired again almost immediately after breakfast and it's a struggle to find contentment until she takes her first nap. Two weeks ago I was SURE she was ready for one nap, so we did that whole gradual transition, only to realize about a week in that she was completely overtired and it wasn't working out. So back to two naps we went, but not without some fights at bedtime and, as seen today, some early morning wake ups. Why don't children come with an owners manual? 

In addition to the unpredictable sleeping habits of our toddler, baby boy has been giving me some trouble at night, too. If I wake up to use the bathroom, he wakes up, and has a party in my belly. I LOVE feeling him move around and am unbelievably grateful that he is healthy and strong, but for goodness sake, son, please be still so I can go back to sleep! 

We are in a perpetual state of "packing" and our house looks like a disaster. It's so stressful to me, but I find myself lounging around, reading blogs and Twitter during my free minutes, instead of putting things in boxes. The process of packing right now overwhelms me... We need all our stuff for the next two weeks.... What can we pack up?!

Since we will have about one month of limbo while traveling and then upon arriving in Washington, we've booked about a million appointments for these last two weeks of June... A follow up ultrasound, goodbye luncheons, dentist check ups, final meet ups with friends, midwife appointments, hair cuts, home repairs, second inspections, house sale paperwork meetings, etc. etc. etc. I can barely keep up with the daily grind, let alone the little extra details that have been added to the calendar of late. On Tuesday I almost forgot to attend my own farewell party! Who am I.. forgetting a party?! 

There's been some hype in the blog world and on social media recently about how we portray our lives as perfect, or at least wonderfully pleasant. And while I can't really fathom posting a photo of my greasy unwashed hair, or my daughter's screaming face in the middle of a tantrum, I do try to be transparent here in this space. 

So in the name of transparency, let me just say that our life is chaotic. It's very hard and very sad and very overwhelming right now. I've been crying more than usual, and Joel and I are both incredibly tired. I have snapped at Charlotte multiple times recently, and my patience with her grows thin more often than I like to admit. The weather is hot and there are messes everywhere I turn. My husband is working incredibly hard and my toddler is amazing, but I am burnt out and exhausted and so very sad. I find myself already missing my friends here, and I'm mourning the distance that will keep my family apart in the coming years. People ask me how I'm feeling, and most of the time I can show my genuine enthusiasm for the changes and adventures to come. 

I AM excited and I believe this move is what God has called us to do

But there is chaos RIGHT NOW, and my heart and soul are weary. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

These are a few of our favorite things

You've already heard about my baby registry favorites. Today's list is a bit different; it includes some of our favorite toys, games, activities, etc. as of late.

Charlotte is 16 months old and she is a busy girl. She plays hard all.day.long.

Here are a few things that have gotten consistent use over the months :
  • Y Bike by Pewi- this is the best toy we have in our house!! Charlotte has spent hours and hours and hours on this thing. She got it around Thanksgiving (as an early Christmas gift) and it took her about 10 days to figure it out. She used it a LOT to practice walking and she got really fast at riding it around the house. If you only buy one thing for your child, buy this bike. And buy it BEFORE they learn how to walk
  • Tegu blocks- these wooden blocks with magnets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are countless ways to use these... we often build something random and Charlotte knocks it down. Or she  puts together/pulls apart two of the smaller ones, over and over and over again. Or she sticks them to the metal baby gate. 
  • Board books
  • Giant cardboard box- You may have seen my hilarious set of photos with Charlotte in baskets/boxes. Her favorite is a big box from Amazon that sits in our living room. She keeps all her animals in there, and has a rotating set of toys that are also allowed in.
  • Stuffed animals- though I would never have chosen for these to be one of Charlotte's favorites, she loves them! We have only bought one stuffed animal for her (before she was born), and I don't think we will EVER buy her another, nor will we request anyone else buy her more because she has enough! She takes them in and out of her box whenever she's sitting in there. She hugs and kisses them. She takes them around the house and gives them rides on her bike. 
  • Two wooden trucks (made by Wonderworld)- my mom gave these to Charlotte and she is really good at using them. In my limited experience, they are REALLY easy to use and they go super fast. They even work on the carpet, which is amazing. 
  • Plastic eggs and a cardboard carton- Charlotte got these from my mom back in February and she played with them multiple times a day for at least three months. Some of them cracked (once she figured out that throwing them across the room was really fun!) so they've gotten thrown away, but C. will still play with the 5 or so we have left. 
  • Pretend food- Charlotte has these two sets, which her uncle gave her for Christmas, AND she has a "new" sushi set that my mom gave her months ago (but I just took out of the box this week :) ). She is very interested in stirring the salad, and drinking from the bottle of juice, and pouring olive oil into her bowl. Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of wooden toys and really really really like the wooden food sets she has. I'm not interested in collecting a ton more at this point, but some day I hope to get her some wooden eggs and a few more wooden food items to go in her play kitchen. 
  • One baby doll- some day we may buy her more dolls, but for now, one is just right. She has a lot of stuffed animal friends, so I don't want to add to the clutter, plus a lot of baby dolls are just plain strange. Goofy faces, strange hair textures, the ability to eat, poop, and talk, etc. etc... Charlotte calls her doll "baby" and puts her in the swing, takes her in the car, hugs her, carries her around, etc. It's really precious. 
  • Water table- last summer Charlotte had an inflatable pool, which she loved, but last month I bought a used water table at the church flea market for a dollar. We keep it in the back yard and Charlotte plays with it at least once, sometimes more like two to three times a day. She LOVES scooping the water with her little shovel, and splashing herself (and us!) as she plays. Best dollar I've ever spent. 
  • Measuring cups, specifically the kind that you can collapse to store- my mom gave me a set of plastic/rubber measuring cups a few years ago and I've been letting Charlotte play with them whenever I need to work in the kitchen but she's feeling particularly needy for attention. She can sit on the counter for at least twenty minutes, opening and closing the cups. Sometimes she needs a bit of help to get them open, but she can flatten them all easily and thinks it's a really fun game. And I think it's really wonderful to get dinner made or the dishwasher emptied :) win-win, really. 
How about you? What things are your kids loving lately? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear Charlotte, 15: we're moving

Little bean,

You are gloriously clueless about all the big changes to come. You have no idea that in a month we will no longer live in this town or be part of our church, or that so many people here will miss your sweet face like crazy. 

It breaks my heart that these loved ones who have invested in you so seriously for a long time will soon be thousands of miles away. I can't imagine finding new friends, a new neighborhood, a new church, that could ever fill the void of the ones we are leaving here. Countless people have brought us meals, given us (often free!) child care, invited us for play dates, emailed us to check in, etc. etc. etc. 

The Lord has blessed us abundantly with living here for this season of life and I am forever grateful for the way he helped our family get connected as we grew in Him. 

You were born in this community, baby, and I will always hold in my heart the beautiful memories of the day you joined our family. Taking three hot showers, pacing the upstairs hallway, packing up our bags, riding to the birth center... 

I will always remember bringing you home for the first time to this beautiful home, and the first time we put you in the crib in your room. I will remember you crawling up the steps, and learning to walk, and exploring our back yard in your bare feet. I will remember you watching buses from our front "porch" and pointing at the tiny rabbit who lives under the steps next door. 

Charlotte girl, you will know Washington as your home, and while I am grateful for the adventures ahead, I'm crying as I mourn the loss of our life here. This house, these people, this church, and this community were your home for 16 wonderful months, and I will never forget them. 

I love you, and am so grateful for your life,

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Guest bloggers and topics needed!


In less than a month, Joel, Charlotte, and I will pack up our van to start our drive west to Everett. 

While on the road (for about three weeks) it will be difficult for me to post regularly in this space. I would LOVE to have a few guest writers who can post content during that time. I'd also be grateful for input about what kind of things you readers would like to see. If you have a blog post idea, I might be able to think of a guest blogger who could cover that topic... 

So! Leave a comment below if you are interested in writing a guest post and/or if you have something you are interested in reading here on the blog as I move across country. 

Some ideas: great children's toys, travel locations, family traditions, more weekly meal planning, capsule wardrobe inspiration, etc. etc. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pregnancy update 4: baby #2

How far along: 22 weeks  (and 22 weeks pregnant with Charlotte)

Baby news: it's a BOY!!

We have known for a couple of weeks, but I never managed to write any blog announcement. We are really happy that it's a boy and incredibly thrilled that he wasn't shy like Charlotte was at her 20 week ultrasound.

Total weight gain: 11 pounds (8 were gained just since my last midwife appointment!)

Maternity clothes: Just ordered a slightly dressy tank top and a pair of shorts from Old Navy. I'm a bit skeptical that the shorts will work, but I've been squeezing into my regular shorts with a hair tie around the button and they're just not working any more.

Pregnancy symptoms: It seems like I constantly need to use the bathroom, which is annoying and very frustrating in the middle of the night.

Also-- this little guy kicks HARD! As I was typing this post, he was forcefully nudging the iPad off his little body. It's fun to feel, especially when Joel can, too, but the movement gets uncomfortable after a while.

And, I've had some more significant cravings with this pregnancy: give me all the sour patch kids and all the ice cream. 

Thoughts: I'm mostly feeling excited, but also overwhelmed. It's funny, but my biggest concern lately has been who will watch Charlotte (and likely our friend's baby Jasmine) when I'm in labor. It makes me so anxious to think about finding someone to stay with the two girls, most likely in the middle of the night, while Joel and Melissa help me with contractions, etc. We will only have lived in our new town for two months when the baby arrives, and while we have some great connections, I still wonder about the logistics. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sixteen months!

Charlotte loves: buses (still!), trucks, balls, stuffed animals, her water table in the back yard, exploring, walking, her beloved box, books with animals, eating dinner with her family, and wrestling (with both of us, but mostly with her Dada).

Charlotte is good at: walking while carrying an object! Nodding "yes" and shaking her head "no", playing independently, opening and closing doors, pointing at people and objects, going up and down the stairs independently, taking things out and putting them back in. 

Charlotte does NOT like: eating breakfast immediately after getting up- she now prefers to play a bit first. 

Favorite foods: FRUIT! Chicken sausage, avocado, bread, oatmeal, and anything that can be dipped. Her favorite dips are ranch dressing and ketchup, but we can usually entice her to dip things into hummus, too. 

Words: baba (which, similar to last month, can mean ball, bus, bear, and bye- this is BY FAR her most commonly used word), momma, dada, Lala, baby, go, amen, IPad, hot, and "ahlayu" (which she whispers whenever we say "I love you")

Growth: Charlotte is 32 inches tall and weighs about 22 pounds. She wears mostly 18-24 month clothing (or 2T in pants!) and recently got new shoes in size 5. What a big girl! 

Animal sounds: cat, dog, horse, cow, duck, rooster (this one is hilarious!), pig, owl (so cute!!), and sometimes she'll do a sheep noise, too. 

Great things this month: One of my favorite things about Charlotte is her response when we tell her she's going to see someone (or someone is coming over): she gives this little excited gasp and puckers her lips into an "ohhhh" face. It's the cutest thing and I love it!

Also this month, Charlotte got two new molars (!!!!) and visited her grandparents and uncle Allen in Rhode Island. 

Parenting challenges: We assume Charlotte is getting her next two molars because bedtime has been a major struggle for the last two weeks. It's very difficult to know what will help and what will make things worse... We've tried infant acetaminophen, teething tablets, extra water, extra snuggles, back patting, rocking in the chair, snuggling, reading extra books, etc. We have gotten used to our girl being easy to put to bed and this season is getting tiresome, for all of us. 

Another challenge lately is how to discipline Charlotte well when she is openly defiant. We try to acknowledge that a lot of her behavior is experimental and playful (like hitting!) but we think it's important to note that she is also disobeying because she understands the word NO and often does the offensive behavior again after being corrected. It's very important to us that she obeys the first time and is respectful of her parents and others; it is just a challenge to balance that with recognizing her age and developmental level. 

Overall, what a joyful month this has been. We love being Charlotte's parents and we love seeing her grow!