Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 reading list

My favorite books of 2011 were (not surprisingly) the ever-popular The Hunger Games series (so good!!), and The Help (liked the movie too). I'm currently reading this, my last book of 2011:

Bossypants by Tina Fey (not as funny as I hoped.)

And these are some books I plan to read in 2012. Does anyone else have suggestions to add to my list?


Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

Catherine the Great by Robert Massie

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort

Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

playtime



on chaos

Tonight I went over to my friend Jenna's house for dinner, while our husbands went out for a "guys night". Yeah, how cute is that that our husbands go out on man dates together? Seriously cute.

So I went to Jenna's, and her neighbor K joined us as well since her husband was also on the man date. K is in her first trimester of pregnancy with her first child. She is in the stage where she is tired and nauseous, but pregnancy is still new and exciting. She's preparing for baby by buying things like expensive designer diaper bags, and neither Jenna or I have the heart to tell her that her expensive diaper bag will eventually be ruined with spilled sippy cups and crushed cheerios. She's in the dream stage.

I on the other hand, was in the chaos stage. I vividly remember watching this chaos stage when Jenna went through it two years ago when her first two children were the same age as Juliet and Audrey. I didn't have babies yet and she was just constantly running around in a crazy frenzy after her babies- one of whom seemed to always be crying, tugging, needing.

And tonight that was me. Our lovely gourmet soup got ignored and went cold while we chased after the little ones. Popcorn was distributed to children and promptly thrown everywhere and crushed under little toes. Blocks, dolls, fridge magnets, all pulled down and thrown into the air. Lots of crying, lots of whining, lots of needing. Audrey needed to eat, and needed to sleep. Juliet didn't want to eat, and needed to sleep.

And I couldn't help but wonder what her neighbor K must think...does she think. "what am I getting myself into?" Or does she think, "That will never happen to me!"

We came home and things settled down. I am finding that Juliet needs the comfort and routine of being home, and I am finding the confidence to listen to that instinct and bring her home. We cuddled on her big bear, read books, and then she crawled up into her bed ( a toddler bed! my big girl!) and went to sleep. And then I went to rock Audrey to sleep, and all is now quiet and peaceful.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Flying

When I was a kid, I used to have dreams about flying all the time. They were the best!

Juliet is lucky that she doesn't have to dream about flying...her daddy is strong enough to let her fly when she is wide awake!
Christmas morning 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Everyone in my family is taking an afternoon nap except for me. Even though I'm probably the one who needs it the most! Isn't this always the way, though? Audrey is sleeping on me in the Ergo and won't tolerate being moved from this upright position, so there is no rest for me today. I am feeling weary after a lot of weeping and sorrow for my Mom. My eyes are baggy and swollen.  Thank you God for giving me a husband who holds me while I cry.

There is a hole in the fabric of our family this Christmas. A very, very big hole. I am hosting Christmas dinner at our house. My Dad, sisters, aunts, and cousins will all be here.  My mom was really good at hosting these sorts of things with such ease and comfort. I feel out of sorts. I am glad everyone is coming. Our house is big enough and I want it to fill it up with good memories. I think I even make a decent hostess. But I wish it were my Mom doing it instead. Thank you God for giving me a Mom who taught me how to love my family.

On the brighter side, we are going to church in a couple hours. Just like we always do. I'm glad my Dad will be coming. Afterward, we will be having our second annual Christmas Eve Sushi Dinner. What says California more than eating sushi on Christmas Eve? My dad and Christy will be joining us and hopefully it will become a new tradition. Thank you God for new traditions to help take the sting out of a hard season.

Santa found time to wrap some gifts for the girls this week, so we are ready to go for tomorrow morning. Of course the girls are too young to understand much but it will still be fun. Christmas is a lot more fun now that there are children to love, and to spoil a bit. We are a very fortunate family, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for having this much. This much to give, this much to love, this much health.  God, please protect my children and my husband and give them good health and safety.

Juliet learned how to go on the "big girl" swing today at the park. Gary taught her. That's what daddies are for, because mama was too afraid that she wouldn't hold on tight enough and would topple off. Thank you God for giving my daughter a father who teaches her how to be brave and try new things.

Thank you for these gifts.

video

Christmas Eve's Eve. Spent weeping in Gary's arms. I miss my mom so much.

Mom and Dad, Christmas 2008

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sweet moment I don't want to forget

Gary was gone for business for two nights this week. Normally, when he is here,  he gets up with Juliet in the morning and makes her breakfast while I tend to Audrey. And he and I both put Juliet to bed together- we read a story, say our prayers together, and kiss her good night.

During his absence this week, it was the first time Juliet was able to really express how much she recognized his absence and missed him.  When I got her out of her crib in the morning, her first words were "Dada! Dada?" And when she was done with breakfast, she padded through the kitchen in her footie pajamas to Gary's office, and knocked on the office door while saying "Dada! Dada!"  And this went on for the whole time he was gone.

I put her to bed as usual on that second night of his absence, and she went to sleep peacefully. (Have I mentioned what a lovely change this is? She actually walks over to her crib, raises her arms up to be lifted into the crib, and has a peaceful smile on her face as I tuck her in with her blanket and stuffed doggie. She falls asleep quietly with a smile, which is such a huge achievement in our household that even though it's been happening for a couple months now, I still pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming every time!)   So what was I saying...oh yeah...

So Gary came home that night around 10. About midnight, Juliet woke up screaming. This is highly unusual for her since she always sleeps through the night without a peep. And when she woke up, she was sreaming, "My Dada! My Dada!" over and over again.  Thankfully, Gary was home so he went in to comfort her. She fell asleep resting her head on his shoulder, whispering, "My Dada".

I feel so grateful that my daughter has become a "daddy's girl". What a precious moment between the two.
This has nothing to do with the story, but what a cute smile, on her first carousel ride.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 months of happy Audrey

Dear Audrey,

You are now 4 months + 4 days. I am a little late writing this monthly update because it's Christmas time and life is busy for our family. You are a darling little baby, and so content so much of the time. Right now you are sitting in the green Bumbo seat watching Juliet eat her lunch. You have a quiet contentment about you, just watching the world through your big pretty eyes.

I still love holding you, though, so most of the day I have you wrapped up on me or in the Ergo carrier. I love holding you close to me. You giggle at me when I tickle your bare belly on the changing table, and like to smile at yourself in the mirror. I shower with you instead of giving you baths and you like the warm water of the shower as long as it doesn't get in your face. You are sleeping in your crib for most of the night now, waking up a few times at night to nurse. I still swaddle you up tight to sleep, and you're not the biggest fan of the crib once you wake up and realize you're there (and I can't really blame you).

You have learned to shove your whole fist in your mouth, and it's so cute to listen to you try to talk with your hand in your mouth! Everyone who meets you just adores you.

I found out that I was pregnant with you at Christmas time last year, and now I'm excited to wake up on Christmas morning to my very favorite gift of 2011. I love you, sweet pea. 

love,
mama

Stats: 13 lbs 10 oz (50th %)  25 inches (75th %) . Sleeping 7:30 pm - 7:30 am, waking 3 times to nurse. Nursing every 3-4 hours during the day. Starting to reach for things but not any real interest in toys yet.Still detest riding in the car.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

on boundaries

I've been thinking a lot lately about boundaries and rules. Juliet is at an age where everything in the world is hers to explore. It is also hers with which to make messes, hurt herself, and be irritating.

I want her to explore. I want her to feel in control of her environment and her choices. I want her to learn cause & effect. I want her to play and have joy in everyday things. I feel like these are imperative things to allow a toddler to do, to grow into a healthy and well-adjusted child.

So, I have come to terms with what this means in reality. It means that I "let" her do things that I know will ultimately cause a big mess.

Like unraveling the toilet paper while I'm in the shower and then dunking it all in the dog's water bowl. What a mess! And so annoying!  To me. To her, it is fun and play and learning.

Like drawing with a pen because she sees *me* do it and so she doesn't want to use a crayon. Even though I know the pen will end up all over her face. What a mess and so annoying! But fun.

Like drinking out of a "big girl" cup like mama even though it will inevitably mean that I will be changing her out of wet clothes and wiping up the floor. And, more controversially, by allowing her to continue to drink her milk out of a bottle even though she's officially past "bottle stage".

And sometimes it means that I allow her to make choices about what she doesn't have to do. Like, sometimes, she decides that she doesn't want her hair brushed. You know what? I remember how much it hurt to have my hair brushed. If she doesn't want her hair brushed one night, then who really cares? Maybe if it were a chronic issue and her hair was in a perpetual knot, I'd feel differently, but that's not the case.

I am making these choices so that the things that are really important are what matters. Not touching the stove, not running past the sidewalk and into the street, always holding my hand in the street-- these are the things that I want her to know. And other smaller things that are also important like brushing her teeth every night.

But the rest is just a mess, or it's just annoying, and I'm learning how to be okay with that.


multi-tasking


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa

I knew that Juliet wasn't going to be happy about meeting Santa. But we did it anyway. Because I am a photo junkie. It's my one true indulgence at this stage of my life- collecting the photos like a maniac because times flies by just so quickly and this is my way of remembering.

It wasn't traumatizing for her. She sat on his lap for about 10 seconds for the photo and as soon as she hopped off and into my arms, she was fine again.

Audrey did great since it was just another soft lap to sit in as far as she was concerned.

You know the funny part? I look at this photo and think, "someone is still missing". I am so happy with our family of four, and feel beyond blessed to have two healthy children. But I do think we are meant for just one more baby to fill Santa's lap. Eventually. (This is not an announcement of anything!)



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Starting my New Years resolution early! Our dinner is in the crock pot and ready to go, and it's not even 10 am yet. Yay me.

a vent

Ugh, I got a flu shot yesterday because I just can't afford to get sick with 2 little children to care for. And that darn shot gave me the flu! (or flu "symptoms", but what's the difference?). Not to mention I can barely lift my arm, which is apparently what they call "mild discomfort". I'm really regretting it, and especially regretting allowing my pediatrician to persuade me to give it to Juliet last week- I hope it didn't make her feel as crummy as this!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

bits & pieces

Juliet drew on the wall! I knew this time would eventually come. She used my sparkly pink lip gloss. At least it's festive!

I'm so happy the sun is out today. It was so dark and dreary and rainy yesterday. I hated it. It was too hard to take the girls out in the downpour so we were stuck inside all day. The house looks like a hurricane hit it!  It also made me happy that we don't live in Seattle anymore. I'm just not cut out for that kind of weather.

I was really inspired by our Momsense/MOPS group today. Feeling led to give and serve in new ways. And grateful for some budding friendships.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas traditions

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I am thinking a lot about tradition, and memories. I want my children to grow up with warm and fond memories of this season.  I am finding some solace too in honoring my mom through continuing these traditions- so that I can tell my daughters, "This is how Grandma did it for me, and now I do it for you." And I guess that's what life is all about.

When we were kids, my parents allowed us each to open our stockings up as soon as we woke up. This is pretty much my fondest memory of Christmas morning. We didn't have to wait for my mom or dad to get up (which I'm sure was there way of holding us off another precious hour or so!). I have the best memories of sitting in the living room with my sisters and each opening up our stockings and enjoying those small stocking stuffers together and eating our Christmas candy, until Mom & Dad stumbled out to start their coffee.  All the gifts would be set out from "Santa" during the middle of the night, so the bottom of the tree went from being empty to being stacked full of gifts when we woke up. Each gift to the girls was from "Santa", but as we got older, it became undeniable that the handwriting on the gift tag matched my Mom's (until Christy took over gift wrapping duty as a teenager!). 

There are a lot of other fond memories but I don't have enough time to write them tonight. But I'm looking forward to Audrey's first Christmas, and Juliet's second. We are hosting all the family for Christmas dinner at our house, and I suppose that will become part of my children's memories- our house full of family, food, and joy.  I can't wait for a couple more years when they are old enough to pad down the hallway in their pajamas and happily peek into their stockings while Gary and I try to catch a few more minutes of sleep. These are sweet times.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

p.s. This was my attempt at trying to get Juliet to sit still near the Christmas tree for a photo. oh well!
p.p.s. Because we all know that Christmas really isn't about the gifts, or shouldn't be anyway-- I am trying to think of memorable ways to incorporate giving and service into my family's Christmas tradition. I'd love to hear your ideas on that too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

bits and pieces

Farewell to my cousin Jake! He is heading off to Afghanistan for an entire year, working as a private contractor and living on a military base. Jake is brave and has already been to Iraq mulitiple times wuth the Army. We will all be praying for him to be protected and safe in Afghanistan.

Last night, we had a family dinner to send him off. I'm really grateful that we have an extended family so close and supportive. We all had fun playing a board game and eating Chinese takeout, Bon yoyage, Jake! See you in 2013!

Let's see...Juliet had her 18 month well checkup. She's 32 inches (50th %) and 22.5 lbs (25th%). She's healthy and meeting her milestones, which is always reassuring to hear. I really feel thankful that both of my children are healthy and thriving.

Juliet learned 2 new words this week: "No" and "Uh oh!" Oh, boy...we're in trouble now! LOL!  She is a joy, though, and despite having a cold this week, she has been very happy and easygoing. She is also enjoying being "like mommy".  I have been making her steamed milk and putting it in a coffee cup for her to drink in the morning with me, after several mornings of trying to wrestle over my latte mug with her. She imitates just about everything I do, as evidenced by her experimentation with the breast pump! It's all a good reminder to be a good role model since her eyes are always on me.
 Audrey has also been a joy this week. She is giggling regularly and a content baby. My dad babysat her for me this week so I could take Juliet to the doctor, and she did great with him.




I'm so glad we decided to move back home, to live just less than a mile from my parents' house. This is my home, and there's no place I'd rather be. I miss my mom deeply during this season. I'm grateful that God blessed me with 2 young children who need me so much right now, so that I don't have time to get sucked too deeply into my grief.







Thursday, December 8, 2011

Working hard at really ENJOYING my girls instead of just "getting through the day".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

where have I been?

Aaaah, I was doing so good at this blog thing until now.  I will have a random thought while rocking the baby to sleep, or driving to the grocery store, and think, "I gotta blog about that".  And then I come home and there is spit up to wipe up, poop explosions to marvel at, laundry to fold, life to be lived.

So at an attempt at getting back into this thing, here are just a few random thoughts:

- I hosted a gathering for my sorority sister alumnae this weekend. Every time I host something like this, I end up fretting about it for weeks beforehand.  What if no one comes? What if we have nothing to talk about? What if no one likes me? All of my insecurities come out in one little holiday party.  But guess what?  It was AWESOME. It was a small enough group that we were all able to sit around the table together and reminisce and LAUGH. A very joyful evening indeed.

fun times.
- Both Juliet and Audrey are sick with their first cold of the winter season. Juliet caught it first, and then sure enough, Audrey came down with it 2 days later. I figure this is what is going to happen for the rest of their childhood. It's exhausting having 2 kids sick at the same time. Poor little Audrey's nose is so stuffed up that she can't nurse well and she can't keep the pacifier in since she can't breathe through her nose. I'm looking forward to them getting healthy again soon. Juliet's nose is constantly running, and it makes her look like a little ragamuffin.

- I'm going out to a Christmas dinner with my best friends tonight and plan to have 3 glasses of wine, uninterrupted girl time, and no babies for 3 hours! I can't wait. Thanks, Gary!

- Audrey giggled for the first time this week! It was a real, sincere laugh...when Gary was holding her and making silly sounds at her. Wish I caught it on video. I love these moments, and love being a mama.

- I surprisingly do not find Barney (the big purple dinosaur) to be all that annoying. 

And now, the babies are calling. Hopefully I will be back again soon. xo