Thursday, February 25, 2010

memories

I have this fear that I won't really remember (at least not vividly) some of the moments I have had with Lola these past 18-19 months.

What is my favorite moment? Too hard.

So here are just a few of the zillions (in no particular order):

-- The very, very early days with Lola, when her tummy was so gassy and painful that she would just wail endlessly. To the point where Ray and I were terrified and quite overwhelmed. And then Ray stretches out that giant ape arm of his, lies Lola tummy side down on the underside of his arm, places a side of her face in the palm of his hand and starts patting her on the rump. And she instantly stopped. I mean, completely stopped. Just let out a little sigh of relief and relaxed her legs, letting them dangle from either side of his arm like vines falling from a jungle tree.

Of course, Ray's arm would inevitably fall asleep and I would try to duplicate the maneuver, but my stubbly arms were too little and Lola would cry for her daddy.

He had the magic touch; still does, really.

-- A few months ago, before Christmas, when Lola was in a not great mood and wanted to be held. Which was hard because Ray and I were making fudge and chocolate chip cookies. So I picked her up and decided to show her exactly what we were doing. And she was captivated. She would point at each ingredient, asking, "Dat?" And I would define each ingredient and show her how to dump it into the pot or bowl. Of course, Lola's main focus by the end was on the chocolate chips, which she (of course) got to sample.

-- Last night. We were all having Lola's favorite meal, "stickies," (translation: French toast, or more accurately, anything that comes with syrup). Lola looked at me with those big blue eyes, watching me as I poured myself something to drink, and said, "Milk peas."

I nearly fell over and glanced at Ray, who looked just as confused. "You want some milk, Honey?" I asked, trying to not sound scared or too cautious.

"Peas."

So, I poured her some milk - straight from the fridge! - and gave her a sippy cup and Lola drank 5-6 huge gulps and smiled.

(A little note: It's not like we don't give her milk - we do. It's just that she has never liked it at all. Too cold, too milky. I don't know. But she will take a the tiniest of all sips and handed the cup back to me.)

Last night, though, she carried that darn sippy cup throughout the whole house until I finally took it away in fear it was getting old. She drank quite a bit.

-- The first time she gave me a real hug. Must have been before Christmas, I think. And I was carrying her to bed. And she was tired, but really wanted to stay up. She sees her crib and whimpers a bit. Then, she lays her head on my shoulder and smiles at me.

And I melted.

And, had Ray not been home, she probably would have gotten to stay up for a while longer.

I'm a pushover.

-- The last one is not so much a favorite memory as an overall observation: Lola loves her family. Her family.

Every day when I (or Ray) pick her up from day care, she comes flying down the hallway and practically jumps over the gate to reach me. But, as soon as she gets in the car, all I hear is, "Daddy? Daddy?" Or if Ray picks her up, it's, "Mama? Mama?"

She's not happy unless all three of us are together. Oh, she will play and eat dinner and be pleasant enough, but you won't get any of those wide-open Lola smiles that make her eyes flash waves of sunshine at you - not until she hears that other vehicle pull up.

Last night, I beat Ray home by about 45 minutes. We got home and Lola was OK; she helped me with laundry and cleaning. But every 6-7 minutes I would get a sad little puppy look, "Daddy?"

So Ray comes home, Lola runs to the front door (literally ... as in runs into the door) and runs around the house shrieking with delight for the next 15 minutes. She gave Ray hugs, gave me hugs and then waited for all of us to sit on the floor and play together. She brought us baby dolls and blocks. She sat in our laps as we read books. She smiled and gave us kisses as we all played catch.

These are some of the moments I want to remember. The ones too special to risk with a camera.

- Bethany :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

catching up

I've mentioned before that Lola's "babies" are her absolute favorite toys. And that is completely true. She has three baby dolls. And, every day, it is an endless process of taking the babies out of their crib, placing them on the floor, covering them with a blanket, feeding them with a bottle, burping them, etc., and putting them back into the crib for night-night time. You'd think I was training her for a sibling or something (which I am not). She just likes playing mommy.



But, of course, the house hunt has been our top concern lately.

We put in an offer on the house on Friday. On Saturday, while we were waiting to hear something, we knew we all had to get out of the apartment or we would go nuts.
So, we packed Lola up and went to the Headwaters Science Center (our favorite destination for Lola). Here, she got to see the animals and explore the exhibits.

And, for the first time, she actually crawled through a little tunnel. It's a little bear den where you crawl through a hole and see a stuffed bear. It's kinda' cute, but Lola has always been a bit apprehensive about tunnels.

On Saturday, though, she went in - I just had to go first.




***

During the house hunt, my dad and grandfather were able to come to Bemidji and tour our top two home choices. And while I was supposed to be taking pics of the house, I couldn't help but grab a few of Lola with the guys.




We don't get to see them as often as we should. My dad and grandpa (and my aunt) don't live too far from Bemidji, about an hour away, so they are our closest relatives. But it's far enough that we don't get out that direction as often as we should.

So it was nice to see that Lola did better with them when they came to visit. We toured two homes and then went back to our place from some pizza. Lola had fun, and that was wonderful to see.

- Bethany :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

our house



Assuming everything goes well with the inspection tomorrow afternoon, this will be our first home. We signed the paperwork Saturday morning.

To say we are excited would be an understatement. We are ecstatic.

It makes me giggle to think of Ray in a pink house. The most un-pink kind of guy I know. So it comes as no surprise that Ray swears he will paint it this summer. We will see. We have a bunch of projects we would like to accomplish, but the exterior is Ray's top concern.

This is the living room, which we love.



It's large enough that it could serve as the living room and dining room, if we choose.

***

This is the kitchen. It needs some new paint, probably, and some work. But it will do just fine for now.



***

This is part of the downstairs.



This will probably serve as a guest suite kind of area. It's large enough to have a bed on one end and some chairs or a small couch in front of the fireplace. Assuming I convince Ray to invest in a flat-screen TV, our current television would probably go in the corner by the fireplace to the left.

***

And this is our attached double garage! No more scraping the car in the winter time!



***

All said and done, the house has four bedrooms, two baths and is just over 2,300 square feet. There is a work room in the basement which Ray will use for his tools, etc. The work room is huge and unfinished, so there is a possibility that the back half or something could become a bar or some kind of "guys' space" but that would be down the line at some point.

Lots to think about. Lots to talk about.

So after tomorrow's inspection, we will probably start talking about packing, Luckily, Ray's work just moved offices and they saved all of their boxes. And I work for a newspaper, so getting some leftover papers should be relatively easy.

We're looking forward to springtime!
- Bethany :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Woohoo!

We just bought our first house!

More to come later on, I am sure.
- Bethany :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

changes...

When Ray and I moved to Bemidji, we did so for several reasons. And, although it took some of our parents some time to warm up to the idea of us being further from the Twin Cities, it was the best move for us. We wanted to be out of a metropolitan area, closer to the woods, lakes and rivers of northern Minnesota.

But Bemidji was not supposed to be our end point. Nope. The plan was to move to Bemidji, work for a couple of years, do some networking, and then, hopefully, move to Duluth, Minn., which is a bit closer to the Cities and larger than Bemidji.

So are we moving to Duluth?!

No, of course not.

We came to Bemidji and, excuse the cliché, fell in love with the community. Ray found the perfect job and we settled into a cozy life. I, amazingly, found a reasonably priced, two-bedroom apartment about 15 miles north of town with lake access. So no more strapping the canoe to the tops of our vehicles (at least not as often as before)! Basically when our landlords built their house, they made their basement into two apartments: a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom. Our two-bedroom has windows on three sides with beautiful views of the lake. Our relationship with our landlords has been wonderful, and they allow us to pretty much do what we please (thus the elaborate paint job in Lola's room). And the one-bedroom hasn't been consistently rented out, so our visitors have been able to have plenty of space to stay. Other than the carpeted kitchen/dining area (with a 1-year-old that gets very, very messy), we have had very few complaints.

But now, 2.5 years later, we're ready for some permanency in our lives.

So, the Wesleys are house-hunting. We are excited and nervous and anxious - but super thrilled. We are lucky to be able to have such an opportunity in this market.

We have no idea how long this will take or how rocky this road is going to be, but we live down several dirt roads, so we're kind of used to it.

Wish us luck!
- Bethany :)

***

I wrote this entry about two weeks ago and (obviously) never posted it. We wanted to make sure we talked to our landlords and some other people before I announced anything publicly.

We've since looked at countless homes online and we've toured quite a few. We have a favorite now and are beginning to approach the offer stage, I think. What happens next is anyone's guess.

Our goal is to have to a house, get moved in, do some updates and be all set and prepared for a mid-July celebration. We figure we can have a joint party for Lola's second birthday and a housewarming party for anyone who is willing to come to Bemidji and celebrate with us.

Speaking of the munchkin, she is loving the house search. We've brought her along for most of the tours and she loves flying through the vacant homes and hiding in closets. Plus, she is impressed by all of the stairs.






So that is our "busy February" so far. Hopefully, things continue to go well and we can soon be getting our own space.

Stay tuned.
- Bethany :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

new pics





Missing her like crazy today...

- Bethany

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So how was your weekend?




Yep, that was Lola on Sunday. Little Miss Sickie.

We've actually been very blessed with a very healthy child and I try every day to not take it for granted. But, on Friday, I had the day off of work so I thought Lola and I would go shopping, maybe go to the Science Center. Something fun. Well, instead, she woke up and threw up. Thus was the beginning of a long weekend.

She slept a lot of Friday, but was doing much better on Saturday. (I was at work during the day, but she was smiley and happy during the evening.) No obvious sickness.

But, on Sunday, boy, did things change. She woke up at 7:30 a.m. (later than usual). I picked her up and she whimpered. She was clammy, but no fever. By 7:45, she had thrown up twice (and I hadn't fed her anything) and was already back down for a nap. We saw her again at about 11 a.m. and about 4 p.m. for a total of maybe 10 minutes. But all she wanted to do was lay on our laps and fall asleep, so we just put her back to bed.

By Sunday evening, I was a little worried about work on Monday. But, sure enough, she woke up singing and dancing Monday morning and was excited to go to day care.

In other Lola news (based on healthy moments in the past week or so):

- She willingly ate chicken!!! Yep, our vegetarian child is no more. She loved it. That day. Ask me in a week or so if she eats any more...

- Her favorite new snack is NutriGrain bars (which is kind of ironic because I eat them every day for breakfast and I am positively sick of them).

- She has mastered the word "mine" and is using it at every opportunity.

- The temper tantrums are increasing in number and intensity.

- She is telling us when she goes "poop" and waits for her new diaper (although she still throws a mini-tantrum every time I actually attempt to change her). She sits on her potty, but won't sit on it with her pants down. I think she thinks it's a chair. I probably need to work on this harder.

- Her new favorite activity is coloring (colored pencils).

- Her wild, curly hair now reaches her mid-back when it is wet. (Not that you can tell on a daily basis when it is untamed and crazy.) But it is probably getting close to time for a haircut. Not that I will cut her hair, but her bangs probably could use a trim. But a big part of me just doesn't want to cut any of it off. So I haven't. Yet.

.... And, the best news of all? February is now more than half over!!! Yay for incoming March!

- Bethany :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

'Rent' weekend




It was a super fun trip.

We certainly made memories, but I don't want to rehash the whole thing. If you're super bored and do want to read about the whole experience, including the return trip from hell, you can read about it on a different blog at www.areavoices.com/trailmix. (Trail Mix is a blog written by both Laurie and myself. Laurie wrote this particular blog entry, but captured the trip much better than I think I would.)

***

My experience started Saturday morning as I made myself say goodbye to this little one:





I didn't cry; but I got pretty misty. Lola waved bye-bye from the door, not upset at all. But you have to understand that I leave fairly often for council meetings and errands, etc. And Lola knows that I'm always back the next morning.

Well, Sunday morning came (according to Ray) and Lola stood straight up in her crib and asked, "Mama?" when he came in to get her. She knows that if one of us gets her in the morning, the other parent is in another room, so she ran from room to room asking, "Mama?" until she reached our bedroom and stood outside the closed door knocking on the door, "Mama! Mama!"

I cried when Ray told me over then phone on Sunday, which was a difficult day for several reasons.

When we finally reached Bemidji, Ray called to find out where I was. I didn't hear anything in the background at first, but then Ray told Lola, "Mama's on the phone," and she began screaming a few seconds later. Ray explained to me (later) that she heard "mama" and ran to the front door and had a meltdown when she realized that that didn't mean I was home.

Needless to say, I had plenty of hugs and kisses when I did get home.

Anyhow, from our trip:


This is us while in our seats at The Lab Theater, which was a fabulous venue for "Rent." I can't think of a venue more suited for the production. It was perfect. We got really good seats (we bought tickets, but it wasn't assigned seating, so it was first-come, first-seated).

I won't write a full review or anything, but I will say this: The cast was amazing. I think the person who stole the whole show was Jamecia Bennett, who played a character named Joanne. This is ironic because I don't particularly like the Joanne character, but she was, by far, my favorite from the performance.


Laurie and I waiting for "Rent" to start.


Anne and Laurie having a beer at Acme. OK, we all had this beer. But I was the only one who liked it.


Ben and Laurie at Acme. Ben is Laurie's friend. He was gracious enough to let us crash at his place in Uptown for the night and took us around town.

***

Now I'm back home, which I am thrilled about. I have a busy week at work, which I am also pretty excited about (seriously).

Ray and I are beginning to prepare for what we think is going to be a very busy February, but more on that later.

Have a nice week,
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

'I should tell you, I should tell you...'

This weekend will feature a first for me: I am leaving Lola to go out with some girlfriends.

Lots of mommies I know have "girls nights out" on occasion. I'm just not one of them. Sure, every now and then, I'll come home late after going to a workout class, and I habitually come home late twice or three times a week for city council or other night meetings, but I've never really made the choice to spent a long period of time away from Lola. If I go out, I usually take Lola with me.

Once, when she was about three months old, Ray and I spent the night at a buddy's place for a poker night. Once.

But come Saturday morning, two friends and I will drive down to Minneapolis. We'll return to Bemidji Sunday, so it's "just" one night. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit apprehensive.

So why are we going? We're going to The Lab Theater in the Warehouse District to see a local production of "Rent," a musical.

This will be my third or fourth time seeing "Rent" in roughly 10 years, I think. I saw it for the first time in high school.

It must have been about a year ago that I was talking to a co-worker about musicals and such. We both learned that the other had memorized "Jesus Christ Superstar" over the years and I mentioned that I have a similar passion for "Rent." She ended up watching it (not necessarily because of me ... I don't think) and just loved it. She rented the video of the Broadway performance and then the movie (which wasn't nearly as good as the musical, IMO) and we decided that somehow, some way we would see it together in person.

We thought we found our chance this past fall. "Rent" was on a national tour and was being performed on stage in Wisconsin and we talked about going. But finances and the condition of our vehicles just didn't make it feasible.

A few weeks after "Rent" moved beyond Wisconsin, we learned that another co-worker also likes the show. She has seen the movie, too, but wants to see it on stage.

Our "Eureka!" moment came when I saw a billboard this winter advertising a Minneapolis-based production of "Rent" at The Lab in February.

So, we all agreed on a road trip - and we ordered the tickets were ordered a couple of weeks ago.

So we're all set for a girls' night out in Minneapolis. Haven't done that since a bachelorette party for a friend six or seven years ago.

Wow.

(OK, so now, having written all that, I've come to the very real realization that it's time for me to get out a bit.)

- Bethany :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February!

Lola is continuing to fight through her molars, but she also is trying to just enjoy herself, too. Sometimes it's just a losing battle.

While we all had a very fun, yet productive, weekend at home, there were a good percentage of tears and just plain ol' neediness. Lola wanted to be held and snuggled with most of the time.

But, she also had spurts of energy and playfulness. It was just mixed in among reading time and hugs.

***

She loves to wear sunglasses. We call this game "Superstar Lola" - where she puts on the glasses and runs around like crazy until they inevitably fall off. Then, she returns to you and waits until you put them back on her.



***

Her hair is getting too long and wild to leave down too much. So I've been trying to put it up. She ran around Saturday in pigtails.




A few thoughts of Lola's hair: Yes, it is very curly. Much curlier than my waves. Ray has curly hair (not that you can tell), so that has contributed, too. What is kind of surprising is the density of Lola's hair. My hair is thick. Thick and very dense. Lola has alot of hair, but it is thin. I don't know if I'm explaining that correctly. Lots of strands, just thin strands. So it will interesting to see how it changes. I expect that, like me, Lola's hair will darken as she grows and she won't always be so blonde...


***

We are anxiously looking forward to spring/summer, especially after Sunday afternoon. I whined and pouted until Ray, reluctantly, gave in and let us set up the tent indoors. I didn't take pictures because I was too busy laughing at/with Lola. She thought this was the coolest thing ever. We just opened the two tent doors on either side and she ran back and forth through the tent, out of the tent, back inside the tent, etc. It was cute.

And, it gave us a glimmer of hope that, perhaps, this year, we can actually go camping and stay overnight.

I miss camping.

(I can't believe I just wrote that.)

But it's true.

I may have, grudgingly, went along with Ray those first couple of years (you know, that whole "I should try to love the things that he loves" mindset), but I actually came to really enjoy it over time. The first few years of our marriage, when we would camp nearly every weekend, gave us so many memories. We're ready for some new ones.

We just need Lola to be comfortable with it.

***

Us parents got lots done this weekend. I spent about three hours working on the book and I got five loads of laundry done. Ray got the gecko tanks all cleaned up and organized. The best thing he got done, though, was taking apart both the car seat and the high chair/booster so we could wash both pads. Trust me, they both needed it! Even better, Ray scrubbed every inch of the high chair/booster so it is shiny white and clean. No more dried applesauce anywhere! I'm so impressed!

Yeah, we also did taxes. And by we, I mean Ray. Which was nice to get done with so early. We always April 15th-ers, so this was a nice change for us.

We also did some exercising, some reorganization around the house and grilled out all weekend. (I know, it's cold. But nothing beats a burger or chicken on the grill. And Ray was willing to indulge me.)

But, by far, the biggest accomplishment of the weekend? Ray and I finally completely completed New Super Mario Bros. Wii!

Yep, that's our life. :)

- Bethany :)