Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lola's room




I asked Ray yesterday if there was anything he missed about the apartment. His repsonse was quick and unsurprising: "Lola's room."

It's true, leaving Lola's room was hard. Not just because of the painting Ray did, but because that's where our baby grew into our (very independent) little girl.

But we're adapting. All of us.

Us Wesleys had visited the house enough times that I don't think Lola felt too strange about her new surroundings. Even before we moved, we talked to Lola about our "new home" and the "house" thta we would be moving to. Even if she didn't understand what we were trying to say, we explained that the boxes surrounding us at the apartment would help us move all of our things into town.

(Quick interjection: Lola does best when you give her a "heads up" as to what is coming. We tell her every night at bedtime if tomorrow is a "Karen and Bob day" or a "Mommy and Daddy day." When we know company is coming, we spent 2-3 days talking about who is coming and looking at their pictures. I truly believe, that for Lola specifically, she needs to understand what is coming. She does not do well with surprises. Unless it's the chocolate or ice cream kind.)

Anyhow, on Movind Day, I went and picked her up from day care. We talked again about our new home and such and I took her to the house, where she saw my dad and Ray moving furntire. She was a little confused. But as soon as we went inside and I showed her "Lola's room," with her crib, toys and - most importnatly - her "cuddles" (blanket), she was OK.

The first week was a little rough sleep-wise. While she would go to sleep like an angel every night, she woke up 3-4-5 times a night. I'm sure she would wake up and not recognize where she was. She usually got a bottle (of water) and then would drift right back to sleep.

One problem, though, was that she (obviously) was drinking way too much water during the night. And she peed through her clothing and blankets. One night, Ray went in and how to change her bedding. He went to take her "cuddles' away and Lola lost it. Not as in mad or angry crying, but scared. As Ray noted, "It wasn't that she wanted her cuddles, she needed it."

But now ... kock on wood ... we have enjoyed two straight nights of uninterrupted sleep. We think (and hope!) that she is over that hump! :)

Anyhow, here is how her room is looking today:


(See how she needs her cuddles!? This week, it has become a battle as I try to tell her that cuddles needs to stay at the house - it can't come in the car or go to day care.)



You may have noticed that, in our living room pictures, there are no Lola toys. That was purposeful. Ray and I discussed this several times before we moved. But we decided, together, that Lola is old enough now to be responsible for her own toys.

Lola is, like me, a neat freak. She loves to clean! To wit, when we got to the playground and Lola heads straight for the stairs, she spends about 3-4 minutes cleaning all of the leaves and sticks and such off of the staircase.

So we don't think it'll be a stretch to expect her to clean up her toys. We've decided that the living room is more an adults zone. That's not to say Lola isn't allowed in there - she is - but she can bring a toy into the living room and play with it, but she has to put it away before she can bring out another one.

So far it has worked great. She is proud of herself and feels like she has her own set of responsiblities.

And we love having a kids-free zone after bedtime!
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unexpected side effects

In the last week, Ray and I have watched a grand total of maybe three hours of television -- and that's including the 2 hours, 40 minutes for "Avatar" Sunday night.

For us, this is pretty unheard of. I'm a TV junkie and I make Ray endure most TV shows with me.

But, now, in this house, there isn't time for television! We still have on tape unwatched episodes of "The Pacific," "House," "24" and "Parenthood." (Not to mention that we missed "Lost" last week and we need to find an hour to watch it online one of these nights.) Usually, we might get a little backed up during the week, but we always catch up on the weekends.

Last night, after both of us worked about 10-hour days, I trudged home about 9 p.m. expecting to sit and veg out in front of the television for a while.

But Ray had other plans: "Let's get started."

Um, on what?

"The garage."

Yawn. I couldn't care less about the garage at this point. So I said (in hopes Ray would give up and let us go inside and sit on the couch) that it seemed pointless to organize the garage when we haven't even organized the storage area downstairs.

So, in a matter of minutes, we were downstairs organizing baby toys and infant-sized clothing, going through long-forgotten camping supplies, and moving and stacking boxes.

An hour or so later, when we were apparently done, I thought we would finally relax.

Nope.

Instead, we went into the guest room/suite area and organized books - and then decided that 10 p.m. was the ideal time to bring down the old TV and DVD system for our guests. We got everything set up (including, of course, my Super Nintendo) - and it all looks great - but I'm wiped again today.

(Quick interjection: Home ownership, apparently, is great for my waistline! In the past week, I've dropped about four pounds. Not just because of all of the hard labor, but I've been working too much to even consider snacking. It's another interesting, unexpected side effect.)

Long story short, I did watch TV last night: I watched a grand total of seven minutes of a "Friends" repeat while Ray checked on our finances. At 11:30 p.m., we finally turned in.

So what's in store tonight? My guess is the garage. I also need to work on the guest bathroom and organizing the medicine "cabinet" (which is still in boxes) and taking care of the game closet. More so, I need to do laundry. Lots of laundry.

- Bethany :)

P.S. Before anyone begins thinking that my husband is a slave-driver, I should point out that there was one night last week he wanted to take off and I made him work, too. And, on Friday, he came home from work for a one-hour lunch break and I put him to work then, too. We're just not always in sync. Which is good! We need to be working right now, even though sometimes all I want to do is curl up and go to bed. The goal for this weekend is to get the garden planted and I won't be bale to really focus on the outside of the house until the inside is completely unpacked and organized. I think that by tomorrow night - Thursday at the latest - I should be all done inside. Of course, then we'll start painting and tackling larger projects, such as the kitchen and painting the outside of the house.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home



Tomorrow will mark our first-week anniversary in our new house. Yet, it seems like we just began truly living it in this weekend. And it's feeling like home.

After working for four straight days last week, Ray and I finally had time this past weekend to enjoy our new surroundings. We love it.

Of course, I should give credit to Ray and my Grandpa Dave, who worked Saturday night and Sunday to install our favorite focal point of the house: our new flat-screen. Ray and I have been planning on this new TV for about a year, coming oh-so-close several times to getting it while we were in the apartment. But we decided to save up for a larger screen and award ourselves with a housewarming present (along with the accompanying cable package - we FINALLY splurged on a DVR - and Blu-Ray player).



The furniture (our mismatched couches and recliner) will soon be replaced with new stuff. But, for now, we're actually kind of surprised how it looks pretty OK in the living room.

I should back up and say that my parents came to town Saturday and Sunday to see the new house and, for Grandpa Dave, to work! We so appreciated their visit!

Here are some other shots of the house (I didn't take some of bedrooms or downstairs yet; I ran out of space on the camera card)...

More of the living room (we just love this room, it's our favorite):


The back of the house (we do usually park in the garage, though):


And, our incredible back yard:


And, this is a kind of funny story. While touring the house, I mentioned to Ray that I wanted to plant tulips along the side of the house along the driveway:


To my great delight, we already have them!


We had a wonderful time with my parents. Time flew by too quickly!






They brought with them, for Lola, a new red wagon. She has taken a few rides, but is still getting used to it. I can't wait to use it for all of our summertime festivals!





Even Grandma took a ride!





All in all, Lola loves her new house. She, especially, loves the porch!





The smiles say it all.

Have a great week!
- Bethany

Saturday, April 24, 2010

whew!

We are home.

We are exhausted.

We are happy.

***

I need to post some pictures, but I, first, will need to actually take some. I'm sure I'll snap some this weekend now that everything is, more or less, put away and unpacked.

Here's a quick rundown of the past four days:

Tuesday: We got the moving truck and loaded about 20 percent of our stuff, then went to closing, then returned home and loaded the truck some more. We had help from my friend Laurie and my dad, which was greatly appreciated! When it was all put inside, the furniture and boxes pretty much covered our entire living room. You could barely move. That night, Ray and I walked around the house in a daze, not really believing that it is ours.

Wednesday: Ray worked all day. I, however, took the rest of the week off. So I began to work on the kitchen. What a project! Not only was the kitchen filthy (trust me, you don't want the details), but it's about half the size of the kitchen in the apartment. So I had a lot of work to do. Ray came home and, together, we finished the kitchen Wednesday evening. By the time we went to bed, we had the kitchen and living room done.

Thursday: Ray went to work, but was sent home about 9 a.m. (He had to work today instead.) So ... we went out and bought a flat-screen TV. We've wanted one for so long! And we've come so close to getting one several times before, but we knew that it would be best to save it as a housewarming present to ourselves. Plus, the cable guys were coming at 10 a.m., so it just made sense! We got it home and talked with the cable guys. Got everything set up, but putting the TV where we want it is going to be a project! More on that later this week. Thursday afternoon, we went to the apartment and got completely out! Four days early! We scrubbed and painted for about four hours. And Ray was able to move all the remaining huge stuff on his own (washer/dryer, gecko tank, fish tank, etc.). I was thrilled! We saved about $100 by getting out early, so that will be wonderful. Also, that night, back at home, I got the upstairs bathroom done.

Friday: I made the mistake of deciding to let Lola stay home from day care. I thought, after three days of hard work, that it would be nice to just have a play day with her. Well, I couldn't stop working. I tried, and we took lots of play breaks, but I was too focused on the house. Finally, in the afternoon, I decided it was time to leave. Packed her up and she and I spent the afternoon garage sailing together. It was fun. Ray had to work late ('til about midnight) so by the time he got home, the house was officially unpacked. The downstairs (storage, work shop, guest suite, bathroom, laundry room) still need some work, but our main living areas are done.

***
Overall thoughts:

- I am tired. Due to not going to bed every night before 1 a.m. and just constantly working, I am sore and very fatigued. Last night, I laid down on the bed for a few moments, trying to work up the energy to tackle our closets and fell asleep for 20 minutes (thankfully, someone texted me and woke me up).

- Lola is doing great! Sure, she's waking up a couple of times during the night, but she took to her new home wonderfully! As soon as she saw her toys and her things, she knew what was happening. I'm still trying to teach her that it is not cool to drag things across the hardwood floors (i.e. the magneted side of magnets). She likes the noise. I'm afraid of the scratches.

- We've met our closest neighbors and we've talked several times now. They are super friendly and we like them.

- I am still getting used to the noise of city living. I'm just not used to hearing traffic and car doors!

***

Anyhow, I could go on and on, but I'm going to cut myself off. I'm sure I'll have more to say Monday (and, hopefully, some pictures!).
- Bethany :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

limbo

I am losing my mind. I think I packed it away.

I tried this past weekend to distract myself as much as possible.

First, I borrowed a book from a co-worker, only to realize 4-5 pages in that I've already read it.

Then, I went out and bought a book only to realize while reading the first page that I already read that one, too.

So I went out and got a third book (chosen based only on the fact that I had never heard of the author before).

It was an OK read. Not great, but I didn't have high expectations.

I needed to read. Really. I crave reading material like other people crave chocolate and candy.

(Well, actually, I crave all three. At once, preferably.)

- Bethany :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

and, again...

Not closing today. Again. We were delayed until Tuesday.

This is ridiculous and frustrating ... oh so frustrating. I think I would actually be handling this better if I or Ray had screwed up at some point in this stupid process. But, no. Other people keep making mistakes. And we just have to keep waiting.

Here's a rundown of yesterday:

3:45 p.m. - Ray comes to work to get car seat so he can pick up Lola. I said, "At this time tomorrow we'll have a house!" Stupid me.

4 p.m. - I go to a meeting at City Hall.

5 p.m. - return to the office and sit down to write article.

5:24 p.m. - Ray calls. And I soon as I hear his voice I know what he is going to say.
He says it ... and I yell at him (I'm not proud of this, but damn it, I was going to yell at someone and he was closest).

5:45 to about 6:15 p.m. - Writing article at work while also texting Ray about what the hell went wrong this time. I also e-mail and text my parents.

7 p.m. - I get home, Lola gives me the biggest hug you can imagine. Wraps her little arms around my neck tighter than she ever has before and just clings to me for nearly three minutes. Ray says she must have known something was wrong because she did the same with him as soon as he got the news.

7:15 p.m. - I, again, apologize for yelling at Ray. He's fine. Luckily, I have a forgiving husband.

7:30 p.m. - I take out my frozen Lean Cuisine meal. And realize that I stupidly bought one that needs to cook in the microwave for 11 minutes and 30 seconds (come on, that is not cool) at 50 percent heat, which we can't do in our microwave (someday I'll tell you about our microwave, whose name is Lazarus). I burn a microwavable dinner. (Thus why Ray does almost all of the cooking in our home.)

8 to 10:10 p.m. - Ray and I absentmindedly flip through the TV channels, muttering every 5-10 minutes that this sucks.

10:10 p.m. - We cut our losses and go to bed.

So this is going to be (another) crappy weekend. Not that last weekend was really bad - we actually had a very nice time - but we're tired of this. I feel like I've aged 12 years in the past 20 days.

But one of these days, we're going to have a *&^%$#@ house.
- Bethany

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Photoshoot!



I borrowed the "big camera" from work yesterday so I could go to Lake Bemidji State Park and get a photo of this guy (I named him Harvey).



But while I was there, I took advantage of the sunshine and smiles and got some updated shots of favorite girl. I love all of these! But they also remind me that she's not my little baby anymore...













Mommy love you, Peanut.
- Bethany

Monday, April 12, 2010

We're still here

Our weekend is over, which is both a blessing and a disappointment.

We woke up Friday morning in the best of moods, anxiously anticipating closing on the house. It was never supposed to be "for sure" thing, but we really believed it would happen. It didn't (long story). It wasn't our fault. And we don't blame anyone. But it caused great frustration.

So we are still living out of boxes.

You need to understand that I am a neat freak. I can't stand messes. And I can't tolerate my home not being organized. We have a very firm system in our household: Lola goes to bed by 7 p.m., Ray and I clean until 8 p.m., and then we relax. I can't relax until every shape is placed back into its corresponding toy. Until every baby doll is, again, dressed and put back in her crib. Until every block, ball and book are back in their proper order. I'm not kidding.

Now we are living in a bunker. The piles of boxes have gotten so high and so deep that our living room is surrounded on two sides by boxes and by a lineup of empty bookcases, dressers and hutches on another. I can't see the front door from the couch. And I can't get from the living room to the refrigerator without doing all sorts of football drills (i.e. the ducks, the spins and the leaps).

And we've reached the end of our ropes. I mean, I'm living with just three pairs of shoes. Three pairs of shoes: tan everyday flip-flops, a pair of work flats and a pair of tan blogs, which are totally not summer shoes. I want my heels and my open-toed sandals! Lola has just two pairs of pants. (Well, actually, she has four: I bought her two new pairs Sunday.) She has two pairs of PJs. Everything else is packed. Because, you know, Friday morning I was convinced we were moving in five hours.

You get the idea.

But it's making thing tense at home. Example: Friday. We decide to get KFC for dinner because neither of us has any energy or desire to cook (since we, you know, don't have pots or pans anymore). We order. We pull away and I tell Ray: "I don't think they included your fries." He stops and I dig around in the bag for a bit. I feel a container on the bottom of the sack. I tell him I've got them. He drives home. We open food at home (14 miles from KFC). No fries. Apparently, I mistook a mashed potatoes container for what usually has the French fries. Crud.

Ray blames me for the fries' absence. Other than playing and talking with Lola, the house is pretty quiet for the next two hours. Only after she goes to bed and I stumble on "Shrek 3" on TV does the tension finally ease.

Fortunately, the weekend improved from there.

Saturday was a good day. Lola and I had a girls' morning alone with some friends while Ray stayed home. But things were tense, again, when we all got home together. But, finally about 1 p.m., while Lola was napping, Ray and I just looked at each other and admitted that we were both being asses to one another. We just called it out. Then, we laughed and had a pretty good afternoon, which was surprising since Lola was puking everywhere for the next two hours straight. (Note: I have not, personally, endured a more frightening parenting experience than when I walked into my child's room and found bright pink barf everywhere. Nothing has scared my as much as hearing my very capable husband hollering for help from the baby's room, "Bethany! I need you in here now!" My heart did not begin beating again until my husband could prove, in five different ways, that the puke was pink not because it was blood-tinged, but because Lola ate a strawberry NutriGrain bar.)

Sunday was a fabulous day. One of those days we won't forget. I even got away with a joke about how French fries ruined my Friday night... (small victories, readers, small victories).

My day today began with the official letter of approval from our lender. We will close Friday. In theory.

With us, you just never know...
- Bethany :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hugs

Lola is becoming a little snuggler, which we love.

Ray and I always have been nuzzlers and huggers. We love to be close to each other, all of the time. In fact, one the (very few) things I miss about our non-parenting days is sitting on the bench seats in his pickup truck, right next to him as he drives (and tries - sometimes unsuccessfully - to shift gears).

Anyhow, Lola snuggles on her own terms. You can't force her to hug you if she doesn't want to - and, more often than not, she will hug you when you least expect it.

(The only times where we have "forced" her to hug is at family hug time - yeah, we're kind of dweeby - when Ray and I [holding Lola] run toward each other and do a giant, three-person hug. Lola used to fight it when she was younger, but she loves it now. She squeals and laughs.)

Anyhow, yesterday, Lola asked about going outside and I, instinctively, said no. It was getting too close to dinner time and I was cold. But Ray said, "Why not?" So we started getting coats and hats together. Lola looked at Ray from across the room, ran over to him and wrapped her little arms around his leg. Hug.

I wanted a hug, too. But when I asked, Lola shook her head, "No!" She must have known it was her daddy who was letting her go outside, and this was her way of thanking him.

Then, just to rub some salt in the wound, she ran back and gave Ray another hug.

Later, after Lola went to bed, Ray started talking about how cool it is that she is trying to show her emotions.

"Don't you just love her hugs?" he asked.

Silence. I glared at him.

"Oh, come one, you always get hugs."

We started talking about how they are especially wonderful when they come right after a "crabby" moments, when Lola is ready for bed or is hungry and you give her what she wants. Then, she really throws her arms around you and lays her head on your shoulder, gently patting your back.

"Yeah, those are the best," Ray concluded. "You just melt. It's like, 'Oh, what do you want? I'll get you ten!"

She has us both trained quite nicely.
- Bethany :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not her first ... but kind of



Lola celebrated her second Easter this weekend - although, to her, the whole experience is brand new. And very exciting.

We went to my dad's and grandpa's places this past Saturday, choosing to celebrate one day early for a variety of reasons, the least of which, I'm pretty sure, is that Saturday marked what would have been my grandpa's and grandma's 65th wedding anniversary. It was a fun day. But, of course, nothing feels "normal" yet when Grandma isn't around.

Ray, Lola and I first went to my dad's place, where the Easter Bunny had kindly set out dozens of eggs for Lola to find. We got outside a bit too early, I think, as the temperatures hadn't quite warmed up to their full potential yet.

Still, Lola had a blast. She ran from egg to egg, pointing and crying out, "Ball!"




She also showed me, again, that she is getting all too aware when I take a photograph. Did you notice the top photo?

Here's a close-up:



She is such a ham!

After the egg hunt (and a nap), Lola learned, with Grandpa's help, that there is stuff inside the eggs, too!






Or, if you want the live version...

video

Then, after opening eggs, we went to Great-Grandpa's house, where the family all gathered to talk, laugh and eat way too much food (as always).

Lola was quite impressed with the animals outside! (She saw several birds and a red squirrel. I'm terrible at bird names, but smarter people than myself said the really pretty one, a light red/pink one, was a finch of some kind.)



She was, particularly, impressed by Mr. Red Squirrel. (And, to be honest, he really was a cute little guy.)



***

As it turned out, it was a darned good thing we went Saturday. Lola threw up Saturday night and spiked a high fever on Sunday (teething). Ray stayed home with her Monday, too, as she still wasn't feeling great.

Us adults took advantage of our time alone and we worked to pack up our whole place Sunday. Well, we still have work to do in Lola's room, but we're easily 90 or 93 percent done now.

Which is good. We close Friday. We think.

Stay tuned.
- Bethany :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Look who's talking!

Lola has gotten to the age where we can have actual conversations. Not that we're getting into the realm of political debates, but she can tell us how she is feeling and what she wants.

It's fantastic!

Some examples:

We were all leaving Target Sunday morning. Lola was singing and dancing in the back seat, playing with a new ball and wearing her cute new sunglasses.

Ray asked her if she was happy. She didn't say anything, but was watching Ray very closely, so you knew she was trying to listen, to figure out what she should say back to him.

Ray asked, again, "Is Lola a happy girl?"

She was smiling and happy, so we explained, slowly, that if she's smiling and laughing, she's "happy."

She didn't say anything at all for a few moments and the conversation moved on to another topic when we heard a little whisper from the backseat.

"Happy," she said softly, trying out her new word.

I looked at her, asking her what she said.

Then, louder, in a more confident voice, "Happy girl." She was beaming, so proud of herself. And we were, too.

***
Monday night, I was working and covering a budget meeting at city hall, when I got a text from Ray.

(Mondays are always very hard for me because not only is the weekend over, but I cover always cover meetings that night, so I rarely see Lola at all that day.)

The text from Ray:

"I told Lola no mama tonight and she replied, and I quote, 'Sad.' I think that sums it all up."

***
A few nights ago (probably this past weekend), we were all playing in Lola's room. With all the packing and messes, she was able to find and get into her old infant toys. One of which was her tummy time mat. It's one of those mats where there is the mat, a pillow and then, at the top, you fill up a plastic portion with water so babies can push little Styrofoam fish around.

Lola loves this toy, always has. But it's a pain to fill up and empty all of the time. (Thus, the reason it was packed away.)

She, of course, found it right away and took out the water section holding it above her head and smiling at me.

I pretended to not quite understand what she wanted. (We're trying to make sure Lola asks for what she wants using her "big-girl" words - her vocabulary has expanded to the point where she can tell us, somehow, everything she wants. She whines a lot, so it's an attempt to cut down on the whining.)

But she walked over to me and handed it to me, babbling something I couldn't understand.

I told her to show her father.

So she walks over to Ray, saying, "Fishies."

Ray asked her, kindly, what she wanted. But Lola just made a cry or whine noise (hard to explain).

Finally, she tosses it into Ray's lap, "Water! Daddy water!"

And Ray and I were astonished.

She knows "baba" for bottle. She knows "splish-splash" is bathtime. But rarely, if ever, have we used the word water. We were both just shocked that she knew enough to tell us to put water in fish container thing.

So we, of course, rewarded her and filled the darn thing. And we triumphantly handed it over, waiting for her to smile and say, "thank you," like she always does.

But, instead, she got mad.

Mad that she couldn't get the fish out. She didn't want to get the water in to make the fish swim - she thought that by putting water in, the fish would come out.

After 5-6 minutes of trying to explain the concept of the fish thing and Lola getting increasingly agitated, Ray distracted her while I hid the whole tummy time mat away.

Life with a toddler. It's great.

- Bethany :)