Friday, January 30, 2009

Rilla's Taking Steps!

Rilla took her first steps Tuesday, and, as is typical for most third children, I still don't have a picture of her walking. I do, however, have cute pictures Evan took of her the other night, when she was sitting on the sofa.
Prospecting for gold behind the cushions. (Not that she'd find anything, of course!)

Raspberries for car noises.

(matchbox car in hand)

Beautiful smile for Daddy. And a display of markered-up hands. Mommy wasn't paying much attention to Rilla that day.

Cheyenne is Rilla's personal trainer now. She spent most of the afternoon taking Rilla's toy away and trying to entice her to walk to Cheyenne. After about the 300th time, Rilla got bored with it, but she sure does love her big sister.

I realized that I was a competitive mommy when Marilla started walking. One of my first thoughts was, "Oh, good, she walked when she was ten months!" Granted, if she got a tooth that same day, I'd be telling everyone, "Rilla didn't get her first tooth until she was almost 11 months!" (She STILL doesn't have any teeth!) Her age is dependent on how I want the story to sound! :-) We did get under the ten-month mark, though, with over a week to spare!

I got spoiled this week-- "Alex's Mom" took Cheyenne to school Monday and Tuesday. So luxurious to not have to bundle up the other two kids! This is the same Alex that Cheyenne announced was her boyfriend at the beginning of school. The romance hasn't abated in the least-- Cheyenne tells me they are getting married when they grow up. The other day (in a fit of pique at her brother) she told me she couldn't wait to get married "and not have to live with any brothers or sisters!" I've stressed that she has to wait until she's all grown up to get married, but in the meantime, Cheyenne and Alex seem inseperable. According to Cheyenne, Alex tells her every day how pretty she looks. If she can only find a guy like that when she's 27! Tuesday morning Cheyenne got to go to school early for "Running Club"-- running around the halls for 1/2 an hour before school starts. Alex's mom, Lisa, said she was reluctant to run at first because she knows the rule is "No running in the halls!" She got to go home with Alex that afternoon (they live just two streets over from us) and they played Candyland and Transformers! Quite a well-rounded friendship! On Thursday, though, we had a playdate with a girl with lots of Princess dress-up clothes. I'm not sure whether Alex's house will seem exciting after an intoxicating afternoon of wearing trashy shoes, scads of jewelry and glittery dresses! She sure enjoyed herself!

Wednesday night Bible study was at our house this week, and we had some special visitors-- the three oldest kids in the Parker clan were in town for their Mom's surgery (surgery that was way more successful than anyone though possible!). They stayed after for some brownies and ice cream, and we had a great time catching up with them. Elliott shares a birthday with Dave and Dale, so we had to have a picture of the Birthday Boys together.

By the time their birthday rolls around, the outside temperature will be rather different than now! We have reached the point where the snowbanks lining our driveway are so high that the older snowblower we have can't blow snow over the top of them. We need a thaw!

Marilla is still getting up at least twice in the night-- not that I always know that! Last Saturday morning, I slipped out of bed with her at 6:00 and went downstairs so Evan could sleep. I was sitting there in a self-righteous glow, thinking what a nice wife I was-- not only was I letting Evan sleep in, I had put Rilla back in the crib twice that night after nursing her. (Sometimes I figure that I've done the feeding, Evan can do the leg work!) Later that morning, though, Evan said something about her dirty diaper in the night. Huh? It turns out I had been up with her twice, and Evan had dealt with her twice, and neither of us had known the other person even got out of bed! Maybe we need a little more sleep, if that's how deep we're sleeping!

And for a closing note, here is Elliott in the new outfit Grandma sent him. He is trying so hard to pronounce words these days, but I really love one of his chronic mistakes-- he says "Goot" for "book." I'm never one to argue that "books" = "good."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Upside to Old Windows...

One upside to old windows... is that they have beautiful frost patterns on cold mornings.

This pattern sort of looks like strings of pearls.

These pictures didn't turn out that exciting, but I had to post them anyway.

This has been the picture of our weekend. Evan and Cheyenne woke up Saturday morning-- they inherited a stomach bug from Marilla, who I think got it from Grandpa Lee, who got it from Lillian, who passed it on to Justin... Anyway, there wasn't much going on around here Saturday, besides germs. Poor little Marilla still has lingering effects (i.e. really gross diapers) from her bout with it. Elliott didn't get a speck of the illness, so his energy made up for the lack of energy on Cheyenne's part. After lots of caretaking, I was ready for a nap Saturday afternoon, but Elliott wasn't on board with that. He's talking so much these days, though, I find it hard to do anything but smile at him. I can't believe I used to worry he'd never talk!

On Friday, before Cheyenne got sick, we had one day where the temperature was above freezing!

The kids took advantage of this RARE occasion to play outside together. Elliott could actually walk around without assistance because the snow melted off the sidewalk. Normally, he can only be outside if an adult is holding on to him, since his balance still isn't up to walking on snow. And we've had lots of snow!

Elliott with his shovel.

Cheyenne in the chair she'd scraped out of our yucky snowdrift. This drift is after 12 hours of 40 degree temperatures-- not sure where the snowblower is going to blow it next!

Cheyenne was quite pleased with her chair. Wearing Mommy's hat makes her eyes look funny, though!

Elliott laughing as he attempts to make his own chair.

We've had quite the busy week. Lindsey was due to fly home to Alaska on Thursday. The plan was for Dad to bring her down Wednesday, but I could tell Tuesday that Dad was sick enough he wasn't going to be up to doing it. Tuesday afternoon, I packed for the three kids and myself and had us out of the driveway in 45 minutes from the time I decided to go! Those were quite the active 45 minutes! I had had very little sleep the night before, so it was an interesting drive, as I tried every trick in the book to keep myself awake. Marilla, thankfully, didn't try any of these tricks-- she slept pretty much the whole way! Rather unusual.

It was fun to be on the farm, even if it was only for 24 hours. Cheyenne got to feed cows twice! I'm so glad Cheyenne has started to love doing these things. She has been so afraid of animals, and tractors, and lots of things in her young life, so I'm glad to see her having courage to face them. Granted, it still took her about 20 minutes of edging away from the exuberant dogs to get to the barn that night, but it's a step! :-)

Lindsey came back with us Wednesday night, through some pretty yucky roads. It took us four hours instead of the usual three. Glad to get home safely, especially with our old, uninsured van. It has collision insurance on it, of course, but it's not worth having comprehensive on it. Makes me a little nervous to think what would happen if I ran it in the ditch, though!

Thursday morning I ran Lins to the airport at 4:30 in the morning. Then, at 8:00 a.m., Rilla started being sick. I had to drag her with me to take Cheyenne to school, but by the time I had to go get Cheyenne, she was throwing up every 10 minutes, and I couldn't see taking her anywhere. Thankfully, Ginger was home that day and volunteered to come watch her while I did the school run. Don't know what I would have done otherwise! Thursday was quite the laundry day. I washed LOTS of Rilla outfits, and crib sheets, and Elliott's jeans that Cheyenne had spilled water on while trying to help him eat breakfast (because I was busy bathing Rilla and changing her AGAIN!), and the clothes I was wearing when Rilla threw up on me... Needless to say, I was delighted when Evan was home by 4:15!

Whenever someone in our family gets a vomiting bug, the differences in the upbringing of Evan and I raise their head. In most things, our families were very similar. Same values, discipline techniques, love of books-- all the important stuff! :-) BUT, when their family was sick, they threw up in the toilet. I know this is an accepted practice, probably 90% of people do it, but it always throws me for a loop to think about it! When WE were sick, we got out The Pot (old metal mixing bowl). Then, Mom would empty it for us as needed. Saturday, as Cheyenne ran frantically for the drawer where I keep my mixing bowls, Evan told her she could throw up on the potty, too. I told him that that was not an option here! When I am in the pink of health, kneeling beside the toilet nauseates me. Why would a sick person want to be in the grossest part of the house? Anyway, I'll dismount from my high horse now-- but that is my Official Pampering Stance. I may make the kids put on their own winter boots, and get their own drinks out of the fridge, and put away their own toys... but as long as I am mobile, I will empty their little puke pots, wash them out with apple-scented dish soap, dry them, and tenderly place the pot back beside their towel-covered pillow on the sofa!!

Now, I need to go to bed so I have the energy to carry this out as needed. Hopefully, it will not be needed for many more months!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Lovely Birthday

Today was my 31st birthday, and it was lovely. We celebrated yesterday, since Daddy was home all day. (Also, Child #1 would have burst if she had to keep the secret of what they had bought me even one more day.) So here was my loot...

And the Shoppers and Gift-Wrappers Extraordinaire.

(Rilla was more into the un-wrapping phase.)

(Is it any wonder I look at her?

This girl is beautiful.)

Here, Elliott and I pose with our hand-held vacuums. His is part of the vacuum he got for his birthday in August. Mine is the present Cheyenne and Elliott bought me! 'Twill be quite handy for spilled dry cereal, and spilled crumbs, and spilled... I'll use it a lot!

Then, I had to try out the new Wusthof (with cool little umlauts I am too lazy to try to find out how to type) knife Evan bought me. (We sacrificed a grapefruit that had been chillin' in the fridge a little too long.)

Look at how thin it slices!

Look at Clover get maniacally excited! Look at Evan rethink the knife idea!

I had lots of help blowing out the candles-- didn't have to work very hard at all! In fact, this is the second time we blew them out! As Chief Cake-Bringer-Inner and Chief Photographer, Evan didn't have a chance to snap a picture the first time before Elliott got on the job and blew the candles out.

Today was a wonderful day, too. Since Cheyenne didn't have school, we were in no hurry to get out of our jammies! (Good thing no one was here to take a picture of Mommy in her jammies!) I had packed up all their new style Little People the night before, and brought out the old style. Cheyenne had asked for that a while back, and I thought a "new" toy would help keep them occupied and happy today. Not that they didn't play with the new little people incessantly, but it's fun to rotate the toys occasionally. Cheyenne got lucky-- Elliott slept in this morning, so she didn't have to share during the first hour!

Once Elliott came downstairs, though, he was right in there, too! Forget snuggling Mommy, or eating breakfast, or getting our diaper changed, or getting dressed... He wanted to play Little People!

Rilla even got in on it. (Hello, green-uniformed grocer!)

Not that she needed a Little People. It's enough excitement just being in the dishwasher.

"I think I will eat the Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl."

Happy girl!

Since the dreaded Farewell to the Swing, naps have been rather short. We're slowly improving, though. When Evan took the kids on a top-secret shopping mission Saturday, she slept three hours in the quiet house. Here she is today, getting ready for a nap. First we insert the pacifier, then we tuck the Raggedy Ann doll in her arms. Then we cover her with her purple afghan from Auntie, then the soft Suzy's Zoo blanket we got when Cheyenne was born, then the quilt that coordinates with our crib. Hopefully warm enough! I found out something funny on Sunday-- she fusses if I don't close the door to her room. I think she realizes it's nap time if I close the door-- but if I just walk out and leave the door open, it's a sign that Mommy has abandoned her. Today, we had four naps-- all much shorter than her previous naps, but they did add up to a pretty decent amount of sleep. She's doing slightly better at night, now, aided by Evan's heroic work. If I go in at night to soothe her back to sleep, there's no calming her down. If Evan goes in, though, he can usually put the pacifier back in and tuck her in again, and she'll often settle down. Still quite a few waking episodes, though.

I moved the kids' rooms all around at the end of December, and I am just loving Marilla's room. It is so empty, which is just wonderful in our overcrowded little house. Since we don't go in her room when she's napping, it can't really be a multi-purpose room. There's just the crib (with the quilt Aunt Tori made hanging above), a bookcase (of course) and a diaper changing table. It's lovely to walk in and see an expanse of floor, and open wall!

It would look even prettier if there wasn't a Rubbermaid there, but she outgrows clothes so fast it's handy to have something to pop the outgrown clothes in!

I've moved all the kids' books into other bookcases, so this bookcase is just a random assortment of books. For the first time since we moved to Alaska, all my books are unpacked!

An awful lot of them are in our bedroom. This is the view from our bed. Isn't this the most beautiful thing? Evan made me this bookcase over the course of two birthdays (it breaks down into two components). I love laying in bed and looking at the plethora of books.

It's such a satisfying feeling!

This is one of my favorite bookcases. It sits in our living room, and holds our most special books (including lots of P. G. Wodehouse.) It also holds lots of games-- now if we can just get lots of people to come visit us to play the games!

With lots of shuffling around, I was able to get the kids' books into two short bookcases. Much safer than the great tall one in Rilla's room, where they were always standing precariously on something to reach the higher shelves. (Yes, that tissue box has Disney princesses on it. It was on sale one day, so I bought it for my daughter. I'm too cheap (and too anti-Disney or anti-commercialism or something like that) to buy her another one, so I just rip open a new box and slide them in the end of this box! Cheyenne would have Disney princess wallpaper if we gave into her true desires!)

I added a shelf to this hanging bookcase to get more room for the kids' books. This is mostly preteen (and younger) girl books-- some of the very best-- Betty Cavanna, Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Little House on the Prairie, L. M. Montgomery, Noel Streatfield, Happy Hollisters, Bobbsey Twins, Maud Hart Lovelace... books I don't mind re-reading myself! During one of the very busiest weeks of my life, in grad school, I went to the Schenectady library and checked out every single Laura Ingalls Wilder book and read them all! (Perhaps it would have been smarter to finish my papers, or do my internship, or plan more for my upcoming wedding, but it sure did help me stay sane!)

The other kids' bookcase.

A la Jill Vaughan, I have been feeling guily lately. When I think back to how much I had read to Cheyenne by the time she was Rilla's age, I am upset that Rilla is missing all those advantages. And it is apparent in her development-- Cheyenne was better at reading books, and talking, at this stage.

Rilla does get read to, sometimes-- just not by herself! (We're reading a Poppleton book by Cynthia Rylant here-- one of my favorite authors!)

(This boy was worn out by his day at the mall!)

Then, when I've just about written Marilla off as a poor dull little baby, I look in her sparkling eyes and see the intelligence, and am reassured. I can also take comfort in the tactful sentence, uttered by my husband, "Lindsey was the third baby, and she's the smartest one in your family!" Which is quite true, but why does my husband point it out? :-)

Rilla is also doing quite nicely physically. Elliott's physical therapist says the way she navigates stairs is not how babies usually do it until they're at least 15 months! She's also pretty tough...

See this vision of manliness? It doesn't cow Marilla in the least...

Here she is pushing The Vision of Manliness, and Elliott is saying, "Ow, Mommy, Roo push me!" I do think we'll have to keep an eye on her, just as much as we keep an eye on Elliott to make sure he doesn't hurt Roo!

I love this picture of my little kitchen helper the other day.

And now, as the dessert, here is three pictures of my beautiful son from today.

It's no wonder I enjoyed my birthday, with a day spent with these little mutts!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stupid Lake Effect Snow

I try not to use the word "stupid" as much I used to, since it's immediately parroted by the squidlets. However, it's exactly the word I want right now. In fact, "Stupid, stupid, STUPID lake effect snow."

This little outburst is because it looks like lake effect snow is going to prevent my folks from coming down this weekend for my birthday. The same as it prevented them coming down for Cheyenne's birthday. Even though we only live three hours apart, it seems like we hardly ever see each other in the winter, because our little town and the 60 miles north of here are often completely impassable due to snow.

Humph. Now that I've got that little tantrum out of my system... Hard to believe I'm turning 31 and not 13, eh? :-)

We've been having cold weather, though it doesn't get as cold as the Vaughan's farm-- 27 degrees below zero there this morning. Our little house was built back when insulation was optional, so it stays pretty chilly in the house! We've got plenty of sweaters, though, so we are doing fine.

The kids all woke up Wednesday sick-- in different ways. Cheyenne had a very sore throat, Elliott had a persistent cough, and Rilla had a flowing nose. I got halfway through cleaning our house for Wednesday night meeting, and realized that it wasn't a good idea to have people come here with all this illness buzzing around. The Barkleys kindly stepped in and had meeting at their place. Right after we had sorted that out, Elliott came upstairs from where he'd been laying down for his nap and said, "Mommy, I spit." (His euphemism for vomiting.) Sure was glad I wasn't simultaneously cleaning that up and trying to get ready for meeting! He wasn't sick to his stomach, he had just coughed so hard he gagged. It had happened, to a lesser degree, that morning, and Elliott had told me, "I burp Lucky Charms." Charming! Anyway, I took them to the doctors this morning, and Elliott is now on medicine for an ear infection-- all the congestion was making his ears full and causing him to cough.

Tuesday, I had to bid a tearful goodbye to an integral part of our household-- Marilla's swing. I had been thinking that I really HAD to put the swing away, since it is not designed for active 10 month-old babies. That fact was starkly underscored when I heard Marilla crying Tuesday morning during her nap, and went in her room to find her hanging by her ankles from the restraining belt. I am just so deeply grateful she did not really hurt herself. In my defense, she's never showed the slightest inclination to wiggle around in there. On the contrary, the minute you stuck her in there, she shut her eyes and turned her head to snuggle into the attached pillow. A nap-inducer like that wasn't something to give up lightly! After sobbing over my inability to be a good mother, I attacked the swing with my screwdriver and dissassembled it and packed it away for Cotten #3. Since then, though... oh, my, how I miss Rilla's naps! She sleeps for maybe 20 minutes in the crib, versus the 2 hours in the swing. I am hoping desperately that she gets used to the crib, but I have a horrible feeling she'll be one of those obnoxious babies that just never naps! Aagh! So, swing-- bye-bye, we SURE do miss you!

I have two Rubbermaids of stuff I want to get rid of out of my house, and I've decided to try to sell it on eBay. As I was photographing all the things the other day, Cheyenne decided to sell her doll clothes on eBay.

I got to be her official photographer for her photo shoot. Then, of course, Elliott asked for his camera time.

He is adorable, if I do say so myself. I'm worried, though, since my pictures have often been blurry lately. I think I may ask Evan to get my camera cleaned for a birthday present.

This odd child is a living testament to how Daddy likes to relax-- playing the online game of Runescape! After watching Daddy battle dragons in full armor with shield and sword, Cheyenne appeared in this getup and told me she was going to fight dragons. Of course, she found a willing dragon in her little brother. Quite the outfit, Cheyenne! (And quite the messy background. Since Rilla has forsworn napping, I get to hold her most of the day. My house can attest to that.)

Here's another Daddy-legacy. Elliott was playing his first computer game-- Rollercoaster Rush. Since it involved pushing the right arrow button to make the roller coaster go, and clicking on one button to replay it, he could do this himself. No pride in that coy expression!

And another "Take a picture of me, Mummy!" moment. (There, Julie, lots of pictures! :-)

I had an extremely paranoid/neurotic moment this evening-- As I was sitting there thinking, "Evan should definitely be home by now", my cell phone rang. I looked at the screen and it said, "Unavailable." I have never had that come up for caller id on my cell phone. So, of course, the absolute first thing I thought was, "This is the police calling to tell me about Evan's accident and/or death." There was no doubt in my mind. I answered it, and no one was there. That made it somewhat better, but it wasn't until I immediately dialed Evan and talked to him that it was okay. This time has no comparison to last winter, though. It was about half an hour after Evan should have been at work-- a snowy, kind of slippery day, and he was hauling his great big work trailer. The doorbell rang, and I went down to answer it, still in my pajamas. And there was a police officer. I don't think I have ever known such a terrible feeling. I knew she was coming to tell me about Evan. I opened the door, and I can only imagine the look on my face, because she immediately said, "It's okay! We just got a 911 call from your house-- do you have any kids playing with the phone?" The relief was so great, I immediately started bawling-- not little tears on the cheeks-- big, fat, pregnant-lady-in-pajamas, racking sobs. She, of course, thought I was mental, and started to wonder if there was a reason someone had called 911. I finally calmed down enough to assure her that yes, my son had been playing with the phone, and she was welcome to come in and look around. She didn't come in, but as she drove away, she must have really been wondering if I was off my meds! I do think some of it was all the lovely pregnancy hormones surging around in me at the time, but some of it was my overly active imagination-- I could so easily picture how awful that would be!
So, all in all, life is better than if I was a pregnant widow with two small children. And, thanks to Bethaney and Lisa sending me stories and pictures of their lives, I have been thankful this week that A. My children did NOT spread a jar of peanut butter all over their quilts and blankets or B. I do not have a four foot high pile of laundry piled on my sofa and the first-trimester blahs. I'm glad to be me, swingless Marilla and all!