Monday, August 29, 2011

Crazy toddler weekend

Layla took us on a crazy adventure this weekend - her baby group decided to rent a house out on Orcas Island (about a 1 hr ferry trip from Seattle) and stay together for the weekend. 7 babies (toddlers now! they are 18 months) went. Us parents thought it was a pretty crazy idea.

It turned out it was not so bad, if you don't mind not sleeping much. The house was fantastic, a large 4 bedroom with huge windows overlooking Puget Sound and a gigantic porch and yard. It had lots of great amenities for a large group like big comfy couches and two tables and a huge kitchen. It also had lots of extra beds and space. 5 babies and their families stayed in the house, one in a tent in the yard, and another got a separate cabin because his mom just had a little-tiny baby and he thought they'd want some privacy.

We learned a lot about our babies this weekend. They are all very happy kids, willing to do just about anything, go any amount of time without sleep, and play with any kind of toy. They are also very possessive right now, and want just about everything they see. A lot of the weekend was spent running interference on the best toys (a toddler-sized bike and a transformer car). They are also very good at screeching, but they understand a lot more than we think.

The favorite activity of the weekend was hanging out at the small lake in the middle of the island, which has a sandy beach and a playground and a very shallow swim hole. Layla thought it was way too shallow and demanded we go out as far as we could, as often as she could. The other babies were content to play in the sand and make sand castles. At night after the babies went to bed the moms and dads had a really good time and got to know each other better. Some of us even went to a clothing-optional hot tub nearby where there were lots and lots of naked people. We were not brave and opted for the clothing.

We took a few pictures which I will try to post if I get a chance.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Layla's new favorite books

Layla has a new list of favorite books to share with you.



Layla's new most favorite book in the whole wide world is '10 little babies.' She LOVES babies, and loves to do all the things they do in the book (drink milk, play with dogs and cats, drive around tricycles, look at fish, throw big fits, etc). She insists I read her this book at least three times a day, usually multiple times. Fortunately it's a really cute book and I don't mind.

The next book was loaned to me by another my in our baby group - her son LOVES this book and now, unfortunately, Layla does too.


This is seriously one of the hardest books I've ever read in my life. It is all about Elmo's balls. He likes big balls and small balls and footballs and juggling balls. How can you read a book like this, over and over, and 1) maintain enthusiasm and 2) maintain a straight face?? Oh Elmo, I already hate you!

The mom who introduced Layla to Elmo's Balls redeemed herself somewhat by also loaning us this book:


This book is hysterical, very simple, and somehow captivates Layla at the same level that it captivates both me and her daddy. It's about a pigeon, who wants to drive a bus, and throws a big gigantic fit when he can't. I think we can all relate to that. Mo Willems, the author, drew very cute pictures and has a lot of good dialogue in it. This is one of many awesome books he has written, and we've tried some of the others, but this is Layla's favorite.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

17-month update

On August 11, Layla will be 17 months. Wow!!

Here is an update:

Eating and growing: she is growing like a weed (esp in the last two weeks, she is now as tall as almost all the older boys in her baby group!) but somehow she is eating less, or at at least it seems like it - she has become pretty picky the last two months and went from eating and loving everything to carefully tasting (she sticks her tongue out to taste) and then choosing only the stuff that suits her. It's not a diverse range but it is mostly healthy stuff, like almost all fruit, peas and some other veggies, eggs, and almost anything with pasta. So, it's not so bad. But, we've started making a lot of separate meals for her to try to get her to eat more, especially if she's not eating much because she doesn't feel very well.

Talking and interacting: she's got a lot of words down now, including apple, bike, ball, car, whoa!, mine, book, eye, nose, mouth (and pointing at the parts), Layla (Yay-ya!), and she can associate animal sounds with dog ('woof! woof!), cow (moo!) and she's almost got duck (ga! ga!). She's still working on a lot of consonant sounds like "L", "S", "T", and there are a lot of words and phrases that pop out that she doesn't repeat regularly (like 'hey you guys!' 'who's that?' and 'help please!'). She can understand a LOT and I keep reminding myself to make sure to explain things to her and be careful what words I use now - she's paying close attention!

Mobility: She's almost running now, and has really gotten into CLIMBING - she climbs up everything including the jungle gym at the playground, our book cases and dressers, kitchen chairs, and anything lying around. So far she has had only had a few big falls including one from a chair that was kind of scary. She climbs boldly higher and higher though and has been giving us mini-heart attacks on a regular basis.

Favorite activities: Layla still LOVES daycare and wears herself out completely every day she's there. She has developed a great relationship with each of her teachers and even knows the teachers of the other classes so I suspect she's become quite a social butterfly there. Outside of daycare she likes everything we do as long as we keep doing different things throughout the day - our house gets way boring by about 10 am. So we spend a lot of our weekends going to park playgrounds and various social events with other kids, farmer's markets, playing with the neighbor kids, a little shopping here and there, a zoo or aquarium trip now and then, and lots of time in the backyard. Fortunately that's all pretty easy since it's so nice outside right now. The winter will be a whole new game though - and we're already starting to brainstorm some ideas for indoor fun for our little Adventurer when it gets dark and cold out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A real Bee-mergency

So, it's not such a big deal having chickens and goats and bees in your neighbors' yard, as was pointed out on my post below, except when they escape into your yard and you have a 1 and a 1/2 year old that loves getting into anything new and interesting.

But guess which one it was that got into our yard?

It was the BEES.

That's right, bees are like an adventurous dog that won't stay at home - sometimes they wander off and you have to go find them and bring them back!!

So, the Studly Hubby was at home on Friday innocently eating his lunch when he looked outside to find 10,000 bees swarming in the front yard. They were lost, and didn't know what to do! Eventually they took up residence in a tree next door.

This is a picture of the bee swarm in the tree.

That evening, a mysterious 'bee-catcher' showed up and collected most of the bees and disappeared. Later the next day, the rest of the bees disappeared.

What the heck, we wondered?

Well, a little internet research and asking around led to an unexpected story about bees and, well, babies.

Our neighbors just had a baby, and with a new baby comes a loosening of all that was once controlled, including their pet bees. When a bee hive gets too large, a new queen bee is raised and the old queen splits off with about half the workers and finds a new location. As the bees look for a new location, they don't sting and pose no threat, but they swarm together with their queen in the center and can actually easily be 10,000 bees thick. In Seattle, when your pet bees get loose, you call a 'swarm-catcher', of which there are about 20 in the city, who don't get paid but come catch the bees and take them off somewhere that needs them. Bee-catchers perform their services with a general 'save-the-bees' mentality, and obviously, we should all appreciate them more now that we know who they are!

We definitely appreciate the swarm-catchers!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goats or chickens anyone?

There are a few things about Seattle that have taken some getting used to (from a Midwestern girl's perspective.

First, there is water everywhere. It rains all the time, we are surrounded by lakes, ocean inlets, canals, etc (every direction from our house will lead you to water within 5 miles, and in the north or south direction within about 10 blocks). Plus, it's super hilly here so you can SEE the water from everywhere too (and mountains!!). Where I come from, this sort of thing is very unusual.

Second, you can parallel park your car in any direction on the street. This is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. Back home, if you didn't park in the direction of traffic you would be heavily fined. Here, they don't want people jamming up traffic trying to do tight U-turns to park so they just let you park on the wrong side in the wrong direction, no problem. It looks to me like everyone in the city was drunk when they parked their car, all the time. So strange!

Third, you can walk out in traffic any time you want. The cars will stop for you in the crosswalk, out of the crosswalk, no matter what, even if you just look like you might be thinking about walking out in traffic. I suspect this stems from a combination of the threat of heavy fines to any car that violates a pedestrian's right-of-way and a culture of extremely polite drivers. I've gotten dangerously used to this, and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

Fourth, and most bizarre: you can keep chickens, goats and bees in your backyard anywhere in the city. This means that all three of these are right in our very neighborhood - and I often see them as I walk around the block (chickens mostly, as the others are less popular and less visible). Our neighborhood has a 'neighborhood walk' tomorrow to get people out to see the bees, chickens and goats that people keep around the neighborhood - how exciting! Layla and I will have to miss, though - we already have plans to go see milk carton races up at Green Lake.

I hope everyone is having a fun July!

Summer in Seattle

Everyone says summer here starts on July 5, and that is SOOOOO true. It will be cool and in the '60s until about mid-July, then you get about a month of sort-of warm weather, and then fall is here in September. A lot of people get upset about this. I am not one of them.

But, we do try to get out and enjoy the summer weather when it's here.

Last weekend we went over to a friend's house who has a fabulous back yard (rare in Seattle) complete with an above-ground heated pool (exceptionally rare in Seattle) - and a toddler's fantasy land of toys and animals. Layla almost exploded with excitement when she got there. She played with the slide and playhouse in the backyard, the dog ('Thor'), the rabbit, and their two little girls that were happy to entertain her all afternoon. But the pool was a little scary I think - she much preferred to run around the deck screaming something that sounded a lot like 'HEY YOU GUYS!!' over and over. We finally coaxed her in by letting her ride their blow-up seal around while her daddy held her tight (her feet were the only part of her that actually got wet) and when she was done she wanted right back out again. Maybe next time...

Friday, July 01, 2011

The flying diaper change

We have really been around the block with Layla's diaper changes. Before she could roll over, she was a sweet little girl who would coo at you happily while you changed her diaper. Then she learned how to roll over and the fanstasy came to a screeching halt. Soon she would take off down the table and across the dresser at light speed towards the 5-foot drop off beyond. After a few close calls we decided to move her to the floor where she was at first a little better (something new!) and then even worse especially once she could walk because she would tear off through the house buck naked while you chased her down with the diaper.

This is dangerous on many levels.

Apparently the daycare has had some trouble too, so it makes me feel better that even trained professionals are finding Layla's diaper changes quite difficult.

We discovered about a month ago that some of her diaper disposition some bad rashes and she really seems to appreciate it when we make an extra effort to wipe her fanny very delicately (I am ashamed to admit we even bought a wipes warmer in the hope that this would help - it didn't, but it makes the wipes more accessible when you're in a rush so we kept it). Unfortunately anything delicate is impossible when her fanny is covered in poo and she's aiming for a quick escape across the living room.

So, we had to start doing all the diaper changes in her bedroom with the door closed, with a towel on the floor and a second parent nearby. It did the trick although both of us were exhausted after, sometimes we had to do almost a full load of laundry and on one occasion I had to go get my ear plugs from all the screaming. A diaper change in public almost landed us all a spot on the evening news.

But, I'm happy to report that she has gotten a tiny bit better in the past few weeks. Perhaps she is becoming wiser as she gets on in months and she is starting to better understand the business of the diaper change. Whatever it is, hopefully it is here to stay and we can breathe a little easier at the thought of all the diaper changing we have to do over the long 3-day weekend.

15 month update

Layla is a big 15 months now!!! What a big girl.

15 month update:

- she is TALKING to us! She can say so many useful words, like 'cracker' and 'crayon' and 'Alex' (her buddy at school) and 'flower' and 'bottle'... wow!! We're pretty sure she even said 'bucket' and 'elephant' which seems very advanced to me. There are a few sounds she still hasn't learned yet, like "S" and "L" so she's still working hard on those. Her favorite word this week is 'car' which she says at every single opportunity.

- she is finally starting to like daycare again, after a very traumatic transition to the toddler room a few months ago. One of the staff told me that he thought part of her trauma was associated with a bad mauling on the playground on her first day in the toddler room (an older girl ran her over and she got scraped up pretty badly) - how scary! (they told me at the time but I hadn't thought about the lasting effects). Poor thing! But, he told me this because he thought she was finally over it and starting to trust him and the other staff again, and he was really glad to see that happen finally.

- at the Doctor's office last week, she weighed in at the 50th percentile but is now in the 90th percentile for height - a total reversal from six months ago. So now she is tall and lean, and I officially miss her former chunky baby self. She still has very pudgy legs though which I squeeze as much as possible. She also got vaccinated for measles which didn't sit well with her - she got an awful rash and a fever and we had to take her back in 3 days later so she could complain to them for a while about how bad she felt. They noted it and told us to be wary when she gets the booster in 4 years (ugh!). She started to feel better the next day, thankfully.

- she crawled up on the couch tonight for the first time! holy moley, we are in trouble now!

- after a few months of hating her stroller, she is really starting to like it again, although only for short-ish rides. It's a nice change, and because of that and her generally improved mood these days we feel a little more like we can take her out again. Last weekend we actually went SHOPPING and it went fairly well (although it was super quick!). I bought some much-needed new jeans.

Baby book!!

After a year and a half, I finally finished the alleged baby book, which is now just 'the baby book'

Whew!!
That was a lot of work.

Actually, it wasn't super bad - it's just that anything is way hard when you have a 15-month old running around the house. I had to really hunker down at night and work even when I was super tired.

The great thing was, I had a deadline - I had a coupon from the company I bought the digital scrapbook software (Creative Memories) but it expired June 30, so I was gunning to finish by then and use the coupon to print the book (made it, just barely!). Another great thing - I really had gotten a lot done over the past year, I had to only finish about half (and about half of the remaining pictures were edited - the Studly Hubby really stepped up for this). And the third great thing - I got really fast at it! After about 15 pages or so I finally got a nice quick rhythm and really mastered the software. Now I think I could whip out another book pretty easily - so hopefully I will! I plan to try to make one every year or so.

Here are two example pages so you can oooooh and aaaaaahhhh and make me feel all gooey inside:



CAKE!!


Last night, I had a bad craving for chocolate cake. I asked, 'do we happen to have any chocolate cake lying around anywhere?' and my husband poked around a bit and replied with, 'nope! sorry.' I was disappointed but then had some tapioca pudding and forgot all about it. But then later that night, I had a dream that we actually HAD chocolate cake, and the Studly Hubby was keeping it from me... in the dream I found it and was super excited.

I told the Studly Hubby about the dream this morning and then came home from work today to find... he made a chocolate cake! What a dream (no pun intended)!!

Monday, June 06, 2011

New words

Layla's vocabulary is increasing and I thought I'd try to sum it up for the record.

She most consistently uses sign language, and now she knows 'eat,' in addition to the words she used before - 'milk,' 'all done,' 'please,' and 'hungry.' She used to know 'more' but seems to have forgotten it.

She has a few words she says quite a lot, and these are: mama, papa, hi, dog, ruff! ruff!, ball and uh-oh! She also loves the song 'row row row your boat!' and can sing the first part (rowrow!!).

These are the words she says less often: apple, bird, water, milk, go, bath

We're pretty sure she understands a LOT of other words, and these are some of the ones we agree on: banana, orange, shoes, nose, no!, and baby. She also knows all the gestures for patty-cake! and understands when we say, "where is daddy?", "go get your milk!" and "your milk is on your stool!" Fortunately she hasn't figured out "let's go change your diaper!" or "time for bed!" although we say those a lot and probably shouldn't because she'll start to catch on sooner or later. We've also noticed her mimicking a LOT of stuff we do, like putting toothpaste on our toothbrush, stepping into our shoes, washing our hands and the dishes, unlocking the car and house (and she knows where to find our keys!), putting earbuds in her ear, dancing to music, and exclaiming in delight (the last two she does on her own but she will also copy us exactly if one of us is doing it too).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Toddler chairs!

Layla is a big toddler now so we bought her some toddler chairs when we were garage sale shopping this weekend. The first time she saw them she exploded with screams of excitement, and immediately climbed up onto one chair and then another and another.

She likes to get on the chair and sit, or get on her knees and rock it back and forth (with Mom and Dad making sure the chair doesn't tip over) and she also likes to stand up - she's very brave. Last night as she was getting ready for bed I stacked all the chairs up and when she saw them like that she got mad at me and insisted I unstack them immediately. She said, "don't mess with my chairs!!" and since it wasn't going to ruin my night to unstack the chairs I obliged. The nice thing for us is that the chairs are entertaining her for a lot longer than any of her toys do these days - and provided some much-needed exercise on our rainy weekend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New cookbook excitement!!

Our house is abuzz with the arrival (from the Amazon fairy) of a new cookbook, 'Deceptively Delicious' by Jessica Seinfeld. Yes, this is the famous Jerry Seinfeld's wife - but it stands well enough on its own. The book was pretty popular when it was released and I can see why - it's laid out very nicely and has a lot of amazingly easy and yummy-looking recipes in it.


The idea behind the book is that you can 'hide' vegetable purees in all kinds of regular food (in particular butternut squash and carrots, which I think are in about 50% of her recipes). Fortunately Layla LOVES vegetables so we haven't had any trouble getting her to eat them. But, she doesn't like every entree we give her and I felt like we might fall into a rut with the 5 or so things we know she'll like (spaghetti, pizza, mac & cheese, quinoa and bean salad, and pulled pork). So, we've been trying some new recipe books geared towards kids - or rather, the Amazing Studly Hubby, who does all the cooking in our house, has been trying new recipe books.

I've discovered that the recipes in this book are so easy I can even follow them. And some of the recipes are so simple you can't believe you've never heard of it. Tonight for dinner, I added butternut squash to our usual box mac & cheese and it was delicious (there is also a home-made mac & cheese recipe but who needs that?). I never would have thought of that! So, the the J & D household gives this recipe book 6 thumbs up.

Friday, May 20, 2011

D.O. - update

Today Layla and I both had follow-up appointments with the D.O., which I have posted about before. I wanted to update on how it's going.

It's going great!! After seeing the D.O., Layla has gotten her full range of motion back in her neck. It took a few months of regular visits, in which she behaved progressively worse and worse... but the doctor was tolerant of her increasingly loud screaming and managed to work his magic anyway. Now, finally, we don't have to take her back until the end of the summer! I have been going pretty regularly too, and since I behave much better than Layla we made a lot of progress on my problems in a short time. My low back has a lot of issues - mostly it's mad about some bad posture and tight hip problems I have - but it has released it's reign of terror on my knees and I've been able to start back up running pretty regularly again. The great thing about the D.O., I've realized, is that the adjustments hold really well. After many years of chronic problems, I am finally seeing some results. I'm so lucky to have found this guy!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Today I celebrated my 2nd Mother's Day. This year, I wanted to spend some time with the little lady so after breakfast (pancakes, not in bed, but in my robe), the Studly Hubby took me and our little lady out to a spring plant/bake sale in our neighborhood near a spectacular playground and let me spend our last dollar on cookies and pie (don't worry, there's more in the bank, we just haven't had time to go!).

We also got some really good-quality nap time today, since Layla was exhausted from transitioning to the toddler room last week. She slept an amazing 90 minutes this morning and another 2 hours this afternoon. It was mind blowing - although on Friday she had a 4-hour nap at daycare, which altered our reality. We actually came home Friday wondering if we still lived in the same house and were the same people as before. With awesome napping comes awesome free time and I took advantage. In the morning I took a nap of my own, and then in the afternoon I sat on the deck and soaked up the sun and read my favorite magazine, the Oprah magazine. That was a rare opportunity even before Miss Layla took over our lives, and I really enjoyed it.

We took some pictures today but they haven't made their way from the camera to the computer yet. So, I will leave you with another picture of an equally fun time we had last weekend hiking around Discovery Park with some friends.

ORNERY little girl!!!

We have an ornery child on our hands. She was sweet as a sweet pea until about 3 weeks ago, when she started showing her ornery side. Here are some of the wonderful ways our child now expresses herself:

- hollering at the top of her lungs from Green Lake back to our place (~1 mile) because she wanted to WALK HOME BY HERSELF (except, in the wrong direction, and in the street, and with frequent stops at every parked or moving car she saw to try to open the car door).

- shoving a 3-year old friend off of a slide - her friend's slide, at her friend's house. Clearly making friends isn't as important as going down the slide.

- stealing another friend's hat, binki, socks, snacks, and bottle when he was nice enough to share his red wagon with her. Fortunately he was quite tolerant and didn't kick her out of his wagon.

- making quick escapes out from under us while getting her diaper changed - very risky business for her, us, and the floor (we abandoned the changing table due to the height hazard).

- throwing fits over everything, especially anything we say 'no' to... which led to us having to leave a restaurant before ordering food for the first time today.

- refusing to ride in the stroller, the baby-carrier, or in the car in preference for WALKING everywhere, except in unusual circumstances (fortunately she's still good if we're going someplace interesting, or we give her lots of her favorite snacks).

While I find it a bit overwhelming, the Studly Hubby actually likes this new stage because while Layla is getting more ornery she is also developing into a more interactive little person. She can understand and respond to a lot more, and seems to be making a more real emotional connection with us - she even every once in a while will give us some hugs and kisses, all on her own. She has also gotten to be a much better sleeper, both at night (mainly because she hasn't been sick in a whole 3 weeks), and also during the day (she's switched over to 1 nap a day and often sleeps a marathon 90 minutes or more... a drastic increase from her previous 30-min naps). So, I guess it's a trade-off.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Best baby books

In our baby group meeting today, the subject of baby books came up.

There are a lot of books out there, but each baby seems to have favorites (and the parents too), so after a few million reads you start looking for some new book ideas.

Here are Layla's favorites:

This book was given to Layla by Grandpa M., and has a lot of fun stuff to play with



This was a shower present, and I thought it was goofy but it ended up being great for little tots who like to touch and feel and appreciate a (very) simple story


This was a present from Layla's cousin B, who I think loved this book as a child growing up in England. It's extremely cute and has a nice rhyme and very busy pictures that will capture her short attention span for many many reads.




This was also a gift from cousin B, and is also extremely cute. It has a short simple story with lots of pretty drawings of babies laughing and playing and one baby at the end gets kisses which Layla likes to contribute to.



This is another book about babies, given to Layla by her Grandpa L. She LOVES the baby pictures and I like to sing her the song and go through all the body parts (which she is starting to get).



Layla is no literary snob, and loves baby elmo as much as the rest of them. This is actually full of all the things she's been doing and thinking about (it's supposed to be for 6-12 months, but I think it's more like 6-15 months). Baby Elmo eats a banana, plays peek-a-boo, points to his nose, and at the end there's a big pop-out Baby Elmo surprise, which is her absolute favorite part.

I think our group is going to do a favorite book exchange, so hopefully we can mix it up some more soon and I will have some more recommendations. I feel like my knowledge of baby books at the moment is very limited. Maybe some trips to the library are on the horizon as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our big toddler

We found out yesterday that Layla will be moving up to the toddler room at her daycare next week. They spend two weeks transitioning (she's already 'visited' quite a few times) and then she's a big toddler!! We can hardly believe it. I'm very conflicted - on the one hand, it's nice to have her grow out of some of the things that are hard, like waking up super early, drinking from bottles (so many bottles!), unpredictable napping, etc. But on the other hand, I'm going to miss her being my BABY!!!

At home, she's making big toddler changes too. She's becoming VERY demanding and throws fits all the time. Today she threw a fit because we wouldn't let her wander around outside all evening (it was raining! and cold!!). She LOVES going outside because when it's nice out we do all sorts of fun things.
Here she is driving her 'car' that we inherited with our rented house. She LOVES this car. I love it because it's tall and easy to push around.

She is also learning new big toddler things like how to get dressed. She can't really put on pants or a shirt yet but she can put things around her neck and over her head. She is particularly attached to my old YWCA staff badge which she wears around the house all the time. It makes her look like she's about to go to work. She also found my old heart monitor and likes to put that around her neck too, and her binki strap. Below she's got all three.


In the toddler room, they wear outdoor shoes and play on the playground, they follow a schedule for eating and napping, and they have a whole new set of toys and activities for big toddlers. I think Layla will love it, although she will miss her friends from the baby room. She likes to cuddle the babies and tell the daycare staff when they need milk or a binki (which she often steals). We might go visit the baby room and say hi for a while until she gets used to her new big toddler room.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sleep!

We've been struggling a lot with sleep, especially since about last November... the onset of the worst of all our colds this year. When Layla's sick, she doesn't sleep well, and if there are good nights between the colds we aren't always well ourselves. Plus she's been waking up SUPER EARLY (5 am ish) which may have been because of the colds or may have just been her insane internal clock. The 5 am wake-ups were the worst - I've learned that my 'power hours' at night are from 4-6 am, and constant 5 am wake-ups really wrecked me. Plus, our house is small so it was difficult to sleep while Layla tore the house apart under the care of the other parent in her early-morning vigor.

Well I'm tentatively excited because Layla's been sleeping a little later lately, even sometimes until 7 or 7:30. So far the Studly Hubby and I have been ecstatic and sleeping in to better enjoy the amazing and sublime change of schedule. And we're still going to bed quite early (9:30) so that means we're getting LOTS of sleep... which is SOOO wonderful. I think I could do this for another 2 weeks or more before I finally got caught up on all the sleep we've lost over the past year. Already after just a week of this I feel like a new person - I make sense when I talk, can walk in a straight line again, and I think I'm standing up straighter. Wow!

Layla on the stairs

Layla has been practicing going up and down stairs lately. Actually, until today, she just sat on the bottom step and cried, wanting to go up but not knowing how. But today, she completely figured it out - and crawled all the way up the deck stairs!! Here she is right before the big adventure.

Layla finds the skill very useful. After her bath tonight, she crawled out of the tub (with a little help from her dad) using the very same skills. And at the park, she will now be able to crawl up the stairs to the slide, which she has been dreaming about lately.

We don't have a fence around our backyard and I can't help but worry that my little girl is going to escape me and run someplace dangerous (and fall down the steps to the backdoor, or get knocked over by the neighbor's dog, or find a thorny vine in the driveway...). So, I hover over her like a worried hen and make her hold my hand all the time. Probably as the summer sets in I'll have to work out a better plan and baby-proof the yard. Or maybe I'll just make her keep holding my hand as long as she's willing, because it's so darn cute when she does.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Layla in the park!

After a wild night of pole dancing (see below), we had an early-morning park date. It was a rare and beautiful sunny day in Seattle and we went to an amazing park overlooking the water. Seattle has no shortage of those, and Layla had a fantastic time.

Whenever we go to the park, or anywhere new, it always takes Layla a little while to 'warm up' - she spends a bit of time hugging my leg first before she ventures out on her own.


As you can see, it's incredibly cute. Sometimes, when we go to particularly crowded parks, she wants to just sit in my lap the whole time and watch everyone. She never does this at home so it's a rare opportunity for me to cuddle with her.

We've been going to a lot of parks lately, to distract her from all her various illnesses. It works very well, but we're running into some trouble at home now - she always wants to go out! She tries to put on her shoes, goes to the door and reaches for the doorknob, sneaks out the back door if we have it open, and constantly points out the windows. When we start putting on our jackets and shoes she is beside herself with excitement. So, what can you do but oblige, and spend the weekend at the park? Thank goodness it's spring!

Pole dancing class!!


Even though I'm still sick, I couldn't turn down an invite to a pole dancing class at a local pole dancing studio - pole for the soul. I didn't know what to expect but thought it seemed like the sort of thing a stressed-out mom like me might enjoy.

It was pretty fun!! They really focused on 'sexy' - and also showed us some moves that I never would have thought I could do (it helps to have some upper body strength from lugging the baby around). When we arrived, we were told to take down our hair, and the room was lit with dim red lights, so everyone looked extra-sexy - even though I had forgotten to shave my legs and most of us had gym shorts on (there were 15 of us at an evening 'pole party' as part of a bachelorette party).


The teacher, who I'm pretty sure is also a stripper, started us off by teaching us how to 'sexy walk' in a large circle. Then we 'sexy walked' around our pole. Then we started learning the moves. For the most part, the moves were pretty easy (step-spin and turn with your back to the pole and then slide on one leg to the floor and then turn around and get back up, etc). It required some coordination and a lot of butt-wiggling and for the most part we were all so focused on the moves that we weren't being very sexy - but every once in a while someone would really get it right and we would all cheer wildly.

This is a picture from the Pole for the Soul website - we took pictures while we were there but I haven't seen them yet and I'm not sure I'd want to share them anyway.

There was one move, at the end, where we jumped up and spun around the pole, and it was a real taste for what pole dancing can be - my arms were wrenched from their sockets, my legs were bruised, my adrenaline was pumped - and I was assured it was sexy (hmmm really??). I did it a few times and then had to quit for fear I was going to cause permanent damage to something.

One thing of note was their 'sexy' approach - they were TEACHING us how to be sexy!! You're probably thinking, well duh, it's a pole-dancing class - but I have never been taught how to be sexy and I thought it was really neat. Seriously, it's not easy or natural for someone like me to coordinately wiggle my butt and chest and walk in a straight line at the same time - and it really helped to have some instruction and encouragement!! I think I would need about 6 months solid of serious training to be able to do it with any sort of real talent though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First birthday gifts!

Layla got a lot of good loot for her birthday.

Here's what she got:

- A talking dog named Violet, that knows her name and sings songs to her about her favorite things like bears and cheese


- A tupperware ball with plastic shapes she can put inside it, which is finds extremely fascinating

- A giant tigger, and a soft doll, and a baby Elmo, all of which she LOVES to cuddle

- An amazing little banjo music box, and a Baby Einstein iPod that importantly provides Layla a toy like those her mommy and daddy are always playing with (our phones)


- A red wagon, which Mommy and Daddy still haven't put together

- An awesome spring outfit and gorgeous warm Seattle sweater, and a shopping spree at Hannah Anderson, where she got to pick out some colorful spring tank tops and shorts and a beautiful dress

We owe great thanks to the many wonderful people that sent us gifts for Layla (thank you cards are still on their way). You would not believe how helpful all these great gifts were during our long days at home with a cranky kid over the past few weeks.

GERMAGEDDON 2011

We have experienced nothing less than Germageddon this month.

First, Layla got a nasty cold that lasted something like 3 weeks (I got it too). During the cold, about 3 weeks ago, she got a horrible diaper rash, like nothing we'd ever seen before (she doesn't usually get rashes) - it turned out to be a yeast infection and cleared up quickly once we used the right treatment. Before that was over, she popped out another molar (#2) and started working on #3 and #4. Then she rolled right into the nasty horrible stomach bug (see below), which we all got. There was lots of puking, and way too much pooping, and the Studly Hubby missed the entire week of work (I fared better, but just barely). There was one day, a Saturday, when everybody felt ok and we went to the park.


Then, before the end of the day, the next thing - pinkeye (see below) - hit us like a ton of bricks and we were up all night with a screaming baby again. We went to the doctor Monday, she got booted out of daycare for another week, but by Tuesday she seemed to be doing better. Then out of nowhere, on Wednesday and Thursday she screamed all night again (Wednesday night, and all day Thursday, she only slept about 6 hours total). We were about to head back to the doctor, or import a relative to help out, or pay a stranger just to give us both two hours to sleep (seriously, I was on the phone trying to find someone), when suddenly she slept all night on Thursday night.

We were flabbergasted. Especially when she slept all night Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday too (and even Monday and Tuesday!). This is the longest run she has had since sometime in October.

Then I got hit. But not with pinkeye - our sneaky little girl went and caught another cold WHILE SHE HAD PINKEYE (probably at the doctor's, since we hadn't been out much other than that) - and as I went through two nights of the aches and the chills and a horrible sore throat and an extremely short lived but very high fever (on my birthday!) I realized our little girl was actually enduring it all quite well.

Thankfully when the week ended Layla hadn't had a chance to catch anything new and we were finally germ-free for the first time in probably five months... hence the amazing run of all-night sleeping.

So now, time for a recount (the old numbers are here):

Layla -
Total: 22, 1 rash, 1 pinkeye, 1 stomach bug, 19 colds
Fevers: 3
Days home from daycare: 12

Me:
Total: 17, 1 sinus infection, 1 stomach bug, 15 colds
Fevers: 4
Days home from work: 11.5 (including 7 half-days)

Derek:
Total: 10, 1 stomach bug, 9 colds
Fevers: 0
Days home work: 9.5 (including 7 half-days)

The whole year has been hard, but the last week surpassed my Worst Parental Experience So Far (sleep training, last July) by about two-fold. But, alas, most parents I have talked to (in Seattle) have had similar experiences - one other father said his kid was sick 24 times the first year, and he was sick 22 (amazingly, his wife was sick only a mere 7 times - likely a testament to how genetics might influence your chances of getting sick - although he's biased, since that's what he studies for his career).

Ugh, what a nightmare. Hopefully spring will bring a new beginning and lots of health to our household! We really need it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pink Eye!!

Poor Layla! Just as she was recovering from the stomach bug last week, she came down with pink eye. She was only in daycare for 2 days and she caught it the second it came through (they sent the other baby home as soon as they realized but... it was too late).

The Studly Hubby and I haven't caught it from her yet, thankfully - we all really took a pounding last week from the stomach bug and the sleep deprivation that comes with having a sick 1 yr old, so we needed a few days' break! But now we're ready. Today Layla looks like she's been hit by a train so by the weekend I'm expecting our whole family to be really scary looking. Maybe we can figure out a way to take advantage of it. I think Zombiefest is going to be in town...

Meanwhile Layla was kicked out of daycare for the week due to her contagion and we are juggling our work schedules and each staying home with her. And since she's sick, and it's cold out, we are really staying home - which could be rough. Fortunately Layla has been mostly good, and I bought a People magazine pre-emptively over the weekend, and the Studly Hubby has figured out all the good daytime shows to watch on TV (his favorite is Ellen) - so we aren't having too bad of a time, although I do miss work a lot (seriously).

The silver lining is that we are seeing a lot of Layla, and she's even in surprisingly good spirits most of the time. She's really trying to learn how to do things for herself. She wants to dress herself (without much luck yet), eat with a spoon, brush her own hair, carry around her own snacks, put her dirty laundry in the hamper (and everything else), pick out her own books (she's REALLY gotten into reading), and decide what to play with. She's also started 'taking care' of her stuffed animals, including a little baby her Grandma C sent her that she carries around the house, wraps up with a blanky, rocks, hugs, kisses, and reads books with, and a giant Tigger doll her Grandma and Grandpa A brought that she gently puts down for a nap with a pillow and blanket. I'm thinking she may have been paying very close attention at daycare... wow! She's also really communicating - she knows sign language for 'milk' and 'hungry' and is pretty clear about wanting to go down for a nap, all of which is super helpful. She also points at things and can clearly indicate when she wants something out of reach, and she's been keeping track of where some things are and where they go (like her binki, which is very important to her). She's also walking with no problem except when she's tired and stumbles around like she's been drinking a little too much (milk, of course). I feel like she's been making big leaps in her development over the past month, it's a little dizzying!

Here's one of my all-time favorite pictures of Layla and her Daddy. She's feeding him a banana in this picture, which is one of both of their favorite snacks. It was taken right before Germageddon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stomach bug!

Our house is afflicted again, this time with an evil stomach bug. Layla got it first, on Sunday night. She threw up in her crib, and again the next day, and was a little fussy but not too bad. The Studly Hubby stayed home with her most of the day Monday and then of course he caught it next. Now he's on the couch moaning and looking totally miserable. As usual we are both really surprised at what a trooper Layla must have been through all these miserable symptoms. I haven't caught it yet, but I suspect it's coming.

Today, Layla is feeling a ton better. I came home early to take over when the Studly Hubby got sick, and she cuddled with me and helped me put blankets and give get-well kisses to the Studly Hubby to help him get better. Hopefully he will be over it just as fast as she was.

Whenever I am at work worrying about my baby at home, the Studly Hubby will send pictures to make me feel better. Today he sent me this picture during snack time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Layla in the cart!

Now that Layla is a big 1-year old, she really likes running errands with us. Yesterday we took her to the mall and did a little shopping, which included a stop at Storables to look at locking garbage cans. While we were there we let Layla ride around in the cart for the first time.


Before this we rarely ever took Layla to the grocery store. We order a lot of our groceries from Amazon Fresh, we get a fresh veggie box twice a month, and the few times we go to the grocery store we either leave Layla at home or take her in a baby carrier or the stroller. After she had so much fun in the cart at Storables on Saturday, we decided to take her with us to the grocery store today and she had a blast. We had her ride around in the front part. It was a full grocery run with a full cart and by the end she really wanted to get at all the stuff we had piled up in the cart. Fortunately we were done right when she start really getting upset!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

1-year photos

The Studly Hubby and I, and the Studly Hubby's Studly Parents, took Baby Layla to the photographer's new studio in Belltown to get photos taken for the last of our pre-paid 1-yr photo package. Here are a few - more will be posted later when we get the full set, including much-coveted pics with the Studly Hubby's parents and another very beautiful new quilt made by the Studly Hubby's Studly Grandmother.






The last six months have been particularly rough, since we've all been sick so many times. Pictures not only preserve memories but also make you see yourself from a different perspective, which was exactly what I needed. In these pictures we all look very happy and healthy, and it was a good reminder to me that when we are well we ARE happy and healthy. Since the pictures were taken we had one more cold pass through but this weekend we seem to be doing better again, so hopefully soon we will have more healthy days than sick ones.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The D.O.

I reported earlier that Layla has been visiting a Doctor of Osteopathy that is working on her neck (so she can turn better to the left). He's doing such a wonderful job I made an appointment for myself and went in today.

Here is a picture of him from his website (I've fallen off the wagon with pictures but wanted to throw out a bone).


My totally awesome physical therapist AND my chiropractor AND our doula are all in love with this guy. They all think it is SO helpful for babies to get this kind of treatment (birth is traumatic!). At my physical therapy appointment last week, we spent a great deal of time discussing this and an equally important topic: just how old is this guy?

He looks 22. My physical therapist argued that he must be at least 45, from how long he has had his practice and how old his children are (he has a 10-year old, and by Seattle standards, that makes him at least 45). Today, he let slip an important reference date so I could solve the mystery; he is 37. I tried not to act totally surprised, but I think I did. The funny thing is, I didn't know if I should be surprised at how young he is or how old he is.

I'm happy to report that the appointment was really helpful. He found all my problem areas and worked to make them feel better. He didn't lecture me about my bad posture, instead he problem-solved on how to make my posture better. I think it was a success!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Our shy girl

As a couple more baby-colds passed through our house, I've had to duck out of everything non-essential again so I can maintain the basics - work, sleep, eat, take care of Layla. Although that sounds really boring it has given me a lot of time to watch all of Seasons 1-3 of Celebrity Rehab (and Season 1 of the follow-up, Sober House), which is AWESOME. So, it hasn't been all bad. Plus, the Studly Hubby as always has been super-supportive.

But before I get hit again with another baby-cold I wanted to report in on the latest of Layla's developments; she has gotten SUPER SHY!!!

It started a few weeks ago at a baby-group meeting - even though she knew everyone there, when one of the other moms came over to say hi to us Layla tucked her chin down and blushed... but ten minutes later she was in the other mom's arms telling her all about her day, so we were back to normal.

Then, last weekend a friend of ours stopped by to drop off a red wagon we bought from him and Layla actually CRIED... but we decided she must have been tired and our friend, a large guy with lots of facial hair, maybe looked kinda of scary from a baby's perspective. But, two days later another friend came by, Layla wasn't tired, the friend wasn't scary by any stretch of the imagination, and Layla cried, again!

Then yesterday Layla turned on the shyness full-force. All the babies in our baby group are turning a big 1 year this month so we rented out the Gymboree gym and had a big birthday party. Even though Layla knew everyone there, and there was CAKE, she sat in my lap for about an hour before she finally got up the nerve to venture out and explore. In the last 20 minutes she finally started visiting with other moms and dads so she did warm up eventually... but how weird!

Especially knowing her mother, who is NOT shy, and never was!

Clearly she got this from the other side of the family...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Learning to cluck

Layla loves to make mouth sounds. Each one takes her a bit to figure out, then when she gets it she does it for a few days, then moves on to the next. Most of them I don't know how to describe and we haven't caught on camera. This weekend she started clucking, and here it is.

Layla learns to walk!

Layla has been working on walking.

She's gotten really good at using her walker, which she really loves. She would probably be happy to walk around all day with her walker.



She is also really getting good at walking with our help. It's super fun!!



And tonight, she walked ALL ON HER OWN!! We caught it the second time on video. So exciting!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The D.O. Adventure!!

Layla made a special trip to a D.O. last week (Doctor of Osteopathy) to have her neck worked on. She has a mild tightness on the left side and trouble turning her head that direction, which the chiropractor has been hassling me to do something about. Although the doctor (M.D.) was unconcerned, the chiropractor was persistent and used scare tactics like 'this will be easier to fix now than later' and 'it's going to get worse!' accompanied by a stern face and a card for a well-known pediatric D.O. in town (who my highly esteemed physical therapist AND my beloved doula recommends).

So, I made the call and set up the appointment and took Layla in last week. I was totally worried Layla would be difficult and hard to treat but it wasn't so bad. The doc spent about 20 min talking to me about her history while she played with all his toys (she was particularly excited about a plastic bear, who she gave kisses to, it was very cute). Then I worked on distracting her while the doc gently released tension that was causing a mild twist along her spine, tightness in her neck and a flat spot on the back of her head. She was actually really good and he made a lot of progress - you could immediately see more balance in the way she held her head and I noticed a couple days later she was turning more easily to the left. Wow! We will have to go back a few more times to follow up but I was so impressed I made an appointment for myself too.

And I learned a few good tricks for distracting a baby - spinning super-interesting mobiles on the ceiling (particularly helpful during the five minutes she had to lie on her back, which we can never get her to do anymore), playing 'peekaboo' with her toys, singing songs and clapping together, showing her pictures, the 'binki game' (handing her binki to her, then taking it back, which she really likes for some reason), and of course, reading books. The doc was obviously a seasoned professional and knew every kids song (and more) and even had a lovely singing voice. He kept gushing about how BIG and STRONG Layla is and told her a long story about a crab that she seemed very interested in, all of which offered helpful distraction despite my deep suspicion that she doesn't totally understand English yet. Maybe even babies are wooed by obvious shameless flattery from doctor-types.

Update


We've decided Layla is not longer a little baby anymore. In fact, I think the progression goes something like this:

0-4 months: Little-little baby (or was she ever a little-little baby?)
4-8 months: Little baby
Now (10 months): BIG baby!!!

Layla is growing like a WEED. We like to call her 'Layla bean' because she is sprouting like a bean (actually it started when we saw her for the first time on the ultrasound and she looked like a kidney bean). Now she looks like a football player. Last weekend, we went to a Superbowl party at a friend's house with a lot of even BIGGER babies (almost 2 yrs) and Layla gave them a run for their money (or toys and binkis, as the case may be). She doesn't let anyone push her around!! Also, she really liked clapping and cheering for the game.

Our house is still slow due to all the colds Layla brings home. Here are the current stats:

Layla -
Total: 17, all colds
Fevers: 2
Days home from daycare: 4

Me:
Total: 11, all colds
Fevers: 3
Days home from work: 5

Derek:
Total: 9, all colds
Fevers: 0
Days home work: 1

Derek is clearly winning. We are all very grateful that none of the germs she brings home amount to much more than a runny nose, congestion, and coughing. Unfortunately that also means a lot of waking up at night, which is hard on us, but no ER trips or antibiotics so far, thank goodness. Meanwhile all our mom-friends keep promising it will get better in a year, and when cold and flu season is over, both of which is happening soon, so I'm hoping for the best.

Even with all the colds, Layla is generally a good baby. She still likes to play with all her toys (which were recently upgraded to big-baby toys, thanks to major donations by a local friend), she is very sweet to us, eats like a champ, and when she's not sick she sleeps really great at night. We feel very lucky! Especially during the 3 days a month when we are all healthy...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Caspar BabyPants

Layla's new favorite rock band is Caspar BabyPants.


Caspar BabyPants is a local band that sprung from another local band you may have heard of, The Presidents of the United States of America... the lead singer, Chris Ballew, created Caspar Babypants. They have good music and lots of local shows. Layla and I are going to try to go to a show but I hear they are often sold out and the baby mosh pits can get really scary, so we are going to proceed with caution. Meanwhile Layla listens to their CD all the time and boogies down every time she hears it.

She also likes her FisherPrice singing table (which sings the Number Song, her number one favorite song in the world).

Layla's new favorite food is Kiwi.


At first she thought it was kind of weird, but after a few tries she started to really dig it and now if she sees some on the table she throws a fit until she can have it.

And Layla's new favorite second cousin is...

Lydia!!!


Layla and I agree that Lydia is the cutest second cousin she could ever have imagined, and Layla can't wait to meet her and steal her binki. She has been practicing on the other babies at daycare. Lydia is probably so sweet she won't even mind when Layla steals her binki, because sharing binkis is what second cousins are supposed to do!!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

'Christmas' Newsletter

This is the first time in 8 years that I haven't written and mailed out our famous Onion-style newsletter at Christmas-time. Well, thanks to these two awful colds and all the chaos that comes with a 9-month old baby I completely missed the boat. But I don't give up! After everything finally calmed down and I felt better I finally wrote up that newsletter. But I've decided not to mail it out - I prefer that, but it's so far past Christmas, and I've got so much other stuff to do, that I thought I'd let it go this year. So I'm posting it here and on Facebook, where hopefully most of our friends and family will see, and electronically wishing you all the best New Year you have ever had.

So here it is, the 8th annual J&D (&L) Christmas Newsletter.

Parainfluenza!!


Found out today from a pediatrician at my work that what Layla and I had at the beginning of December was most likely parainfluenza (shown above in an electron micrograph), which is like the flu but not quite as bad (so our vaccine didn't cover it). Apparently, it's nastier than most colds, often causes croup, and sent a lot of kids packing off to the Seattle children's hospital in December. So, we fared through it pretty well but it made me feel better to know that we got taken out by something more nasty than your average cold. Ugh.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Update

What happened to December?

This is what happened - Layla and I were sick with TWO HORRIBLE COLDS!! Just as we were recovering from the first one (on Christmas - we were both sick for about two weeks) we came down with the second one, which knocked us out over New Years. Thankfully we weren't sick on Christmas Day but we were very tired.

Being sick as a parent is a whole new ball game. First, you get sick all the time (this is the 10th cold for me and the 15th for Layla). Under normal circumstances, it's tough to be sick. But when you have a baby in the house it's a whole new deal. When Layla is sick she wakes up a lot at night, needs to come home early from daycare (or gets sent home, as she did for both of these colds), and is generally fussy (although also cuddly). Add to that one parent down who also got sick, and suddenly it is an overwhelming amount of work for the other parent. Thankfully we haven't both been sick at the same time. If that happens, we may need to call in backup. I was way too sick to take care of a baby during both of these rounds.

Big Kudos to the Studly Hubby who managed to take care of both of his sick ladies AND keep the house pretty orderly AND host guests for Christmas AND deal with a flooded basement AND keep working for the past 3 weeks... unbelievable!!

Christmas!

Christmas was low-key this year, partly because Layla and I were still getting over bad colds and partly because we stayed in Seattle (and our family is in the midwest). My mom and brother came out to visit and we had small piles of presents for everybody to open on Christmas morning, then the Studly Hubby made an amazing Christmas Day dinner of a roast chicken and mashed potatoes with some yummy deserts.

From her Grandma, Layla got some fuzzy bunny slippers that we all adored.


Layla actually really enjoyed Christmas and all her presents (I was surprised by this - I was also surprised at how much fun I had buying presents for her, what a good excuse to get a bunch of stuff you want but don't need!). Her favorite presents were all the books she got (a big pile!), a drum from her daddy, and a Winnie the Pooh from her Grandpa M, which she bonded with immediately.
My favorite present for Layla was a pair of musical notes Baby Legwarmers for Layla from her Grandpa L. My favorite present for me was a SERGER, which is so complicated I can't even plug it in... but hopefully I will figure it out.

After we opened presents we had Christmas dinner. Layla was exhausted from playing with all her new presents so took a nap for the first half which was nice for the Studly Hubby and I, then she joined us for the second half and got to try some of the delicious food the Studly Hubby had made. Her favorite was a quinoa salad side dish. Everyone else's favorite was the mashed potatoes (from America's Test Kitchen). The windows are all steamed up from cooking all day!

We got to use some fancy new china our neighbors gave us, which has tiny roses on it. It was really nice to have some fancy china, although the Studly Hubby thought my excitement over fancy china was rather girly.



Our neighbors also graciously let my mom and brother stay at their place, since they were gone the entire time. It worked out great for all parties involved. They have a spectacular house and are incredibly nice people.