Aug 26, 2011

It’s Amazing Being a Parent

Becoming a mother has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Watching London grow and learn is a highlight of mine every day. It’s hard to think that just a year ago she was just under three months old. We’d travelled to Minnesota where she spent hours entertaining my grandma cooing and wiggling around in one spot on the floor. And that was so fun. But not as much fun as the last month seems to have been.

London has made leaps and bounds in her growth, both physically and developmentally. On the physical side, I swear she’s grown another inch. Pajama bottoms that we used to have to roll up at the waist so she wouldn’t trip now fit perfectly. Most of her 12-month old t-shirts are too small to pull over her head. Overall, London just looks bigger and her personality is really shining through. Just the little faces she makes and how she knows where things are to tell us what she needs is amazing.

Developmentally, she made leaps and bounds eating and comprehends so much more. London’s gone from eating jarred food to soft big people food, chewing like a champ, even without any molars yet (those are on their way I’m sure, judging but her grumpiness sometimes).

Forget trying to eat without her – if she sees you eating, she is right by your side begging for a bite, almost grabbing the fork out of your hand. And she’s started to try and use her own utensils versus being fed by us. She is all about independence when it comes to eating and takes great satisfaction in being able to put her own food in her mouth – she’ll even get mad if you try to feed her. She loves mac and cheese and her Gerber veggie crisps, but also isn’t picky and will eat whatever you offer. Tulley has quickly learned to be at London’s side the seconds food comes out, especially with the veggie crisps. When she wants them, London runs over to the side of the fridge, which is where we normally try to hide the container from her sight. If she wants a bottle of milk, London runs to the side of the sink where the cabinet is that holds her bottles and sippy cups and then follows you to the fridge to make sure you’re getting her milk. As soon as she sees the milk she runs and lays down on her soft Disney princess blanket and waits as patiently as possible for a 1 year old for the bottle to arrive.

We take the veggie crisps with us when driving, in case London gets hungry or cranky. When she does, I hand her one at a time. When she’s ready for another crisp she raises her hand above her head so I can see it over the car seat and makes a little murmur, like she’s saying “More please”. It’s completely adorable.

London also likes to walk around when permitted, but will hold your hand when asked. This is good as she is getting heavy – my hips can only handle her sitting on them for so long now. It’s great too, because in the morning when I’m loading up the car, she can walk outside on her own and wait for me clear my hands to put her in the car seat. She also knows what bath and bed mean and high-tails it to the gate when you ask her if she’s ready for one or the other. Some nights she really is just ready to go to sleep. She’s great at climbing up the stairs and yesterday, when we let her try she decided sliding down a few steps was her best option versus trying to walk.

She’s gotten a lot better with all the animals as well and loves animals in general. Tulley is still her favorite, followed by Jake. She knows not to bother Melody, and quickly learned it was not ok, nor funny to push her ride-along princess push cart into Melody. Melody tolerated it well, we sent London to her Bumbo chair for time out since she can’t get out of it on her own and this infuriates her. We make her sit in it long enough to get upset and calm down, which is usually about two minutes. With Tulley she knows she can crawl all over her, cuddle, hug and kiss, as well as pat roughly. With Jake she knows to pet softly and tries to cuddle with him as much as he will tolerate. I caught her trying to sit in her new toddler-sized chair with him the other day when he was sleeping in it. Pictures to come, I promise.

The transition to the new daycare has gone amazingly smooth, too. I don’t know if it was the small amount of exposure she had at the previous daycare, or the time she spent with Kim, Kaley and Paige last week, but by Wednesday, when Cameron dropped her off, there were no tears. I think it does help that she is with only kids her age, and only three others. Plus, the room the Froggy group is in, has no windows so when the lights go out at napping time, its nice and dark. The only light comes in from the next door infant room which has a half door separating the too. She’s also sleeping on a cot there – this will be great when we transition her from the crib to a toddler bed.

My favorite thing about all this growth is the couple of art projects I’ve received. She made a butterfly hand painting at the previous daycare and has used crayons at the new one. It makes me want to run out and get her some crayons, finger paint and paper to encourage her artistic side even more.

And while Cameron and I are amazed everyday, we also get a little sad, realizing how big our little girl is already. I can only imagine the changes we’re going to see over the next month and year.

Aug 12, 2011

Fort Bragg

Cameron and I seem to be creatures of habit. While we never celebrated an anniversary before we got married, now we cannot celebrate our wedding anniversary without a trip to the coast. It’s also convenient that by August, we’re usually ready for some cool, foggy coastal weather compared to the heat of Sacramento (though we’ve been blessed with a relatively mild summer so far).

Thursday night we packed up the car and Friday morning Cameron drove me to work. We both worked half days before he packed up all those pesky last minute travel items, London, Melody and Tulley and drove back to my work to pick me up by 1 PM.

No trip to Fort Bragg is complete without a stop at Granzella’s in Williams for a deli sandwich. Usually we eat there, but with the heat and the dogs in the car, we only had time for carry-out. Cameron ate his sandwich in the parking lot while I fed London. We didn’t want to get going only to have her get hungry in the middle of the windy part of Highway 20. After a quick visit to a customer of Cameron’s near Clear Lake, we were officially on our way and on vacation.

Of course, London did get hungry on the windy part of Highway 20. Luckily she’s starting to eat more and more solid foods and has taken to the idea of feeding herself. I’d set myself up in the front to have access to her Gerber Puffs, Crisps and Wagon Wheels. This enabled me to easily hand her a wheel here and there as needed to wet her appetite until we got to the motel.

We must have arrived around 4:30/5 PM. We quickly settled into our room and headed for the beach with Tulley in tow. No way were we going to attempt taking Mel anywhere near sand – we’d never get it all out of her fur and she’d be miserable the second her feet got wet. London and Tulley, on the other hand, had a blast running around in the wet sand and cold river water running into the ocean. We didn’t stay long as we were tired and still needed to go into town to grab some dinner and necessities at Safeway.

Back at the room we made the mistake of turning on “How I met your Mother”. It was the episode that revolves around Marshall’s quest to find the best hamburger he’s ever had in New York City again. Within five minutes we were starving for a juicy hamburger and knew exactly where we’d be going. We secured the dogs and headed for the North Coast Brewery in Downtown Fort Bragg.

Boy was it busy! Usually we get there so close to closing there’s no wait. We spent the 30 minute wait wandering in and out of a few shops in Downtown which we learned stay open late on the first Friday of the month during the summer. We saw a great photo in one gallery of a man with his dog fishing, the dog focused on a lone mallard duck. Unfortunately they didn’t have smaller prints of it.

London had fun walking around and smelling the lavender in the parking lot when our time to be seated got close. We were in good company, as almost every family waiting for a table had children with them as well. We even met a little 18-month old girl and her dad who were in town from Chico. This little girl had even less hair than London does! Guess it really takes some time for hair to really start growing on some kids.

With London eating actual food, we took a chance and ordered her some pasta with marinara sauce, while we ordered our juicy brewhouse burgers with garlic criss-cut fries and beer-battered onion rings, as well as a pint of our favorite beers. We kept London entertained with her veggie crisps, which seem to be her favorite, and some toys before dinner arrived.

She did alright with the pasta, though I think more of it ended up on the floor than in her mouth. One waitress howled with laughter after London took a handful of pasta and dropped it on the floor just as she was walking by. We did discover that London isn’t as in to lemons as she used to be, which is probably good as the acid isn’t great for her new teeth – She’s up to 6 or 7 now and may be battling her first molar. I also found myself filleting and cutting up one of my pickle spears for her. Now that was a first!

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in at Safeway for the essentials: Champagne, yogurt, donut holes, milk and cookies. By 10 PM, we were all exhausted and asleep, champagne unopened.

London woke us up at the crack of light – can’t say dawn as there was no sun, just fog. We pulled ourselves together and headed out for a drive up the coast in hope London would fall back to sleep. She may have been awake but she needed more sleep the cranky little butt.

While it was foggy, we were still able to take in some great sights of the ocean. London woke up just as we were on our way back and near a winery we wanted to go tasting at. Pacific Star winery wasn’t supposed to open for another ½ hour but the guy that was out front said we were welcome to wander the grounds until they did – and he ended up opening 15 minutes early for us any way.

The winery is more of a glorified tasting room and the wine maker’s home, as there are no grape vines located on the property – it’s just too cold and cloudy there. The tasting room sits right on the edge of the ocean with a nice picnic and bon fire area. Empty and full wine barrels scatter the grounds. While waiting we watched an otter hunt for food in the tide pools below. Just as we were able to go into the tasting room, the wine maker herself came down to open a few bottles to do some tasting of her own to determine which wines she wanted to serve at a party they were having there that night. This resulted in us getting to taste some older vintages of her wines that normally are just sold, not tasted. Good thing too, as we bought four bottles of one of those wines – Dad’s Dirty Red, which is a Claret, a mild red wine that Cameron usually loves.

Pacific Star actually makes several kinds of wine made from non-traditional grapes, including Orange Muscat and Charbono. While most associate Muscats as a sweet, dessert-like wine, this one was not much sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines were delicious and we ended up not only joining the wine club, but buying an assorted case - all the while having a toddler run around the tasting area.

We were exhausted but hungry. We decided to try the Thai restaurant located in the parking lot of our motel. The guy who had conducted our tasting at the winery had suggested it. We ended up ordering way too much food and decided the leftovers from lunch and Friday night’s dinner would be our dinner that night. We love that the motel’s rooms come equipped with little fridges and microwaves and often eat a meal or two in.

Back at the room, Cameron took a nap while I played with London. Not long into Cameron fell asleep, London grabbed her binky and laid down in the crook of my arm and fell asleep too. I quickly joined in, though I’d end up waking up to my arm and butt both tingling from sleep, a result on lying on the hard floor. Of course, to move to the bed, I had to move London and was not able to do so without waking her up. Luckily, I was able to get her back to sleep quickly, albeit on my pillow on the floor. Good thing to beds come with three pillows, which I wrestled out of Cameron’s arms.

Around 4:30 PM we all woke up – I think we all slept a good two hours. Couldn’t really blame ourselves as we all needed it after all the ups and downs that have been going on in our lives, plus the room was relatively dark thanks to the fog.

We were in Mendocino by 4:45 and were able to wander a few shops before most closed at 5. I find it odd that during the height of tourist season, on a weekend, that the shops still close so early. You’d think they would want to take advantage and stay open until it was dark or as long as there were people out and about. Oh well, saved us from spending any money.

Back at the room, we settled in to eat our left overs and drink the champagne, while channel surfing and playing with London and the dogs. London turned into a cranky little monster and refused to go to bed. After some burps and farts, we realized she was gassy. Once she made a dirty diaper, exhaustion set in and she quickly fell asleep in her portable crib in her “touchdown” pose using the pillow from that afternoon again. She’s definitely ready for a pillow of her own. I’ll likely be heading to Joann’s this weekend to find a small travel-sized pillow for her and some soft fabric to make pillow cases out of for her.

Like always, as soon as we woke up Sunday, we packed up the car and headed home. We soon learned that we shouldn’t feed London a big bottle before going on a windy road. We weren’t even 20 minutes into the drive before we smelt sour milk. We pulled over as soon as we could to find London had thrown up the entire 8oz bottle she’d consumed at the motel while we packed up the car. There was so much liquid that it had leaked down into the base of the car seat.

We must have been quite the site on the side of the road. There we were in the dirt to the side of a turn-off. Cameron’s just standing there watching me soak up and wipe off as much of the liquid as I could, London sitting, strapped in her car seat on the ground in the dirt. Then there was a scene of Cameron holding London out from him, her half naked, with me wrangling off the soaked diaper and wiping her down, and then clearing space in the car to get a clean diaper on her and new clothes on her. We had to take the crib sheet and put it under her in the car seat so she wasn’t sitting on the cold and wet cushion. Luckily the rest of the trip home was uneventful, though a bit long with the smell still lingering and growing stronger as we got into the warming valley. The smell went away once the liquid soaked wipes and clothes were removed from the car.

Aug 10, 2011

A Complete Nightmare

I don’t even know where to begin. Two Mondays ago (July 25th) London started at her new day care. We knew it would be an adjustment for her. What can you expect? She’s only a year old and has had one on one attention since birth. But she’s never shied away from playing in the midst of big groups of kids. Of course, we or someone she loves and trusts has always been there watching over. The only issue she’s ever had with other kids was when a few of her well-meaning cousins got too close – literally inches away - to her face. But she’s even better about these instances, though we definitely discourage them too. There’s no need to be that close.

Around 2:30 PM on Wednesday, July 27th, I received a call from Miss Victoria. Alarmed, she assured me London was ok. Then she quickly jumped into her spiel about how London was too needy and overly stressed, and how she couldn’t give London the attention she needed to adjust to the new situation. Oh, and she mentioned how it was causing issues with the rest of the daycare – several times. Without saying it directly, she was throwing us out – we needed to find alternative care. I couldn’t concentrate after the phone call so I ran home. If Miss Victoria didn’t want our baby around, there was no way in hell we were going to have London there any longer than was necessary for us to get home and pick her up.

I’ve since talked to several daycare facilities and providers. All think it is absurd that after less than three days Miss Victoria was throwing in the towel on our little girl. Some have even gone so far as to say London’s reaction was quite healthy and natural. She’d quickly figured out that Victoria was the person in charge and she bonded to her. Apparently, wanting to be with Miss Victoria at all times was too much and too clingy.

All London wanted was some reassurance that she was ok. It was going to take some time for her to adjust to the other kids, the activity that went on there, etc. Plus, on Thursday, Cameron discovered that London had three new teeth coming in. London always gets cuddly when she gets teeth – she’s in pain and not feeling 100 percent.

Cameron ended up taking that Thursday off, and I took Friday. My mom has been the saving grace driving from Tucson to be here last week and this week. Poor London is totally mixed up. While she has been very happy to have the attention and to have her grandma here, she has also gotten wildly upset when I leave for work, or when Cameron and I left to go out to dinner for our anniversary last week. It just breaks my heart and makes me wish I could be home with her every day.

Hopefully we’ve found a good new day care. I don’t know when we’ll start as the provider is waiting to have her license capacity increased – she expects this to be completed this week. We’re crossing our fingers that this is the case and that it ends up being a better fit for us. We do have a second choice that we know has room for London which we will go with if we can’t be guaranteed a start date of August 22nd. Mom goes home this weekend and our friend Kim has graciously offered to watch London next week if we need it.

Between the stress of finding a new daycare, taking time off and looking for a new daycare, we’ve been stressed to say the least. Add in that we had to fight tooth and nail to get most of our money back from Miss Victoria for the services she did not provide, we’re fried.

One highlight from all of this is that Cameron was able to pick up Tulley from the trainer on the Thursday he took off so at least we have the whole family back together. We definitely needed our annual trip to Fort Bragg this past weekend too. More to come on that trip soon.