No, not houses (THANK GOD) (although we will most likely have to move at the end of the year, which will make seven moves in seven years married, but let’s not think about that.) This is a blog move!
Somehow I totally missed the fact that I was quickly approaching the data limit on this blog until I met it, which means unless I want to pay real life monies I can’t post any more photos here. Clearly this is unacceptable, as my cute children’s faces cannot be denied internet access, and since I don’t have a spare $100 lying around to devote to a blog (we’re college students after all) I decided to just start a new one.
TL;DR I moved! I have a new blog! It’s here! Please follow me to my new location. :)
(I haven’t actually posted anything but an intro, but I have some drafts to move over from this blog so that’ll change soon. Also, after a month or so I’ll make a sticky post with a link to my new blog on this blog, and I’ll link to this post as explanation.)
Next on my Past Posts to Write About list: Damien’s preschool Christmas program! (I’m hoping to finish all of the December posts by the end of January. Nothing really happens in January so that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as I make sure to slack off in school.)
I was super excited when I found out that Damien’s preschool puts on a Christmas program each year. I’m sure it’s a pain in the butt for the teachers but I love this stuff; it’s just too cute. Each classroom had a theme and performed 2-3 songs (even the babies!) Damien’s class was supposed to wear dressy Christmas-colored clothes, so I paired his pants from Kaeli’s wedding with a long sleeve red shirt and vest set he got for Christmas last year (which was slightly too small, it turned out, but it worked for the night.) He looked very handsome!
I don’t want to post pictures of other people’s kids without permission so I cropped Damien in most of the pictures. Also, there was a professional photographer there who took most of these pictures (and shared them for free!) I only brought my phone, which normally isn’t a problem but this time I really would have benefited from bringing my real camera. The room was dark-ish and we were far away from the front (next year we’ll get there earlier) so my poor cell phone was ineffective at best.
Anyway. The program was held in the chapel of one of girls’ dorms at the college, within walking distance of the preschool. The kids had practiced there a few times, but Damien never got to practice because he was sick that week. As a result he was semi-distracted by the decorated stage but managed to pull it together by the second song (and his entire class is two years old so really, expectations weren’t high all around. As his teacher put it, she just hoped everyone got on the stage and stayed there.) My mom happened to be at the college that day so she was able to come to the program. She waited in the lobby with Damien and his class while Dan, Rowen, and I found a seat. The baby class (ages 0-2) came first, dressed as snowmen (and women) and carried by their teachers. They rang/shook bells and wiggled around to songs, and it was adorable. Next came Damien’s class, the twos room:
They sang two songs and did a rhyme/fingerplay with their teacher. They shook bells along with the first song and Damien loudly announced to the room, “I’m not doing it!” (although he did do it eventually, but thanks for that kid.)
Next was Damien’s favorite part, the Dancing Christmas Tree song. (Here’s what it sounds like.) The kids made their own Christmas tree hats and did the dance. It was too cute!
After that was the rhyme/fingerplay, but Damien suddenly got distracted by the stage decorations and started wandering. When all the other kids started sitting down, there he was front and center, posing. It was actually pretty funny, and as soon as he noticed everyone was sitting down he ran back to us. :)
To keep the kids entertained while the three- and four-year-olds did their songs, Damien’s teacher passed out goodie bags with snacks (genius!) and Damien and I took selfies.
After each class performed, the four-year-olds took part in a nativity scene that was most definitely the cutest nativity I’ve ever seen (it involved a little girl dressed as a star, literally leading the shepherds to the stable.) Then at the very end Santa and two reindeer visited us and brought candy canes to all the kids. Damien took this opportunity to thoroughly explore the stage.
Before we went home Dan and I wrestled the boys into position for a family photo. You can tell by all expressions in this picture who was happy about it and who was not! (I love it, especially Rowen’s expressions.)
Although it was all pretty darn cute, I have to say that the best part about the Christmas program was the weeks afterward – getting Damien to sing and do the dance for Dancing Christmas tree for every conceivable family member/whenever we got bored. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
I’m working on a million back post (not quite a million, although it does seem like it) so I thought I’d do an update on what is Actually Happening, Like, Right Now.
And that is: Rowen is asleep on my lap (as usual) and sick (not as usual.) This is actually his first real illness – he was a bit sniffly in the fall and we even ended up in the ER one night when he was making scary breathing sounds that apparently are normal for newborns to make (and yet Damien never once made) – but this time he has every conceivable symptom. He woke up at 3am Sunday with a fever of 101 point something (he wouldn’t hold still long enough for the thermometer to register exactly), loud raspy breathing, and a cough. Rowen soon added runny nose and extreme fussiness which lasted the whole next day, and then Sunday evening decided to throw in some vomiting and diarrhea. All in all it’s been quite the event. The worst part is he refuses the Tylenol that would lower his fever and make him feel better – he literally just spits it back up, no matter how long you wait or how sure you are that he swallowed, much like trying to give Ripley a pill. (Pilling Ripley is actually a lot easier, being as I’ve done it successfully and after five attempts I haven’t got enough meds in Rowen to lower his fever.) (It is lowering on its own, thankfully, and Rowen seems to feel a bit better today. Hopefully he’ll recover enough by tomorrow for me to go to my classes.)
Speaking of classes, this quarter’s schedule sucks. I thought it would be easier, and it is a tiny bit easier as far as classwork goes (at least so far), but I have evening classes every day except Friday and that turns out to be terrible. I feel like I never see Damien because I pick him up from school, and then I’m off to class again either thirty minutes or a few hours later. (On Tuesdays, he stays at school an extra hour because Dan has a late afternoon class, so I don’t see Damien until dinnertime.) It’s also hard to actually make meals when I’m gone around dinnertime (or actually during dinnertime) every day; so far we’ve made it work but I don’t know if it’s sustainable.
Related: I realized during Christmas break that I was probably depressed all through the last quarter. In retrospect it should have been obvious, but sometimes it’s difficult to separate the stress of what is obviously a crazy life from abnormal thoughts and feelings. (Also, a very small part of the problem was that last quarter I was in several classes in which depression is considered a choice, and even though I don’t believe that I let myself be swayed into thinking that maybe I really could fix myself, with less than successful results. I take full responsibility for this stupid idea, but I can’t say I don’t wish I had taken those classes while not in the throes of possible-postpartum-but-definitely-depression.) I made a doctor’s appointment for myself to talk about it and when I started listing why I thought I might be depressed, it was pretty clear that this stuff wasn’t normal. The doctor prescribed me a new medication that is considered safer for breastfeeding (I started on Celexa at 16 and stayed on it while pregnant with/breastfeeding Damien, went off it while pregnant with Rowen, and now I’m on Zoloft) but it’s too early to tell if it’s doing anything. Actually, just doing something about it was helpful.
(And before I move on, I have to mention that I purposefully made a doctor’s appointment a town over, because I knew that the local doctor covered by my insurance wouldn’t be supportive of me taking medication. He’s the same doctor that Damien and Rowen go to, and I have no problem with him as their doctor [although I wish his office was better at getting prescriptions to the pharmacy, but other than that, no problems] but he has been dismissive of me when talking about depression. For example, during Rowen’s five month checkup he had a checklist of questions to ask, and one of them was if I was experiencing post partum depression. I told him that I suspected I was and had an appointment to talk to someone about it, but was feeling a little better. His response was that if I was really depressed, I wouldn’t feel better, and that obviously I was fine and should cancel my appointment. Um. This is terrible advice. Being depressed doesn’t mean you feel suicidal 24 hours a day. Chronically depressed people do feel happy, they just start at a lower baseline than everyone else, and medication helps put you above that baseline and on a normal level with everyone else. I can’t believe people are still saying this crap to me, after over ten years with this diagnosis. Ugh.) (Okay, now I’ll move on.)
So, on to Damien! After his birthday he moved up to the three-year-old classroom, and he is loving it! He has a great teacher whom he is enamored with, he’s started playing with the new kids in his class (and can still play with his friends who are still two during their afternoon ‘recess’), and is being challenged in new ways and bringing home fun stuff he made at school. I’m glad we made the decision to enroll him in preschool, even though it was tough at the time, because it’s obviously been great for him. Example: one afternoon I went grocery shopping with Rowen and Dan took Damien to the library to play. When I picked them up again, Dan mentioned that there were other kids playing with the blocks and train set, and I automatically cringed, picturing Damien melting down and yelling at the kids to go away. Instead, Damien asked them to play with him and they built things together. I totally credit preschool for that! (Also, growing up helps too I suppose.)
Being three has ushered in an era of Disney-fication for Damien. I don’t really mind it, probably because he’s a boy and I don’t feel like he’s being Repressed by a Regime of Disney Princesses or something like that, and also because I was all about Disney as a kid (and admittedly I still like it.) He watched Frozen for the first time with Kassi over Christmas break and, like every other kid his age in the world, of course became obsessed. Since then he’s watched it several times a week (we draw the line at more than once a day) and is working on learning all the lyrics to Frozen Heart so he can sing it at preschool. (No idea where this goal came from, but it’s good to have goals, right?) We’ve also had several afternoons of Pretend Play in which he assigns Frozen roles to various members of the family (he’s usually Elsa or Anna, I’ve been Anna or Kristoff, and Rowen is invariably Olaf.)
Damien also asked for, and received, some Jake and the Neverland Pirates-themed Duplo block sets, which led to him wanting to watch the show, so we’ve had some pirate interest around the house too. I officially gave up on keeping his block sets separate – WHY did I EVER try to do this, I don’t know – and just dumped them all in one big bin. The positive result is there’s been so much fun pretend play going on; I love it! He’ll go in his room and play with blocks independently. His other favorite independent play toys are his Star Wars ships and figures (they’re not detailed figures, they’re more like stereotypical Army Guys, and I know that’s not a technical term but let’s go with it) – we brought some home from Dan’s mom’s house that were Dan’s growing up over Christmas break, and Damien picked out another set from Target with birthday money. Again, love all the creativity going on with age three – now if only we could get him to express some interest in potty training… (He’s gone from not caring about potty training at all to NO NO NO; YOU WILL PRY MY DIAPER FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS, AND NOTHING YOU CAN DO OR SAY WILL ENTICE ME TO SIT UPON THAT PORCELAIN MONSTER. So that’s great.) (Also, I have a hard time thinking of Star Wars being owned by Disney, but it did make that paragraph loosely connected so there’s that. Can’t really tie in the potty-training though.)
This next part is going to sound like a commercial, but here are some Disney-related apps that have made our lives much, much easier (and they’re free, for what that’s worth) –
- Oral-B’s Disney Timer App: We were at the point where we literally had to hold Damien down to brush his teeth (at which point he would semi-acquiese, but would randomly chomp down on the brush like a rabid animal.) This app has reduced the mad-dog act to about 10% of the time instead of 100%. We already had a Mickey Mouse toothbrush and Cars/Planes toothpaste, so the whole thing was no cost to us, and Damien loves collecting ‘stickers’. (My one question: how do you unlock either Star Wars or Frozen sticker books? Oral-B/Crest doesn’t make products themed with either of those characters, so I’m guessing it’s something you have to unlock after brushing a certain amount? Feel free to enlighten me.)
- Disney Story Central – this has been my saving grace for Damien entertainment while Rowen is sick. Basically, it’s a Disney ebook app, and you can buy books to read/for the app to read to you. So far all of our books have been free – setting up an account comes with a free book plus four free books of your choice, we had a free book included with our Frozen DVD, and I earned one book through Disney Movie Rewards. Instead of a ‘sticker’ system like the timer app, this app has badges/trophies like video games, and it keeps track of the number of books and pages you read. In the past two days Damien ‘read’ (had read to him) 298 pages, which is pretty freaking incredible considering I didn’t have to read any of it, haha! (I always offer to read the books to him, as that is an option, but he likes the ebook voices.) Oh, and this website is also an app for iPad, but we haven’t tried that out yet – Damien has been reading on my new computer (which has a touch screen, making it easy for him. More on that later.)
Welp, I think that’s enough random updating for today. I should probably actually do some homework during my long weekend. (I did read an entire book yesterday, and now I’m burned out on homework, which is too bad considering I have another book to read by Friday.)
Uh oh. Damien is coughing and has a runny nose. This does not bode well for my week….
Yes, it’s the end of January and I’m writing a post about when we went to get our Christmas tree. But it was really fun and also the first real tree we’ve had as a family, so I’m gonna go with it.
We’ve used a cheap artificial tree since we got married, but our storage space leaked and the tree was looking nasty so we threw it away. I love the look and smell of real trees and really wanted to get one this year, but I had no idea where to go. When I was little we went to tree farms and cut our own, and when I got older we got a permit and drove into the forest, but I didn’t think the latter option would work for us where we live so I looked for a farm, and I found one: Pochini Family Farm. It wasn’t too far from our house and it was really, really cute. The one downside was that it was pricy (we would have saved $10-20 buying from a tree lot) but we made memories so this year at least, it was worth it.
My parents were in town that weekend (there was a sports event at the college and my mom brought her high schoolers) so they came with us. Damien had a great time and Rowen did too, although he would have had a great time pretty much anywhere, as long as we let him out of his car seat.
We had to get a tree under six feet to save $20, but it was surprisingly hard to find one. I guess most Christmas trees are just over six feet. We finally did find one that fit both Dan’s and my standards (in between super fluffy and super sparse, with no obvious holes in the sides) and Dan cut it down. This particular tree had such a slim trunk the tree literally fell over before my camera registered I was trying to take a picture of Dan cutting it.
It was absolutely GORGEOUS at the tree farm. It was up on the other side of the valley from us, so we got some views we don’t normally see.Damien had a great time running all over the place. The tree farm was on a steep hill with switchback paths between the tree patches, so he got lots of energy out and thankfully never wiped out spectacularly as I kept thinking he would.
I’m not sure what this bell was for… maybe you were supposed to ring it after you found a tree? (That’s what we did anyway.)
After paying and sampling the free coffee and cider, we attempted a family picture. As usual, this was pretty difficult but we did get something. Unfortunately a small child was photobombing but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. (Dan actually Photoshopped her out for a print we hung on the wall, but she still made our Christmas card since the ‘shopping happened after I ordered the cards. Oh well!) Maybe we should have used this photo instead? :) (I love these so much. No one else was into it that day but that almost makes it better.)
Sizes: 6-9 months
Sleeping: This past month was super eventful and it’s definitely taken a toll on our routines, sleep being one of them. Rowen has wanted to be held for all naps and even all night, which although I love holding him isn’t always ideal or even possible. I want to start trying to get him to nap in his crib because his naps will be more peaceful/uninterrupted and I can get stuff done (he’ll still sleep in our room at night in the cosleeper until he’s too big for it, because I’m both lazy and paranoid.)
Eating: Still a little nursing pro, as his rolls will attest to. :) He’s definitely interested in Big Person Food and in a month will be sampling some! (I seriously can’t believe he’s already getting ready for solid foods; where does the time go??)
By far the best thing in the past month was watching Rowen and Damien’s friendship develop. Up until this point they’ve been interested in each other (though more interest from Damien’s end obviously) but this past month they’ve started to really love each other. Rowen will see Damien and his eyes will light up. He watches him with awe and interest that up until this point has been reserved for me (but I’m happy to share!) Damien loves making Rowen smile and laugh and has started telling him he loves him (which is a recent Damien thing – telling people he loves them completely unprompted. Yeah, that’s another awesome thing. He’s also told me that I’m “pretty” and “perfect” and I’m pretty sure God makes three-year-old boys amazingly adorable and sweet to make up for the times when they are soooo incredibly frustrating. But this isn’t a Damien update, so moving on.)
Rowen is still such a happy baby – except when he’s not, haha. He’s definitely got some strong emotions (wonder where he got that from?) but his dominant emotion is pleased with the world. His smile and laugh light up the room and get compliments from strangers wherever we go. Also high on the compliment list are his cheeks. They are sooo big and squishy and nommable!
Rowen can roll over from back to front and front to back. He loves playing with his toes when he can find them, and is close to sitting up by himself (once you sit him I mean; he’s nowhere close to getting into that position solo.) He loves to kick his legs wildly and joyfully when his diaper is off, and likes to watch Ripley if she’s anywhere near him (and grab her if she’s near enough for that.) Rowen continues to be a joy, and I absolutely love being his mama.
Now, here are some funny outtakes from his five month photo session:
It’s hard to believe that Damien has been in our lives for three years. I can’t believe that the little teeny baby – or even further back, the two lines on a pregnancy test – that inspired this whole blog is now a little boy with a distinct personality, a wild imagination, and a big heart. Dan and I just were reflecting that at this time last year we took note when Damien spoke in a complete sentence. This year, he speaks like a tiny adult (albeit one with a mild speech impediment. I love the traces of his toddler talk and will be sad when they disappear.)
His birthday was a fun day for all of us. This week he is slowly transitioning to the three-year-old room (which is actually not a room, as the three and four groups have the run of the whole preschool while the babies and twos are gated off) so he went to school on his birthday and all through the week. (Also, like I learned from his last preschool, as much as I’d like to spend extra time with him I will live to regret changing his routine any more than possible. Plus I can get a little bit done with only one kid in the house that I can’t get done with two.)
Damien woke up to a decorated door and his first present to open – a birthday tshirt from Old Navy (which, I discovered, was an amazing buy because all day people would say “oh, it’s your birthday? How old are you?” and Damien wouldn’t have to say anything, which was good, because he probably wasn’t going to.) He immediately put his shirt on and grabbed a balloon from the door and started batting it around.
I sent a special birthday-themed lunch with Damien:
That’s cheddar cheese (cut with a small 3-shaped cookie cutter), PB&J sandwiches (cut with large D and 3 cookie cutters), chocolate milk, and banana chips/raisins. I tried to think of a birthday-themed fruit or veggie but couldn’t come up with anything, so I defaulted to a known favorite. Also, I drew hearts on the chocolate milk as a ‘love note’ since he couldn’t read an actual note. :)
During the day Dan and I got stuff done and prepared to leave straight from Damien’s preschool. We went to pick him up fifteen minutes early, so we could sing to him and eat cupcakes with his class. Birthday boy was excited to see us and went straight to the inside tables and sat down (it was raining, otherwise we’d be at the outside picnic tables) but he handled the rest of the birthday festivities with his traditional stoicism (in other words, if it seems like it should be exciting, it’s actually Serious Business. Then he’ll talk about how much fun he had for days afterward, even though in all the pictures he won’t crack a smile.)
pics pics pics
From the preschool we drove straight to the nearest Chuck E. Cheese for Damien’s promised birthday dinner. It was about an hour away and perhaps would have been quicker but it was raining sooo hard I could barely see. On the trip over I was second-guessing my decision to take him to another town for his birthday, but as it turns out we had a great time and it was totally worth it. The best part was my parents were able to get away from the afternoon and meet us, since the Chuck E. Cheese was about halfway between our two houses.
It had been many a year since I set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese – I think the last time I was there was for Kassi’s birthday sometime in elementary school, in 2003 or earlier. I was surprised that in this particular location at least, the place was classed up – the place was clean, neat, and organized, the games were upgraded (there weren’t as many rides and there was no playground at all though, which was a bit disappointing), and the menu was much larger (the salad bar? Amazing.) The semi-creepy animatronics remained, but they lent a bit of fun nostalgia to the evening, and no one was scarred for life or even scared at all. :)
The pizza package I bought came with drinks and tokens. It was just enough for one three-year-old kid to run around and play basically to his heart’s desire, while his parents stole a few tokens for an epic Guitar Hero battle (we actually played co-op because Dan is waaaay better than me. It was really fun; I miss Guitar Hero! And we totally beat the pants off all the ten-year-olds playing, haha.)
Did I mention that Dan and I had fun? Because we totally did. We might have had as much fun as the birthday boy.
We also sat down at our table (which was held down by our jackets and a (small) pile of presents – there weren’t very many people there so it’s not like people were clamoring for our spot) and ate at some point. My verdict: pizza okay (but actually better than I remember it), salad bar amazing (they had sooo many options for everything! It’s way better than the college cafeteria salad bar I occasionally subject myself to.) Dan thought the pizza was crappy but he’s eaten much worse (read: on sale frozen pizzas that are on sale for a reason) so I don’t know why he was complaining.
Damien opened his presents before we went home. Most of his present-opening would take place at his actual birthday party, scheduled for the Sunday after his birthday, but we wanted him to have something to open on the actual day so we brought them. I didn’t take a picture of the wrapped presents (which is too bad; they were cute) but here is Damien with his favorite present:
(We also got him a few other things but none received this reaction. They were more appreciated at home though.)
And, last but not least, Damien cashed in his tickets for exciting (cheap and crappy) prizes and met Mr. Chuck E. himself.
(This happened two months ago. I’m publishing it anyway because that’s how behind I am. In two months you’ll probably be reading about the things we’re doing right now.)
I already wrote about our Thanksgiving with my family, but we also celebrated Thanksgiving two other times, with Dan’s family. Our first Thanksgiving was with Dan’s dad, stepmom, and sibs, the week before Thanksgiving. I always look forward to this celebration because the food is, without fail, amazing. :)
(For whatever reason, 100% of the time we visit I either forget my camera or phone or it’s dead. This time was no exception, so I stole these photos from Karla, Dan’s stepmom.)
After Thanksgiving with my family we drove to Dan’s mom’s house. On Thanksgiving day we drove down and Rowen officially met his breaking point – up until that point he had been so good in the car, but this trip is when the screams began, and sadly they haven’t stopped since. This is the trip that broke his great-in-the-car record. (After about a month he thankfully went from terrible-in-the-car to okay/average, which I’ll take.)
Dan and I spent our time in Redding wisely, with our Trio of Awesome: Dutch Brothers, the Giant Goodwill of Awesome, and my Favorite Ever Kids’ Thrift Store. That thrift store had moved to a new, bigger, even awesomer location, and I was happy to get a chance to visit. We really didn’t need anything but I did bring home two winter hats for Rowen and a book and a big jigsaw puzzle for Damien (made of, I kid you not, recycled organic materials.)
We had our actual dinner on Saturday. Dan’s grandparents were there, along with his cousin/wife/son, and of course Dan’s mom and uncle who were hosting the shindig. Dan’s cousin Nathaniel is about seven years older than Damien but they surprised us all by playing really good together. That night we had to drive back home because school started again on Monday (cue weeping and gnashing of teeth.)