Saturday, July 26, 2008

This is why we came here

Today was a big day. It took us 2 years since we moved to Denver to make it happen, but today we summitted our first 14er!!! (A 14er is a mountain with an elevation of 14,000+ feet. There are 53 of them in Colorado.)

Other than a few modest hikes - moderate enough for me while I was pregnant, or short enough for Roan's short attention span - we have done almost no hiking. So it was a big deal to have Aunt Jen and Uncle Micah watch Roan for us while we went on this little adventure.

We woke up at 4:30 this morning and were out of the house by 5. We were on our way up the trail to Mt. Bierstadt by 6:45, reached the summit by 9:15 and were back at the car by 11:30. It was a short, but excitement packed day. I had butterflies in my stomach this morning, wondering to what extent we would feel the effects of altitude. Altitude sickness is a real threat. You can start vomiting suddenly, or even black out from lack of oxygen. We made sure to pace ourselves and stay well-hydrated.

It's funny to feel on the one hand like an extremely experienced hiker with over 2000 miles under our belts and many many mountain summits. And yet on the other hand we are total novices at high altitude hiking. So it was a humbling experience. We were eager to see how we'd do. And I'm glad to report we did just fine. Bierstadt is one of the easiest 14ers in the state, with a well maintained trail. The 3000 feet of elevation gain was spread out fairly evenly throughout the 7.6 mile hike, with just one brief vertical boulder scramble at the end. And I've got to say, it was great just to have a few hours alone with Arwen doing something we love to do.

Now we feel like we are officially Coloradans!

You can see all the photos from the hike here:

In Roan news, Little Miss is still just the cutest thing. She was a little off this evening though. After a fun-filled relatively trouble-free day she suddenly started talking about wanting to go to bed at 6:45 (normal bedtime is 8). When I sat down with her to cuddle up with her blankie, baby and a book, our normal nighttime routine, I noticed she felt hot to my touch. Sure enough she had 100.5 * fever, which by our pediatrician's standards barely crosses the threshhold of fever. We'll have to see how the next day or two unfolds but at the moment we're not sure if she's coming down with something or perhaps just teething. I thought I saw a couple more molars coming in (she already has 4 molars... how many molars do you have? maybe these are called something else but they're BIG).

In any case I hope hope hope that this is not the start of some new terrible illness. I'm slated to leave town tomorrow night for a weeklong business trip to Houston. She and Arwen will stay here in Denver. It is my first time to be away from her for more than one night. I'm not exactly thrilled about it. But I figured she would do better here in her normal routine with all the people around her who normally dote on her (except me), than if I carted her down to Houston and completely changed up the routine on her. We are just getting to the point now where she seems to be happy at daycare. This week we've had virtually no crying! Hopefully my being gone won't throw her off too much.

Here's a quick video that is sure to make you laugh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A little stolen time this morning

I was supposed to be getting on a conference call in 16 minutes (at 7 AM my time) but it's been pushed back an hour. Having to be at work by 7 AM is no problem for many of you out there, but for me it's waaaay too early. And were you fortunate enough to have a job situation where being at work means strolling down to the basement you would no doubt mock me for being a big slacking grumbler.

Of course gone are the good old days where I could just work from home in my bathrobe. (How I would have made it through pregnancy without that perk I don't know.) Now I actually have to get up early enough to make myself presentable enough to join the human race. This involves the usual things - shower, hair, makeup, and clothes - that are often eschewed by work-from-homers like myself. But with the two new guys we've hired in Denver, the basement is a hopping place lately. Plus we run a friggin daycare upstairs so the house has to be clean enough from yesterday's baby clutter, smeared food and dog hair for those same babies to crawl, run and walk all over the place and make those same messes all over again. Oh yeah and there's also the typical morning routine getting Roan ready to start the day - waking up, diapers, milk, food, dressing, etc. So mornings are a busy time for us, as they are no doubt in virtually every house on this planet.

In any case, since my meeting got pushed back I thought I'd make use of the time with a quick blog update. I also cleaned out the photos on my iPhone. They don't often make it up to the blog and there were some cute ones in there.

Here is Roan eating breakfast with "baby." She is really attached to this cabbage patch doll. "Baby" does everything Roan does - eats meals, goes in the bathtub, swims at the pool, gets wrapped up in blankets and cuddled, and sits on the potty. She can even pee if you squirt water in her mouth with the bottle she came with. Baby also comes in handy when Roan is having a temper tantrum over something silly or falls and gets an "owie." I can pick up Baby and console her when Roan won't let me give her a hug. That usually softens Roan up enough to let me give her some comfort too.

It's been so hot here lately that on Monday (my day off with Roan) we opted for an indoor air conditioned playground at the mall. It's pretty cute, a bunch of oversized breakfast foods made out of foam for kids to climb on. Here's Roan climbing up some banana slices into a bowl of shredded wheat with blueberries.

Here she is playing on the bacon and eggs. Notice the sausage links behind her.
And here she is climbing up and sliding down the bacon. Good times.

When I was going through the photos on my iPhone I realized that there were a couple of golden ones in there. It's been months since this happened, but it's still as funny as ever in my opinion.

TRUE STORY: Over at Jen and Micah's house they were in the process of swapping out the doorknob on the closet door. They had put on the new doorknob and realized it wouldn't work, so they took it off and left the door sans knob. The next day Jen was in the closet getting ready for work and somehow the door closed behind her. Wouldn't you know, she could not get the dang door open again. She tried everything she could with the tools at hand - a belt buckle, I think was the instrument of choice - but it wouldn't budge. Naturally she didn't have her cell phone on her, so there was no way to call for help.

She was sitting there trying to wrack her brain for a solution. Am I really going to have to miss a full day of work and sit here ALL DAY until Micah gets home?!? she wondered. Not content to sit around helplessly, she decided to take control of the situation. Here is a closeup of the result:

She kicked her way out of the closet! Quite impressive really. The hole was just barely big enough to squeeze through. All I can say is, don't back this girl into a corner; she'll come out swinging! Here is a wider angle so you can see it in the context of the room.

The best part was that she undressed before climbing through so she wouldn't get her work clothes smudged with drywall dust, only to find that she STILL couldn't get the door to open, even from the outside. So she had to climb back in for her clothes! And then of course later she had the fun of patching, sanding and painting that hole. It's amazing though. Homegirl can do some drywall, I tell you what. You'd never know that hole was there!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New milestones

Josefa was just here for a quick visit on her way back from a wedding in Brooklyn, NY. (Arwen's cousin Miriam got married in an orthodox Jewish ceremony. How exotic!) It was a brief stay, but while she was here she got in some QT with Roan. She was taken aback at how much Roan has changed since April when she was here last. She remarked that for the first time Roan seems like a toddler, not a baby any more. Of course she will always be my baby (I can already hear her groaning in disgust at this remark. Oh Mother! Geez, I am so suuuuure).

Hey I don't think I mentioned - or maybe I did - I am far too scatterbrained to remember much of anything these days and far too short on time to actually re-read my own writing - that we have started a little potty training. I swear I am not in a hurry for this kid to grow up, but she seems to have other plans. Out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago when she was in the bathroom with me she started pulling toilet paper off the roll, saying "Pay-puh", throwing it into the toilet and saying "Bye bye!". We're still scratching our heads on who taught her this. She also started talking about "poop" and "pee pee" with great interest, so I thought I better go ahead and look into potty training.

I had been under the impression that parents should NEVER start potty training earlier than 18 months lest the child develop all kinds of mysterious Freudian psychological problems (Roan was not even 15 months when all this started). I did some reading and checking in with friends as well as the Highland Mommies and found out that different families do all sorts of things, especially in different cultures. "Elimination communication" is all the rage now, which is basically toilet training for infants (crazy nuts in my humble opinion), and I also learned that lots of people right here in my 'hood introduced a potty when their kiddos were less than a year old, even if it sat ignored in a corner. I figured it was time to spring into action.

The first potty we tried was a miserable failure. She liked it in the store but not when we got home. So I tried another one. It is crazy with a capital K some of the potties they have available now, including ones with music, flushing noises and stickers that shoot out of them. Since our Roanie is somewhat sheltered when it comes to electronic toys and television I thought one of these fancy thrones might be overwhelming to her. I didn't want her to get sidetracked with stickers and forget to do her business. So we opted for something middle of the road. This is a three in one I think they call it - it's a little kiddo potty that looks pretty basic, with the cup you remove after they do their business. And for when she graduates to the next level, the thing comes apart and you can put the seat onto the grownup potty and the base flips over and becomes a step stool.

I'm glad we got started early because I think this is going to take a while. But it doesn't matter - there's no pressure - she has plenty of time. She likes to sit on the potty and read books. (We got some topical books with titles such as "Everyone Poops" and "Once Upon a Potty".) She talks about the potty and is somewhat aware of her business, but she seems to prefer to squat and make a mess on the floor rather than get it into the bowl. There have been quite a few messes to clean up. But the up side of that is with each one she becomes more aware of what's going on and seems more committed to getting things done on the potty.

Ok - brief sanity check: Have I actually been rambling on about my child's baby business for the past 15 minutes? Lord have mercy.

Long story short, she has had two successful episodes on the potty so far, one of each kind. Go Roan!

In other developments, she started going two full days a week to daycare. Last week was pretty rough because it was her first time going 2 days a week and it came right on the heels of our 10-day vacation, where she got to spend every day with us both. Last Friday the caregivers confided in me that it was her worst day so far. She apparrently cried off and on all day long. We were concerned.

This week we tried something new. A friend who used to work in daycare suggested to come up with a morning routine and always do the same things when we drop her off. So today I made sure she had her favorite blankie (not the runner up) as well as her cabbage patch kid (whom she refers to as "baby" and cares for tenderly throughout the day as well as steps on and drowns in the bathtub). I also put together a little picture book with photos of me holding her, Arwen holding her, Aunt Jen holding her, and her beloved Uncle GaGa holding her. Today when I dropped her off I spent a few minutes sitting in a corner with her on my lap, holding blankie and baby and thumbing through the book. When I got up to say goodbye she cried as hard as ever, but when I came to pick her up they told me she hadn't cried ONCE all day. I can't tell you how that buoyed our spirits! Even if we have some backsliding to come, it seems like we're on the right track. At least we hope so.

The other recent development is that we started a music class together (called Music Together appropriately enough). Last week at her first class she seemed somewhat detached, but this week she was into it big time. She was dancing (her baby moves involve an awkward combination of bending her knees while simultaneously sticking her neck out), clapping, and doing some hand motions. A few times she even shouted "Yay!" at the end of a song. It was freakin adorable.

One last development. It appears with a fair amount of certainty that Roan received the bookworm gene from me. "Reading" is a component of every day, often self-directed. I'll find her flipping through books on her own in the other room, or she'll bring us a book (or a stack of them) to read her. She is just now graduating to "real" paper books, not just the chewable board books. Her favorite for a while was One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. But now she is taken with Hop on Pop (she says "hop pop! hop pop!") as well as the Peace Book (a beautifully illustrated volume Papa picked up for her). Today The Cat in the Hat Comes Back arrived, but we haven't had a chance to read it. You might not realize it, but these little Dr. Seuss volumes are quite lengthy - 60+ pages apiece! And she actually sits enthralled through them. Who says kids don't have decent attention spans.

Other than that Little Miss is showing more personality and more willfullness every day. She is very good at asking (read: demanding) what she wants. I feel like a broken record because I must say 50 times a day "Oh that's not how we get what we want is it? What do we say?" What amazes me is that with that phrase she goes from whining/demanding to saying please and smiling in one second flat. She is also finding out more and more that we can't always get what we want, and that crying does not always get her way. One can't help but wonder all the time if you're striking the right balance between being responsive and raising a selfish brat.

I guess I'm quite the Chatty Kathy this evening. I keep thinking of "just one more thing" to add to tonight's entry. But I couldn't sign off without telling you how cute Roan was at the pool the other day. There was a little boy about 2 years old who was just the sweetest thing. He brought a ball and she had a ball, and he was sharing/trading with her so nicely. No fighting, even when she was rather brusque with him. At one point he came over and gave her a hug, ever so gently, without knocking her over in the kiddie pool. She was apparrently rather touched by this, and a few minutes later waddled over and planted a kiss right on his cheek. Wish I'd had my camera!

Ok that's it for me tonight. Later!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vacation, all I ever dreamed of

Oh there is so darn much to get caught up on. We just got back from a 10 day vacation in Michigan, and before we even left I was behind on the blog!

I think one reason I've been having a hard time keeping up with the blog lately (besides exhaustion, lack of time and lack of sleep) is that sometimes it feels like my blog is a big fat sunshiney happy lie. Not to say that things aren't happy and sunshiney around here. But they aren't that way all the time. And this just does not seem like the forum in which to air those things. I like to keep things positive around here because I don't think it's fair to you, Dear Reader, to turn this into a big negativity black hole. Lately reading some other blogs (mostly knitting blogs with pictures of perfect happy babies and expertly executed knitting projects) I realized I was developing an inferiority complex. Hey why doesn't my life look that fantastic? Doesn't anything ever go wrong for her? Anyway, I wanted to take a pause and assure you (not that you would be developing the same quirky neuroses as me) that life really isn't as great as it appears in my blog. I'm just skipping over the crappy parts.

Whew, now that that's off my chest... onto the fun stuff!

We had a great time on our trip to Michigan. We took the whole family including Sasha and towed our Little Guy 1300 miles each way. It was a loooong drive. Luckily the CRV managed to get pretty decent gas milage (20-22 mpg). We gave ourselves two nights and two days to get there, so that we could stop every few hours during the day and let Roan run around. We managed to stop off at Windmill State Park in Nebraska as well as Elk Horn, Iowa, where they have a working 100-year-old Danish windmill. We also made a few stops at playgrounds, a water park and at one point a big field in front of the 4H club where we almost crashed a wedding. We even stayed in Chicago one night with our friends Brea and Tim, who were kind enough to put us up at 1 in the morning and show us around their neighborhood the next day.

Roan did great in the car. We brought along lots of books and videos. She had almost zero interest in the videos, but that was ok. We sang songs, read books, worked on naming every object in sight (her favorite pastime recently), and stuffed her face full of all kinds of healthy munchies.

And eventually we got there. Hallelujah! We had heard that Traverse City was a nice place, but it far exceeded our expectations. And it was so great to get to spend some time with Jim and Beryl. They have a very comfortable home on an acre or two in a very serene neighborhood. They have a lot of green space and trails just feet from their house, so it feels somewhat remote and yet they are only 4 or 5 miles from The Lake! We couldn't believe it but the shores of Lake Michigan resemble some of the nicest beaches we've been to with clear blue water and sandy beaches. It was gorgeous.

We had such a nice and relaxing time. We had a day hiking, a day at the beach, a day riding bikes around town, a day wine tasting (there are a boatload of vineyards up there), and plenty of time to just hang out and unwind. We played records with Papa and ate Poochie's famous blueberry pancakes. It was so nice to be able to spend a lot of quality time with Roan and without having so much of our time taken up with all the petty little things that get in the way - cooking, dishes, paying bills, oh yeah and work! She enjoyed not only having our undivided attention, but Papa and Poochie's as well. And she loved playing with their sweet doggies, Tess and Olive, or Tessie and Anya as she calls them. She is *still* talking about Papa, Poochie, Tessie and Anya all these days later.

While we were there Roan had her first sprawled on the floor full on screaming and yelling temper tantrum. It was so funny I had to get it on video.

So now we're back home in Denver, and summer is heating up. It was 99* today, and considering the fact that we don't have air conditioning you'd think it would be unbearable. But it's not really. Don't get me wrong, it's warm, especially during the day, but with the swamp coolers and fans we have going it's tolerable. Then at night it cools way down outside. Tonight it's going to get down to 50* and tomorrow the high will only be 80*. Great summer weather.

Tonight Jen and Micah invited us and a bunch of our friends over for a baby happy hour / backyard bbq at their house. It was such a beautiful night, no one wanted to leave. There were margaritas, burgers and dogs aplenty, and all the little gals were toddling around playing at the water table and in the kiddie pool. Great fun was had by all.

I'll leave you with a couple of fun videos from our trip last week. One is of Roan attempting to take Olive for a walk. You can see she's going to be stubborn like her daddy :). The other is from one afternoon in the kiddie pool.