Saturday, January 30, 2016

We got some snow!

As January comes to a close, we can at least attest to the fact that we got some real winter weather!  Snowstorm Jonas dumped about 2 ft of snow on us last weekend.  In the days preceding the predicted storm we did what we could to prepare - loaded the wood boxes, dug some carrots before they got buried (our favorite pictured here), drew jars of water in case we lost power, etc...  Then we hunkered down, joined by the person Jonas and Emily to get snowed in.  Nothing like a snowstorm to slow down some activities and nix any progress on the outdoor projects lists.  It wasn't successful necessarily in slowing my or Jason's minds down.  I'm definitely feeling a need to rekindle some of my mindfulness practices!  We did enjoy some outdoor snow fun, enough shoveling to make me sore for a few days, a walk on the still snow covered road and then lots of game playing, hot drinks and good food. We never did lose power as it was a powdery snow and breezy so it didn't accumulate much on the trees.  Kali seemed almost disappointed and is suggesting once again we voluntarily go without power for some yet to be designated period of time.  We'll see.  I'll admit that while the adventure can be fun, I'm maxed out enough on the unpredictability of our daily routines right now that I don't really forward to any additional adventures! Here's a smattering of snow pictures!  We cooked up a feast of a brunch the morning the snow started, just in case we weren't able to turn the oven on again for awhile.  A good way to welcome the first few snowflakes.  The girls were eager to get out in it immediately, and while Jason and I would be ok with it melting at this point, they haven't had their fill just yet...
While the big girls played outside, Terah continued to expand her cuteness inside.  She spends some time each day in her circle seat - normally enjoying it long enough for us to get a fire started or Alida's tornado of play picked up in the living room, or a floor or two swept.  She is starting to do things more deliberately with her hands, so we imagine before long it will be enjoyable for longer stints.  For now it seems her main full-time job is drooling!  I never have worn a bib on one of our babies nonstop but she needs one. Without it, we go through multiple soaked outfits a day.  It seems that she is also settling in on the one finger chew.  We don't remember Kali really sucking/chewing any of her appendages habitually. Alida did the two finger suck (which was awfully cute).  Terah's little index finger in the side of her mouth is charming as well.  In other news it has now been over a month since we have had a poopy diaper. And, no, Terah does not have the worst case of constipation ever!  She is a pro at pooping in the sink and we hope to transition her to the real potty soon - though it might be a hard sell as she loves talking to us and herself in the mirror, as well as giving us some very cute growls.  She still wets diapers fairly regularly but has made it that we only have to wash diapers about 1-2 times a week rather than 3-4.  The other significant change for us is that we have now gone 3 nights in a row with Terah swaddled all night. The first few times I tried it, it was not a hit!  But you just have to keep trying stuff, right?  I was getting tired of her being so squirmy and flailing around, waking me more than her.  It just seemed like she could be sleeping more restfully.  So she finally was able to settle and go to sleep swaddling a few nights back and it is quickly becoming the nighttime routine, due to the positive reinforcement received by using it (better sleep for the baby and adults alike!).  I had forgotten how much I love those early morning stretches that come right after unvelcroing her and releasing her arms. Unconnected to that, Alida has also been sleeping through the night for a few days straight without waking us to pee.  We like these changes, but will try not to count on them, lest we be disappointed at the next bump in the road!  One of the things that is on the horizon that we are all looking forward to are Terah's belly laughs. We got a glimpse of them the other evening when Alida was playing boo with her.  I didn't quite get the camera in time as the excitement made her get the hiccups right when I started recording. But I got one cackle:

Yesterday was our first family night of 2016.  We employed our new plan of rotating through each of us getting to choose what to do on family nights.  Jason got to kick off the year and he was happy to take my suggestion of trying out the new ice skating rink in the neighboring town of Bridgewater. Kali and Alida had never tried before and it had been many years since Jason was on the ice.  Terah and I came along for the ride, and had a marvelous time watching.  Terah fell asleep in the pack while she watched the skaters going round and round.  I was surprised how very much I enjoyed watching the girls slowly pick up the skill within the 2 or so hours we were there.  I felt teary a few times watching Jason work with the girls - seeing him skating hand in hand with our 12 year old was a very sweet sight!  It's amazing how quickly kids pick up on things.  And Jason was whirling around at a fast clip by the end too.  It's a really fun rink and there was just a good feel about the place - people out getting exercise, enjoying the fresh air, and learning a new skill.  Last night Alida said she knows what she is choosing for her family skating!  Here's a brief clip early on in the afternoon.  By the end both girls were going on their own without help:

We left in time to check out the library in Bridgewater and Alida now has her very own library card.  With 40 books/dvd's, we headed home via the Friendly City Food Co-op (bananas for our squash yogurt gelatos and tahini for a new favorite discovered this week: red lentil hummus).  By this time Terah had been awake for some time and was getting tired.  We find that she does fine being put in her carseat asleep and waking up there and she does fine being put in when wide awake and entertaining herself by staring at the warning label on her carseat. What does not seem to work for her is being strapped in a carseat when she really wants to fall asleep.  By this time it was dark and getting quite nippy outside.  She was beside herself.  We pulled over once but there really isn't room in our back seat for much baby comforting/nursing and so we decided to just continue on.  But before long she was screaming to the point of gagging and was so sweaty and hot that I could not stand watching her suffer so.  I wondered what percentage of parents have taken a child out of the carseat and held them while traveling, as I did the very thing I thought I'd never do.  She traveled the last 10 or so minutes home in my arms and had finally settled by then, after I took off her sleepover so she could cool off.  I'm half embarrassed to admit it, but at that time it felt more cruel to leave her in and no other creative solutions seemed to be coming to either me or Jason in that moment.

The rest of our family night went up from there - we enjoyed squash yogurt gelato (sweet enough to not even need bananas this time - just squash and yogurt mixed!) with frozen raspberries and dehydrated pecans (and coconut for those who desired it) and did some more popcorn testing/tasting while playing Yahtzee.  Alida fell asleep before Jason could even get to her to read some library stories, and Terah followed not soon after all snug and swaddled up in my arms.  The bar has been set rather high for our monthly family nights!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Back to work...

Well I finally got Terah settled and asleep, Alida happily putting a puzzle together and myself with computer in hand reclining to write a blog post.  Moments later Terah is squirming around and waking up before I even type my first word. Sigh!! But I'm hesitant to complain since Terah was such a trooper yesterday on my first official day back to work.  I clocked in over 10 very productive hours thanks to her happily hanging out with her daddy when awake and taking two really long naps on me while I worked.  We had an impromptu family meeting last evening in which both Jason and I acknowledged that day one went better than we expected.  The main reason for the meeting, however, was to brainstorm a few ways to make these long work days easier for Alida.  We came up with a few ideas like making lists of possible activities for the day the night before and me working in the back bedroom some so that girls can be as loud as they want in the front room.  So we'll see. We knew the beginning would be a lot of trying stuff and seeing what does and does not work.  Tomorrow will be a new adventure for me as I'll be taking Terah into the office with me solo for the first time. And for Jason, Kali and Alida they will enjoy some time just the three of them at home - hopefully Kali getting to use her ax and Alida her pruners as they work together on keeping the clearing projects moving forward.

I better get to the few noteworthy items fast before Terah gets discontent in my arms.  This week had a few milestones - one for Alida and several for Terah.

After a few rounds of joining us at the dentist and having her teeth counted it seemed high time for Alida to have her first real appointment.  So on Wednesday of this week, four out of five of us had cleanings scheduled at the dentist. Knowing this was going to be a long afternoon for all of us, we scheduled a few fun things to look forward to following our appointments (a visit to our friend's farm to see baby lambs, to Kline's for Kali to cash in her ice cream coupons from caring for her friend's chickens/ducks for a month, to the co-op and possibly the library time permitting).  None of those things seemed good enough to ease Alida's anxiety about the appointment.  She expressed it by just boldly declaring that she was not having an appointment and suggesting that we wait until she was 5, or at least 10 more days or tomorrow worked too.  Well we knew each day she'd want to push it off until tomorrow and when she turned 5 she would likely want to wait until 6. So we just declared as confidently as she had about not having an appointment that she was having one.  Out of her earshot Jason and I wondered what we would do if she refused, but I was pretty sure she would come through in the moment.

Our kids never cease to amaze and surprise us!  And one child does not necessarily prepare us for the next.  We got there and Alida chose to go first to get it over with.  It was hard enough getting her into the dentist chair and that was as far as we got. There was no convincing her to open her mouth.  After a few minutes (felt like an hour), I hauled Alida back to the waiting room and Kali got on with her appointment. I can't say that it was a moment in which my respectful parenting was at its best. I was frustrated and a tad embarrassed by the scene.  Were we really going to have to leave with clean teeth for only three of us?

A long story short, she wanted to go second and in the end came through after I laid in the chair and she could lay on top of me for her appointment. Yes, I felt rather silly, but it worked!  She was very pleased with her new pink toothbrush and glow in the dark bouncy ball (the ring she picked first broke before she even got out of the chair!).  She also was eager to tell Grandma that she got to choose chocolate toothpaste for her cleaning.  While we were in the bathroom following she told me that it was kind of fun and she hoped we came back sometime.  I about fell over and was very clear that I might need about a year before I had the courage to try again.

It'd be nice to say the rest of the appointment went without a hitch.  The good news in the end was that we all got clean bills of health - so no need to return for at least 6 months!  But Terah was pretty ready to be out of there and she woke from a not long enough nap right when my appointment started.  It was Jason's first time trying a bottle with her but she was too tired for something new and in the end she came back for a brief nursing session to help her wake up happily and then we made it to the end.

We enjoyed a brief and very cold visit to see the lambs, stopped to pick up ice cream and use the remainder of a gift card I had received at my birthday at the co-op and then headed home where we were welcomed by friends who had brought soup and were joining us for dinner.  A good end to a rather exhausting afternoon!

So quickly for Terah's new milestones:  she has discovered her feet and her hands, tried both the doorway jumper and the circle seat this week.  I'm still in a bit of denial that she is ready for those things.  I keep reminding her that she is only three months old.  She has a whole lot to tell us these days too - she makes lots of happy cooing sounds and also seems to be experimenting with how to complain. I'm afraid she might be getting a few whining lessons from the next sister in line.  She is still not what I would call a good night sleeper.  She allows me to spend most of every night in bed but she is a pretty light and squirmy sleeper and sometimes takes a long time to settle in the evening.  But it's moving in the right direction!  I'll try not to focus on the final destination (a night of uninterrupted sleep) and be grateful for the baby steps made towards that goal!

Ok, my time is up.  The baby is talking to the ceiling fan but it's lack of response to her will mean she will be seeking human attention momentarily.  And it's about time to turn my attention to getting lunch on. Here's two short videos to enjoy - one of Terah in the doorway jumper and one in the circle seat where you get a small glimpse of her looking at her hand. Enjoy! Oh I should add when we first got the circle seat down, I came out to the front room to find someone else trying it out:

A few other pictures to end on!  Terah is not sitting up alone yet.  But it is fun to set her up and see what happens.
She loves new faces and other children being around.  This was one of those sweet moments I came upon recently where Terah was getting all sorts of advice from the big kids, and being assured that she would get to join the playdates someday.  Very sweet!
And finally here is one of the projects Jason has been working on: hugelkultur for future blueberry bed! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcoming a new year!

The start of a new week is upon us and the end of a long string of much anticipated holiday gatherings!  The extended Benner family has departed and what remains is fond memories of times together and the Christmas decorations that we are all likely a bit hesitant to take down.  The needles falling from the tree, however, will encourage my readiness to depart with it.

The girls all thoroughly enjoyed the time with family - there was always someone ready to play a game.  Grandma Benner successfully put Alida to sleep for the first time ever- yes, she was so tuckered out she couldn't make it through her new book. Terah also seemed thrilled by all the faces to study and people around adoring her.  She continues to expand her vocabulary!  Here's three short videos to enjoy (the first may be a repeat for those of you on facebook).  She is such a talker (she really loves talking to her daddy!) and the last one makes it appear that we may have another book lover on our hands!

So that we are not too far into the New Year when this gets posted, I'll let some photos speak to some highlights of our Benner holiday gathering.  Among them was several walks (including one at sunset and one in which we found a bounty of oyster mushrooms), gingerbread house and cookie decorating, trim painting at Jonas and Emily's, lots of game playing (including a rekindling of my enjoyment of Rook and learning Spades), and eating many delicious meals together.  It was also really fun to see the two youngest cousins get to know each other.

As much as we loved the time with lots of people around, it felt wonderful too to be just the five of us yesterday afternoon. I got three coupons from Alida for Christmas: one for a family walk, one for cuddling and one for a hair playing session. I cashed in the family walk yesterday afternoon and we took a hike on the mountain path across from our place.  It was sunny, brisk and energizing!  We talked about our hopes for 2016 and now have our plans made for family meetings, family nights, reading nights and Kali/Alida cooking nights. Avery productive walk it was!

I know I mention it in about every blog post but I love watching our three girls together.  Morning cuddle time is especially precious. This picture reminds me of one of me in between my two older sisters. My cheeks were equally impressive.
 In other news our lenten rose is blooming in January, as is our flowering quince.  And it's time to start seeds!  Jason sifted duff yesterday from under an old brush pile with his new handy dandy homemade sifter and then got onions and leeks started, as well as a few ramps. So I guess you could say the growing season is officially underway.  Now with teens in the forecast for tonight, I want to get out today and harvest some parsley, dill and cilantro.  And as we speak there are snowflakes flying around outside. Let's hope some sun comes out later to get the laundry dry that I put out last evening with hopes of it drying today. For now Alida is suggesting I cash in my cuddling coupon and read her a story.