Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas cheer

Recen weeks have been tough.  The girls both got colds a couple weeks ago and they have had a lingering cough since.  Clara decided to go on a near hunger strike (she weighed less at a doctor visit than she had a couple months ago, not that she was big to begin with), and Janny refuses to sleep through the night.  Last night we tried white noise (large fan) to no avail.

But you know what?  I'm happy.  During normal waking hours, the girls are super fun to play with. That takes some of the sting off middle of the night feedings.  I still have a job, and I have a wife that loves me.  And my health (except for a cold that won't go away because I don't get to sleep enough) is good.

Clara says funny (to me) things all the time, like 'Don't do that, baby [to Janny]', and 'Oh pretty', when she gets something she wants (like a chocolate).
 Janny is crawling around the house and now pulls herself to stand.  Clara is her hero.
 Clara loves to play with the nativity figures.  Here they are in a boat on a soapy lake.
 Did I mention that Janny is crawling everywhere?
 Another semester has blown by.  Our super thoughtful students gave us a hot water holder machine.  so come over for tea any time.
 We read Curious George rides a bike 5 times yesterday.  Clara cried the first time she saw George crash the bike.  Sweetheart!  I don't want to give too much away here, but Bob is able to true the wheel and fix the flat (things that Daddy can do also).
Speaking of biking, I'm riding just a little.  I rode in the grass and mud with Tom last Sunday.  Today, I took a short ride in the dark and saw another cyclist coming the other way.  In the dark in mid December, 2 riders were out there living the life.  The others all smartly rode in the morning.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

MI thanksgiving

Has it been a week already since Thanksgiving?  

Two things conspired to delay this post.  First, I took a work field trip to MO to visit a limestone mine and lime processing plant.  The mine was awesomely huge.  One of the 2 traffic lights in town is located in the mine.  The formation is 100 feet thick and has been mined for about 100 years.  Explosives are used to break up the rock.  Grinding happens inside the mine, and the small rocks are sent on conveyer belts to the kilns (ovens).  Lime processing involves cooking the rocks in 300 foot long, 11 ft diameter rotating kilns made of steel and ceramic tiles.

The second hiccup is that Janny is sick.  She has congestion and a runny nose.  She's also very tired, perhaps because she moaned from midnight to 3 am on Friday night.  In related news, Jill and I are also tired.

We got together with Jill's side of the family in Jackson, MI, for Thanksgiving.  
 The Smiths all drove up together from Nashville.  Clara really enjoyed playing with the big kids.
 Some of the northern Michiganders drove down for Thanksgiving day.  Here was the whole gang (minus photographer Jill) that was present for the meal.
 On Friday, we went to the childen's activity center/science museum in Albion.  Janny enjoyed the under 4 year old region.
 To no one's surprise, Clara enjoyed the mini-river.  Chad spent all morning here...
 ... and even allowed other kids to play as well.
 The artistic amongst us decorated cupcakes.  Jill worked hard on the simulated pie crusts.
 Not just for decoration, those cupcakes were super yummy.
Our Christmas tree is up.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Janny reaches 8 months

Janny is 8 months old.  She's one of the bigger babies in the baby room at church.  

She now sits, eats solidish food, crawls, and puts everything she can find into her mouth.  She doesn't like resting on her tummy, so her crawling is a lumbering motion using two hands and a knee or foot or two.  She's not fast, but she can get to a another spot in a room when needed.
 We're feeding her baby oatmeal in the morning and a two dish dinner consisting of rice cereal and a veggie.  But her favorite food are puffs, just as they were for Clara.  We're trying harder to make her eat better than Clara did/does.

Janny's sleep patterns are unlike the rest of us.  Jill, Chad, and Clara all love to sleep.  Janny can do with much less.  Here is a typical sleep schedule for us lately.
Clara goes to bed at 9pm.
Janny drinks a bottle of milk and goes to bed at 10:30.  We go to bed straight away.
Janny wakes up at 1:30 to yell and drink a sip of milk.  Takes about 30 minutes.
Janny wakes up at 4:30 to yell and drink a little milk.  Again, about 30 minutes.
We all wake up around 7:30am.
Janny naps for a hour or two some time during the middle of the day.
Clara naps from 2-4.

Written out this doesn't look to bad.  Still, we look forward to sleeping through the night again.
Clara is getting to be a talker.  Discussion topics are limited but it's a blast to hear what she's thinking about.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

before dawn

Grandma and grandpa S stopped by for a short visit last weekend.  Have I said this is the best fall ever?  There we were sitting on the back patio of Pekara in downtown Champaign on the first Sat in Nov.  And it was sunny also, which clearly overwhelmed my photography skills.

They left our house at 5am on Sunday to drive home.  Our human fire alarm, Janny, woke them up, so they decided to get moving.  Oddly, they didn't leave when she first yelled at 2 am.
On Thursday, we heard a loud thump at 5:30 am followed by some crying.  Clara tried to climb out of bed and fell down boom.  She calmed down enough to ask for milk and fell asleep shortly afterwards.  We all woke up at a reasonable hour and did our normal morning activities (eating raw eggs, doing 500 pushups and situps, practicing Latin, and developing our political theory).  Only when I picked up Clara to change her diaper did Jill notice some stains on her shirt.  When she was on the changing table, I saw a large gash below her chin.  Yikes!  As a doctor, I knew right away that she needed stitches.  As the wrong kind of doctor, I could do nothing for her.

So we called the doctor's office to learn where to take her.  Convenient care (CC).  For those outside of the U.S., you really want CC rather than the emergency room if you need emergency treatment but all your limbs are relatively attached.  CC = good.  Emergency room = bring a novel.

Janny is not too worried about our impending trip to CC, or all that worried about Clara either.  Actually, Clara is not concerned about her chin either at this point.  At about this time our friend Jaime stopped by to see if we needed anything from the grocery store.  Clara wouldn't show off her cut.
We got past the CC door almost immediately.  Clara started to get stressed.  She didn't want to be weighed or have her blood pressure taken.  Then she really didn't want the numbing paste rubbed on her chin.  Then the nurse tied her arms to her waist with a sheet, and 2 nurses held her down with all their might.  She said, 'mommy, daddy' a zillion times and thrashed against the nurses while the doctor stiched her up.

Then she was calm.  Since we were at the clinic, I got my flu shot (with 4 kids staring at me from less than 10 feet away.  Consequently, I couldn't reach my happy place, and my shoulder felt bruised all day).  The nurse gave us all (except Janny) candy after poking me.
All our plants are getting ready for winter, save one.  A pink rose bloomed this week.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy halloween

The leaves on the tree in front of our house are red, so it must be time for halloween.

 Clara felt lousy (must have been the visit to doctor office this morning) so she didn't enjoy her costume right away.  Thanks to Fereshteh, she was a Persian princess.  Janny was Winnie the Pooh.  She's been quite happy despite getting her flu shot today.
 Spirits were much improved upon the trick or treat visit of good friends, Hermione and Sleeping Beauty.

Monday, October 24, 2011

sniff, sniff

The near perfect fall continues around here, if you forget the rainy, 40 degree days from last week.  That means we've been visiting parks and playgrounds pretty often.  

On Friday, I met the gals at the park near County Market after work.  A group of 8ish year old boys were throwing sticks at a tree trying to knock down a plastic bag that was stuck on a high branch.  The sticks were also getting stuck, and I helped the boys climb up to the first branch (and wondered if I should have.  If they happened to fall...?).  They eventually knocked the bag down.  I picked it up, looked inside, and saw dog poop.

At dinner I noted that Clara's shoe had much dog poo on the sole.  I had carried her to the restaurant from the park.

What's better than being a parent?

Janny is gaining mobility.  No crawling per se, but she rotates around.  She also does a hopping/scooting motion while seated that slides her along the wood floors.  Have I mentioned that she's the loudest member of the family?  She always has a scab or 3 near her eyes and nose.  We keep her fingernails short and try to file them smooth to prevent these scratches.  No success.
 Lot's of pizza making has happened recently.  Clara is taking after mommy and enjoys helping in the kitchen.  Her new favorite sayings are 'what that?' and 'mine'.  For the latter, Jill's chant is 'ours and we love to share.'
I rode my bike to the 'big' hill near Block on Saturday.  90 minutes of glorious fun.  Only one farm still had corn to harvest-- the rest were all mowed up.
On Sunday past, our church had our annual farm party north of Mahomet.  Tom battled the headwind out there while I drove my bike with the family in the car.  We rode back together pushed along by the wind.  As my boss often says, 'I've paid my dues.'  I.e., I've ridden into many headwinds.
This is cheating.  My mom took this photo while she and dad were here.  We've been really lazy about taking outdoor photos lately.

Finally, Jill was all choked up today while boxing up another set of clothes that Janny has outgrown.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

fall family visit

My mom and dad popped in for a weekend visit on their way home from leaf gazing in Vermont.  Interestingly, they were rather impressed with the trees here.  The leaves are larger than those in VT.  Of course, we don't have so many trees.  They only grow along streams and in town so as to not block sunlight and steal water from more valuable plants.  And we had sunshine and 80 degrees compared to rain and cold in the east.  
 We had an appointment with Leyla to have family portraits taken.  My mom snuck in a few shots between the pro's.  She's quite skilled.
 It looks like fall around here but with lots of sunshine and warmth.  Jill and the girls are often at parks during the day.
 Dad bought an ipad version of Jack and the Beanstock.  He was extremely popular with the three two-year-olds that he shared it with, including Clara of course.
 Lots of leaves are ready to join my compost pile.

Friday, September 30, 2011

day off

I took today off from work.  Why?  1.  I have 16 15 vacation days to my credit.  2.  Today was a nice day. 3.  Yesterday had too much bad news at work.  a. Our funding agency is adding no new projects this year, and our project ends in April.  b.  The last proposal call we submitted to (rejected quickly) funded projects from defense contractors.  i.  I thought I had left that world behind after leaving the national labs.  ii.  Probably I don't have a good chance to win proposal contests when I compete alone against multi-national corporations.  A change of tactics is in order.

The day off helped.  See how I have a glow about me now?
 Our local school had an in-service day, so we agreed to hang out with our neighbors' kid.  We played and played at Meadowbrook Park.
 We had planned to walk the path and look at the sculptures but Clara refused to leave the playground.  So we played.
 Janny slept.  I think she sleeps about 11 hours per day lately.  I advise her to sleep more.
This afternoon, I dusted off the race bike and road for an hour.  I've been off and on sick with sinus/chest problems for a month.  Finally the end is in sight.  I rode moderately hard and felt great.

Finally, Jill was advised by a neighbor to not go outside after 8pm.  On a recent evening, a different neighbor was robbed in their driveway upon driving home.  Here's our view.  The opposite approach is better.  If more people are out and about, there is less chance of bad stuff.  Living in fear is just sad.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Janny faces

Hey, it's my birthday, so I'll post what I wanna.  We were enjoying the beautiful evening outside when Jill noticed that the lighting was lovely.  So we took some photos of Janny.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two and a half

Since my last post, we reached a couple milestones.  First, Clara turned 2 years old!  Her favorite toys are blocks, balls, and trains.  I love when she plays 'catch' with me.  We throw, roll, and kick any number of her favorite balls back and forth.
We had extra visitors this week.  Jill picked up Josh, Ally, and their parents' car near Chicago, and they stayed with us for a week.  [I skipped that trip because I was feeling terrible.  I think a lack of sleep, a cold, and allergies conspired to nearly wipe me out for 2 weeks.]  We had a blast pretending to be a family of 6 wherever we went.  Let me tell you, adding two bigger kids that can do lots of things and have great attitudes is no problem.  Adding two more babies would hurt.
 Since they were here only Sun through Sat morning, I couldn't join any of the big events.  And since we have 2 little people, the big events were limited to Curtis Orchard, local parks, and 707 cafe.  Josh and Ally were very good sports!
 The second milestone was that Janny turned 1/2 last week.  We gave her some rice cereal to celebrate.  The spoon attracted more interest than the food, but she did eat some.  She can sit up pretty well by herself.  Any toy that she can pick up (and that isn't stolen by Clara) pleases her.  She plays seriously with her toys.  She seems to never sleep during the day (she does, but naps are fewer and longer).
On our way back from MI on Monday, we took our second stop along the Kankeekee River.  There was a path down the bank to a small 'beach'.  Jill fed the baby, and Clara and I threw sticks, rocks, and clam shells into the river.  The Kanky is an impressively attractive small river.

Finally, I should add that another person does in fact live in our house.  After a 2 year break from us, Fereshteh is back under our roof.  She's in the guest room, so now guests stay in Clara's room and the four of us all sleep in our room.

Monday, September 5, 2011

return to Kickapoo

Labor day weekend couldn't come soon enough this year.  Janny is starting to have demands beyond food and diapers.  Work is normal.  I was tired.  Not a sleepy tired, but more of a body, spirit, and soul tired.  So we did much resting (and I napped) on Sat and Sun.  By Mon, we felt ready for action, so we headed out to Kickapoo state park.

I dusted off the baby backpack and the bjorn and we drove off (in our car!).  Janny loved the first 15 minutes in the bjorn and then got angry.  When we decided that she wasn't going to sleep in the thing we took her out.  She was happy for 5 minutes.  So we walked back to the lake and gave her some milk.
 Do I look happy?  Dang, this thing plus Clara (20 lbs, still) felt heavy.
We walked the riverview trail until the first road crossing.  Not a bad first hike, babies!
 We had some lunch at the lake restaurant.  Three other families from TCBC were there with their big kids.  They had just hiked along the river and were about to canoe on the lake.  Clara and I spotted an albino trout [we learned from the canoe guy that the lake is stocked with these fish twice a year.  Opening day after stocking is apparently super crowded with fisherpersons.].

After lunch we headed down to the river to play in some water.  The summer has been very dry so the water level is low.  This was a great thing for us because we could walk into the stream bed and throw rocks.
 Who likes rocks and sticks and water more, Clara or daddy?  We both had a blast.  Some rocks were heavy for Clara!
Janny and Jill hung out by the shoreline and played with leaves.

Clara was so sad to leave at 2p.  She cried and cried before falling asleep on the ride home.

Final notes:  this was our first trip to Kickapoo since we moved back.  10 years ago (seriously?) we were going out there with Todd for mountain biking.

I sometimes wish that the U of I were located close to one of the handful of nice locations in the state.  But Jill points out that they'd be much more crowded.  So there's that.