Sunday, June 14, 2015

We love Cleveland. We love Dayton. One year after the move.

One year ago today I started my new job at Cleveland Metroparks. I spent my first day a year ago today playing on Lake Erie in a powerboat during a close quarter maneuvering training.  Today, one year later, I spent my day playing on Lake Erie on a stand up paddle board during a SUP instructor training.  Not too bad, but let me do a bit of explaining....we love Cleveland, and we love Dayton.

One year ago today I moved to Cleveland and Hilary stayed behind to pack and keep the house clean for showings as we tried to sell the house.  We were (are) fortunate enough to have family in Cleveland so I could stay with them in their extra room as we carted ourselves back and forth from Cleveland and Dayton, with one car mind you.  The first month was crazy, we bought a second car, got a contract on our house, visited friends and family, and I worked my crazy schedule.  We didn't find a church right away, work was challenging, and we missed Dayton and our friends.  Sitting here looking back it was, and continues to be, bittersweet.  Since I'm not a great writer, and the fact that it is 10:48 on Sunday night and I have spent the past three days on a SUP in training for 12 hour days, I'm going to make a list.  Read the list and know that the moral of the story is life is challenging, but God is good.  He has sustained us and continues to bless us beyond our expectations.

We love Dayton.

  • Our first house we owned is in Dayton - we loved it, minus the lack of storage.
  • Lots and lots of good friends.  Church ones, lots of good church ones.
  • Lots and lots of good friends.  Work ones, fun ones, great co-workers, a joy. 
  • A great church small group, granted many folks moved, we still miss it.
  • Small city. Biked to work. 
  • 2nd Street Market - boom. 
  • Bicycling boom that I was a part of. 
  • Lots of lots of good friends.  Did I say that yet?
  • great friends on the street - for Lauren to play with and Hilary to talk to. 
We love Cleveland.
  • a good job, same retirement system. A chance to advance the outdoor recreation world of CLE.
  • great neighborhood.  Nice sidewalks and great playgrounds.
  • drive time to family is amazing.  We still are amazed it is so fast when we visit family.
  • grocery store a few blocks away
  • two cars - Hilary says she loves it - only possible because of the job move. 
  • Lauren loves our new church. 
  • Making new friends. 
Sure, we could write the cons of each place as well, and yes, so far the We love Dayton list is longer, but we have only been here one year.  In life you have to make decisions and you don't always know everything before you make those decisions, so as some people have said, grow where you are planted. We are still getting settled.  We are waiting on baby #2 to arrive in 7-8 weeks, and we continue to try to serve God and show His love to others through our actions, stories, and lives. Blogs are weird, but I hope you are encouraged by this.  Have a great day! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reading Time

She loves looking for the dog and cat in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Way too much text, but fun pictures. (Picture from December 2013.)

One of my hobbies is reading. I just love to read. I read books like some people watch movies. I can sit down with a novel and three hours later -- BAM. Book consumed. (Sometimes my sweet hubby has to gently force me away from a book. I just get lost in book world.) I have so many wonderful memories of my dad reading to me before bed, all the way up through middle school. I was the nerdy kid who would go over to a friend's house and read a book there -- while she read too, of course. I actually packed books in my suitcase when I went to London for a reading-intensive semester abroad. A gift card to Barnes & Nobles was one of my favorite annual Christmas gifts growing up. The first year we were married, with no internet, no t.v. and a sleepy rural town, I visited the library weekly. Reading has always been a part of my life.

Being a mom hasn't necessarily cut back on my reading. I read tons of books for the first six months that Lauren was nursing. Not only was she an incredibly slow nurser (she'd nurse for an hour at a time), but she completely ignored the ipad. So I would borrow books digitally from our library and read, read, read. I read all sorts of books in the wee hours of the morning. I read Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, and it was so captivating that I almost stayed up to finish it despite the completely sleep deprived early days of motherhood. I read a sleep training book in the middle of the night, when I was desperate for some ideas on how to get Lauren to sleep. [Note: the middle of the night is the WORST time to read about how to get your baby to sleep through the night.] I read books on breastfeeding and babies and silly mysteries and memoirs and anything that sounded interesting.

Then Lauren started to reach for the iPad, nursing sessions got shorter (not that I'm complaining!), night awakenings kept happening, and reading disappeared for a while. Now that Lauren is older and sleeping through the night, I find time to chill out with a book, normally after she goes to bed.

All that to say, I love reading. Always have, always will.  And I assumed Lauren would love reading too!

Enter my child. Lauren is active. She was active in the womb, and she's been active ever since being born. When she was an infant, she would kick-kick-kick on the floor, her little legs never stopping. And reading? Well, as soon as she could move, she was much more interested in exploring than sitting in front of a book. All of the sleep advice that suggested reading a few quiet stories before bed made my heart heavy. My kid? Maybe if I strapped her down!

I persisted, as much as I could, sometimes reading to her while she was eating or if she relaxed for a few moments. Nothing really seemed to interest her until friends brought over some flap books with textures. She started to flip open the pages while I sped-read through the text. She'd lose interest almost immediately, but slowly -- very slowly -- she started to take an interest in books.

Right about the time Lauren turned one, we finally started to be able to read. It still wasn't the marathon reading session my nephew loves, but it was a start. It helped that she finally started to allow herself to relax, instead of fighting it. Her love has grown from there, and both Dan and I enjoy reading to her. (Notice that a blanket over your lap is a necessity for reading.)

Current favorites include (and the list changes nearly daily) are:

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Little and James Dean
Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Mr. Paint Pig's ABCs by Richard Scarry
All Kinds of Kisses by Linda Dowdy

It's scary how many children's books I can recite, top to bottom. And we've only been doing this for 18 months! Imagine how many I'll have memorized after a few years.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


A while ago my mom said, “You know, I used to read this one blog, but the authors haven’t updated it in a while.”

It took me a second, but I figured it out.

Oh us? We’re still alive and kicking. Lauren is now 18 months old. The last half a year has zoomed by – holidays found us traveling (and not sleeping) and sleep regressions, teeth, fever, and colds have also kept us on our toes (and not sleeping). (There’s a theme, and it may have to do with the sleep roller coaster.)

We’ve found out – just like all other parents before us – that kids have a certain amount of gravity. Lauren has pulled us into her orbit. While in many ways it is okay for our family life to be primarily about her, there are two other people in this house with their own needs. So our current challenge is finding what works for us, what keeps us smiling and refreshed, and when it’s okay to let things go. And for the last six months, this is one of the things I’ve let go.

But today? I’m back. Nothing much to say, other than I’m here. We’re here. Lauren is blossoming into a determined, active toddler. She loves to make animal sounds (she’s mastered the sounds for dog, cat, cow, goat, sheep, horse, owl, chicken). She put this into practice the other evening when I was feeding her chicken.

“Would you like some chicken, Lauren?”

“Bawk, bawk!” she replied, each and every time I mentioned the word chicken. (It was even more strange when we had goat the following night. "MAAA. MAAA," she would bleat.)

She manages to communicate plenty with her mix of sign language and words, and even sometimes manages to stretch out bedtime routines with her demands. She would spend the entire day outside if she could, climbing up and down the stairs, sorting rocks, playing in the garden, putting away sticks Lander has dragged around the yard, kicking her ball, and practicing running. She loves when her daddy comes home. Lauren meets him at the door, insists he takes off his coat, and brings him his slippers. It melts my heart each and every time it happens.

I am so thankful that I get to be at home with Lauren, watching her grow. I'm thankful that our families have been able to be a part of Lauren's toddler hood through technology, visits, and old fashioned long-distance love. I'm thankful that Dan has a job, and I'm thankful that his job allows him to do fun things during the day like take us out to lunch.

My heart is full of thankfulness. Just another day in my favorite job.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Life with Lauren: Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, big girl!
Our beautiful girl is one year old. ONE! It's so crazy to me that a year has already passed, and yet so normal and beautiful that I'm having trouble finding words to describe the day, as well as the past month.

I'll start out with stats, because facts are easy to state. Her weight is 23 lbs, her height is 30.5", and according to the doctor, her head measures 17 cm (yes, cm). Obviously that last reading isn't right, but I didn't really care to measure her noggin. She's a plump girl, and I think she's just perfect. I feel great joy when we go to the doctor's office and there are no problems with weight gain. After watching how much this girl eats, there is no surprise that she is at a healthy weight! She eats pretty much everything, including salmon, which I didn't expect to share with her. She waved her arms, fussed and pointed at my plate (and I was the only adult at home) so I had to be the bigger person and give her some of the delicious, wild-caught salmon, straight from Alaska.   

This is the same basket Lauren was in as a baby for newborn pics. How she has grown!

Lauren is walking all of the time and is into everything. Every drawer and cupboard is her territory, which makes our kitchen look like a wreck. I keep saying we need to install more kid locks, but we haven't yet. Her favorite place to get into is my bathroom drawer (contact solution, deodorant, makeup, etc. are all gleefully pulled out and dropped on the floor) and the baking cupboard (those little bottles of extract are the perfect size for her to cart around). We've just started playing outside as the weather has gotten cooler, and she'll happily walk around the backyard for 30 minutes to an hour, climbing up and down the stairs to the deck, and playing with rocks. We both love the vitamin D and I love how it wears her out. 

Her routine still consists of two naps, three meals plus one snack, and nursing before sleeping and when she wakes up in the morning . She isn't a talker, although I think she says dog. Not quite sure about that. Reading books is still a challenge because of her boundless energy, but we certainly read AT her as she goes about her business. Getting bruises is practically a hobby, with new and creative ways for bumping into things occurring each and every day. Her favorite toys vary from day to day, but consistently she loves Ross (the cabbage patch kid) and a wipes box full of scarves, which she never tires of pulling out and then wrapping around her shoulders. 

As for her actual birthday, we had visitors. Uncle Andrew, Aunt Shelley, Ben and Caleb all came to visit, and we celebrated by eating apple crisp and vanilla ice cream both the day before and the day of. Her father and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary (same day) by going on a breakfast date without Lauren -- woo hoo! (Thanks for watching her, visitors!) She got a few sweet presents -- a slide, a bike, and musical instruments -- and I'm already wondering what possibly she could need for Christmas and where will we store it. (Why bother to store it? They just get torn out of their baskets and strewn about the house.) Our house is going to be overtaken by toys, but they make her happy and our house fun.

Happy birthday, dear Lauren! We can't wait to see how you grow over this next year. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Life with Lauren: 11 months

Hanging out at the beach.
In 26 days I will be writing a one year update. One year! Too crazy to be true, but it is. So I'm savoring the moment of 11 months while a certain 11 month old is sleeping. I don't actually know her stats for height, weight and head circumference, but she continues to be pleasantly plump. She still has a few inches to go and a few pounds to gain before she officially grows out of her car seat, but it is so heavy with her in it that we are about to switch her over to a big girl seat! 

On our way to Camp of the Woods, Lauren took her first steps. We were at Dan's sister's house, and Lauren was playing on the floor with Dan while we stood around and chatted. She stood up and then, as she started to walk using Dan's leg for support, he quickly moved back and she took three or four unsteady steps. I was shocked and so thrilled that we were both able to see it! I didn't think she was that close to walking alone, since her balance wasn't that great. Just goes to show you that effort counts for more than skill. Now she practices walking whenever she can and will walk across the room if she has a toy in her hand that she doesn't want to set down. Crawling is still her most reliable form of transportation, but we are seeing more and more walking every day.

Enjoying the lake. 
Lauren is starting to communicate more with us. She waves her arms or claps when she wants more to eat. (She has not yet grasped the sign language for more.) She points to interesting things that she wants to see. She knows who Ross is -- Dan's old cabbage patch kid -- and loves to play with him. It is amazing how much she understands (where her books are, where Ross is, if she wants to dance). Speaking of dancing, Lauren is a bop-per just like her mom. If we put music on, she bends her little legs while holding on to the coffee table and looks all around while she moves to the music.

A new game: grab the sunglasses. It's soooo much fun.
Granddad and Lauren like to stick their tongues out. Lauren does it just about every time she sees him.
Sleeping has become more challenging in this past month. Morning naps are hit or miss, but as long as she is happy, I try to take it in stride. In general, she is still on a similar schedule as before. As long as she can get a longer nap in the afternoon, I'll be okay with dropping to one nap. We'll have more of a window for fun! As for eating, she loves it but will hardly tolerate being fed with a spoon. She likes to do it herself, just like her mom used to. Like mother, like daughter.

This has been a great summer -- our first with baby Lauren. But our baby is soon becoming a toddler. Watch out world!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life with Lauren, 10 months

Swings almost always get a smile. (Not this time, of course.)
I'm two weeks late for the 10 month post, and it is hard to sort out what was has happened since then. (One major thing: she took her first steps!) But I'd hate to skip a month, so I'll do the best that I can.

Weight: 20 lbs, exactly (63%)
Length: 29" (according to the doctor, 79%)
Head Circumference: 18 7/8", which put her at the 100% (an impossible percentile, but still... big noggin!)

July was a fun month for us. After camping, we went to Fredonia to hang out with my parents, brother and sister-in-law + kiddos, and my sister, when she wasn't in Ithaca or traveling. We celebrated my birthday and Lauren blessed us with sleeping again, after giving us a rough few days while camping. Dan and I escaped to the fireworks while Lauren snoozed peacefully in bed, while Dad kept an ear out for her. We saw the great grandmas and Lauren permitted them to hold her. Lauren went through a phase of separation anxiety that last most of the month, but seemed to wear off by the time we went on vacation in early August. Phew! Tears every time someone else held her was exhausting.

Learning new tricks from her buddy and future husband Micah. 
Following that, we had a couple of normal weeks in Dayton, and then a visit from my college friends and their families! Lauren learned some new things from some of the bigger kids, and tolerated everyone else in her space quite well. She tried out the splash park with the gang, and although the water was cold, she decided it was quite interesting.

Splash park!
Dislikes: the feeling of grass (which is convenient for the times we put her on a blanket outside), being rocked/held/made to sit still, getting her diaper changed (see previous)
Likes: Peekaboo books, pulling hair, her cup, her bottle, FOOD, crawling, pulling up

Stay tuned for another update in a few weeks about what Lauren is getting into at 11 months!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Life With Lauren, 9 months

Loving her avacado.
One of the most wonderful parts about being a parent is that each new milestone Lauren reaches brings a different joy to our relationship. Each stage is a little different and it is amazing to watch her grow! Friends and family who are a little bit further along in their parenting journey will say things like, "Now he's able to play with us... He's really getting to be a lot of fun!" I've heard that from them at various times, so I'm confident that this sentiment will continue as Lauren develops. Right now, though, we are having a lot of fun with our 9 month old.
I love her expression here. 
 Lauren is crawling and pulling up on objects and taking steps while holding on to hands. Pulling up is her favorite thing to do. She has a few bruises to show for her increased mobility too. Currently she's sporting a bruise in the middle of her forehead from taking a fall into the corner of a crate. Ouch! These bumps don't slow her down too much and sometimes particularly spectacular falls merit no response whatsoever. She is an extremely active baby. She is not a snuggler and only likes to be held if she can see what is going on.

The look on her face says it all.

One delightful change this month was sleep. Praise the Lord, Lauren has started sleeping through the night. Prior to a few weeks ago, I was fairly certain that I was not going to let her "cry-it-out." It felt too mean to let her wail in her crib. But after several awful nights of sleep torture, I was at my wits end. All of the old tricks that would help Lauren sleep suddenly stopped working. So with Dan's support -- I put him in charge, actually -- we let her put herself to sleep in her crib. It was rough the first night, but I knew in my heart that it was time for Lauren to learn how to go to sleep by herself. And it worked. Now she gets onto her tummy and snoozes peacefully for nights and naps, with a few off times here and there. Lauren sleeping has made me feel like a real person again. I am so, so thankful that she has learned how to fall asleep without the very strict conditions that would lull her to sleep before. And for all of the moms out there who are struggling with their baby's sleeping, I'm sorry. I feel your pain. Someday you will feel like yourself again.

Camping was an adventure. 
Lauren finally got a tooth this month, followed a few weeks later by her second tooth. She has continued to chow down on food without any major issues. She is plump and sweet and active. She is starting to be somewhat clingy to me. We've been traveling (camping with Dan's family and now we're hanging out with my family), so the changes in location and people might have thrown her off. I'm hoping the mommy-only stage doesn't last for too long. (That said, she still managed to hold it together during nursery at church, so she's not having a terrible case of separation anxiety.)

With Aunt Joanna.
Lauren's next doctor's appointment is in a few weeks, but her unofficial weight is 20 lbs and length is 28" (which I think is 1/2" shorter than last month, so something wasn't very accurate!).  Growing like a weed -- growing out of 9 month clothes and into 12 month outfits. As she gets more plump, her resemblance to me as a baby grows. We will just see who she ends up looking like!