Sunday, April 25, 2010

Toddler trading

And sometimes larger-than-a-toddler trading.

Living at a boarding school is an interesting way of life. (Sometimes, it provides interest that I could without.) One of the advantages, though, (at least here at Woodberry) is that there are an abundance of families with young children. This is great opportunity to easily find someone to watch your child for an hour or two, either for a specific reason, or just because.

Last Monday, I was coaching and Jason had to go to a dress-up-pretty dinner to which he had no desire to bring Sierra. I can understand why. Sometimes, she can be a little much to deal with at sit-down dinner (which happens four night a week here, and which we try to avoid half the time, if possible). Anyway, Shari lives right down the street so she agreed to toddler chase for us. Not to mention, Sierra got to see Milo, her idol (he's 7!). Shari sent a couple photos she took of Sierra playing in Milo's old car, which he has nearly outgrown, but which he won't give up. He was nice enough to let Sierra play, though. (And apparently, we should get Sierra a car!)

Wednesday, I returned the favor and Milo came down to play with us while Shari was coaching and his dad was umpiring a baseball game.

Tuesday, Sierra had more fun because I was working at the track meet and Jason had to coach a lacrosse game. Luckily, Laura was around and agreed to chase Sierra while we were both occupied. Spencer was the playmate this time. Spencer is not quite 10 months, but is already technically a toddler because he definitely toddles (go Spencer with the early walking!)! It's really fun how Sierra recognizes all the little ones around campus calling "Spen-sa! Spen-sa! Go see Spen-sa!" if she see him while we're walking or at a lacrosse game. Laura said Sierra and Spencer had a great time together and she the photographic evidence to show me.

I have yet to return the favor for Laura, but she's know I'm here when she needs me!

Thursday, Shannon and I had a back-to-back toddler trading. We've been doing this once or twice a week for the past few weeks, but I finally got around to taking some photos. She (or I) will take both Tommy and Sierra for an hour so the other can have some time to go for a run/do yoga/run to town/clean the bathroom/whatever. And then we switch. It was a lovely, sunny day, so I headed over to the turf field with Tommy and Sierra. This is an ideal place for these two active toddler because it's nice open space and most of it has a fence around it, so it's tough for them to escape (though, Sierra did just that while I was taking a picture of Tommy; up into the bleachers she went, sending me chasing after).
Off we go!
Run, Tommy!
A kiss for my friend
What are you doing in there?
Nothin' but net!
Hmmm, it looks like a pinecone ...
It's a long way down the field
Going for the goal

Note: Though all the children exchanges were with boys this week, there are little girls on campus. A lot of little girls. I haven't counted, but they definitely outnumber the boys. And there are at least two more coming this summer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


We finally got to see our friends Chris and Lisa (and Louis) this past weekend. And now that it's Thursday, I'm finally posting about it. Ah well. Such is life.

So ... Chris and Lisa. They are friends from when we lived in Connecticut; Chris and Jason worked together at Amgen. The last time we saw them, Sierra was this big:
So, yeah. It's been awhile. We moved to Virginia in July of 2008 and not long afterward, they moved to North Carolina. They now live about a 4 hour drive away from us, but it's taken us 2 years to get together. Sheesh! Chris and Lisa were going to come up and see us in February, but there was a huge snowstorm. Then they were going to come the following weekend and there was another huge storm. Then we were busy and they were busy and we rescheduled for March. And Lisa was really sick. We were convinced that the universe was working against us. But apparently, Mother Nature just thought they should wait for a really nice weekend to come.

Last weekend was perfect. Sunny all weekend, perfect temperature, excellent "relaxing weekend" weather. Which is pretty much what we did for two days. Relax. Ahhhh.

Sierra, of course, was thrilled that there were two more people in the house would could read to her. And Jason and I are always more than willing to share the fun! We grilled out for lunch on Saturday and spent naptimes lying in the sun like lizards. Okay, Lisa and I lay in the sun while "the boys" sat on the porch smoking a cigar. Aren't we a couple-a cute preggo ladies (Lisa and Chris are expecting a daughter in July)? Yep, I thought so.

We wandered around campus so Chris and Lisa could see the place and of course had to stop for a milkshake. (I will never turn down the opportunity for a milkshake) Sierra called it "ice cweam tweat." Jason and Chris headed out for some golf on Sunday morning while Lisa and I took the dogs and baby for a walk. Chris and Lisa had brought their dog, Louis, with them and I'm pretty sure that Louis and Molly are in love with each other. They were so funny! They would stand nose to nose, not moving a single muscle, except for tails waving maddly until one of them flinched, and then they would tear around the yard after one another. They are 6 and almost 7, which is not all that young for a dog, but you wouldn't have known it to look at them. Double lab fun!

We did the Woodberry Sunday brunch and then had some more lying in the sun before they had to head home. While we were up on campus eating, we left all three dogs on the screened porch where Casey and Molly usually hang out when we leave. Louis, though, was apparently not too thrilled to be left in a room when Chris and Lisa left because he made a great escape. (Well, we're pretty sure it was Lou since Casey and Molly have always been there with not problem). First he busted through the bifold doors that lead into the closet in the mudroom and then the mudroom is attached to the office. There is a baby gate between the office and living room to keep Sierra out of the office, but he also knocked that down. When we got home, there was Louis, standing at the front door waiting for us. Oh, do not think that he acted alone. Casey took full opportunity of the escape route to follow Louis out into the living room. He found a bag that Lisa had pack with some dog treat in it. He apparently put his face in the bag and ate through the pocket from the inside to get at the treats. Sheesh! That dog's nose really gets him in trouble!!

There's talk that Jason and I might try to go visit the first weekend of June before we leave for Montana, but if not, the next time we see them, there will be 2 newborns in the picture!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


When Sierra was a newborn, we struggled with breastfeeding. A lot. It was an awful three weeks of my life and there was a lot of frustration and guilt and tears and a whole host of other feelings and emotions. I was determined, though, and luckily I had a midwife who had been a lactation consultant and a friend who had been through something similar and offered a very helpful suggestion. I also benefited from hiring an additional lactation consultant and a very supportive husband who helped tremendously when the going was rough. Finally, when Sierra was nearly three weeks old, she breastfed successfully for the first time. We've been going strong ever since. Twenty-two months and 5 days (minus those first weeks). Until yesterday.

I have nursed Sierra nearly every night for the entirity of her life. And every morning. And just before her nap. It used to be a lot more, but we've been down to 2-3 times/day for the past couple months. Yesterday morning, she didn't ask for milk when she woke up. When she was sleepy at nap time, she took about two sucks and then stopped. She asked for milk at bedtime: "Mauck. Mauck" is how it sounds, but when I offered it to her, she just licked my nipple for a little bit and was finished. This morning was the same deal; she didn't even ask. I lay down with her to take a nap this afternoon, and she asked for milk once but then got distracted before I had a chance to offer it to her. Then there was bedtime this evening. We went through the routine: bath, play under the covers, diaper and pj's, brushing teeth. I asked her if she wanted milk and she said "mauck, mauck." So I sat down in the rocking chair to nurse her. But as soon as I offered, she said, "Nooo!" and pulled my shirt back down. I rocked her and we cuddled and I sang to her, and then she went to sleep. Without nursing. For the first time that I can remember.

I don't know if this sudden aversion to breastfeeding is because Sierra has a stuffy nose and it's just difficult to breastfeed or if my supply or the flavor is changing because I'm pregnant, or if she's just no longer interested. I'm not ready to say "we're done" just yet, but it's possible that we're heading that way. It's a little sad, really. Another step toward growing up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meeting #2

Monday was the "big ultrasound." Actually, this time around, it was the first, and probably only, ultrasound. When I was pregnant with Sierra, there was an u/s machine in my midwife's office, so we got to see her a few times when she was tiny and blob-like and then less tiny and less blob-like before we had the "official" ultrasound (at about 20 weeks, if I remember correctly).

Here, there is no u/s machine in my midwife's office, so we had to go to another facility (the ominous sounding "Prenatal Diagnosis Center") to have the u/s done. No matter, there's not really much to see before now, and Jason and I were both impressed with how high tech this machine was relative to the other we had seen with Sierra.

Basically, the purpose of the 22-week ultrasound is to check out the baby and make sure that everything is developing correctly. They look to see that there is growth in all the right places and none of the wrong places. They measure the baby and compare with your estimated due date (ours is spot-on). The look for problems that might have to be addressed soon after birth: club feet, cleft palate, heart problems, kidney function. Heart and spine are checked, as is the placenta and the bloodflow. It was really interesting to see how the u/s tech (or doc) can add in color to the image that shows where the blood is flowing. We looked at #2's heart and I said something about "checking that all 4 chambers are developed" and the doctor mentioned that visual only confirms about 65% of heart problems. Then he showed us how the red on the image indicates that blood is flowing from the upper chambers to the lower chambers and how he could determine if there was a hole in the heart chambers. We saw the placenta and the doc checked the blood flow from placenta to baby. We heard the heart rate again. Baby #2's mouth was opening and closing at us. It was a little surreal.

Bottom line: everything looks great. No problems that the doctor or the tech noted and all growth and development seem to be moving along as they should. Oh, and did I mention that another bonus of the 22-week ultrasound is that you can see the gender of the baby? We are planners so of course we wanted to know ...

So, here she is:
Skinny little arms, she's still got some fat to put on! But you can see her little fingers!
She was folded in half, both arms and both feet up by her face.
Oh, and she's "upside down" (which is really rightside up) but she has plenty of time to turn around.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Go Potty!

A milestone was achieved yesterday.

Sierra was bare-bottomed, running around (trying to air out a diaper rash she's getting over), when all of sudden, she looked up and said, "Go potty!" This, by itself is nothing extraordinary. She's said that before. I've set her on the toilet. She sits for a few seconds and then declares herself "all done." I don't push it. I figure when she's ready, we'll figure it out. Yesterday, though, yesterday, I put her on the potty ... and she peed! Oh, how exciting!! Jason and I applauded. She got jelly beans. I don't think we're going to dive in to potty training just yet, but the seed is planted.

And you never know just how exciting going to the bathroom in the toilet is until you are the parent of a toddler.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The long walk

Well, it was a long stroll, really. We were out yesterday morning for an hour and forty minutes, but we stopped a lot to take pictures, look at flowers, talk to the geese, and listen to the birds. Because much of our walk was photographically documented, and it was a lovely day, I thought I'd take you along.

We started out walking up the hill from our house and through Woodberry's campus. We stopped at the Math/Science building because I needed to drop something off for Jason.

We wandered along the road behind the main campus buildings and then headed down the hill near the pool to access the perimeter trail where it goes down to the Rapidan River. We saw a deer running through the woods, but it was gone in a flash, so no photo. You'll just have to imagine the white tail bounding away from you.

A little stream followed the trail down to the river.

There were a lot of spring flowers in bloom and Sierra was practicing her colors, telling me about "pink fwowers, pupuah fwowers, boo fwowers, and white fwowers." Molly couldn't resist the temptation of the river and jumped in for a quick swim.

A friend passed us on her trail run saying, "Hi Sierra! Hi Em! Hi dogs!" and as she disappeared ahead of us, Sierra called after her, "Shawee! Shawee! Shawee!"
(Side note: Shari is our neighbor and has a 7-year-old boy, Milo, who I've mentioned before. Sierra thinking Milo is awesome and has recently become a little infatuated with Shari. Today, Sierra was looking out the window and suddenly started calling, "Shawee! Milo! Shawee! Milo! Go outside! Go outside!" Sure enough, Shari and Milo were outside our house. She doesn't miss much.)

A bit further down the trail, we heard some loud honking so we peeked through the trees to look at the geese on the river. There were only two right there, but I was surprised by how loud they were. About 11 seconds into the following video, you can hear Sierra say, "Hello geese!"

There were some interesting shelf fungi to look at, more wildflowers, trees just getting their leaves and an interesting dark red leaf/flower structure whose identity is a mystery to me.

Farther along the river, we saw a larger group of geese (4 this time) on a little sandbar in the river, and as they started honking, two more came swimming toward them. On the opposite bank, there was a huge blanket of bluebells, but I couldn't get a picture from where I was and there's really no way to cross the river.

At that point, the trail veered slightly away from the river and headed uphill, where we could see Woodberry's climbing wall and alpine tower. We left the trail at that point, headed past the field along the access road to the alpine tower and back onto the main road leading up to the swimming pool.

There were more flowers along the road and as we neared the pool we cut to the left past the old red barn before heading along the fenceline to where the fence separates the golf course from pasture.

Where the fence did a 90-degree turn and headed back down the hill in the direction of our house, we stopped in a little grouping of flowering trees to listen to the birds. The flowers were loosing their petals and a light breeze sent them floating down around us like pink and white snow. It was like a fairy wonderland with the petal snow and the bird songs all around.
We continued to follow the fenceline to the bottom of the hill where it sits next to a pond that looked so lovely, it's hard to believe that it's "only" a water trap on the golf course. The reflection of the flowering in the water was beautiful and Sierra was thrilled that there were more geese to look at.

Casey enjoyed the walk so much he thought it merited a celebratory roll in the grass before we headed home. I hope you enjoyed as well!