Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's new

Ahhh, well, the 18 month sleep regression did finally hit us.  Right after I started feeling like "phew!  maybe we won't be affected this time..." ahahahahahAAAA.  It just hit a bit late.  Right before Avery turned 19 months old (on Thanksgiving).  It's a perfect storm of teething and language developmental leap (I think... who knows?  I keep trying to figure her sleep out, but it's like trying to see one of those 3D images pop out of the pattern.  You keep staring and staring, and then you catch a glimpse, but then you look to hard again and it's gone...).  Her two molars on the bottom are coming through, and she is talking up a storm now.  I keep hoping she is going to snap out of it one of these days soon.  We're going on nearly a month now of seriously disrupted sleep.  And this after a blissful couple of months when she was sleeping SO WELL (for her).  It's just a phase; it's just a phase (I hope).

I don't know if it's exactly because of this regression and its effect on me - loss of sleep, loss of freedom at naptime and night - or if I'm just at a point in my life, or some combination of the two, but I have been in the WEIRDEST mood lately.  I can't say I have exactly been wishing for another life... I like the one I have pretty well.  But I've been thinking about the crossroad points in my past and the decisions I've made and wondering if I'd done something slightly different, where would I be now.  Maybe I'm having some kind of 1/3 life crisis or something?  It seems to be passing, kind of.  Or maybe I'm just distracted now by the holidays and our travel plans and Christmas shopping.

I can probably blame this nagging feeling for my change of heart about what Adam and I are planning to do when his detailing window comes up in March.  We've been scheming and dreaming about how we can get to Colorado Springs and get out of the military there, and buy a house and put down some roots.  But it came upon me one day that maybe part of my feeling (of vague dissatisfaction?) was looking back at how many adventures I've had and feeling like that's it, no more adventures.  I'm not ready to go sit on the porch and grow old.  And it occurred to me that we could still move around if Adam stayed in the military, and we could even try to get orders to Europe.  We were on the verge of going back to Germany in 2009, right before I got pregnant with Avery.  Adam was offered orders to Africa Command in Stuttgart, but we turned it down for a variety of reasons.  And I'm so glad we did.  It was the right choice to make at the time.  I'm not sure how I would have survived Avery's infancy being in such a weird transitional phase in my life (leaving work for full time motherhood), in a foreign country so far from family.  It was right to stay in Hawaii.  Though, we did that in part because I thought I might continue working after Avery was born, which I didn't.

Anyway, to get to the point, we are now thinking of - leaning towards, even - requesting orders to Germany or England after our time is done in Hawaii a year from now, and also staying in the Navy for the long haul.  I likely will not return to work for at least 5-10 years from now (considering a second baby at some point), so that reason for being somewhere for the long-term is gone.  And we could have more adventures!  I loved living in Europe as a young adult and would love to go back and travel with Adam.  I have my hesitations with it.  I think about how depressed and isolated and lonely I felt after Avery was born and I think maybe I am crazy to go to Germany where I will be potentially even more isolated and lonely than I was in Hawaii.  On the other hand, I'm used to the mommy gig now.  I'm over my shock, I guess.  I think even having a second child will not be as hard as it was for me going from working to full time motherhood.  And Avery will be older and easier to do stuff with and not as dependent on me.  We could wait until our time overseas is over or almost over to have another baby, and spend our time traveling and enjoying being a family of three.  (On the other hand, I'm no spring chicken, I'll be 36 by the time we leave there... is that tempting fate?  Maybe we should not wait to try for another since fertility declines sharply after age 35.  Oh, but people are having babies in their mid to late 30s all the time now! ..... See?  See how I just keep going around and around about this in my head?!)

So that's kind of where we are right now.  Just talking about all this ad nauseum until we get down to the wire and HAVE to make a decision.  At which point we will probably ask for Europe and let the fates (i.e., the detailer) decide.

Avery and I are in Vegas right now.  We are meeting up with Adam on Friday in Wichita to spend Christmas with his family.  They are so excited to have Avery this year for Christmas!  I think it will be a lot of fun for her.  Adam's dad is already planning on showing her all the animals, and since Adam has a big family there will be lots of kids around.  Avery LOVES other kids and babies!  I'm still not sure how two introverts ended up with such an extroverted social butterfly, but I think it's a good thing.

I had a couple of friends over a few weeks ago who have new babies, and I was holding one of them, and Avery kept saying, "bay-bee!" and patting her, and giving her kisses and trying to pick her up.  It was so dang cute.  She will love seeing her new cousin Gracen for the first time!

Avery loves her baby dolls.  Just today she came and said, "poo poo!" which usually means she just pooped in her diaper - we are working on that - but she wanted to go to the potty.  When we got there, she plopped her dolly down on the potty!  She then insisted that I take dolly's clothes off so she could poop.  Then Avery peed in the potty while dolly peed in a little bowl.  Haha.  Yes, it's adorable.  She also likes to push her babies around in the stroller or her shopping cart.  And she likes to feed them when she's eating, she offers them forkfuls of food and says, "Nummy-num!"

Now that she's starting to really talk more, she has lots of cute toddler-isms.  For example, she calls the stroller her "go-go".  I bought a toy nativity set for her and told her all about Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus; she calls them "May-may", "Jo-Jo" and "Dee-dshus".  Her favorite thing to say is "no" not surprisingly, and she says it so cutely you can't help but smile and/or laugh, which I'm sure only encourages her.   You ask her if she wants to do something and she says it kind of like "Nyo!" and shakes her head.  Do you want to put your shoes on?!  "Nyo!"  If she does something she shouldn't (like if she spills something) she'll point at it and solemnly say "Nyo, nyo, nyo." Which is what I say to her lol.  She also says "oh nooo!"

Her pronunciation is a bit lacking still, but she'll try to repeat just about anything you say, even stuff you don't think she is paying attention to.  If you are having a phone conversation that doesn't involve her and she's playing nearby, and you are getting ready to say goodbye, she will call out, "bai!" and go "mmmm-mah!" (giving kisses).  If you get on the phone with anyone - the credit card company, the doctor - she will come running over and say "HI!  HI!  HI!"  Anything that's shaped like a phone (or a "bone" as she calls it), she holds up to her ear and goes, "woh?" (hello) and then she talks gibberish into it like "unnnrrreemmuuhrrrr". 

She gives unprompted kisses and hugs, and she is so much fun and such a love.  This is really the best age!

Avery and Santa

We took Avery to visit Santa Claus on Monday!  We went to the same Santa in Town Square (Las Vegas) where we got such a great picture last year.  This year's was pretty cute too. 

Avery is excited about Santa... we point him out in her books and at the store when we are out.  She knows who he is, (Dan-dah!) and that he's exciting, though she's not quite clear on the finer details.  But in person, she wasn't sure she wanted anything to do with him.  Can we blame her?  To her he's just a fat, scary stranger!  Why would she want to go sit on his lap?!

When we first walked in, we asked her if she wanted to go sit with him and she said, "No!"  So we hung back and watched the next family come in and get their pictures taken.  After that she allowed us to sit her on a rocking horse in front of Santa, but the whole experience was just too overwhelming for her and she wouldn't smile.  After only a few minutes, she looked around at all the strangers in the room, bewildered by the giant flash of the camera, and started crying.  The end!  (Of course, we whisked her up right away and once she was in my arms she was ok again, and said "bai-baiieee!" to Santa on the way out the door.)  Overall a success.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Our Kauai Trip Video

Here's a little video montage I put together of our trip to Kauai.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Avery's 18 Month Video

In case you didn't see this on Facebook, I'm posting it here too!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Paleo (ish) Thanksgiving Feast!

We've been eating more or less paleo / primal / Weston A. Price around here lately and we didn't want to eat a bunch of stuff we don't normally eat, but we still wanted to have a delicious meal with all of our favorites! Luckily there are ways to adapt many recipes to make them paleo-friendly. Here's our beautiful table right before we dove in.

And here's our gorgeous turkey! I had never roasted a turkey before (though I've roasted plenty of chickens), so this was a new adventure for me. I followed Martha Stewart's recipe for turkey and gravy and it turned out fantastic! I definitely recommend this method of turkey roasting. Our bird was not dried out at all. Instead of traditional stuffing, I stuffed the bird with half and onion, half an apple and a few sprigs of thyme. I also don't truss the bird because it helps it cook faster and the breast doesn't get so dried out.
Along with our turkey we had these coconut flour drop biscuits. They are so yummy!  You seriously won't miss regular biscuits with these.

This is the recipe I used for my cranberry sauce.  Making your own is surprisingly easy.  This stuff is more tart than the canned stuff, but still delicious!
This is not exactly paleo, but way closer than normal pie.  It's my own creation, a pumpkin-pecan pie.  Pumpkin filling with a crumbled pecan topping.  I used this recipe for the pumpkin part (subbing butter for coconut oil in the crust; and I didn't use any coconut milk), and the topping is just butter, crushed pecans, almond flour and a little bit of brown sugar (about 1/6 cup of each almond flour and sugar).  It was SO YUMMY!  I actually prefer this to regular pie.  No, really.

Green beans.  Instead of the usual yuck-of-mushrooms in a can to make a green bean casserole, I just did mine with carmelized onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.  It's not quite the same, but still quite tasty.
Bird fresh out of the oven.  It was cooked perfectly! Hope your holidays were all as good!




Friday, November 11, 2011

Grandma's 100th Birthday

We just got back from our whirlwind trip to Tennessee to celebrate my Great Grandma's 100th birthday. It was a fast but fun trip and I'm so glad I went. I was on the verge of backing out at the last minute since I was sick, and Avery was sick, and I couldn't clear my ears and I didn't want to think about packing or flying. In the end I rallied and I'm happy I have those memories now. I learned a few things about my family, like that Grandma used to ride in a covered wagon (what?!!), some of her first dates were on horseback, and there used to be a town in Arkansas named for my family, established by my Great Great Grandfather. I wish I could ask Grandma more about her life, but her mind is mostly gone. When we first saw her, I said, "Can you believe all these people came to celebrate your 100th birthday?" she said she wasn't 100 yet and when I told her she was, she said, "Well my goodness! I can't believe I lived to be a hundred years old!" I don't know why I'm just now waking up to an interest in her life when there were dozens of years when I could have asked her about it. I have so many questions for her now that will never be answered. The coolest thing happened too: Grandma was in the elevator after her party and a nice woman heard it was her 100th birthday and gave her a hundred dollar bill! She told her to go get her nails done. She was the wife of one of the Cincinati Bengals. So awesome!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is your antiperspirant dangerous?

 Ok, so I told you before that I recently stopped using antiperspirant and I'm sure you were all scratching your heads and wondering how smelly I am now. And possibly you were also wondering WHY??? I'm sure you all remember hearing a while back (I remember first hearing this about ten years ago or so) that the aluminum in antiperspirants is bad for your health. Back then I think it was mainly the alzheimer connection? Well, I can't point to any peer reviewed studies that show definitively that antiperspirant is causing disease, but I can tell you that aluminum is no bueno.

Like I said, I'd heard of this idea before, but I more or less ignored it because who wants to have stinky pits?  And also: no scientific evidence that antiperspirant in particular is bad.  But since Avery was born I have been taking a harder look at our lifestyle and making some changes.  I mean, I started moving towards a more "natural" lifestyle after I had cancer in 2006, but now that we have Avery, it's even more impetus to examine our exposure to harmful substances and try to reduce where it makes sense to do so.

What really got me thinking about this is researching vaccines for Avery.  (Another topic I fully intend to talk about at some point, I promise!)  Now, by this point in time, *most* of the mercury has been removed from *most* of the childhood vaccines.***  But many still contain aluminum, which can be just as harmful to humans.  I predict aluminum will be the next target of outspoken safe vaccine advocates.  Right now, research has yet to explore fully the dangers of aluminum in vaccines.  But the CDC itself says that exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems. So, yes, the aluminum in vaccines concerns me.  And I started wondering, where else are we being exposed to aluminum?

First of all, aluminum is ubiquitous in our environment.  It's in water, food, and even the air we breathe.  So you're never ever going to reach zero exposure.  But if I see areas where I can reduce exposure without too much difficulty, to me, it makes sense to do it.  For instance, sometimes pots and pans are made of aluminum.  And when you heat stuff, especially with acidity involved (like tomato, for example), toxins can leach into food.  So no aluminum in the kitchen.  Obviously, don't drink out of aluminum cans.  Avoid antacids, which are high in aluminum.  Use aluminum-free baking powder.  Ok, so this is all pretty easy to do.  But giving up my antiperspirant???  I didn't know if I could!

But if you think about it, you shave your armpits, which causes microtraumas or even outright nicks where your skin is open, and then slather on antiperspirant.  Your skin absorbs stuff more readily than even ingesting it, and it bypasses the liver and goes straight into your bloodstream.  Plus more of it is probably getting in there because of the open skin.  I don't know; I'm not a doctor (duh), but this sounds, like I said, no bueno

Even aside from the aluminum thing, antiperspirants work by inhibiting your sweat glands from working.  Sweat is a major pathway for elimination of toxins from the body, so it's also short-circuiting a process of detoxification.

It took me a while to fully make the switch once I decided antiperspirants were bad news.  For a while I more or less decided I would risk the potential health hazards in order to prevent body odor.  See, it's the aluminum that has the antiperspirant effect. You can buy deodorants without aluminum, but they don't prevent you from sweating. I tried a bunch of "natural" deodorants but none of them worked one lick.  I would be stinking within 30 minutes of taking a shower.  Hey, it's hot and humid here!  I searched high and low for a women's deodorant that was NOT also an antiperspirant.  Apparently they don't make one!  I considered using a men's deodorant, since there are several men's products that are deodorant-only.  But they all had food coloring and other "bad" stuff that I'm trying to avoid, so, um, choose your poison right?  Finally I discovered that Arm & Hammer makes a deodorant without antiperspirant.  And it actually works! 

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not the same.  If I sweat a lot, or I'm outside all afternoon, I do start to stink more than with antiperspirant.  But For me, it's a fair trade to get rid of a product I was using on a daily basis that I really feel is not good for my health.  Or Avery's, since aluminum IS excreted in breastmilk.

So that's it in a nutshell.  I'm curious to hear your thoughts.  Do you use antiperspirant?  Have you tried any natural deodorants?  Leave me a comment! *** P.S. on the mercury in vaccines thing: most vaccine manufacturers have worked to remove mercury from childhood vaccines, but trace amounts do remain. And some vaccines given to children DO still contain mercury, the biggest one being the flu shot, which, if you get one every year is kind of a lot of mercury exposure. But like I said, more on this subject later!

Pumpkin Patch!

This post has a lot of pictures so hopefully it doesn't take too long to open it! Yesterday we finally made it to the Pumpkin Patch!  Yes, it was quite dusty and windy, which was unpleasant, but we had fun nonetheless.  Avery really enjoyed seeing all the pumpkins and running through the patch.
Avery caught a ride on her dada's shoulders and helped pick out our pumpkins.
We also saw some banana trees! Avery kept saying "nana! nana!"
Nice pumpkin.
Heading out with our treasures.
Hey, it's a tractor! It's very exciting when you are 18 months old. If it weren't for the dust and wind we might have gone for a ride. Maybe next year!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October

So much for going to the YMCA's playgroups!  I feel pretty certain that is where Avery got the particularly nasty cold she came down with a couple weeks ago and then subsequently passed on to me.  I was trying halfheartedly to avoid getting infected, but when you are nursing a toddler, it's darn near impossible.  The fatal blow came a few days into her symptoms when she woke up in the morning, popped her little head up and coughed, then sneezed, directly in my face.  The she says, "hi!"  How can you not just laugh?  Of course, then she kept trying to kiss me.  I tried to turn my head, but she didn't let it rest until she planted one right on my lips (smearing her snotty nose right on mine - lovely).   If there was any chance I was going to avoid getting sick too it went right out the window that morning. 

I held out for a good week; I started loading up on vitamin C, taking shots of apple cider vinegar and tablespoons of coconut oil (home remedies of dubious value), drinking a liquid multivitamin/mineral supplement, and cod liver oil.  While it didn't prevent me from getting sick, who is to say whether I would have been sicker without all that.  The worst part is that I can't clear one of my ears!  It's the most uncomfortable and annoying problem. 

I'm supposed to be getting on another plane back to the mainland on Monday, but I don't know if I will make it if I can't clear my ear.  That could be bad.  I really want to go because my Great Grandmother is turning 100 years old and I don't want to miss out on the party & family reunion.

So that's what's been occupying us for the last couple weeks.  Fun.  I know you can't live in a bubble so your kid doesn't get sick, but I think I'd rather Avery get sick later when she's weaned and I can maybe not get sick every time she does!  To be honest, the playgroup kind of squicks me out a little because the toys are old and they all feel sticky and I see kids put stuff in their mouths and then other kids pick it up and EW.  Are you laughing at me for being a germaphobe?  I really try not to be paranoid about it, but those type of activities are like petri dishes for germs.  There was one kid there who had a hacking cough and I thought about scooping up Avery and leaving then and there, but we stayed and you know the rest of the story.

Avery's 18 month birthday was last Monday.  My baby is a year and a half old!  She is really changing a lot right now, after a somewhat stagnant period between 15-18 months or so when she seemed more or less the same day to day.  Now each day she seems different: saying more words, doing different things, doing the same things differently.  The biggest thing, of course, is her language development.  It seems like she is saying - or attempting - new words every day.  She will imitate just about anything, even when you don't think she is listening or paying attention!

The other big change of late is that her sleep has improved SIGNIFICANTLY.  And I feel comfortable saying that without fear of jinxing it because we've already gone through a short time of worse sleeping again.  So I know with teething and whatever she's probably going to regress again, but overall the improvement is nothing short of miraculous.  We put a mattress on the floor in her room and now at night I nurse her to sleep there and then I can get up and go downstairs and she stays asleep for HOURS usually.  Like I often go to bed before she wakes!  I am crazy and I love sleeping near her, so I usually go lay down on the mattress with her and sleep there until her first wake up.  Then I carry her to my bed and she stays there with us the rest of the night.

Did I tell you Avery likes to eat seaweed?  I buy momi nori (shredded seaweed) and she eats it right out of the bag.  It's kind of hilarious.  I find the stuff pretty repulsive, but she loves it.

I've been experimenting with making bone broths and I'm really loving it.  I highly recommend you try it; it's so nutritious for you.  The easiest is probably chicken broth.  I just buy a whole chicken and roast it.  I save the heart, neck and gizzards in a bowl in the fridge for the broth.  I stuff the chicken with thyme, sea salt, onion, garlic and lemon wedges, then cover the skin with butter, salt and seasonings and roast at 425 for about 1.5 hours.  Then we pick the meat off and eat it for dinner and save all the bones with the gizzards in the fridge.  The next day I put the bones and gizzards in a pot with water and a couple tablespoons of vinegar for an hour.  Then I turn on the heat, add carrots, celery, onion and thyme to the pot and bring it to a boil, then simmer for like 12 hours.  Then I strain the broth and make a chicken soup out of it.  I do something similar with beef bones too.  We just made a beef stew yesterday with some broth I cooked for four days.  It's so delicious!  The broth really makes a difference and it's so nourishing.  Avery didn't care for the chicken soup, but she likes the beef one.  Her favorite thing in the world to eat is still chili.  I can't explain it, but whenever I make it, she will often eat a big bowl of the stuff. 

Avery is napping now.  When she wakes up we are headed to the pumpkin patch!  I am not planning to dress Avery up for Halloween this year, but I definitely want pictures of her in the pumpkin patch!

Seventeen Months of Avery!

Here's the latest video... lord knows I need to sit down and write something...  she's 18 months old now.  So this is from the last month.  We've both been getting over nasty colds (boo) and I've been catching up on the last season of True Blood.  Enjoy the video!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Avery at Sixteen Months

Of course Avery is now 17 months old (!!).  This video is a compilation of clips and pictures from the last month.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Now inside then inside now

Avery's down for her nap.  She was tired and fell asleep fast.  It's so sweet to nurse her to sleep, but especially when she is really tired because she just cuddles in all soft and warm.  Adam took Avery to the neighborhood pool to go swimming this morning and she got all tuckered out.  She likes to go swimming, but lately it seems she is more aware and therefore more nervous in the water.  She prefers to be in the shallow water where she can stand.

(Adam and I are watching some Texas Aggie football while she's sleeping.  BTHO OSU!)

While they were gone, I watched the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy - Oh my gosh you guys, I was crying into my fizzy water by the end at the stuff with the baby.  I can't see or hear anything having to do with babies without getting completely affected by it since Avery was born. 

After I had cancer was the first time I really wanted to become a mother.  I mean, I always knew I wanted kids, but, you know, later.  I was too busy with life then, too wrapped up in making a mark in the world.  Then I got that call: it's cancer.  And suddenly my world collapsed to the size of a pin.  Suddenly I wanted to hug my children.  To know my parents better.  To accept more love instead of keeping it conveniently at arm's reach.  I realized I was missing out on what's really important in life.  Who knows where I would be if I hadn't been diagnosed with cancer.  Probably still single, still in Washington, working on a promising career in public service.  Some days I miss that hypothetical alternate reality.  But mostly I feel so greatful for my wake-up call.  No doubt I am much better off in my real life.

Watching Grey's Anatomy, the last line in the show really got me.  I'll have to paraphrase, but it was something like: You think falling in love is the only thing in the world that can fill your heart to bursting or crush it completely.  And then you become a mother.  So true.  I thought I knew the heights of tender affection or depths of heartbroken despair, but the limits of those emotions got stretched beyond imagination once I became a mother.

Motherhood is such a bipolar condition.  There's so much joy, so much love and happiness.  But beneath it all is an undercurrent of heartbreak.  Or rather, potential heartbreak.  Or perhaps just the fear of it.  And wistfulness too.  You sense the fragility of life - the fleetingness of it.  The impermanence.  Nothing is guaranteed.  You want to hold on: tighter, tighter.  But even as you grasp, laughing and smiling and drunk with love, it's already gone.  Time moves away from you into the past, into memory.  These babies.  They change and become children and then they have children, and I suppose it's all well and right and good.  But.  But.  And we want it, wish for it even; relishing every milestone and step towards independence.  Relieved when they finally sleep on their own all night, or feed themselves, or stop nursing.  But.  It's also heartbreaking.

My dad is in the process of converting old pictures and movies into digital format.  While I was home I got to see not only movies of myself as an infant, but also movies of him as a kid.  It's strange to watch videos of yourself as a baby.  You know it's you, but you have no memory of or connection to the images.  My dad holds two-month-old me on his lap in his bathrobe.  He says, "You're in the movies now, Michelle!"  My grandmother lovingly bathes me in the sink (I fit in the sink!  Me!  So tiny in the sink!), and then I subsequently peed on her lap.  My mom lays on the bed next to me and coos, "Ah-goo!" (just like she did with Avery) and I gaze at her and kick my feet gleefully.  Then I watch my grandmother, not yet twenty(!), so beautiful and mid-century glamorous, playing with my dad and his brother as toddlers.  My strong, heroic father, squealing with laughter and so bursting with energy and happiness, he runs a spontaneous lap around the yard - he can hardly hold still for the video.

Two moments in time, separated by thirty... fifty years, briefly experienced simultaneously.  Now, watching then.  I had just hugged my grandmother on her 75th birthday, and there were a couple of times over the weekend when I was not quite sure she knew exactly who I was.  Certainly, when she saw Avery on our second day there, it was clear she did not remember seeing her the day before.  My glamorous and dignified grandmother, who we are slowly losing to Alzheimer's.  Watching that video of her with her young babies was so heartbreakingly poignant.  Surely that was just a moment ago?  And now here I am, mothering her great-granddaughter, and watching videos of her mothering my father.  It makes me wonder: if we knew, would we still...? 

Life is fragile.  And fleeting.  You want to hold on.  Tighter, tighter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Avery winking

I was going to add this in my last post, but it was taking too long to upload, so here it is.


Untitled from Michelle Seiler on Vimeo.

Lately

Friends, we have been busy.  As the state of neglect on this blog attests!  I had to hack my way through ankle-high weeds to get in here.  We have been on the road for the past three weeks - two days in Las Vegas, then five days in Dallas, two days back in Vegas, then four days in Colorado Springs and now back in Vegas.  We head home to Hawaii next week.  Phew.  We went to Dallas to celebrate my grandmother's 75th birthday and my dad's whole side of the family (minus a few) were there.  Avery got to meet her two second-cousins who are about her age.  We then tagged along with my folks to Colorado where they were attending Dad's Air Force Academy reunion, and we were visiting my aunt and cousins and scoping the area out.  We are hoping (wishing, dreaming, planning) to move there after our tour in Hawaii is over in a year and a half.

I feel like I've been gone so long I don't know where to start, so I think I'll just throw some random stuff out there and you can consider yourselves updated!  Though I can't promise things will pick up on the regular again here, since Avery is down to one nap now and thus I get a mere one hour break from her in each 24 these days.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I know it's just me and Mom reading.  I make myself keep writing here so I will remember this in 30 years when Avery has her babies and says to me, "What was it like with ME, mom??" and I don't have to give her the response I keep getting from my own mother: "Oh, sweetie, I don't remember; that was THIRTY years ago!!!"

**I guess I will start with sleep since it's been the major theme on this blog these last 16 months.  Avery is now down to one nap and I patently refuse to walk her to sleep any more (barring extreme circumstances).  It's bittersweet.  Sweet because she goes to sleep more readily now, while nursing, and I am no longer spending several HOURS a day walking her down (oh the frustraaaation).  Bitter because I now get only an hour break from her during the day.  Yes, you read that right: she is only napping for one hour a day (sometimes less).  The nights are about the same, still sleeping with me, still nursing every couple-few hours, though thankfully with fewer hours-long wakeful periods in the night.  Sadly, I was just yesterday reminded of the dreaded 18 month sleep regression (YE GODS have we not suffered enough), so that is on our horizon now that the elf is nearly 17 months old.

**Avery is right on the verge of the "language explosion".  The past few weeks, she has begun "saying" lots of words, and by saying I mean she tries to copy the sounds she hears.  She still doesn't actually SAY any words except for hi, mama, dada and yaya clearly.  The words she knows and has a sound for that more or less approximates the actual word are (I'm sure I'm forgetting a few):

hi
mama
dada
yaya
poppy (pah)
alright (yah-eiah)
yes (yeh)
no (nah)
no, no, no, no! (nah nah nah nah nah!)
bubbles (buh- boh)
banana (buh or sometimes nah)
woof (uh!)
meow (myum)
moo (baah (?) )
chicken (bok-bok)
owl (ooh, ooh)
up up (buh-buh-buh)
down (daow)
water (wa-wa)
night night (ni-ni)
moon (mooh)

Plus, she will imitate any sounds she hears.  Like the other day she was just whining and whining and I finally said, "AVERY!  Oh my GOSH!" (in exasperation) and she immediately started going, "GOH! GOH!"  over and over.  I've been really working on not letting any shits or damns slip out.

** I have lots of ideas for things I want to write posts about!  In addition to co-sleeping and vaccinations, I also want to tell you why I stopped using antiperspirant and toothpaste.  Look at me!  I'm turning into a regular old hippie over here.  The 2001 me probably would have scoffed and rolled her eyes at the 2011 me.  I don't do any hippie things because of a moral imperative.  I do them because they make sense.  For me.  You can do whatever you want, if it makes sense to you.  I'm not on a crusade, internet, I'm just telling you where I'm coming from.

** Avery is currently 16 months GOING ON SIXTEEN.  For pete's sake, this child has a mind of her own and she will HAVE IT KNOWN.  I suppose this is totally normal, age-related behavior.  And it probably only gets worse (if you have older children and you are cackling with schadenfreude glee as you read this, for the love of god, don't run to the comments and tell me how much worse it gets!).  Avery is throwing temper tantrums in earnest now, and I find myself torn between not wanting to pick fights with her when I want to leave Macy's and she doesn't, and not wanting to be ruled by a BABY.  And that stuff about distraction?  Ha!  Haaaaaaa!  You obviously haven't met my child, Avery One-Track-Mind.  If you try to deter her from her mission, she... well, she simply will not be deterred.  She WILL find a way to toddle back into the bathroom and climb up on the counter to get to the small, breakable objects, the second you are not looking!

** But, holy cow, she also does the CUUUUTEST things these days.  For example, my mom has this statue of Buddha in her room with some pretty stones in its hands that Avery loves.  The other day we were sitting outside and she got a rock from the yard and toddled back into the house with it.  When we went to see where she went, she had gone to Mom's room to give the rock to the Buddha!  Yesterday she was sitting next to Buddha giving him kisses.  She plays games like hide and seek.  She points things out.  She winks!  She constantly amazes me with how much she "gets" and how much she is learning every day.  She's becoming a real PERSON and it's blowing my mind.

Well, she's up from her nap now, so I guess I'll hit the publish button.  I think I pretty much covered the highlights.  Hope all of you are happy and well!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Avery at Fifteen Months

My girl.  Oh, my sweet, pretty little girl.  No one told me I would be so affected by this baby.  That I would glance up from scrambling eggs and see her squatting on the kitchen floor next to me stirring her bowl of air and my heart would melt into my stomach.  I fall in love with her all over again every single day.  Multiple times a day.

She toddles into the kitchen and gets a hold of my purse and slings it around her neck, and pushes her toy shopping cart around adding toys to the basket.  It dawns on me: she's copying ME!  I look down from the mirror as I'm getting ready and she's trying to brush her hair with my brush.  A slideshow of my life flashes before me as I think about her watching all the things I do during the day.  I think about how I snarked at Adam for forgetting to bring a towel when he took Avery to the pool.  About bursting into tears when I broke a casserole dish and ruined an entire CASSEROLE (that I spent hours shopping for and preparing, nonetheless my reaction was a bit melodramatic).  I think about that whole chocolate bar I just devoured.  She can't copy THOSE things.  No, no, no, no.  Obviously I need to be a better person.

We've been busy and we're about to get on the road again.  We're headed back to the mainland for a family reunion!  And Avery is only napping about an hour a day these days.  Adam asked me if I was abandoning my blog... NO!  How I wish I had more contemplative time for blogging!  I did manage to put together another video...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Push and pull

Avery stops nursing and breaks her latch to smile up at me, her eyes shining.  She waves her foot in the air, inviting me to play our game, and I oblige by pretending I'm not going to kiss her foot, then capturing it and showering it with kisses all over.  "I'm going to kiss ALL of your toes!"  I tell her.  "Muah, muah, muah, muah, muah!"  And she giggles into my breast.  Satisfied, she turns her body towards me so we are tummy to tummy and continues nursing.  A memory of her newborn days bubbles up and I reminisce about nursing her in bed in the early morning, her arms pinned to her sides in her swaddle and her tummy pressed against mine, surrounded by a nest of sheets and pillows.  I remember thinking, I want to remember this always.  The way this feels.  But already I kind of forget.  Laying there, her whole body used to fit above the bend of my legs.  Could she really have been so tiny?  It seems impossible now, holding this big baby, her legs stretched out over the arm of the chair.  She is the same to me from day to day, and yet, she has changed so much. 

Someday she will be grown, I think to myself, and suddenly a wave of sadness passes over me.  I miss her already.  I stroke her hair and her dimpled arms and her butterball legs.  She reaches up a chubby hand and pats my face, then stops nursing to say, "Mmm-mah!"  She resumes nursing matter-of-factly.

I am wearing the carpet thin, walking circles in the dark carrying Avery, waiting for her to be asleep enough to lay down.  I'm humming, but my mind is churning.  I think of Adam downstairs watching tv and feel jealous and resentful.  My back aches.  My right arm is numb.  Why am I doing this?  How much longer till I can go have my tea?  How much longer till she outgrows this?  Avery stirs in her almost-sleep and turns her face towards me on my shoulder.  In the light from the hallway I can see the pale moon of her baby cheek, the fringe of her eyelashes, and the soft pout of her lips, her bottom lip is sucked in slightly making the shape of an upside down heart.  Suddenly I am overwhelmed by the urge to kiss her sweet face, to nuzzle her neck and smell her head. 

I stop myself - she is almost asleep and I don't want to wake her.  Adam.  Tea. 

I try to memorize the weight of her in my arms and the mold of her body against my torso. 

I think I can lay her down now.  As I shift her weight, she stirs again and wraps her little arms around my neck.  I hesitate.  She doesn't want me to leave her.  I could stay, I could sit with her in the rocking chair and hold her while she is sleeping, listen to her breathing.  Instead I lay her down and she stays asleep.  My wistfulness is replaced by a triumphant feeling.  Success!  I am free for the moment to join Adam downstairs.

Later, he and I climb in our bed together and turn out the lights.  I lay awake in the dark thinking of her.  Is she ok?  Is she safe?  Is she warm enough?  I think I cannot sleep, but when I hear her sharp cry on the monitor, I am jolted from a dream.  Secretly I am happy that I can go gather her up and snuggle her down next to me in bed.  I think, someday she will sleep on her own all night.  And I miss her again, though she is right there.  I am curled around her protectively.  She nurses and starts to fall asleep so I unlatch her.  She rolls over and puts her diapered bottom against my tummy.  My heart is full.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Colds, naps, playgroup

Possibly the greatest injustice of motherhood is that when everyone else gets sick, you take care of them, and when you get sick?  You still take care of them.  That's my round-a-bout way of telling you that we're all getting over colds, thanks to Adam who brought home the latest bug.  He works in a windowless office (literally) and doesn't get enough vitamin D, so you can't be too surprised.  This was

Avery's first time getting a cold though.  Even though I've been sick SIX times now since October  (!!!) she never got even so much as a sniffle (yay breastfeeding!), but I guess that couldn't last forever.  She had that fever thing a few months ago, but that was her only symptom.  I'm not sure if I prefer the fever or the cold!  The fever was kind of scary, what with the limp and listless baby and all, but the runny nose and inability to breathe is annoying!

Anyway, so, sick husband all weekend, sick baby starting Monday, sick me starting Tuesday.  Happily it wasn't a bad cold at all and I was mostly functional throughout.  Cause like I said, no one took care of me (boo hoo).  Speaking of colds, though, I have to tell you all about this awesome iPhone app I discovered (or Droid if that's your poison).   It's called LactMed and you can look up any drug and whether it's safe for breastfeeding. 

Avery has started to branch out socially.  Our next door neighbor has a three year old and if she sees him outside playing she wants to go over and join in.  So we met our neighbors, yay!  Anyway, she told me about a playgroup the YMCA holds so we went to check it out on Thursday.  I was a little squicked out by the state and general stickiness of all the toys, but Avery thought it was great fun and careened around playing with everything for about five seconds each. 

The only way we were able to go is because I was trying to solve our sleep problems by forcing Avery down to one nap.  With her napping around ten every morning, we haven't been able to go to any playgroups or meet ups.  And I spend too much time fighting to get her to sleep three times a day (two naps and night).  But it didn't seem to have much positive effect.  She was more tired and easier to get down, but slept even less than before, so I think we are back to two naps for now, and I'm back to  spending several hours walking the child around until she falls asleep every day.

Sorry this is so disjointed.  Adam and I are trying to watch True Grit in 20-30 minute intervals while Avery takes her catnaps, and it's on in the background right now so I've mostly lost any unifying thread in this post.  I have several posts floating around in my head, including one on co-sleeping and one on vaccinating - why we are not.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Babies need their mothers!

Via Melissa McEwen, the following article:  

Keeping Mother and Baby Together – It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding


The video "shows babies who, when left undisturbed on their mothers' bodies immediately after birth, find themselves, crawl to it and suckle with competence.  It observes also those babies whose abilities are either impaired or negated because of exposure to intrapartum meds, separation from their mothers after birth, or both."


Great information about how mom and baby should be together for at least the first hour after birth, and how important skin to skin contact is for the newborn baby.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fourteen months of Avery

Today is Avery's fourteen month birthday, and it also happens to be Adam's birthday!  Happy birthday honey! 

Avery at fourteen months is my exuberant little cherub.  She is developing quite an attitude lately!  The terrible.... ones?  It must be frustrating to be only fourteen months and be thwarted from doing what you want at nearly every turn and not be able to even complain about it with words.  The other day she threw an absolute FIT in the middle of Costco.  I put a container of dates (one of her favorite things) in the cart and she decided she wanted one RIGHT.  NOW.  So after trying to futilely distract her while enduring withering looks from other shoppers passing by the scene, I finally cracked open the container and gave her one.  Good grief!  I can't wait till she turns two.  Or twelve!  Haaaaaa.

She's making more attempts at saying words here and there.  If you ask her what a cow says, she goes, "Buahh" (moo, duh).  Kitty says "myuhm", doggy says "uhn! uhn!", milk is "mahm", and she even said bah-bah (bye bye) yesterday.

She's such a love.  She loves giving kisses and hugs, and getting them is the best thing EVER.  No, seriously, ever ever.  Just look how cute:


Untitled from Michelle Seiler on Vimeo.


This is such a fun age!  The best age so far.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just when I was all set to give her to the gypsies

Ahhhhh this child.  Yesterday she only took one nap, so I knew it would mean an early bedtime.  Last night went like this:

7:00 - lights out, nurse to sleep

7:30 - in bed!  Yay, that was quick, now I can go downstairs and make my tea and talk to Adam.

7:50 - awake.  Dammit, that was only twenty minutes.  Haven't finished my tea.  She's going back in her crib for a while longer.

8:40 - finally asleep and in bed again after nearly an hour of nursing and walking.  At least I can go back downstairs and finish my tea.

8:50 - awake.  Again.  AHHHHH.  To hell with it, I'll just get in bed with her.

9:30 - finally.  Asleep.  Aaaaannnnd here comes Adam making enough noise to wake her up.

11:45 - yes, ELEVEN FORTY FIVE.  She finally went to sleep again after hours of walking, nursing and frustration.

6:45 - awake for the day!

And of course she was fussy and grumpy all morning.  I was seriously about ready to give her to the next gypsy I saw.  We had breakfast... well, actually, I had breakfast and she ate a few bites and kept signing "more" but then wouldn't eat anything I offered her more of.  And after breakfast I carted her upstairs to take a nap.

Nursing a toddler is like trying to nurse an octopus.  There are legs and arms flailing everywhere.  Well, I was already feeling a bit put upon by the previous 14 hours' ordeal, so nursing an octopus was kind of like the icing on the cake.

Then all of a sudden, Avery stopped nursing, pulled my face down and went "mmmmm-mmah!" (her kisses) and started giving me kisses over and over and laughing.  Oh my god, she can melt my heart.  I decided I would keep her after all.

I'm pretty sure she is popping another tooth out.  Two and a half down, twenty five to go.  Hold me.  Or better yet, send cookies! (For me, not the baby.  For the baby, perhaps you have some kind of heavy duty tranquilizer??)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Lately

Hard to believe our time in Vegas is drawing to a close already. Has it really been three weeks?! We leave tomorrow. It's bittersweet - bitter because we will really miss Yaya; sweet because we get to see Dada again.

Avery has changed so much even just since we got here. She decided the day before we came that she was done with crawling. She is now walking everywhere, as you could see in the last video I posted. We even went to Nordstrom's to get Avery her first pair of shoes! After which she went toddling through the mall carrying her Eeyore around by the ear and grinning at anyone who made eye contact with her.

She loves shoes and will go get her shoes and bring them to me to put on her. A couple days ago in Kohl's we were trying a pair of shoes on her, but then decided not to get them. She was very upset when I tried to put them back on the shelf! She carried them around for a while and would not even be distracted by toys when it was time to leave the shoes behind! She also loves adult shoes and tries to put them on her feet.

People are drawn to her when we take her out. So many people stop to say hello to her and Avery always obliges them with an adorable grin, or she waves or wrinkles up her nose. Are all babies like this? I have zero experience with babies other than Avery so I don't know if she gets an abnormal amount of stranger-baby-attention or more.

We took her to our favorite Mexican restaurant in town and she had the best time. Besides eating copious amounts of guacamole and chicken, she made friends with all the waiters and bussers in our area. Every time someone passed by the table, she leaned back in her high chair and grinned and waved until they acknowledged her.

We had a fun visit with Aunt Barbara too, who enamored herself to Avery by teaching her all kinds of cool things like how to sign "more" and how to eat ice chips. You can see her doing both at the end of the Thirteen Month video I posted: Barbara was feeding her ice chips and she kept signing "more"! She also showered Avery with toys including her now beloved Eeyore, a dolly and her very own purse!

We can never do more than one or two things when we leave the house because we have to be home in time for Avery's afternoon nap. This child does not nap in the carseat or the stroller like every OTHER baby in the entire known universe. So we mostly hung out at home and enjoyed the company and exploring the back yard. We did have a few adventures, including a trip to the MGM hotel to see the lions. Avery really liked seeing the baby lions and practically turned herself inside out to get to them (she couldn't because they were behind glass, but right at her eye level).

Avery is eating a lot lately, and one of her very favorite things is chili. She consumes entire bowls of the stuff! She also eats eggs, avocado and bacon for breakfast, fruit - especially strawberries and blueberries, and she even got to eat some peaches from Poppy's peach tree!, steak, shrimp, asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini and even a little bit of dark chocolate.

She doesn't say any words besides hi, Mama, Dada and Yaya yet, but she often tries to imitate what you say. I had a sore on my foot and she was trying to get it off of me by scratching at it with her fingernail (thanks!) and I said, "owie", and she tried to imitate me. She was also trying to imitate me saying "poop" (booo) and a few other words. If you tell her to call me and I'm in the other room, she'll start toddling to find me and say "MUM! Ah-ma! Mom-mom!" Oh, and she blows kisses. Yes it's as cute as it sounds.

Luckily Dada has a three day weekend, so we will get lots of time with him when we get back. Then it will only be a couple weeks before Uncle Blake and Inge come out to visit us in Hawaii! That is sure to be a fun time of beachgoing, hiking, restauranting and who knows what else.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Avery at Thirteen Months



Music is by Elizabeth Mitchell

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Photo Shoot!

These are some of my favorites! If you want to see them all, I posted them on Facebook or on Avery's Shutterfly.
If you need the password, send me an email at new dot michelle at gmail dot com and I'll send it to you!






















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