Monday, December 17, 2012

Natalie CAN Walk...

It has been very difficult to capture Natalie's walking progress because she only walks when she's not thinking about it. So if she sees something that she wants, is holding something, or is looking to be picked up, she usually walks. The second we start to praise or encourage her, she realizes what she is doing and drops down.
 
 
 
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Natalie loves the Christmas tree and likes to grab the lights that she can reach.

 
On Saturday, we had a really fun ward activity. There was a great nativity play (below) and tons of yummy food. It was set up like we were all taxpayers coming to bethlehem, so we cruised different "merchants"- they had a booth set up with dradles and chocolate coins, a "bakery" and "butcher". It was really well-done.

 
On Sunday, we opened presents with Micah's parents. They fulfilled their grangparently duty and got Natalie a toy car with 12 noise buttons and no off switch. She learned to mount it in no time when we got home!

 
They got us a tripod, which will be sooooo nice to have with out camera. I got a crock pot and a griddle. Can't wait to use them! We're having company for dinner on Wednesday, maybe I can convince Micah to let me make pancakes and homefries :)
 
A few more days until we leave for Wilmington. Yay!
 
 
 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Natalie's Glamour Shots

 Micah and I are finally breaking out the dSLR that we bought on black Friday. These were taken over 2 days at the park and the temple. We were trying to get a good portrait for a framed 4x6 portrait, which is why so many are cropped so tight. The last 3 are unedited. I am excited to get to do some of my family on Saturday!
 





 
 

 
 




Friday, December 14, 2012

God Does NOT Care


....Whether you wear pants or a skirt to Church, that is.

I did not realize until this morning that there has been a social-media-mobilized effort to make this Sunday "Wear Your Pants to Church Day".

 

My husband made a passing comment about it over breakfast. I guess he's been seeing a lot about it on Facebook. One of the few benefits of his having a large base of weirdo, lefty girlfriends from his freshman year is that he is in the loop on things like this. I shrugged it off, dismissing it as just another attention-grabbing stunt stirred on by someone like Joanna Brooks, an outspoken feminist who claims to represent women of the LDS faith, while her beliefs and experiences obviously indicate that she does not understand the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

But it got me curious. So, when I put Natalie down for a nap, I started to do a little research. And I was right. Not Brooks, but a woman named Stephanie Lauritzen, and her organization "All Enlisted". She is encouraging women to wear pants to church this Sunday in order to protest gender inequality. The planned event has received a lot of attention, with the search results of "Mormons,  pants" yielding 5 million hits and growing. Lauritzen perceives that women aren't equal in the Mormon Church, and that her opportunities in the church are limited because of her gender. In one interview, she expresses her desire to give priesthood blessings to her children when they are sick. The group All Enlisted expects that this pants protest will be just one of many to come that will target different aspects of "cultural, structural, and even doctrinal inequality that persists in the Latter Day Saints Church."

 

As a feminist and a Mormon, this makes me gag. Seriously? Why do women like this have to be the ones who rise to the top and receive attention from the media? They give us a bad image and, quite honestly, confuse and misinform a lot of non-Mormons about what we believe and experience. While, of course, it's fine to wear pants to church, Stephanie Lauritzen is using publicity about the pants issue to share her opinions about issues that actually do matter. It irritates me because it seems that she loves the culture of the Mormon Church while wanting to do her own thing, support her own principles, despite their not being in line with LDS teachings. I understand that there are feminists in the church who do feel hurt and offended and I welcome dialogue and efforts to increase awareness and understanding. Sure, lets heal broken hearts and mend deep wounds. But come on, do such opportunities always have to have a woman like this at the heart of it all?

 

First, if somebody disagrees with the core doctrine of a church, they should not be considered to representative of that church. That is, in fact, apostasy.

 

I am not saying that it's wrong to question the teachings of the Mormon, or any other, faith. That's the whole search, ponder, and pray idea- you take your questions to the Lord and he will help you to know for yourself whether something is right. If you take this approach, it is completely possible to reconcile feminist principles with the teachings of the LDS church, patriarchal as it may be.

 

I have belonged to a number of different LDS congregations throughout my different moves around the country. And I have had some very different experiences in each one. But never, EVER, have I felt any gender discrimination. I can see how one without a full understanding of the gospel would have problems with men having to "supervise" all church activity. I, for one, feel empowered that the Lord would want his power, the priesthood, to be available to operate in any scenario, be it girls' camp or a Relief Society craft night. By the way, He is the one who decided that the priesthood should be operated through the brethren of the church- if you think that you know better than God, then you've got bigger problems than your feminist hurt. I understand how some can be offended by unrighteous actions by individual priesthood holders. Let's face it: some men are jerks, or at least do idiotic, self-righteous and sometimes downright mean things. But when acting outside of the bounds that the Lord has set, such brethren do not represent Him or His church.

 

Now, I will admit that I have sensed some gender inequality a few times. Yep, I definitely have. On countless occasions, I have seen and heard women in the Mormon Church absolutely venerated and acclaimed. Through many sermons, classes, scriptural accounts and individual interactions, I have seen sisters glorified and respected and cherished. There is absolutely a gender inequality in the LDS church, and in the kingdom of God- women are raised up and esteemed and infinitely loved and relied upon for the many capacities that they have that men generally do not. I never see that kind of attention given to the men.

 

Here comes the tricky part.

 

This whole wear-pants movement has sparked a lot of reaction from both sides of the issue. Lots of "you go, girl”,  sprouting from non-Mormons who see their fellow women taking control and asserting themselves in an oppressive organization, as well as from under informed Mormons who don't realize that the promoter of this event is inadvertently attacking their very church. I have read a lot of articles that claim that this is not a protest against gender inequality, but a statement about inclusion and rejecting social expectations to focus more on what the Lord really cares about. And I was glad to read such things. I hope that most supporters will embrace this as the real intent of the pants-clad parade this Sunday. Like I mentioned, I welcome such dialogue. I am grateful for the increasing awareness.

 

Then we've got the haters on the other side. This is where it gets juicy. Blogs and articles have received hundreds of responses condemning this event as well as people's feelings and opinions behind it. There were a lot of blatant insults. "People like you and others in your church are pretty PATHETIC." Then, there was a lot of insensitivity, people belittling women who express vulnerability, striking them down as oversensitive and insecure. "I wonder what your life experience has been that has scarred you so much"; "People will probably not notice anyway. They have too many real concerns to take care of." There were a lot of men making stupid comments. "Can I wear a dress?" "Can we stop wearing ties as a symbol of breaking from our social constraint?" Then there was a lot of ignorance and self-righteousness. "Why not just wear a garbage bag to church?" In response to one earnest but humble post, a woman angrily condemned all pants-wearing church-goers as Sabbath disturbers who serve Satan. One man argued against pants-wearing, urging women to "keep their covenants". I must have missed that. When did wearing skirts and dresses become requisite to eternal salvation? Even the LDS church has responded with the statement: "Attending Church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don't counsel people beyond that."

 

It was through reading these statements that I started to feel a little bit of pity for the cause. I mean, so many reactions from people both within and outside of the Mormon Church were so nasty towards a number of women who jumped on this bandwagon, that I felt like wearing pants just to stick it to the opposition. Not as a feminist statement, but as a counter-anti-feminist statement. Then I realized that my choice of dress might communicate that I support Stephanie Lauritzen, and the aims of All Enlisted. And I don't. I support those who are choosing to wear pants for good and worthy reasons, but I have a feeling that drawing attention to this whole movement is just solidifying the misconception that gender discrimination is a real, mainstream problem in the LDS Church. In reality, women who feel discriminated against within the church are a severe minority. And I feel quite sorry for them. I just wish they would seek greater knowledge and understanding, perhaps even turn to God for reconciliation, rather than publicizing their own solutions to imagined problems and stirring up contention.

 

I’ll be wearing a skirt on Sunday. I certainly won’t judge others who choose to wear pants, especially since we have several sisters in our congregation who always wear pants to church. And it’s no big deal. I might wear pants some time if I want to; it would be more practical, as we work in nursery. But I don’t want to be involved with this Stephanie Lauritzen and her movement. Afterall, I’ve agreed not to “support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Lied.

Okay, so I guess I did take some pictures last week. Here you go. Looks like it has been a big week of climbing into boxes.


It began simply enough by falling, trying to sit on a box only to have the lid cave in. Before long, she was climbing in and out of this cardboard box like a pro.


The shoe bin was much harder to get out of. A couple of times, she climbed into it and then cried because she couldn't get out.
 
 
I was eating the last few cookies in our largest tupperware container, left to rinse out my milk glass, and returned to find that she had climbed into the tupperware and was sitting in it contentedly.


 
She can go down the stairs feet first, though we still need to be near by. She has her first fall down the stairs this week :/
 
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Play while I make dinner

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Natalie tries out her little green pouch. She is still getting the hang of it, but already she is eating way more baby food than trying with a spoon to feed her!
 
 
Natalie almost always pulls out the magic bullet box to play with the parts. Here, I captured her genius as she stacked the blender over the blade and then the juicer attachment onto the blender. She was in the process of placing a lid ring on top.
 
 
Other Natalie News:
We bought Natalie a potty at Ikea yesterday. After hearing about some friends' success with infant potty training, I thought it couldn't hurt. I want her to get used to the idea of sitting on a potty so that potty training isn't some big, dramatic change- she'll be used to the idea. So, this morning we woke up and took off her wet diaper from the night, set her on her potty, and when we picked her back up.... her potty had a puddle in it. At first I was confused befor I realized that Natalie peed in the potty! Wow. Later in the afternoon when we sat her on it after a nap, she pooped in her diaper while sitting on it. Thise Ikea potties must be ergonomically designed to make kids go! So, hopefully she'll continue to like sitting on her potty.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cookies

This week was super boring. Micah has been at school late (it's 9:30 on Friday night and he is still there....), aerobics has been called off every day this week and there haven't been any fun couponing opportunities lately. I haven't even taken any photos of Nataliebecause she has spent most of this week being an obnoxious wreck. She has been super clingy- as in, I can not be standing or even sitting in a chair in the same room- I MUST be sitting right there on the floor next to her. If I am not RIGHT THERE, she comes over to me and whines and pulls on my leg until she falls or bumps her head (on purpose, I'm pretty sure...) and then I have to pick her up to make her stop crying. As soon as she is picked up, she stops crying. Urgh. I feel so manipulated.

I still feel it worth blogging because it has been a week of great treat consumption.

I made pumpkin roll for our extra choir practice on Sunday. Used the recipe on the back of the libby's canned pumpkin label. Always a hit.

On Monday, I made eggnog. It was easy, but took some time to stir while it cooked. At least I could do it while holding Natalie. Followed this recipe, but used medium heat for 30 mins. Turned out a little chunky, so I ran the custard through the blender before mixing the milk in. I love it. I skipped the whipped cream because I always feel like eggnog is so thick that I need to water it down. So, I could make it nice and thin. Micah can't get over the egg smell. Natalie loved the store-bought stuff but wouldn't drink this, so I guess we'll be going store-bought from here forward. I still thought it was good though.

Tuesday was National Cookie Day. I made some almond date oatmeal cookies. They were a little dry and too chewy. But then I made these egg nog cookies and they were AMAZING. Oh. My. Goodness. Crunchy, crispy outside, chewy on the inside, and spicy and sweet and sooooo yummy. Just do yourself a favor and make these cookies. And share some with friends, because they make a TON and you WILL eat them all if they are there.
Thursday we had a cookie exchange for playgroup. I brought snickers cookies to use up all the free snickers santa bars I have gotten from CVS. They are so yummy and so easy. You basically make peanut butter cookie dough then form a little dough around a chunk of a snickers bar. They look boring, but then when you bite into them, there's a yummy surprise in the center! I got to leave with a couple dozen cookies that others' brought. Some of the other ladies made nobakes, chocolate pumpkin cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal butterscoth and divinity. All were phenomenal and I personally ate them all. With milk. In about a day.

Christmas is all about the cookies. I mean, it's about Christ, of course.... but after that, cookies are are pretty high up there in significance to me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh, no. We're "those people".

On Saturday, I heard Natalie wake up from her afternoon nap. I went upstairs to find her with her head smushing into a mound of vomit. It was pretty gross. I am a sympathetic puker, I find vomit so very disgusting that there are no words to describe it. I was able to hold it together enough to clean her up and take care of the bedding, but I was horrified. I took her downstairs and she started playing, acting like her normal self, so I assumed that she had just eaten too much right before going to bed (we just got these reusable baby food pouches and they are awesome. My only worry is that she overeats, she sucks it down so fast!). I offered her a sippy cup of water (making sure she didn't get dehydrated) and began washing the dishes only to turn around a few moments later to see Natalie throwing up again. So I put away the sippy cup and figured she should lay off anything for a little while. She resumed her normal play and a little while later, while playing with her toys in the living room, she threw up again. Again, she returned to her play and seemed otherwise unbothered, so I didn't worry much. Later that evening, I picked up Micah from the train and we were both starving and I hadn't prepared dinner, so we swung by steak and shake on our way home. Bad idea. Natalie threw up yet again while we were there. So, we headed home and settled her down to sleep around 8:30. She woke up around 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 throwing up. The latter two times, her vomit was green, which is on the list of "call your doctor if" scenarios, because bringing up bile might indicate that a blockage is preventing it from its usual path from the liver to the gallbladder to the small intestine. So, I called the nurse hotline and a while later Natalie's Pediatrician's nurse called back and told us to go to the hospital. Natalie had gone back to sleep and so I asked if it would be better to just let her rest and go in the morning if the vomiting continued. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. Throwing up is pretty common, and she wasn't showing any signs of dehydration yet. She told me that we should go right away, just in case of the possibility of a blockage.

So, shortly after midnight, we found ourselves checking in at Scottish Rite Pediatric Hospital just down the road. Natalie threw up in the waiting room, which was good- at least she didn't make a liar out of us. Nothing worse than taking a sick child to the doctor only for the child to suddenly stop exhibiting the symptoms that you were worried about! After some paperwork and measurements, pokes and prods, she was eventually given a pill to treat the nausea, a bottle of pedialyte and we were sent on our way with a diagnosis of a stomach virus. The doctor gave us a prescription for Zofran- the anit-nausea pills- and said that if she didn't need it, we should hang onto the medicine in case we caught the virus and needed it for ourselves. He went on about how it was a very safe drug, blah, blah, blah... After the pill, she didn't throw up again and, except for being very tired, all of us have been just fine since.

As we drove home, Micah talked about his thoughts while we were at the hospital. I don't think either of us were very worried, since we knew that there was probably nothing unusual wrong with Natalie. Micah spent the hours wondering if we were "those people"- you know, the ones that we ideologically condemn, who take unnecessary trips to the ER in the middle of the night for a hangnail and, because Natalie has medicaid, cause the price of healthcare to rise for others. He reflected and decided that he wouldn't have done differently and wouldn't want anyone else in our situation to have done differently in the same situation. There was a small possibility that something serious could have been wrong. And the nurse told us to go. I won't feel too obligated to pay it forward by growing up, getting really good insurance and then going to the ER a ton to help balance their costs and expenses.

My main thought reflecting upon all of this: Why aren't there otc anti-nausea medicines for infants?  Especially after the doctor said Zofran is so safe ("we give 10x the regular dosage to chemotherapy patients, and they're fine"). It worked right away, but it would have been a lot easier and faster if I could have just picked it up at CVS without having to run to the hospital in the middle of the night and wait around for 2 hours just to get it from a doctor. Harumph.

But anyways, there you have it. Our first time dealing with a really sick baby. May I not have to clean up puke for at least 3 more years....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Playgroup Perspectives

Natalie and I have been attending a play group for a little while. It is organized by some women from church and each week a different sister hosts. This week was my turn. It was very educational.

6 mothers came, 5 of whom had an infant within a few months of Natalie's age and a child within a few months of 3-years-old, and one of whom had only a child in the 3-years range. So, there were 6 babies and and 6 older toddlers total. And 6 moms.

It was a nuthouse. First of all, I should have moved the table to the side of the dining room so more kids could play in there. As it was, our small living room was just a writhing mess of child limbs and toys for most of the afternoon. The major problem was not the lack of space, but the lack of child-proofing. With exception to the stairs, which are not blocked as we are using the gate to keep Natalie off of the Christmas tree, our place is pretty well adjusted to keep Natalie safe. There is very little that she can reach that is problematic. It seems that 3-year-olds are taller and stronger than Natalie. Kids were getting down and playing with glass Christmas ornaments, knocking down the gate that blocked off the kitchen, throwing decorative pinecones from the corner table, opening the doors, trying to eat the dog treats on the counter. It was unbelievable! I was just running from kid to kid trying to pry danger out of their slimy little fingers! I had made a little playdough, expecting that some of the older kids might be bored because we only have baby toys, so I set it out on the table. Worked very well- a few kids went over to it and sat nicely on chairs and manipulated their playdough. Perhaps I was too smug in my victory, because a few moments later, I turned around to see two kids throwing playdough at each other (the balls of playdough, of course, landing on the floor where the babies were already getting to it and putting in their mouths. Natalie, at this very second, puked a bright green puddle of playdough); another child had grabbed the salt and pepper shakers that I had so foolishly left on the table and had poured out a lake of salt and paper that covered nearly a quarter of the table; another child, who the salt and pepper shakers had been passed along to, was banging the glass shakers on the glass table top; while yet another child had abandoned his playdough and was now interested in a toy car, which he threw forcefully at our glass door a second later.

Of course, it must be remembered that playgroups such as these are not held for the sake of the children. No, no; playgroups exist for the sole purpose of allowing the mothers to sit around and relax, while their children destroy somebody else's house for a change, and complain about how hard it is to be a mother. While I was mainly busy with my hostess-ly duties of, well, making sure that my house was not leveled, I did try to keep up with the conversation and interject my thoughts on the most important topics known to mother-kind: potty-training (consensus: it is impossible); food and nutrition (stories of kids making messes, complaints of not knowing what to cook for dinner that is cheap, healthy and tastes like it was made by a five-star chef); breastfeeding (those trying to stop at 9 months because baby bites so badly and those still breastfeeding at 18 months because they like the bonding); family planning (how easy vs terrible infants affect the timing of having more children); and, most importantly: body image (subcategories: weight, dietary restrictions, exercise, clothing and,  most importantly, what pregnancy and childbirth have done to my body).

I was a little relieved when playgroup was over and I waved goodbye to the last moms and kids. I was beat. I was physically exhausted by trying to keep up with the kids and mentally exhausted at the realization of the new and seemingly unending challenges that I will face as Natalie continues to grow and we have more children. As I sat pondering, I feel it significant to mention that Natalie was hanging on the bar at the base of her highchair, drooling onto the floor- just staring as the strings of spit fall and developed into a puddle on the carpet. Her drool was bright green.

Anyway, I've got to go now. Just put Natalie down for a nap, so I need to hurry up and go sit on the couch and watch mindless daytime television and eat cookies. This place looks like a disaster zone, but somehow, I have used up all of my energy during the creation of this mess and have none left to do the cleaning up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Micah Playing With Natalie

I'm bummed out that Micah will pretty much be gone all the time for about the next 2-3 weeks. He has presentations and projects, not to even start thinking of final exams to study for!
 
Good thing that, in those precious few moments that he does get to be at home, Micah can really let his mind relax.
 
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So- Thanksgiving at Aunt Nancy and Uncle Ron's was fabulous. But I left feeling very badly. For the second consecutive year I failed at making this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly. I even watched the video! Last year the layers were just messy, but at least it tasted good. This year it turned out even worse. The crust wasn't crunchy, it was weird and gross. Then the top layer didn't set- it was total liquid. I don't understand it! What am I doing wrong? More importantly, what an idiot am I if I can't even make a stinking jello salad?!?! These thoughts plagued me. My only consolation was that I also made these fabulous chocolate cheesecake truffles which turned out AWESOME! Had a bunch of Philidelphia Indulgence spread that I got for way cheap that I wanted to use so I found this recipe and instead of oreos, used crushed graham crackers, to mimic the cheesecake crust taste and flavor. Never did a double boiler before, but it was surprisingly easy. Now I know!
 

Natalie has been doing well, though I think that she might be getting a tooth because she's been more desirous to take naps than usual. That, and she's drooling gallons.
 
 
I wanted to take some cute pictures of her in her Sunday clothes, but after about 2 minutes, she just started crying and wouldn't stop unless she was picked up, so here's the best we got:



Got this discarded bookshelf. I had just been thinking that morning how badly I need a higher surface to put things in Natalie's room. She is getting taller and can now reach anything on her dresser. When a neighbor placed this by the garbage, I made Micah drag it in. Natalie enjoyed sitting in it. It has no shelves. I'll have to come up with something clever to use...

 
And here's a series that Micah took that I thought was funny...


 
 
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keeping Up With Natalie

It has been a mighty busy week since our return from Wilmington!
 
Last week went by in a blur. I had the usual things keeping me busy during the day: Natalie, exercise (almost to my target weight! Yay!), Natalie, keeping the house in order, Natalie, putting up Christmas decorations, Natalie. You know, stuff like that.
 
Natalie is figuring things out pretty fast. In just the past few days, she has learned to put her sippy cup into the cup holder of the stroller, take off her socks, climb down stairs feet-first and stick her finger in her nose. Those may seem like small things, but I imagine that they indicate pretty significant intellectual gains. She takes a few steps, but she's very deliberate about it, so it might be a while before she's completely walking. I'm glad, because she will probably have fewer falls than kids who want to take consecutive steps before they have the balance for it.
 
Speaking of injuries.... we've had a lot of them lately. Quite a few pinched fingers from toilet lids, the trash can lid, and dressed drawers. She puts one hand inside the lid, then puts her weight on her hand on the outside and crushed her poor little hand and doesn't know what to do to stop it! It's so sad. She has had a lot of bumps on the head, but usually when she is playing, she doesn't mind- gets right back up and continues after whatever she was pursuing. Yesterday she pulled a chair down on herself. Our chairs aren't very heavy, but it was still pretty traumatic for her because she was stuck under it!
 
Natalie has been exploring cupboards. Thank goodness my dad gave me some child-proof latches that they couldn't use. So, we've at least got the chemical and tools cupboards childproofed, but she continues to get into the bathroom cupboard and our pots and pans.
 

 
I didn't mind that much at first, until she climbed in and sat on the edge- I was so worried that she would fall back and hit her head on the tile! She likes to climb up on the dishwasher and sit like this too. Drives me nuts!
 
 
We have finally gotten down a system that keeps her out of the dog food. Sammy eats out of tupperware and we keep the lids on when he isn't eating. Here, after shaking it, hitting it on the floor and chewing on it, Natalie tries her luck at opening it using a baby fork as a tool.

 
Despite how much she moves, she still has the cutest, chubbiest little thighs. Little roll crease and everything!


 
My receipt from CVS yesterday. This week, CVS and Walgreens have crazy awesome sales that make tons of stuff free after in-store cash rewards. This transaction was for $90 of stuff, after sales and coupons I paid with $47 of Extracare Bucks, then a little over $3 for tax and received over $64 of Extracare Bucks printed on the bottom of my receipt. Cashier said it was the best she's seen yet! Could have done even better, but they were out of several things.

 
Excitedly looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow and then Christmas-music-playing-season after that!
 
Micah has been extremely busy with school. It will be awesome when the semester is over and we leave Atlanta and I get to have his undivided attention for a couple of weeks. Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paco Returns

It has been an exciting week! My mom flew down to Atlanta to spend a few days with us, then drove with me to Wilmington to welcome Paco home from his mission. I didn't whip out my camera nearly enough, but here are a few shots:
 
 
That would be Paco's flight, flight 5040, from Atlanta. On the ground!
 

 
I could not believe the wear on this suit- just look at those knees!

"So THIS is tio?" Natalie doesn't know quite what to make of uncle Paco at first, but she warmed up to him in the following days.
 
 
Paco shows off some of his sport apparel posing in front of a Peruvian flag.
Blake was especially excited to welsome him home! Blake is in the Brazil MTC, but his likeness is still at home!
 
 
While Paco has learned a lot and probably changed in many ways, it was so cool to see him and realize that his is still Paco. He will face a lot of adjusting I am sure, but he doesn't seem as awkward as I had anticipated. I think that by January when he returns to school, he will fit in just great. He will be going back to the dorms where many of his friends from Freshman year have stuck together and lived. I am glad that I got to meet them a little bit. They seem like great guys and I'm glad Paco will have them around.
 
While Paco's return was the purpose of the visit, there were a lot of other things to enjoy. The abuelos got some grandchild time. Here, my dad puts dishes into the dishwasher while Natalie takes them out...

 
We got to enjoy seeing a play that Gabby was in that was pretty entertaining. Also enjoyed some torta de tres leches at a welcome-home sort of party. I was surprised that more people didn't come. But hey- more torta for me! Hahaha. It was way delicious. Between that goodness and the general munching that is involved in treavel, I gained 3 pounds in 6 days. Yikes! Back home, back to my diet and exercise plan.... just as soon as the rest of that cake we brought home is gone :)
Micah came up on Friday and we drove back home to Atlanta yesterday.  So, after 2 months of dual-car special powers, we are back down to 1 car. I know that I have been carless at home with Natalie for plenty of time and I could do it again, but I want the car now to get to aerobics and play group, so Micah will likely be searching for a scooter with great energy.
 
Travel did not agree with Natalie's sleep, so we're renewed in our efforts to get her on a decent schedule and work on waking up less at night.  We are reaching the end of our limits though. We can not emotionally, psychologically or physically deal with the sleep deprivation for much longer. I've already become completely desensitized to her cry. The noise is annoying, but I don't feel any guilt or sympathy for not responding. She's either going to have to learn to sleep or just become an oversensitive, blubbering mess with anxious attachment problems for the rest of her life. It's sad. I feel like I'm a much different parent than I could be if I got enough sleep. I am way irritable and impatient, not very warm and definitely not as cheerful as I'd like to be. Blah. Parenthood is hard.
 
Though even tough situations have some silver lining. For example, I have learned that Natalie's hair will do this:

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

 
Here is Natalie in her costume. I dragged her to the store dressed like this and got lots of "aawwww"s.

 
We had a lot of fun trick or treating. We collected donations for UNICEF so that I didn't feel as embarrassed to use my child to get candy for myself. Here, Natalie and I examine the spoils. The folks in the Spalding Woods neighborhood were very generous- we collected almost $30 to donate. Also, they had the good stuff- lots of chocolates :)
Natalie only cried once- at a house where they had this little skeleton guy who was motion activated and shrieked and started shaking as we approached. The lady passing out candy felt bad. I felt embarassed that she felt bad, since Natalie was fine 20 seconds later.
Micah came with us and walked Sammy. Micah went as a hungry PhD student who got home late and didn't get any dinner before leaving for trick or treating. Sammy went as a metrosexual (ie he wore his handsome sweater). It was a pretty cold night, but no extemities were lost, so it's all good.

 
 
Natalie got to eat a miniature reese's cup and kit kat. I was worried that giving her candy right before bed was an ameteur parent mistake, but she actually slept better than average! Maybe it was enough sugar to induce a brief coma?