Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our little pumpkin and the rest of the family!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vivian At Five Months

Vivian turned five months old today! How time flies, especially this last month since we returned from the great trip to Europe. I'll keep this update relatively brief since I only got to her four month update a few weeks ago. 

Vivian's biggest thing now is sleep. She doesn't think much of the idea, and we started sleep training. Actually, I should say she is just very particular. I am not sure how much of an effect traveling had, but now even when co-sleeping she wants to be attached to the boob all the time. And she eats more frequently at night, every 40 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. While this schedule has its advantages because she doesn't need to eat as often during the day (when we are on outings or because Theo can strongly object to her eating), it is not at all sustainable. Hence the sleep training. It's been going on for almost two weeks and while she will go six to eight hours without eating, she's only slept one big chunk overnight last Thursday, for seven hours straight. Previously she slept 6-8 straight in her bassinet without any hitches, so the change is pretty massive from my perspective. Now that she is getting more sleep she seems to be back to her normal sunny self. If only I could say the same for the amount of sleep I am getting. Instead of nursing laying down I sit up with her most nights as much as I can. Sometimes I am just too wiped out to even sit up straight. Most nights she wakes up after two to three hours, then every two to three hours after that. She gets fed after six hours, and pretty much whenever after that, and the frequency has dropped back to normal for overnight (ie two to three hours in between feedings). She is being returned to the bassinet after each feeding (except as mentioned above when I crash while nursing laying down) instead of co-sleeping in the big bed.

We have picked out a crib for her but it's on backorder so she's still napping and sleeping overnight in the bassinet. At five months, I guess we really should get on that. If the crib doesn't come back into stock soon we will try ordering one identical to Theo's for her and get it installed.

Vivian has a strong interest in eating, and particularly in Theo's sippy cups full of milk. She will lunge and grab towards food, plates, utensils, and cups. We have travel plans for next month and she is still nursing quite well though so we haven't started solids. It's also less encouraging to start in fall when lots of produce is out of season. It turns out there are advantages to fall babies, too. Otherwise Vivian is very consistent in the amount of time she spends eating each day, coming in at one hour and forty some odd minutes with little variation. I can generally tell if she's gone to bed for the night by how much time she has logged eating. With the new sleep training she gets put down regardless of her eating between 8 and 9 at night. She also seems to prefer cluster feeding every hour before bedtime: at five, six, and seven plus the right before bed feeding. She doesn't ask for it or complain about the absence but it certainly seems to make a difference in how long she goes overnight so I have to remember to swamp her in opportunites.

Vivian is still definitely not a morning person. She wakes up between 8:30 and 9 most days, and when she is well rested and healthy, she wakes up cooing or quietly, which is a switch from Theo. It's also super cute and fun to greet her in such good moods. She rarely stays up long in the mornings if we are home, but if we are out and about she will take a few cat naps (20 minutes or less) instead. She's not quite on a regular nap schedule but I can see it coming in the near future.

As for movement, Vivian is rolling onto her side from her back but not all the way over. She still doesn't get a lot of floor time thanks to her big brother. But she does spend a lot of meals in the exersaucer which she seems to love. She's very into grabbing things and shoving them into her mouth. If they are not satisfying for whatever reason, she will screech about it. She still loves her hippo, her bunny block, and now the plastic fish bath book with fish attached too. She might love more things but I don't rotate toys too often and as noted above there isn't as much floor time as I would like.

She loves music and Theo's new favorite song, Run Baby Run by Caspar Babypants. She loves to be tilted from side to side like a ticking clock or raised and lowered and will usually cackle with delight at both. She is generally sociable when she is feeling well, and still loves to chat. Today she tried chatting with the dog when he was on eye level. Tetley didn't talk back.

I am having a hard time believing the next update will be half a year but Vivian continues to delight her adoring fans with all her antics.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great Trip to Europe 2012 (Part 2 of 3)

Tuesday, September 18

We started the day by heading over to my grandfather's flat and posing for some photos.

Theo enjoyed the piano.

After a good pillow fight -- mostly throwing the pillows -- we headed out to the farm again.

Vivian's outfit coordinated really well with the paint on the side of the hut/house/cabana.

Once again, Theo enjoyed collecting apples.

In the afternoon we headed over to meet some more relatives. They ended up giving Theo a train (there's a four-year old granddaughter who no longer played with it).

Wednesday, September 19

I took Theo to a playground near our rented flat in the morning. Because the sandbox was fenced in, I managed to convince him adults weren't allowed inside the fence.

Since we had the morning to ourselves, we went to a children's superstore. We bought a lot of books and a couple of Polish-speaking toys, and when we coaxed Theo out of the upper-level toy store, we went downstairs to what Sarah described as a stroller Mecca, with more strollers in a single store than you could find anywhere in the US.

In the afternoon we went back to the farm yet again, where we proceeded to collect all of the walnuts off the tree. Every single one. Theo helped for a long time with the stick, and for a few lower-hanging nuts he picked them off by hand (sometimes we picked him up to help him reach). He took most of them and put them in the bottom of the stroller, often transporting them in groups of 2-3 in a tin cup. We had only perhaps a quarter left to pick up off the ground ourselves.

A post-dinner shot of Vivian and her great-grandfather.

Theo playing with his newly acquired train just before bedtime. In case it isn't obvious, he's forming a bridge for the train to pass underneath.

Thursday, September 20

We took Theo to the train station in Lublin to see the trains, and hopefully ride one. The schedules didn't work out for a short out-and-back jaunt, so we ended up not riding one (believing -- mistakenly as it would turn out -- that we'd definitely take a train ride back in Germany to get from Kassel to Frankfurt, but that's for a later time.)

There was even a huge locomotive from the 1800s on display. Surprisingly, Theo had very little interest in it. A sign said "entry into the locomotive at your own risk" but sadly the doors seemed welded shut.

Traditionally in Poland the main meal (technically lunch) always starts with soup. Theo doesn't eat a lot of soup at home (because it's messy) but he did surprisingly well with it.

After dinner Theo got swung around in a bedsheet, while Vivian was carefully and gently held.

Friday, September 21

We started the day off by heading to the Lublin castle with my aunt.

While most of the castle is a museum which likely holds little interest for Theo, the watchtower was recently opened to visitors so we paid the entrance fee and headed up. Theo loved the stairs, and he loved running in circles on top.

The view from the top of the tower was incredible.

We also spent some time walking around the old town.

My other aunt drove down from Warsaw just before naptime, and much to Theo's delight, she brought her dog Rusty with her.

Asia came over as well, and we took a group photo. (Theo is missing as he was napping.)

Saturday, September 22

Theo wanted Vivian to lay on him while he laid on her changing mat.

Theo shows off his soup-eating skills.

My mom arrived in Poland for her own trip on Friday, so we went out on a bus ride to the Plac Litewski again, this time armed with stale bread to feed some pigeons.

Theo loved it when I "threw" pigeons. I would allow them to land on my arm, then wave them off. (He's signing for "more" in this photo.)

Theo had a great time crawling through this piece of art.

Riding the bus back to the flat.

Sunday, September 23

Vivian sits with her great grandfather.

New toys brought by visitors from Warsaw!

Art on Ola's desk.

Group photo.

I honestly don't know how we started this, but someone wanted to make Theo a paper airplane, but didn't really know how. So the adults ended up making three airplanes (each one a successive attempt to fly better). Theo liked throwing the planes, but realized if he threw them from a higher starting point, they would fly further, so he started rounding up all three airplanes, somehow got Ola to keeping picking him up, and throwing them.

We tried to take a ladies portrait, but Vivian didn't care much for the idea.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Great Trip to Europe 2012 (Part 1 of 3)

As you likely already know, we recently spent three weeks in Europe to visit friends and family in Germany and Poland. Having returned, we definitely feel we spent just the right amount of time for the trip -- any shorter would have been rushed, and any longer and we would have felt too homesick from traveling. As mentioned in the previous post, there are over 20GB of photos and videos. You can browse them all if you like, but I'll try and hit the high points in this post.

Monday, September 10

Theo loved watching the airplanes take off and land from a rocking chair in Seattle's airport.

After a while we moved on to the playground inside the Seattle airport. Not all airports have one, and it's definitely a huge plus.

Unfortunately Condor (along with every other airline we've ever flown two children on) was all-too-willing to issue boarding passes that put more than one infant-in-lap in the same row. (You can't do this, because there's not enough spare oxygen masks which fall from the ceiling in an emergency.) In this case, they sat three adults with three infants-in-arms together. Sadly the other mom had already booked the bassinet on the plane. I ended up having to move 19 rows back, but fortunately Theo and I got a window seat.

Theo decorated his window with static-cling stickers. At one point the flight attendant came by and said "sir I do not think that is a good idea" but then I explained they weren't really stickers.

The flight actually went pretty well. Theo only slept four hours of the flight, but his face was glued to the window during takeoff and landing, and we had other entertainment. The 200km, 2-hour drive from Frankfurt to Kassel was a completely different story. A lumber truck caught fire on the autobahn, and we didn't find out until it was too late to avoid it. The autobahn was closed for four and a half hours, and it took us 6.5 hours to get to Kassel -- two thirds of the time it took to get to Frankfurt in the first place. This is a photo I took of the traffic jam from an overpass Theo and I walked to -- about 1km in front of where the car was stuck.

Wednesday, September 12

We arrived in Kassel after Arne had already gone to bed, and despite being up for 4 hours in the middle of the night, didn't wake up until he'd left for kindergarten in the morning. That meant that as far as Theo was concerned, the entire house full of toys was actually a house full of Theo's toys. This caused some friction when Arne returned from kindergarten, but eventually things worked out.

Arne didn't know Theo's name, so he ended up calling him "The One Who Runs Around The Table". It was a very accurate name. Arne also didn't care for the fact that he couldn't understand us when we were speaking English.

Thursday, September 13

This was a travel day, and boy it was a doozy. We left Kassel around 9am and drove east. This is a photo at the Polish border. The sign is very complex (and far too complex to read the various rules while actually driving -- one important one that I missed was the "headlights on at all times" rule). The drive on the highway was great, but the highway ends at Krakow, dumping us on small, slow roads. While we had been going well over 100 km/h on the highways, we were now doing 30-50 km/h following trucks winding through construction zones in the dark. Ultimately we gave up on reaching Lublin in one day, and stopped at a dark hotel outside of Radom at midnight. I thought they were certainly closed, but I pulled the door just for fun, and surprisingly we got a very comfortable room (with breakfast the next morning). Unfortunately the room had very translucent curtains, so Theo woke up when it was light, after about 6 hours of sleep.

Friday, September 14

Theo was super-shy meeting his great grandfather for the first time, but all it took was some coins and he immediately snatched the entire handful.

Saturday, September 15

Everyone ventured out to the playground near Jola's house.

Sunday, September 16

Today we visited the garden that my grandfather keeps outside of Lublin.

Vivian was happy wherever we carried her.

Theo loved picking and eating the grapes. Eventually he picked up on the fact my grandfather was using pruning shears to cut them, and on a later visit, would ask that the shears be picked up and used on the grapes.

Theo also loved the apples for the picking.

And there was a tomato-filled greenhouse for Theo to get into!

Meanwhile people took turns holding Vivian on the porch. We even coaxed Theo into posing for a minute.

Theo loved collecting apples.

After a while Theo started treating the apples as balls, and throwing them. We did not discourage this behavior.

Theo started treating the railing as a ladder, climbing up and over several times.

After dinner we went to yet another playground near Jola's.

Monday, September 17

This morning we were on our own with Jola and Ola back at work and school, so we went out and drove until we randomly got to the Plac Litewski where, of course, a playground was found. Theo loved the see-saw, and got concerned about this approaching pigeon. This large smile broke out only after the pigeon stopped heading right towards him.

After nap we went out and met with my other grandfather.

While going to one of his flats, we passed by a playground. While we managed to convince him we had to "go around" as a way to not stop right away, we did eventually need to come back out and play.

It wasn't just Theo who got on the playground!

Of course Vivian didn't play, but we didn't forget about her.

Later we went back to my grandfather's flat and had dinner.