Monday, September 21, 2015

Adalyn - 2 years old

When Adalyn turned 1 last year, I was in complete denial. The first year had gone by so fast and it didn't seem possible that she wasn't a baby anymore.  There is no denying her toddlerhood now, though.  I still call her a baby sometimes, but she has grown so much in the past year.  She has an intense desire to be able to do everything her sister can (and in fact she started saying she was five instead of two!)  I enjoy seeing her personality develop more and more - even though it sometimes means more wailing and more struggles over actually having to wear clothes.

Daily Routine: Wakes up between 6:30-7am either very happy or totally flipping out. Eats a sandwich or oatmeal with Juliana and one parent, then shares a second breakfast with the other parent. Plays with mama or ayi in the mornings, and sometimes plays on her own for a good stretch. Helps prepare lunch before Juliana comes home from school. Naps for around 1.5 hours after lunch and then joins in home school. She especially enjoys songs and playing with the math blocks. Often goes outside to play in the late afternoon. Goes to bed a little before 8pm and generally sleeps well all night.

Sleeps with: Bunny, dolly, and waterbottle (every night she checks aloud that she has them all)

Favorite Activities: Playing outside, playing with Little People and train tracks, helping mama cook (and sample)

Favorite Books: Smile for Auntie and “Hippos in the Zerk” (Hippos Go Berserk)

Favorite Foods: Peanut butter and honey sandwich, cheese, jiaozi, Mac and Cheese, cookies

Favorite Color: Blue (which she calls pink)

Current Random Obsession: Washcloths, rags, and cloth wipes. Unfortunately she uses them rather indiscriminately, like wiping the floor and then her face.

Words to describe Adalyn: Sweet, quiet, stubborn, skeptical (with new people), fearless (in exploring), strong willed (she has been know to throw a chair - a Mickey Mouse toddler chair - when angry) silly (especially with Juliana), focused.

What I appreciate most about Adalyn: She has a very sweet nature. She often wraps her arms around mama in a spontaneous hug and says, “I love you!” When her sister is upset (even if it’s because she got in trouble for hitting her), Adalyn will give her a hug to make her feel better.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Juliana - 5 Years Old

I was under the impression that I wrote a little birthday update about the girls each year, but apparently I haven’t actually done that since Juliana was two. As you might imagine she has changed quite a bit during that time.

I’d say it’s hard to believe that Juliana is 5 already, but actually I’ve been thinking of her as five for a few months. Especially now that her bangs have grown out, she looks like a full-fledged kindergartener.  She's still been known to throw a good fit, but she has grown up a lot over the past year. Still, it is hard to believe that 5 years and 1 day ago, I hadn't even met this girl yet!

Here are a few facts about the 5 year old Juliana.

Daily Routine: Wakes up around 6:30-7am and gets ready for kindergarten. She is usually excited to go to kindergarten, but she is also happy to eat breakfast in her pajamas on the weekend. She attends Chinese kindergarten from 8-12 every morning, coming home just after school lunch for a second lunch (half a sandwich) at home with the family.  After lunch she has a rest time while Adalyn naps, which usually involves watching a movie, coloring, cutting pictures from a magazine, or playing with dolls. After rest time and a little snack, we do home school. In the late afternoon Kevin has been taking the girls outside for a little bit before dinner. Bedtime is about 8pm.

School: This year Juliana is in Chinese kindergarten and also starting home school kindergarten. She likes Chinese kindergarten because she gets to go somewhere and see people every day. She enjoys home school kindergarten because she likes to read books and have important school tasks.

Favorite Book: It depends on the day. She just listened to Yaya's recording of "Of Course Polly Can Ride a Bike," which she could really relate to since Polly got a bike on her 5th birthday just like Juliana.

Favorite TV Show: Mickey Mouse and the Clubhouse

Favorite Color: Rainbow (because why choose one when you can have them all, right?)

Favorite activities: Seeing friends, going anywhere, playing on the playground, playing with Little People, dolls or barbies, coloring, watching movies as often as allowed.

Favorite foods: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches (a daily necessity), Mac and Cheese, Chinese noodles, cake

Words to describe Juliana: Extrovert, enthusiastic, vivacious, opinionated, loud, fun, talkative, silly, bossy, in love with life.

What I most appreciate about Juliana: As a quiet, low-energy kind of person, I appreciate Juliana’s zest for life. She gets excited about everything. She loves new people and new experiences. She tries to squeeze the most out of every day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Magical Misery

By the third time around, I shouldn’t really be surprised to find that I have a hard time with pregnancy.

Now I will begin with a disclaimer. Each time, I have been very glad to be pregnant. Each time I appreciate pregnancy even more - the ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant is not something we should ever take for granted. When you have experienced loss and know so many others who have, you can’t help but recognize the miracle of each baby that makes it into this world. However, I do think you can really appreciate something and be glad for it while also really not enjoying it.
Yeah, I was actually 3 months pregnant with Juliana in this picture. Hahaha.
When I was pregnant with Juliana, the jury was still out. I did not enjoy the nausea and the backaches and the hundred other symptoms I never knew existed, but there was all the excitement of the first time combined with the strong belief that pregnancy is a magical time. All this talk about glowing and stuff.

Suuuuper happy to still be pregnant with Adalyn.
When I was pregnant with Adalyn, the jury was unanimous: I did not enjoy being pregnant. 24/7 nausea and throwing up every day for months on end confirmed that pretty quickly. I lost 6 pounds, and I was seriously miserable. Even when I got to the “glory days” (i.e. second trimester) and we were unexpectedly moving out of our apartment, I frequently felt like I was going to die, with only slight exaggeration. And the last month I was an impatient mess of sleeplessness and contractions. Some of my first thoughts post-birth, after “Oh my gosh I can’t believe I just had a baby that quickly,” were “Oh my gosh I’m so glad I’m not pregnant anymore!”

So I had pretty reasonable expectations/dread coming into this pregnancy. This pregnancy has mercifully been much less miserable than the last. I still felt sick for most of the first four months, but thanks to Unisom, I was actually functional most of the day and only threw up 1-2x a week. Do you know how nice it is not to throw up? Really nice.

In the last couple of weeks I have reached the point when I hardly ever feel nauseous anymore! At 19 weeks, I am firmly into the second trimester and everything keeps talking about all the energy I should be feeling now. This right here is the best part of pregnancy. And I think that’s why, even when I make it past the giant hurdle of nausea, I still feel kind of depressed. As a friend said, “I feel so much better than before...but I still feel pregnant.”

I think part of the reason I have a hard time is because of unrealistic expectations. Especially by the time you get to the third, it seems like pregnancy is something you should be able to take in stride. It should be a side thing that doesn’t interfere too much with the rest of life. I should glide through my daily activities with a glowing face and growing belly as the only evidences of the crazy change happening. When people comment on how effortless I make it seem, I say, “Oh that’s right, I temporarily forgot I was pregnant!” With a blissful gaze.

Except have you ever seem a pregnant lady glide? We don’t. Long before the watermelon sized belly, our joints loosen, our muscles stretch, and our organs rearrange themselves, and resulting movement mimics a 90 year old arthritic. Aside from the main show, growing a baby, our bodies are doing all kinds of crazy stuff. I remember trying to think of any part of the body NOT affected by pregnancy. I think the ears stay the same? Seriously, pregnancy even causes blurry vision (I experienced this last time), swollen fingers (one symptom I actually haven’t had!), and all kinds of cool skin changes from acne and dandruff to extreme itching.

It’s no really any wonder I feel tired all the time, when I am not only growing and nourishing a baby, I am also pumping 30-50% more blood resulting in up to 15% higher heart rate. But even though I know that, I still feel guilty that I can’t keep up with things as well as my non-pregnant self.
Just a little visual: Normal body vs. squished organs.

When you think about not only what is happening with your baby, growing from a microscopic collection of cells into a fully-formed baby ready to function in the world, and also with your body, which is bending over backwards to accommodate its new guest, it is really incredible. And slightly disturbing if you think too long about all your poor squished organs. Pregnancy really is a magical time. But that doesn’t mean if feels magical. It feels less like magic and more like being sick for a really long time.

Complicating matters is that everyone’s experience with pregnancy really is different. There are apparently some people who really love being pregnant and feel great. There are also some people who really love Big Freida, so the world remains a mystery. I have one friend who ran her first half-marathon at 20 weeks pregnant. Amazingly, we are still friends. I have other friends who have thrown up pretty much every day for nine months, bless their dear little hearts (and I mean that sincerely).

So in conclusion: Pregnancy is a big deal. The only difference between the first and the third pregnancy is that people make less of a fuss. But physically, it’s pretty much the same. Except that you started out older and more tired than before. But you go through it again, even though you know what you are getting yourself into, because that baby at the end really is worth those nine months of magical misery.

19 weeks down, 21 to go!
Why we go through it all

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Catch-Up

If you were wondering what has been happening in these last few months of blog silence...
1.We spent the summer in America, hitting up Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and California.
2.I’m pregnant!
3.And it’s a girl!
4.We came back to China.

You probably knew that from Facebook, but in case you missed it, now you’re caught up.
Juliana was particularly thrilled to be getting another sister. I'm not sure Adalyn cared too much one way or the other, but she did like the wig.
We returned to China two weeks ago. It was a 36 hour trip and far less than fun. My personal favorite part was throwing up a bunch in the Beijing airport and feeling truly horrible. I could hardly stand up, but we had to catch another flight - in a different terminal 20 minutes away. So Kevin wrangled all the luggage while I carried a sleeping Adalyn and tried not to pass out. There was also that one time they couldn’t find Adalyn’s ticket in the computer, and the other time we lost my boarding pass as we were about to board, and some other times of screaming (just Adalyn, not me). But in the end, we were all still alive.

We have done a lot of moving over the years - new cities, new apartments, new schools. If you have moved a lot, you know what a great feeling it is to come back to the same place. Our familiar city where we know people and can find things, our same apartment - no moving in required. There is something about coming back home after months away and putting your clothes up in your own wardrobe that is very satisfying. We have now lived in the same city for 3.5 years (a record!) and the same apartment for 1.5 years. I don’t take that settled feeling for granted.

Now that our suitcases are stored and we are once again sleeping through the night (well, theoretically, except my allergies are kind of ruining that), we are working on getting back into routine. Our school technically starts this week, but we our first holiday this week so Kevin won’t actually see his students until Sunday - make up day for Thursday’s classes. While he still has a lot of planning, Kevin has a much lighter class load than in the spring.

This week Juliana joyfully started back to Chinese kindergarten. She has moved up to the third floor with the big kids, but fortunately the same classmates and teachers all stay together! They have graduated from spoons to chopsticks for meals, so Juliana needs to work more on chopstick skills. Juliana had two days of school, then was disappointed to also have a two day holiday.

We also started home school kindergarten! We will continue using Five in a Row (a unit study curriculum using different children’s books) that we started for preschool last year.  We’re also adding reading (Get Ready/Set/Go for the Code and All About Reading) and math (Math-U-See). I plan to take it slow since Juliana is already in school all morning, but I think we’ll enjoy it.
This peaceful attentiveness lasts for at least 5 minutes.
Adalyn is sad to see her sister leaving again every morning (particularly since she has to stay home), but she has done well with a little more quiet play and mama time. She also seems to be remembering her Chinese pretty well with ayi and is picking up new words. She is also happy that home school has started back. She enjoys doing school like a big girl - at least for ten minutes of singing and repeating days of the week and such. She is a big fan of Math-U-See since it has lots of little math blocks she can play with while we work.

As for poor baby #3, who gets so little attention, she is about the size of a bell pepper. I have felt her move a few times when I actually pause to notice. Adalyn likes to pat (smack) her through my belly, and Juliana has already named her Cinderella, and speculates she will be born with rainbow hair. I think the lack of prenatal attention will be made up for in lots of sisterly attention after birth. Adalyn loves being around babies and helping to “take care” of them. Currently Adalyn and Queen Elsa both have dollies in their tummies. No wait, Adalyn’s is a kitty.
When I just told our ayi I was pregnant, she said, "I thought you were looking fatter! But your arms were still thin."

I am 18 weeks pregnant - just two weeks to halfway! I have been significantly less miserable this pregnancy than the last, many thanks to Unisom. I still felt pretty sick this whole summer, but I was much more functional and didn’t even throw up every day. Now that we have settled back in, my nausea has mostly abated. Unfortunately terrible allergies have kicked in to take its place. I’ve never been a huge winter person, but right now I can’t wait for cold weather.

So right now we are getting back into routine. While I have half a dozen organization projects I really want to get at, realistically the house is about as clean as it ever is for more than those rare, glorious 15 minutes. I have started cooking again and been doing a lot of dusting and mopping. The allergies and lack of sleep are getting to me, though, and I’m having trouble finding the energy to do anything extra - like plan anything with students! I’m struggling to figure out how to do the things I’d really like to be involved in (which is more than last semester...hmm) while also keeping reasonable expectations for this year of pregnancy and babyhood.