Monday, April 30, 2012

Luna and the Big Girl Panties

As you may recall, I did some "EC" with Luna. That stands for "Elimination Communication," and for some people, it means potty training infants. We didn't take it to those extremes. But she started sitting on the potty now and then at around 7 months. Just when she wanted to, no pressure. And she wanted to! She loved sitting on the potty reading books, and she had several months there where she peed on the potty at least once a day.

And then the strike began. About three months ago, for no apparent reason, she decided she hated the potty and had no interest in putting anything (well, except her Legos, her crayons, or her stuffed animals) into it. She'd cry anytime I suggested using the potty, and the one day I decided to try putting "big girl panties" on her, I had to abandon the idea halfway through the day because she was hysterically begging for a "pamper, pamper!" I was frustrated, but I figured it was best to follow her cues, so I backed off and didn't push the potty training at all.

We signed Luna up for school last week. REAL school, five days a week for the WHOLE day! They expect the kids to be potty trained, naturally. She starts on November 5th, and I've been feeling more anxious about the potty training dilemma. But still, I haven't pressed it.

Yesterday, my mom bought us tickets to come home for a visit again this summer. We'll be in the states from June 1 to July 14 (Yay!). Which kind of messed with my plan to start potty training in earnest as soon as summer hit and I could put fewer clothes on her. I was just thinking last night that I'd have to hold off until we got back.

But Luna had other ideas. Why am I not surprised? This morning when I was getting her dressed, out of the blue she asked for "big girl panties." (As an aside, the way she says "big girl panties" sounds more like "poo poo panties," which is ironic, no?) So we pulled on the big girl panties. I figured she'd be begging for a diaper within an hour. But no! We went through ELEVEN PAIR of "big girl panties" today, but she was a trooper, and after every accident, she'd say, "More big girl panties?"

So I find myself unprepared for the misery that is potty training. I mean honestly, I haven't even got a bottle of wine in the house! I feel like someone pushed me into the deep end of the pool while I was still blowing up those little inflatable floaty things that go on the arms. But if she can handle it, so can I! We're going to master this... eventually!

Please: SEND ALCOHOL!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hip, hip, hoera! Luna is 2!!!

Today my baby turned two! Its hard to believe how quickly time can pass. Since I've been tearing up every time I even think of this day, I had expected it to be rough. I was surprised to discover that I am not overly sad, though. I thought about it most of the day, and this evening I realized why. I am not sad because I have no regrets. We have done the very best we could with Luna, and I think we have thoroughly enjoyed the baby years with her. She's turned into an amazing little person, and I am so incredibly proud to be her mama! I am too busy looking forward to watching her continue to grow and change to be sad about the days that are past.
We didn't do much today. I decorated the house, of course, because its hardly a birthday without decorations! We had special birthday pancakes and a special birthday lunch. We talked to my family via Skype, and in the afternoon G's mom came over for pie. Luna played with her Oma most of the afternoon. There were plenty of birthday presents to enjoy, starting last week when the box from Grandma arrived, continuing a few days ago when we gave her the outdoor climber/slide from us, and through today when she opened a few small things from us, tons of cards from the family back home, a package from her Auntie M and Uncle T, and a slew of nice gifts from her Oma. She's spoiled, I've accepted that. :)
Its been awhile since I posted... again. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:

1. I hurt my back. It kept hurting and hurting, so I finally had x-rays. They discovered it wasn't hurting because of the injury, exactly, but because the injury caused a flare-up of a pre-existing condition. I have something called osteoarthritis of the spine or degenerative disc disease. Its a degenerative condition, and without treatment can become quite debilitating. I am currently taking painkillers, but am trying to get into a physical therapy program to teach me exercises that can slow down the progression and make the disorder manageable (HUGE waiting list, grr!). I've been pretty miserable the past six weeks, and very physically limited. But I'll live, its nothing THAT serious. It will just take some time to learn to manage it.

2. I started level 1.2 of Dutch in January, and its going quite well so far, thank you. I continue to go twice a week. Many of my classmates from level one are in my class, but we have a new teacher. My understanding of the language has improved dramatically, and I can read relatively well. I still need to practice speaking more. Ugh.

3. We've been looking at schools for Luna. Yes, really! She starts school in November!! I had thought she'd start in September, but since she won't be two and a half until the end of that month, she has to wait until after the first vacation to begin. We've looked at two schools so far, and have two more to see. So far, the front runner is a Catholic school, much to our surprise. We hadn't intended to send her to a Catholic school, since we're, well, not Catholic. But its just a nicer school by far. We'll see how the next two compare. Luna has enjoyed the school visits, too! She loved playing with all the new toys!

Spring gave us a sneak preview last week, but its back to cold and grey these last couple of days. Luna has been quite a bit healthier, but she was sick yesterday (and still a bit today). Hopefully just a little inconsequential virus. The pediatrician has referred her to an ENT to explore the possibility of tubes in her ears, but to be honest, we're hoping we can put it off for awhile. So keep your fingers crossed she stays healthy! We need to take her for her first dentist visit soon, that will be fun!! :O Luna is chattering away in both English and in Dutch, learning new words so fast that we can't keep up and parroting anything and everything she hears. She has grown into a little girl seemingly overnight. Where has the time gone??

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is it Spring Yet??

I had become cautiously optimistic that winter, aka SICK season, was nearly past. Luna was healthy (well, except for the black eye she got by introducing herself to the coffee table) for nearly a month! I thought perhaps the worst was behind us. But alas, she's got a doozy of a double ear infection. High fever, no appetite, unable to sleep... On top of that, she is cutting at least three teeth right now. So my little miss is quite unhappy! Here's hoping the antibiotics we got yesterday straighten her out quickly.

I seem to be sick a lot myself of late. Stress, I presume. I'm currently fighting a cold that I suspect may have turned into yet another sinus infection/ear infection. My third in 6 months. I've lost some weight, too. Undeservedly, I mean. I started some vitamins this week, hopefully they will help.

As if to underline the point that winter is NOT yet over, we got our first serious snowfall of the year yesterday. Only about an inch, but its the first accumulation we've had. Luna has been fascinated by the glorious whiteness of it, and has repeatedly dragged me over to the windows to see the "Snow! Snow! Snow!" Hopefully we can get feeling well enough to go out and play in it before its gone.

I guess we'll just cuddle up and wait for spring!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ik Heb Heimwee!

I took it upon myself to learn the words in the title several weeks ago. Consider it my very own extra credit assignment. It means, "I am homesick."

Yup, this entire blog post is going to be about how much I want to go home. Don't worry, I'll keep it brief. You can skim if you want, just read it like this, "me me me me memememememememe."

Two years ago today, I boarded a plane for Belgium, 8 months worth of baby belly leading the way. By the time I arrived, it was the 21st of January. I was wildly unprepared for what was to come. I thought I could handle it, after all, I wasn't one of those folks who has never left home. I'd lived all over the U.S. with only mild pangs of homesickness. Let me tell you right now: I was NOT prepared to live abroad. Culture shock is not something to take lightly. It does not go away in a few days, a few weeks, a few months. It amplifies all of those normal "missing home" feelings until they fill up your entire consciousness. Simply put, I miss my people, all my people. From the wonderful friends and family whose absence feels like a wound that never heals to the lady that used to bag my groceries and the kid who delivered the newspaper. I miss feeling at home somewhere.

To all the people who've told me it will get easier, I have a simple question... When?

This isn't an anniversary I will be celebrating, although I'm thinking a bottle of wine to drown my sorrows sounds like a half decent idea.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Onward to 2012

And just like that, the holidays are upon us. In a few short months, my baby girl will be 2! How is it possible for time to fly so quickly??

I wish I could report that I've been busy with fun and wonderful things, but alas, I've been busy with stressful and miserable things. Miss Luna has gotten sicker and sicker as the winter wears on, and has had approximately 462 ear infections (give or take), 378 bouts of bronchitis (give or take), two bouts of croup, and one bout of pneumonia that landed her in the hospital for five days just after Thanksgiving. To add a little spice to the mix, she's also had two eye infections, several cases of stomach flu, and a couple of rashes. She spent a grand total of TWO days in daycare during the month of November. And I believe she managed exactly one day in December. Every time she goes back for even ONE day, she is sick the day after with something severe enough that she has to be kept home for a week or three. While at home she gets healthy again, and we send her back in good health, only to have her get sick again the second she returns. Its utter madness. For the first couple of months everyone was telling me, "Oh, my kids went through that too, it sucks but she'll get better fast." Now everyone is saying, "Is there something wrong with that daycare? Could she have an immune disorder? What does the doctor say???" I liked it better when everyone was assuring me it was normal!

For the record, her doctor says she is having a normal, albeit dramatic, adjustment to the world of germs. She said, "Some kids get exposed to everything and just get the sniffles. Other kids get exposed to everything and get the worst possible case of it. Luna, unfortunately, falls into the latter category!" While she was hospitalized, the pediatrician took some blood, and she assures us that she could see antibodies forming just as they should when she examined it under the microscope. She's altered her initial pronouncement, which was that Luna would be over this by spring, and is now saying she'll probably have it rough both this winter and next. She's started Luna on a twice daily corticosteroid steroid inhaler. Its a very low dosage, and it is intended to serve as a preventative measure. She told us it would take about a month before it helps at all, but the hope is that it will eventually keep every cold from turning into croup or bronchitis or pneumonia. Wouldn't that be nice?? Luna tolerates it well, she has a fancy little gadget with a mask that goes over her nose and mouth, and the whole process takes about 30 seconds. The nebulizer treatments she gets for bronchitis take 15 minutes, so the inhaler is nothing!

I don't want you all to worry though, truly. She is sick OFTEN, and in typical child fashion, she has adjusted. She's a pro at medicines, she plays with her nebulizer mask on! She is a happy happy girl who dances when her fever is 103. We're just grateful she doesn't have anything truly awful. It could be so much worse!

Our Sinterklaas and Christmas were nice. Miss Luna was spoiled, surprise surprise! She's in love with her toy kitchen and her kid sized easel, and she insisted on bringing her stuffed BoBo toy to bed with her tonight. She was so much fun this year, she absolutely loved the tree, the presents, the cookies for Santa...

Luna is weighing in between 12 and 12.5 kg (26.5 to 27.5 lb.) these days, and is about 86 cm (almost 34 inches) tall. I think she has most of her teeth at this point. She's talking in sentences more and more often, and her Dutch vocabulary is expanding quickly. She just graduated from her high chair to a booster seat, she drinks out of a regular cup and eats the same thing as us for dinner. She loves to sing and dance, and her favorite things to do right now are color and "cook." She's very friendly, and especially loves other babies!

I finished my integration class in mid-November, and I am just about done with level 1.1 of Dutch, as well. I took my exams before the Christmas break, and will get my results on the 13th of January at our last class. I've done very well so far, and I am anticipating good results. I still have a lot to learn, and that is why I will start level 1.2 on January 17th. However, I've learned enough to make my day to day life a lot easier. I can carry on simple conversations and order things at the market. I can read a lot of the signs I see and interpret most of the food labels at the grocery store. Although I'd love to get top results on my exams because I am a crazy perfectionist, in reality, the real reward is the lifting of the isolation imposed by not speaking the language. I feel like I can see for the first time in two years, which is amazing. As for how I am doing in general, well, I'll just leave you with this Dutch phrase I learned recently: Ik heb heimwee.

Happy Holidays to all of you from our family, and best wishes in 2012!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sick of the Sick!

As I write this at 10:30 PM, Miss Boo is asleep next to me on the couch, and cartoons stream endlessly from the television as they have all day long. I've been trying so desperately to get her to drink some fluids that I even offered her mama's water bottle, normally off limits. I so wanted her to eat I even offered her cookies for dinner. Is there anything worse than watching your child suffer? No rule goes unbroken when they are this miserable. She hasn't slept for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a shot (usually less) for more than 24 hours now. She has a fever that drops when she gets medicine and then immediately starts creeping back up. She has spent her day laying on me and crying crying crying. She's coughing so hard that she made herself vomit a little while ago, leading to a quick spin in the washer for blankie (and a brief sojourn in front of the fan to dry!). If only I could take her misery upon myself! We spoke to the on call pediatrician, and she wasn't too concerned, so we're trying to wait until Monday to see a doctor. But this is definitely the sickest she has ever been and its awful.

This is only the latest illness. She started daycare 5 weeks ago, and literally the day after she started she was sick. Its been ear infections and bronchitis and colds and flu and constipation and diarrhea and more colds... I don't think she has been healthy a single day since she started. Our pediatrician said we can expect her to be sick at least every three weeks all winter long, but that she should be starting to build up immunities by spring. We knew this was going to happen, but WOW. I just want my healthy girl back!

Other than the never-ending illnesses, Luna is adjusting well to daycare. She no longer cries when we drop her off and she seems to like the teachers. She has lots of little friends, and she's done lots of fun new activities! My classes are going well. The integration class is so boring I frequently want to scream, but my language class is great. I'm doing very well in class, and learning lots! Between the early mornings and the sick baby, I haven't been getting a hell of a lot of sleep, but what can you do. I am looking forward to the integration class ending in mid-November so that I can focus entirely on my language class and maybe get a little bit more sleep!

I'd intended to write more, but Luna is awake again, so I'll sign off. Hope you are all doing well!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Its a Small, Small World

I'm enjoying my language class. While its very satisfying to finally learn some Dutch, I'm mostly enjoying meeting people. If you ever want to have an experience that will have you humming the tune to Its a Small World, take a language class in a foreign country. Its amazing to be on equal footing with people from Poland, Russia, Morocco, the Congo, Armenia, the Philippines, India.... We have a hell of a time pronouncing one another's names, but there is something comforting in the fact that it is just as difficult for that guy from Nepal to pronounce the "oo" sound as it is for me!

Today before class, I had an actual honest to goodness conversation in Dutch with a woman I met in the lobby. She was from Russia, and she was looking for help with her French homework. I told her I was in the Level 1 Nederlands class, and she forgave my lack of insight into French verbs and we chatted for a good ten minutes until both my Dutch and her English had been exhausted. It was more satisfying than a gold star from the teacher. After all, my pronunciation may not be perfect, but I had an actual real life conversation and I was understood! Hallelujah!

During the break from class today, I was chatting with some female classmates in a blend of Dutch and English. A new friend, a young woman from the Phillippines, suddenly looked around our small group and said, "This is amazing. We have the Philippines, Poland, Russia, and America right here in this circle!" After class I met two other classmates at the bus stop, and we chatted our way through the bus trip. I spoke a blend of English and Dutch, another woman spoke a blend of French, Dutch, and Arabic, and the third had the unenviable role of translating between the English and the Arabic. All of these nationalities and all of these languages in such a small place is truly amazing, but what is most interesting is WHAT we choose to talk about. We've all travelled far and wide to arrive here at this place at this time... and we talk mostly about our children and our families. No matter what the word is in your native tongue - mother, moeder, matka, ina.... a mama is a mama is a mama.