Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joseph's View in Class

If you were wondering what medical school is like, here it is.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


We tried to think of the place in our house that would be the warmest and safest from our curious little Sqeeber. We are actually pretty pleased with our current approach, and Nicholas loves it when we open the door for him and he gets to see the plants.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nicholas at 16 months

Weight: 28 lbs
Height: 31 inches
Teeth Count: 4 bottom 5 top
Nickname: Squeeber

Favorite Activities:
  • He loves brushing his lower teeth. He hates bushing his top teeth. I don't know if they are more sensitive or what.
  • Holding Papa's shaver.
  • Holding any phone shaped item up to his ear and talking on the phone.
  • Nicholas loves "studying" a lot more than Papa does. What activity that lets you hold a highlighter and a pen while flipping through a large book could be bad?
  • Playing hide-and-go-seek with the rings.
  • Looking at books. Within the last week-and-a-half, Nicholas has finally calmed down enough that he will sit on my lap and flip through some books. He loves his pop up Monster Transportation book and a book called Tails. He asks for me to read a book to him first thing in the morning.
  • He loves riding in the little car we got him or on his tricycle. He has to be pushed around on both of these, but he loves them.
  • He loves "driving" the car. He will sit in the front seat and push ever button and pull every lever until ever light on the car is on.
  • He still LOVES dogs. He also LOVES birds this past month.
  • He LOVES socks.
Things I'm Surprised He Doesn't Do:
  • Nicholas doesn't really like listening to music or dancing.
  • He doesn't climb. He likes it when Papa puts him up in the tree or on something high. (Papa loves to do this.)
  • He doesn't ever hit or bite people. When we hang out with other children and they take his toy, he will do one of three things: not care, watch and wait for them to put it down, or get sad and cry. He never gets angry. He has such a sweet soul.
  • He is still mostly a dropper and doesn't throw things very well.
New skills:
  • Two weeks ago, he started to fold his arms all by himself when we tell him it is time for prayer.
  • He is getting really good at feeding himself. He feeds himself oatmeal every morning.
  • He loves to help cook. He dumps the oatmeal into the cup, opens and shuts the microwave, and dumps a spoon full of sugar into his oatmeal. He loves to crack eggs and helps scramble them.
  • He can go down the kiddie slide all by himself.
  • Getting off of the couch and chairs.
  • His understanding has increased IMMENSELY this month. It is really great. He understands most of the simple commands I tell him.
  • He can pull almost anything off the counter. He isn't tall enough to see what he is pulling down, but he knows that is where we keep the real interesting stuff.
  • He loves taking the lids off things.
  • He actually will build with his giant legos instead of just singing to them. (He still mostly will just hold them up to his mouth and sing to them.)
  • He is becoming more attached to his pacifier. (Getting rid of it will be a struggle.)
  • For the past two days, he has loved running between my legs.
  • When we take him to feed the ducks, we have to bring a lot of bread because Nicholas ends up eating most of it.
  • His favorite part of bath time is filling a cup up with water and dumping it on his belly and laughing. He does this almost twenty times during his bath.
  • When he likes what he is eating, he will say, "Mmmmm."
  • He loves showing people his belly. When he meets someone new and he is a little nervous, he uses this move as an ice breaker.
  • We have been swaddling him again to get him down for naps.
Words He Says Consistently:
  • Ca-Las (Nicholas)
  • Yeah
  • This
  • Juice
  • Dog
*He will repeat a couple phrases and words that I say, but will only say them once or twice.

What I Think I Have Learned About Parenting:
  • This last stage he was in was a pretty hard stage for me. He was into EVERYTHING and wanted to be held ALL THE TIME and only by mama. Also he WHINED CONSTANTLY when I wasn't devoting 110% of my attention to him or we were out of the house. There were also about two or three weeks that his one hour nap turned into a 20 minute nap every other day. I had to step back and figure out how to parent a little smarter. We now have enough toys that I have started rotating them. This keeps him interested in the toys he has and also helps with clean up because there are not as many toys for him to spread through out the house. I'm trying to hang back more, so he learns to play on his own. I am also trying to get him around more kids. We try to do one outing per day.
  • I read the Love and Logic book for kids 6 and under. It wasn't much help for this age. It just basically said to be consistent (which is hard) and to remove and distract when they are not doing what you want. I'm anxious to try out the other advice this book gives when Nicholas gets older.
  • The most important and helpful thing I have learned is to not say "No, No" when he is just doing something I don't want him to do. I now say, "Oh, Oh" instead. I save "No, No" for when he is doing something dangerous.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nicholas throwing acorns

Nicholas loved picking up acorns and throwing them. After I picked him up and took him two houses down, he immediately went two houses back to where all of the acorns are.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Let it snow!!

The Superbowl party isn't the only group getting snowed on here in Dallas. The roads have been crazy but we've had lots of fun showing Nicholas something he hasn't seen since our Utah trip. The picture is from the train station this morning.
(This is Joseph testing out the Blogger application on his phone. Maren will soon have a much better post up.)

Snow in Dallas (Feb 4)

We have been mainly staying at home since Monday night, when the ice storm hit. It is finally warming up, but it snowed last night. They say our winter wonderland will be gone by tomorrow:( I love snow, but I hate the fact that Dallas shuts down for it and that they don't have the capabilities to keep the roads clear.

Joseph went to school, but got home early because his last class was cancelled. Around 2, we all bundled up and went and played in the snow. It was Nicholas' first time out in the snow. Before, he wasn't stable enough and he lacked shoes. He loved stepping on the snow and making footprints.

We celebrated Chinese New Year today (one day late) for our big at home date night. We had ham fried rice (minus the ham), quick sweet and sour chicken, and mandrin oranges. We wore red and ate a little with chopsticks. Nicholas measured out the rice and water. He also cracked all the eggs and helped scramble them. He ate the mandrin oranges, the chicken, and he picked the eggs out of the rice.

Here is another cute little picture of Nicholas. You can tell how much he picks up from watching us. He wants to be just like his Dad.

Breaking Night

I just finished Liz Murray's book Breaking Night, which is my book club's book for February.

Here is a synopsis I got off Amazon:
From runaway to Harvard student, Murray tells an engaging, powerfully motivational story about turning her life around after growing up the neglected child of drug addicts. When Murray was born in 1980, her former beatnik father was in jail for illegally trafficking in prescription painkillers, and her mother, a cokehead since age 13, had just barely missed losing custody of their year-old daughter, Lisa. Murray and her sister grew up in a Bronx apartment that gradually went to seed, living off government programs and whatever was left after the parents indulged their drug binges; Murray writes that drugs were the "wrecking ball" that destroyed her family-- prompting her mother's frequent institutionalization for drug-induced mental illness and leading to her parents inviting in sexual molesters. By age 15, with the help of her best friend Sam and an elusive hustler, Carlos, she took permanently to the streets, relying on friends, sadly, for shelter. With the death of her mother, her runaway world came to an end, and she began her step-by-step plan to attend an alternative high school, which eventually led to a New York Times scholarship and acceptance to Harvard. In this incredible story of true grit, Murray went from feeling like "the world was filled with people who were repulsed by me" to learning to receive the bountiful generosity of strangers who truly cared.

My thoughts:
  • Liz was a wonderful narrator that was really adept at staying in the moment and telling her story without moralizing or interpreting meaning. She had the rare ability to tell about her horrible childhood without making it feel like she was throwing herself a pity party.
  • It did what a good book should do in that it transported you into another way of life/world. It is DEFINITELY a book I wouldn't let my kids read. (In parts, it was even too graphic for me.) Liz is a great example of how kids and even teenagers shouldn't have to think about or deal with adult problems.
  • The teachers at Liz's alternative high school were inspiring. They showed what a difference a teacher can make who tries to really see and hear each student. They showed that a good teacher shouldn't pity their students, but instead have high expectations and hold them accountable to their word. I loved the teacher who called each student that was absent or late.
  • Something I would change: I really wanted to hear more about her time at Harvard. Did she struggle to keep up with the other students? I think a good work ethic can only get you so far. Could she really excel when she didn't even know where Europe was two years before she entered college?
  • I loved that I felt like I was a good mom after reading this book, or at least a long ways off from being the worst mom ever. I also was reminded of the fact that just like food and shelter it is one of a child's basic needs to feel loved and important. .
  • Other random tidbits that stuck with me: the description of the bathtub in her parents' apartment, mayonnaise sandwiches, the fact that she kept her mother's NA coin and a picture of her when she was younger (a tangible symbol that she chose to focus on and preserve the good parts of her mother), and birthday cards picked out from the sympathy card section
Favorite Quotes:
  • She shot up to feel better, to escape, but somehow the drugs always returned her to the trouble, as though it might be happening to her all over again, right there in our living room.
  • Homelessness was becoming more difficult, and I think we all could feel it, how the strain of not having your most basic needs met can drive you a little crazy. Hunger wears on your nerves; nervousness wears on your energy; malnutrition and stress just plain wear on you.
  • For the first time, I was making my daily life fit into a bigger purpose: climbing out of the place I'd been born into. That was my edge.
  • One thing that helped was a picture I kept in mind, this image that I used over and over whenever I was faced with these daily choices. I pictured a runner running on a racetrack. The racetrack was a reddish orange, divided in white racing stripes to flag the runners' columns. Only the runner in my mental image did not run alongside others; she ran solo, with no one watching her. And she did not run a free and clear track, she ran one that required her to jump numerous hurdles, which made her break into a heavy sweat under the sun. I used this image every time I thought of things that frustrated me: the heavy books, my crazy sleep schedule, the question of where I would sleep and what I would eat. To overcome these issues I pictured my runner bolting down the track, jumping hurdles toward the finish line. Hunger, hurdle. Finding sleep, hurdle, schoolwork, hurdle. If I closed my eyes I could see the runner's back, the movement of her sinewy muscles, glistening with sweat, bounding over the hurdles, one by one. On mornings when I did not want to get out of bed, I saw another hurdle to leap over. This way, obstacles became a natural part of the course, an indication that I was right where I needed to be, running the track, which was entirely different from letting obstacles make me believe I was off it."
  • "I'm Teressa. Terry...First of all, I want to apologize to you," she said, standing on the sidewalk on Nineteenth Street. I was confused; I had never laid eyes on her before. She continued, "I've had the article about you on my fridge for weeks. Since I didn't have any money to help you out, I thought I couldn't do anything for you at all. And then last night, I was doing my daughter's laundry, and I thought, how silly of me, maybe you had laundry I could do for you. I mean, your parents, someone, should be helping you with these things while you'r busy with school." I stared at her in disbelief. She asked again, "Well, do you? Do you have some laundry?" Once a week, every week, she stopped by the school in her silver minivan and picked up and dropped off my clean, folded clothing, true to her word. She even added a bag of cookies most weeks. "I can't do much, Liz, but I know I can do that," she said. So while I was studying for my eleven classes, Teressa--Terry--did my laundry.
  • Years later, I've often reflected on how blessed I was to have no real understanding of how difficult that day was supposed to be. Had I known how difficult it was supposed to be to interview with Harvard or The New York Times; had anyone told me that those were hard, nearly impossible, things to do, then I may have never done them. But I didn't know enough about the world to analyze the likelihood of my success; I had only the commitment to actually show up and do it. In the years ahead of me, I learned that the world is actually filled with people ready to tell you how likely something is, and what it means to be realistic. But what I have also learned is that no one, no one truly knows what is possible until they go and do it.
Overall: Not my favorite book. I don't think I would ever read it again. It didn't turn out to be an inspiring feel good book like I expected. It was wonderful written and interesting, but it was filled with subjects and topics that I really don't want to spend my spare time dwelling on. It also really frustrates me when people waste their lives away. Even though, I can better understand their perceived lack of options after reading this book; I think Liz serves as an example that everyone does have choices. It was a good book club choice though because it encourage me to read a book that I otherwise wouldn't have read.