Zach's grandma said it best when she told us, "You have a beautiful family. Kinda loud, but a beautiful family." How right she was! And we sure love our loud, crazy, fun, active, silly, loving, chaotic, beautiful family.
A few days ago, I introduced Staley to the pokey, prickly, green ground covering that no longer resides in our yard at home. She started out unsure about the whole grass experience and, after tipping over so her whole body touched the grass, her "I'm-unsure-about-grass" phase quickly escalated into "grass-is-traumatic." But since her parents love the outdoors and grass is unavoidable when you're outdoors, we're going to keep trying. In a few weeks, my goal is to have a blog post entitled "Grass Is Awesome." Or at least "Grass No Longer Makes Me Cry."
The finish line for our basement project is in sight. All the walls (except for the hole in the back to pour concrete) are completed, the basement floor has been poured, and the trenches along the east and west sides of the house have been backfilled. We are still waiting for our new sewer line, so Zach's parents are stuck with us for a little longer, but the end is near.
The back wall
The floor is done! Looks like a true basement now, doesn't it?
Everyone loves the Tooth Fairy. The cute, spritely little fairy that flits in silently in the night to leave a quater (or at least that was the going rate in my day) for a quietly sleeping child. What could be better? However, we've recently met the Tooth Fairy's evil twin. The Teething Fairy is not so cute and spritely and there is definitely no silent flitting in the night. Nope, the Teething Fairy doesn't bring quarters. She brings drool. Lots and lots of drool that pools on the chins of unsuspecting infants, drips onto the clothing of these infants, transfers to the hands of these sweet babies, and is subsequently wiped on tables, toys, and the faces of loving parents that get too close. The Teething Fairy does not come when things are falling out of children's mouths...she joins the party when EVERYTHING goes into children's mouths. And I do mean EVERYTHING...hands, toys, books, blankets, clothes, carseat straps, toes, napkins (when I set one too close), rugs,... The best part of the Tooth Fairy was that she was so quiet and spry that she could get in and out of a bedroom without causing the child to stir. And the worst part of the Teething Fairy is that she tromps into the bedroom loudly, shaking the crib and yelling until the poor infant has no choice but to wake up (oh so sadly) from her much needed sleep that comes during nap time and bed time. And what can a parent do at 3 a.m. but pat, console, and feed the sad infant back into slumber-land, hoping against hope that the Teething Fairy has had her fun and will not return...at least for another few nights.
We are STILL not home yet. (Four and half weeks and counting.) We are currently staying with Zach's parents again. Staley's cousin, Cade, is also staying with Zach's parents this week as he is attending a day camp in Eureka. Staley has been having lots of fun playing with Cade, and seeing her active older cousin must be motivating her to explore a little more. Last night, Staley rolled herself all the way across the living room floor. We don't have to go out and buy baby gates quite yet...it took her about half an hour to complete her 8 foot trek. Apparently in the exciting world of the living room, it was hard to stay focused on the goal of reaching cousin Cade's walkie-talkie. Staley would roll, play with her feet, look around, chew on her hands, roll, scratch at the carpet, look around, chew on her hands, roll... She wasn't setting any land speed records, but this was her first true attempt at mobility...and all things considered, it was successful.
The starting line: a super-cool fort that Cade made for Staley
Distracted by how much fun feet can be.
"Look how far I've come!"
And after all that hard rolling, Staley was rewarded by story time with cousin Cade.
I know a lot about great dads. I have one. From reading books (with all the fun voices) and singing silly songs before bedtime... to teaching me to shoot baskets and going running with me... to driving hours for college track meets and writing me funny letters while I was working at summer camps... to walking me down the aisle and dancing with me at my wedding... to calling me regularly and taking me out to lunch during the work day... to dropping everything to come over and comfort me after a failed IVF attempt... to now sharing his constant love and affection with his new granddaughter, my dad has always been there for me. I have always had high, high expectations for the father of my children because of the loving, attentive, devoted father that I grew up with. And Zach has lived up to those expectations without fail. Which is not surprising since Zach has a great example of what a father should be from his own dad, who is the most selfless, hard-working man I know. Mark would do anything for his children and grandchildren...the love he has for them is so evident in everything he does. I hope one day Staley realizes that not everyone has a great dad, and that she knows just how lucky she is to have the best dad in the world. I know I have!
Over the past month or so, Staley's eyes have been changing color. She no longer has those bright baby blues, but we can't figure out what color they will end up being. I have brown eyes and Zach has green eyes. Right now her eyes have a sort of greenish, blueish, brownish tone. (Easy to picture now, right?) I'm hoping she ends up with green eyes like her father. Not to diss my fellow brown-eyed girls (and guys), but I've always felt that my brown hair (at least that's what I think my natural color is) and brown eyes combination is a little bland. I've always thought green eyes were more unique (or as unique as you can get with about 4 eye colors to choose from). And since the consensus among the masses is that Staley looks a lot like me, I know that Zach would like her to have something that can be labeled as distinctly from him. Our doctor said that eye color should be established by around 6 months, so give us a little more time and we'll let you know how this mystery turns out.
I can't complain. For these first months of my return to work, Staley has had one-on-one attention from grandparents, aunts, and friends on the two days that I have to work. This summer, she gets to spend every Tuesday with my mom (Grammy Walles) and every Thursday with my friend (and grade school teacher extraordinaire), Nicole. But once the summer is over, I have to find a more permanent child care placement for my Staley. All I want is for Staley to receive the love, attention, stimulation, and healthy environment that I would provide at a reasonable price in a convenient location with only 1-2 other sweet, well-behaved children. Is that so much to ask? I've visited 4 places with 2 more on my initial list to go, and so far my socks have not been blown off. In fact, my socks have stayed firmly in place with the occasional breeze flowing past. I keep hoping that I will walk into a home and just know that I have found the perfect place for Staley. So far I've met nice women in (mostly) clean homes who I'm sure would make sure that Staley was safe and looked after, but I'm hopeful that one of my last two places will give me that "this-is-it" feeling when I walk through the door. I want an outdoor play area and big windows in a clean, organized room full of age-appropriate toys. I want learning time built into each day and plenty of open floor space for Staley to move and explore. I want singing time and reading time and a quiet place for Staley to take her naps. I want an engaging woman who has lots of time to give Staley one-on-one attention. I want it all!! But at this point, even a home where the TV is turned off would be a nice start.
Although it seems like it's taking FOR-EV-ER, our basement project is actually moving along pretty quickly. The exterior walls along the east and west sides of the house are done, the interior is almost completely excavated, and they are getting close to pouring the floor. We are hopeful that our move back home will occur sometime next week (fingers crossed).
It's starting to look more like a basement rather than an archeological dig.
The 15 feet of dirt and debris that has been removed from our basement.
The view of the house and yard (if you can call it that anymore)
A quick trip to Las Vegas last week marked the first family vacation for Staley. State Farm was so pleased that Zach finished his designation for his ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultent, for those of us who don't speak financese) that they insisted on paying for Zach and I to spend 3 days in Las Vegas for the ChFC confirmant ceremony. Of course, we couldn't leave Staley at home, so she joined us. And, of course, we wanted to be able to enjoy at least a little adult time, so my mom came along to keep us company and help out with Staley.
Instead of writing paragraphs and paragraphs about our fun trip to the hot sunshiney adult-adventureland that is Las Vegas, I will summarize our trip in key words and pictures. Hope you can keep up.
Caesar's Palace. Walking on the strip. Bellagio fountains. Cheesecake Factory. Cirque de Soleil (KA). Mirage volcano. M&Ms store. Living statues. Cirque de Soleil (Love). Carnegie Deli. Venetian performers. Garden of the Gods pool paradise. Elvis, Superman, Darth Vader, Elvis, showgirls, Elmo, Elvis, Mario and Luigi, Batman, Gumby, Michael Jackson, Elvis, Ironman, Buzz and Woody (a sampling of famous 'people' we saw on the Vegas strip). Bellagio conservatory. Street performers. Starbucks. Lights. Action. Camera...
Strolling in front of the Bellagio
Who needs Paris when you've got Las Vegas?
Hotel bath time is so much fun!
We ALL liked the M&Ms store.
Mom and I going to see 'Love'
Staley loved sitting in a restaurant booth like a big girl.
Staley celebrated her five month birthday in Vegas! I hope we're not setting the bar too high--if the 5 month birthday is Vegas, what's the expectation for the first year birthday? For now, I just hope Staley remembers what home is, because we've spent the better part of this month living with family (we are now back with Zach's parents) or traveling (Chicago and Vegas). Llike everything else in Staley's life, she has handled all the changes without a hitch.
Likes: Staley loves new people and new places. All the lights and activity in Vegas was right up her alley. Some of the old favorites are still hanging on: eating, bath time, and being naked. Staley's current favorite toys are the stacking cups at Grammy's house, her ring rattle, and her purse rattle. She also loves playing with (and chewing on) her feet. Examining her hands is also a great way to pass the time, and you can't beat a good ceiling fan for some good, old fashioned fun. Staley still likes all books, but her touch and feel and her baby books are still the faves. Music never gets old, going for walks (especially in the running stroller) always makes her happy, and dancing time with Daddy is the best.
Dislikes: We've discovered that Staley dislikes hand dryers in public restrooms and the electric mixer. Other than that, the usuals: being hungry, being cold, and being overly tired are still no fun.
Skills: It seems like Staley has been learning new skills on a daily basis. She is a master at rolling from her back to her stomach, although now seems to have forgotten how to roll from her stomach to her back. (Here's hoping she doesn't keep losing skills as she gains new ones.) She can now sit on her own without using her hands for support for up to 5 minutes at a time, falling over backward or to the sides if she reaches too far or gets too excited. She is grabbing at everything now--toys, hair, necklaces, noses, books, blankets, silverware, her feet,... In the past few days, Staley has started standing when we hold her up (as opposed to the noodle legs she used to have.) Staley is making lots of cute noises, blowing bubbles with her mouth, smiling at everyone, and laughing lots. She still sleeps like a champion at night (except in Vegas), usually sleeping 7-9 hours at a time. Her most impressive skill, however, is filling our lives with joy every single day.
And yes...we are in Vegas with our baby! Staley has been enjoying her first official family vacation. She did great on the plane, although she did not nap like I had hoped she might. Any mild fussing she started was easily remedied by standing up with her in the aisle so she could look around, much to the dismay of all the people having to squeeze past us on the way to and from the bathroom. She has LOVED all the lights and people and activity in Vegas, although she has been neglecting one small little detail of her life--naps. Noticing a theme here? Apparently, like most people who come to Vegas, Staley is too concerned with soaking in all the excitement to worry about something as trivial as sleep. Her first two days here consisted of 2-3 cat naps each day of no more than 30-45 minutes. Her first night here resulted in waking up 3 times (which honestly has not happened since she was 3 days old) and she woke up again once last night. I think teething may be a contributing factor (based on her waking at night, the ever-present chin drool, and the intense chewing on anything and everything she can get to her mouth). Nevertheless, sleeping is something Staley has decided has no place in a Vegas vacation.
Despite the lack of sleep, Staley has otherwise been the angel baby that she always is. She has been happy, smiling at the many admirers she has encountered along the Vegas strip. She has not so much as whimpered as we have wandered the streets and hotels of Vegas, saving her fussing for the hotel room when we try to encourage the sleep issue. I do hope our next door neighbors have either been out all night or too drunk to wake up to a 3 a.m. crying baby. Since this is Vegas, odds are in our favor on that one. Regardless, family vacation #1 has been a success so far. And since what happens in Vegas on a family trip with a 5 month old definitely does not need to stay in Vegas, I'll post some pictures when we get back home.
In my last blog post, I alluded to the few days that we would have to be out of our home while our sewer and water were unhooked. Well, those few days have multiplied. So here we are, more than a week later, still wandering the earth (or at least the central portion of Illinois) with no real place to call home. Because of some unfortunate sewer issues (I'll spare you the gory details), we still cannot move back into our home. We spent Monday through Friday of last week with Zach's parents, Friday and Saturday in Chicago, and have been with my parents since Saturday night. And as much as we have enjoyed the quality time with family, the readily available washer and dryer, and the home cooked meals, we are more than ready to be back in our own house. Luckily, Staley has transitioned from home to home to home with ease. (Of course, a girl can't complain about extra love and attention from grandparents.) Hopefully my next blog post will be about our return home. But until then, we will live out of our suitcases with the dream of beautiful basement, a lush green yard, and a fully functioning sewer line on the horizon.