Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thanksgiving in Minnesota

It's taken me awhile to get to writing this post, but I want to make sure I didn't skip it. For once, I actually took some photos when we were in Minnesota for Thanksgiving...I was making a conscious effort!

On the way down, we stopped and had a quick visit with the Sherman's in Eau Claire. Willow got to see her NICU roommate, Ellen, and her big sister Audrey, who was a very good mommy-figure to Willow. :)

First we went to the Jenson's for Turkey Day on Thursday. It was great to see all the fam. I think Willow had the most fun playing with Josh's cousin Katie (who is a pediatric pharmacist, a great job for her because she is amazing with kids) but unfortunately I didn't get any decent pictures of those two.

Here's Willow reading with auntie Janna:

And helping Grandpa Jack cook:

Snuggling with Great Grandma Eva:

With her second cousin Natalie:

Walking in the yard with Grandma Jean. Thanksgiving day was unseasonably warm - I think about 60 degrees.

The day after Thanksgiving, before we had to leave, Willow helped Grandma and Grandpa start decorating their Christmas tree:

Then we left and headed over to western Minnesota for a Thanksgiving dinner with my family on Saturday. We stayed at my extremely hospitable aunt Lisa and uncle Scott's place. They wined and dined us in style, as usual, and Willow had a great time playing with cousin Ellen and her dollhouses.

I guess I didn't get as many photos of this part of the trip. Still, it was a lot of fun, despite Willow having a bit of a hard time at the dinner at my uncle Dave's and aunt Tracey's in Fergus Falls. She hadn't had a nap, then fell asleep, then was woken up, and it just wasn't a good combination and she was a very cranky girl. (She's normally a happy kid, family, I promise!). The one photo I have to post is this one, because I crack up every time I look at it, I was trying to get a photo of Willow, but Dave and Tracey's pug Lucy decided she wanted to investigate and I ended up getting a close-up of her instead.

It was a good trip, but exhausting with all the driving. I am not sure if we'll keep doing both places for Thanksgiving. We decided it would've been (a lot) more relaxing if we just went to one place and stayed put.

An update on Willow's health: the tummyaches and yucky poop continue, unfortunately. We brought her to a pediatrician for a second opinion. That doctor ran a bunch more tests, both on her blood and her poop. Everything came back normal, basically. She suggested we do another dairy-free trial, though for longer this time (we tried it once before for like 4 days). So on Tuesday it'll be 2 weeks of dairy-free, and I guess we really haven't noticed much difference. Dairy-free is easier than gluten-free, but not by much. Cheese was a huge part of Willow's (and our) diet before. Again there's the stress of making sure she gets enough calories. he really is a good eater, but she's just so skinny. We also have made an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist in Wausau, in January. I sort of feel like that is too long to wait...I want to get this figured out!

Willow also had an appointment last week with the pediatric dentist in Marquette. What a cool place that is, and the dentist and her staff were so nice. So it turns out, Willow has sort of a line across her teeth where the enamel is rough, and it's a little discolored. The dentist said the discoloration was partly due to her iron vitamins, and she was actually able to polish most of it off. But the line and the roughness is due to Willow's prematurity. The dentist compared it to how when you chop down a tree, you can look back on the rings and see where a forest fire 100 years ago interrupted the growth of the tree. So when Willow's teeth were developing, her birth was the traumatic incident (the forest fire) that interfered with that. I guess it could've even affected her permanent teeth, since they are already being formed when you are born (crazy, huh?). We won't know that until they come out. But it's not too big a deal; we just have to be extra-vigilant about Willow's dental hygiene, because the rough enamel can collect food and plaque really easily.

Willow is quite the little lover these days. A favorite saying is "awwww, I like mama" (or dada, or Yaya, or a toy, or an earthworm). While hugging you tight. It's pretty darn cute. Here are some other recent photos.

Linda and her friend Jess took Willow to see her first movie in the theater - "Happy Feet 2"

Linda and Willow made this fort. Willow's been spending a lot of time in it. Here she is sampling some soup she made.

And here she is playing in the snow.

Who knows if I'll have time to blog again before Christmas. If not, hope it is merry!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blizzard / Clifford

I'll start off this post with a photo of Willow with Blizzard the husky. When we took this photo last year, Willow loved the photo so much and asked to look at it on the computer so much, that finally we made a print and laminated it so she could look at it whenever she wanted. When we went to our first game this year, we were telling her that we'd see Blizzard again, and she was just beside herself with excitement. But she got a little confused on his name; she kept calling him Clifford (as in, Clifford the big red dog - she loves those books). Anyway, she was much more excited than this picture shows. Thanks to Ben and Kim for inviting us to their box seat; I am not sure there would be as many opportunities to see Blizzard if you were in general admission. Plus, there wouldn't be any beer.

I know I'm late posting this, but here is a picture of the three of us at my parents' house before we headed out trick-or-treating. Willow actually got into it and we all had a great time. I forgot how fun trick-or-treating is. I can't wait until Willow's a little older and I can go out with her for an hour or two. This year we just went around the block, probably to a dozen houses or so. Willow would walk up to the door with her little bag open and say "trick or treat" in a tiny voice. Pretty cute.

A couple weekends ago, we threw a kid-friendly sushi party. It went over quite well. There were five little kids there and a bunch of grown-ups, and everyone had a great time. For some reason I didn't take any pictures but this one, but I thought it was a good one. I wish I had taken one of all the kids.

Here's a photo of Willow I really like.

We haven't gotten very far on the tummy issues. Some of the lab work has come back - we know she doesn't have rotovirus or giardia - but we are still waiting on one more test. I'm getting very impatient. Needless to say we've completely fallen off the potty wagon with this. We've also backtracked on the big girl bed, and I don't really know why, other than that she has been more whiny and clingy. She doesn't just want to sleep in our bed; she wants to sleep ON me. *sigh* Don't judge us.

Things aren't all bad though. Generally Willow is happy as can be. Just not when she has a tummyache. She is very talkative at home and I love some of the stuff she comes up with. The other night we were snuggling before bed and she had been quiet for a few minutes. I thought she was just about asleep. Suddenly out of the blue she said "I like snakes". Then quiet for another few seconds. Then, "I like bees, too". So I said "well, maybe you will have a nice dream about snakes and bees". She said, "Yes." Then she fell asleep.

Here's a video. I just like how she says the word "umbrella".

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving! We are going to visit both families in MN, and I am going to be good about taking photos this time!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Corn Maze

It's been a very busy couple of weeks for us - both at work and home. Here's a quick post with some photos that are already a few weeks old. I will have to try to catch up some more next weekend.

Willow and Maisa had a playdate one cold and windy Saturday. We tried to go to McLain's, but it ended up being so cold, we didn't stay long and ended up at Maisa's house having tea and snacks.

The weekend after that, Josh, Willow and I went to the corn maze. It was more fun this year - Willow actually sort of understood the concept of finding the different items in the maze. And she was very impressed by the big catapult thing this year - last year she didn't even really notice it.

Here are ours and the Ryynanen's jack-o-lanterns. They came over with Margot to carve them.

I mentioned a couple posts ago about Willow's tummyaches. Well, after a couple weeks on the probiotics, we hadn't noticed any change. Then Willow had a 3-day hunger strike and her poop got even yuckier. So I brought her in again. They did an x-ray of her tummy which came back normal. The day after her second doctor's appointment, her poop went back to the way it was (still yucky, but not that yucky) and her appetite came back with a vengeance. Also, her tummyaches have mostly gone away. But, her poop is still not right, so we brought some of it in (that was fun) for testing in the lab. We are still waiting for those results, so we'll see. My mom actually says I had a few months of runny poop when I was Willow's age and then it went away. Can diarrhea actually be genetic?? Hmmm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A video

Hey, I finally got a video to upload!

I think maybe the one I was trying to do last weekend was just too long. This one is a little shorter.

I may still write an actual post later, if I have time. But here's this video at least for those of you who have been requesting one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A visit, a hike and a trip

I've tried and tried this weekend to get a video to upload, and it just won't go. So here are some photos instead. We finally had a chill weekend at home this weekend, and it felt good. Two weekends ago, The Jenson's came up. They rented a house out in Oskar, and it was fun to hang out with them. For some reason we did not take very many photos though. We have a really great video of Willow and Grandpa Jack doing a puzzle, but oh well. Here is a photo instead, of Grandpa, Josh and Willow.

That Sunday, after the Jenson's got on the road, we decided to do a hike from our book. The weather was beautiful - summer-like, really - for a couple weeks. It was a great day for a little hike. This one was just outside of town, at the Paavola wetlands.

We walked by a swamp that used to be farmland back in the day. Apparently a beaver dam flooded the land. Here's Josh and Willow with the pond/swamp in the background. You can see one of the beaver dams too.

Of course I had to take a photo of some fungi.

Here's me by the old stone wall that used to mark the edge of some field on the farm (according to our book).

Then we came upon the old farmstead. Willow did fall asleep for part of the hike, but she woke up when we stopped at this awesome apple tree. We picked about 20 good apples. We've been eating them since - they weren't just good-for-baking apples, but actual good apples you can eat plain. We'll definitely head back there around this time next year.

Here's Willow on the trail.

Then last weekend, my mom, Willow and I took a trip to Minnesota. I had a training for work in Saint Cloud on Tuesday, so I decided to bring mom and Willow and visit my Grandpa Zip, who lives near St. Cloud. We left on Saturday, and spent Saturday night in Duluth. We met up with Sharon and went to the zoo. It was a special Halloween event at the zoo, and it was a madhouse. Still, it was a beautiful day (again), and we had fun walking around with the stroller. Willow was a ladybug.

Here's a ladybug riding a ladybug.

The next day we went to Great-Grandpa Zip's house. Some aunts, uncles and cousins stopped by too, and it was great to see everyone. I didn't get any decent pictures of WIllow with Great Grandpa mom got this one, which isn't great, but it's the best we've got.

The night before my seminar, we stayed in the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud, which had a great kiddie pool, Willow had a blast! I thought this picture was cute.

Willow went to the doctor last week for a check-up. She is 23 pounds now, and 33 inches tall. Her blood pressure was nice and low, which was good to see. She's been having these tummyaches lately, and icky poop (sorry if that is TMI). I'm sort of worried. The doctor's theory is maybe Willow needs probiotics...maybe since she had so many antibiotics when she was in the NICU, her gut doesn't have enough of the good bacteria. So, I ordered some online...we'll see if it helps. Here are a couple photos of Willow and Dada from around the house this weekend.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Two weddings

In the past few weeks some of our very good friends have gotten married, and we have had a LOT of fun. The first wedding was my college friend Sharon. Sharon and I lived down the hall from each other freshman year, then we lived together three more years in college, and then we lived together for couple years in Jackson Hole too. She married a super awesome guy, Andy, who we knew in college. We are so happy for them! They got married in Duluth, in September, on the beach. Against all odds, the weather was 80 and sunny. It was amazingly awesome. Josh and I brought Willow to Duluth, and stayed in a waterpark hotel with Mark, Amy and baby Ava. Jack and Jean came down from Hastings to visit, and to babysit the two girls while we partied it up on the beach! It was a really, really fun wedding, and weekend in general.

Many of our old, dear friends from Jackson came up for the wedding. It was so great to see them again! It made me realize how much I miss all of them...*sniff*. This was at the "groom's dinner" the night before the wedding at a super cool Duluth restaurant called the Zeitgeist.

All the JH gals (plus Ava):

It's hard to take a camera into a water park, what with all the water splashing everywhere and trying to prevent your kid from drowning or getting trampled by 12-year-old boys. This was the best one we got.

Willow did enjoy herself, though it was a little intimidating for her. Above everything there was this huge bucket. It had a stream of water constantly flowing into it, and when it got to a certain level, it would go, "ding ding ding ding" in warning, and then the bucket would tip over, gushing water over everyone within like a 20-foot radius. Willow was both terrified of and fascinated with "the bucket". She is still talking about it.

Here's the bride and groom during the ceremony. Aren't they cute?

Here's me and Sharon:

They had two really fun bands at the reception. This one was called "too Many Banjos" They really made you want to get up and dance (and we did)!

The very next weekend (actually, we left on Thursday), we left Willow with my parents and headed to Keene, New Hampshire for another wedding - Seth and Beth, our friends who live here. They met in college in Keene which is why they got married there. It was so great to have a kid-free getaway! We stayed at a bed and breakfast, a first for both of us. It was so relaxing and chill. We did a lot of relaxing, and apparently I did a lot of reading - I read three books on this trip. What a luxury to sit on the plane and read and read and not be interrupted!

Seth and Beth got married on this really cool farm, and the reception was inside this huge old barn:

Here are some pics of us with the bride and groom:

The day after the wedding, Seth the historian brought a bunch of us out to see this really cool old meeting hall in the nearby town of Jaffrey. My favorite part was the cemetery out back. I love old cemeteries. This one was really old, with some of the graves from the Revolutionary war days. This one was one of the oldest ones we saw. The stones were still in really good shape, with the writing crisp and clear. It seems like all the older graves in the Copper Country are made of this white stone that sort of wears away over time and the writing is hard to read. I'm no geologist...someone said these were made of slate.

The next day, Josh and I headed for Boston, where our flight was leaving at 5 in the evening. So we had a few hours to spend in Boston. We walked around the Boston harbor and ate at a restaurant called Legal Seafood. We saw huge yachts in the harbor that must've belonged to celebrities or CEOs of huge corporations. We did a little shopping. Here's a pic of us with Boston in the background.

I know this post hasn't shown enough photos of Willow! Here are a couple to leave you with.

With her backpack on. She loves wearing it - I guess it makes her feel like a big kid.

Here are the two daddies with their girls. I know - Margot is bigger than Willow. Actually, she is still shorter than Willow - I think she just looks even bigger in this photo because of the angle of the camera or something. But I do think she's caught up to Willow in weight. She is 7 months old.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The County Fair and Summer's End

At the end of August, we took Willow to the County Fair. We went early on Sunday morning to avoid the crowds. She had a great time! We were surprised at how independent she was, going on the rides all by herself. I took her on the carousel first, which she loved.

Then she went on the train all by herself (really all by herself – there weren’t even any other kids on the ride!)

This picture is classic – she loved driving the car, even though she had to be the back-seat driver. These cars had a super-obnoxious horn, and one kid pressed it and held it down for most of the ride We have a video that is pretty good, but that horn sound was so annoying we’ll spare you.

She bravely climbed the ladder of this inflatable slide, but then got scared at the top and wouldn’t come down. The carnie had to go rescue her.

She also fed some goats…

…and checked out the chickens and bunnies. Her favorite was the monkey, but for some reason we didn’t get a photo of him. He was playing with baby toys, which she thought was pretty cool, and talked about it for days afterwards.

Here’s a little update on Willow at age 2 ½. She’s definitely entered that independent stage and wants to do everything herself, even if she is really not capable. Her favorite phrases are “Willow do it!” “Self!” and “Mama (or Dada) hands away!”. The potty-training has had its ups and downs over the past several months. Earlier in the summer, she seemed to enjoy sitting on the potty and there were a few days there where she stayed in the same diaper all day long and kept it dry. The last couple weeks she’s regressed a little though. She doesn’t want to sit on the potty anymore, but if you can persuade her to sit, she’ll usually pee. She has never been very good at telling you when she has to go…except in the last week or so, she will tell you, but then she wants to pee outside. I know…pretty uncivilized. But we’re tolerating it for now. We figure another couple weeks and it will be too cold anyway.

She’s become quite a good eater, and will try most anything we put in front of her. She even eats some veggies now. She likes green beans and carrots right from the garden. Here is a picture of her with some of our bountiful harvest.

Even though she eats well, she still hasn’t grown much. Well, she has grown more than an inch taller since her May doctor’s appointment, but as far as we can tell with our scale, she hasn’t gained any weight- it still usually tells us 21 or 22 pounds.

She still loves to play with her little plastic figurines. She likes to ride her trike around the house. She is just starting to figure out pedaling, but still just pushes along the ground with her feet most of the time. She loves to “read” her books. Some of her favorites she sort of has memorized, so I think she likes to pretend she is actually reading them. She turns the pages and says the words. Her speaking is pretty articulate. I don’t really know if it’s average for her age, or above or below, since I don’t have much to compare her to. But it seems good to me. She sings all the time too. Her favorites change weekly or daily, but the past week it’s been “the Bear Went Over The Mountain” and “Happy Birthday”.

She still loves Elmo and Da the best, but one night last week she favored the dolly Aunt Jill made her. I thought you’d appreciate this, Jill.

She’s a pretty agreeable kid most of the time and doesn’t really have tantrums…except at bedtime, which is a struggle every night. I was comforted to read in Charlotte’s blog that they have this same problem. (I meant to comment on that, Katie, but never got around to it!) I guess misery loves company, ha.

One big milestone Willow just reached is that she finally weaned. In early August, I went to a bachelorette party and Willie Nelson concert in Duluth for 2 nights. Willow stayed with Dada. When I got back, she asked for na-nas, and Josh said, "they're all gone". She didn't protest too much, and that was basically it. Of course it's a little sad, but also a relief to have my body back! I feel pretty good that I was able to keep at it for that long.

So, that’s age 2 ½ Willow in a nutshell. It’s pretty fun. Here are a couple fun photos to leave you with.