Sunday, February 24, 2013


I feel like I haven't been keeping up on the life of Riley so here's a few details of note lately...

1. The Nuk is gone! When Riley was born we didn't give her a pacifier because we wanted to make sure that she took to breastfeeding. We didn't really have to worry about it because she had nursing down right away, but we weren't taking any chances since we were new at the parenting job. Plus, I was torn about whether I wanted her to use a pacifier or even her thumb. I wanted her to have a way to sooth herself, but I didn't want to go through the 'removal' process later.

When we finally gave Riley a paci she didn't really care for it. For a short time I thought she might start sucking her thumb (something her dad did when he was a baby), but that didn't happen either. You'd think I would have been fine with this, but since she was colicky at the time I wanted her to have something that would calm her - that would help the crying stop (please make it stop). Eventually, she did latch on to the Nuk and for some time that sucker went everywhere with us.

Finally embracing the Nuk around 3 months, but not the life jacket.

As she got older, Nuk usage was scaled back to sleeping time only with the hope that we'd get rid of it soon. That 'soon' took longer that I wanted to, but finally Jesse and I agreed that since she was about to turn 3 it had to go. We prepared Riley for weeks telling her that Nuks are only for babies and since she was a big girl she no longer needed it. She would agree, but anytime I tried to set it aside she would freak out.

Not quite ready to let go

Jesse and I did not communicate well about the exact timing of the Nuk cut off. I had in my mind that we might have to do something tricky (cut the tips off) or symbolic (set it outside for the pacifier fairy to bring to another kid) and that it would be done a couple weeks after her birthday. But in the end, Jesse just put her down for a nap on her birthday without it. She didn't sleep that day, but I am sure it was for a number of reasons. That night I was at a hotel with Riley and friends and ended up giving it to her midway through the night (after a weird freak out), but since then she's been Nuk free. We had a number of nights where she would wake up crying. We weren't sure what that was about - it could have been the lack of Nuk, but she's woken up crying with the Nuk so who knows. I'm just glad it went as well as it did. She doesn't even seem as attached to her 'blankie' that she slept with every night. Any stuffed animal seems to do. Huh. I'm relieved that it went so well. Perhaps I should give her more credit when it comes to adjusting to new things.

2. Speaking of sleep - to nap or not to nap. I'm a little worried that Riley is phasing out of her nap. She'll have a week were she doesn't nap... or doesn't nap well, followed by a week that's fine, but those no nap days are starting to happen more and more. Doesn't she know that I really need that afternoon downtime myself? As I write this I *think* she's fallen asleep for a nap, but the last two days she skipped her nap without getting any more sleep at night than she usually does (and has actually been getting up earlier). I know it is common for some kids to stop napping at this age, and I shouldn't be surprised based on my kids previous sleep patterns, but say it ain't so. At least give me another 6 months. I'll be ready by then, right?

3. Haircut. Riley still has superfine straight hair. It might be getting slightly thicker - maybe, but the one thing for sure is that it keeps wanting to grow out into a long mullet. It seemed silly to take her in to get a slight trim, but I remember all too well the trims my dad gave me as a child and suddenly the money seemed so worth it.

Yeah, it doesn't look much different

4. Sleepover and grandma and grandpa's. Jesse and I had to help my dad out at his farm so we shipped the kid off to her grandparents. While there she got one last birthday gift, a tea party set, at which she exclaimed "a tea party booth" when she opened it (where does she get this stuff), made cookies, and went sledding. It's always a good time at grandma and grandpa's house.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


We have an awesome park near our house (Oak Hill) that includes multiple playground areas, shelters, walking paths, ball fields, a splash pad, picnic tables, and plenty of room to run around. We often walk there in the summer, but we've been meaning to check it out in the winter as it has some pretty cool things to do and see during the cold months as well. In the winter, it has an ice rink (including a warming house with a fireplace), a sledding hill and Christmas lights that stay on from November to March. The warming house was even pumping out music.

We've been meaning to take Riley there to walk around the trails, but it was either too cold or we simply forgot. Knowing that the lights wouldn't be on much longer we bundled up and headed out this weekend. At first she was pretty stressed out that we were in the car and kept asking to get out. Once she understood that we would get out of the car once at the park she calmed down... and once we got to the park she pretty much freaked out with excitement. "Lookatthoselights!Andthoselights!They'resopretty.Greenlights!Lookatthoselightsoverthere!"

And so on... It was so worth it to see the excitement in my kids eyes that we plan to check them out again next week. I just wish we went earlier.

Oh, to see life through the eyes of a child.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Riley's Birthday Celebration: Part 2

You can read more about part one of Riley's birthday celebration here.

After Riley's nap time (or lack of nap time) we met up with a friend of mine, Josie, and her 3.5 year old and 9 month old daughters, Olivia and Ellie. Josie's house was going to be filled with a bunch of her step-son's friends for a slumber party so she decided to take the girls to a hotel for the night. Riley and I decided to join her and chose The Depot which has a water park and an indoor ice rink. Riley was quite excited about the water park, although I'm not entirely sure why since she's not a fan of these places.

Shortly after arriving we headed to the buffet with a plan to go to the water park afterwards. Pizza was originally suggested, but we decided it would be better to eat at the buffet in the restaurant as there would probably be more healthy options and it might be less expensive. Turns out that wasn't the case. At least the healthy part. No fruit, no vegetables (unless you count coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and french fries). Essentially, you could choose from fried chicken, hot dogs, hamburger, ribs, or overly breaded fish sticks. Thankfully, I brought a veggie pack for Riley to eat and I ate a banana once I got back to the room. I felt gross.

Once dinner was done we dashed off to the water park. Like I said, Riley isn't a fan of these places so I was surprised at how much she was willing to do. Sure, she still was pretty timid and freaked out by some things, but she really seemed to have fun.

Riley usually goes to bed at 7:30, but Olivia doesn't go to bed until about 10:00. Since we were all in the same room I knew Riley would be staying up late. I was worried how this would turn out, especially since she didn't take a nap, but just went with it and hoped for the best. We spent the rest of the night after the water park watching cartoons (and eating more food - Josie was still hungry and I decided I needed a salad). 

These beds were super comfy.

Wearing our party hats, of course. 

We went to bed shortly before 10 pm and all seemed to go well. That is, until Riley woke up screaming just after midnight. I think it was a combination of a bad dream and waking up in an unknown place. She occasionally has these middle of the night freak outs and has since she was a baby (night terrors?). Olivia and Ellie slept right through it somehow... and Josie took a break from her snoring. Josie's kids obviously are better sleepers than mine (except for that going to bed late thing). Nothing seemed to calm Riley down until I pulled out the Nuk - which if you read part one you will have noted we just stopped giving her. Sigh.

We went back to sleep only for Riley to wake up at 5:45 and tell me she was hungry. Umm, no. Go back to sleep kid. And, thankfully she did. We finally woke at 8 am for the day. Again, we ate at the buffet (it was included in the room charge) and at least they had fruit so I felt a little better about it.

Since Ellie needed to go down for a nap. (Seriously, this 9 month old slept from 10 pm to 8 am and did not wake up once. She barely made a peep the entire time we were there and was just sooo sweet. I can't even imagine what that would be like since Riley was the complete opposite of the "quiet, sleep peacefully" child.) I took Olivia and Riley down to the water park by myself which sort of freaked me out since Olivia is a lot more daring than Riley. I set some rules on the way there and, for the most part, they followed them. However, this time was much more of what I expected out of my child - she wanted to sit on the side of the pool with only her feet in the water. At least she had fun running around the night before.

Olivia was trying to get Riley into the pool, but Riley wasn't having it. Please note that Olivia is soaking wet while my kid is pretty much dry.

Since Riley wasn't having much fun and it was chilly in the water park (seriously, turn up the heat) we headed back upstairs. Check out was at noon and the weather was nasty outside so we decided it was time to wrap things up.

The girls checking out the snow while they wait to leave. 

Jesse picked Riley and I up and we had a slow and slippery ride home. After lunch, a nap, and some indoor play time we decided to go outside to play in the snow. Riley didn't want to go outside at first, but I promised her we'd make a snowman and that she'd get to shovel with her dad.

Creepy snowman.

She had a blast having a snowball fight with us and has terrific aim.

Riley went to sleep right at her normal bedtime without the Nuk and without a peep! It seemed to be the perfect ending to this weekend... until she woke up crying at 11:30 and I woke up with one of the worst headaches I've had in a long time. Luckily Jesse went into care for Riley as I quickly noticed that I had bigger issues than just a migraine. Between digestive issues, puking, and not being able to lay down (it seemed to make my headache worse) I was up for the next several hours sitting on the floor of our very small bathroom. I'm guessing I ate something bad (since no one else got sick I ruled out that I picked up something nasty at the water park) and ended up staying home on Monday to sleep and recover. Besides getting sick it was a fantastic weekend.

Overall, I'm pretty sure Riley enjoyed her birthday and even though we did a lot I found it to be much easier than the party I threw last year. A lot of work and stress clearly does not equate to more fun.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Riley's Birthday Celebration: Part 1

For a birthday that was supposed to be laid back we filled it with a lot of activities - so I will break this up into two posts. Welcome to part one.

We planned on a mellow birthday celebration for Riley's 3rd birthday this year. We had parties for her 1st birthday and 2nd birthday and I didn't want to do that again this year. I knew she'd have her music class in the morning, which she loves, so I figured that would be at least one fun thing we would do, but I wasn't sure what else to do. Of course, she'd have to see her grandparents, but I didn't know what that would look like.

As we were talking with her about her upcoming birthday she noted that she wanted party hats, purple party bags, and a horse for her special day. Where does she get this stuff? It's not like she's gone to many birthday parties, but she does have an excellent memory so who knows. So I decided that after music class we would invite grandma Suzie, grandpa Michael, and papa Frank over for a small celebration. And of course, I was prepared with her requested items.

Unfortunately, the first surprise of the day was not a good one. I opened the shower curtain to find that the tub had backed up. Seeing I have lived off and on in this house for a long time it wasn't the first time I had experienced this. I was hoping it was one of those easy to fix moments, but when I turned on the water to rinse out the dirty backup it started to fill up. Ok, this wouldn't be so easy. Jesse grabbed the plunger and got to work and eventually a huge mass of hair came up, but the water still wasn't going down. Great. I called my dad and asked him to bring over his plumbing snake as I knew we would need something a little more heavy duty to tackle this issue ( I have one, but it's a piece of crap). I then hesitantly took a shower upstairs knowing that it would probably back up into the main floor tub. And it did, but at least it didn't overflow.

Once I was ready, grandma Suzie and grandpa Michael showed up as they were coming to Riley's music class with us. Grandma and I participated with Riley in the class while grandpa and Jesse sat on a couch in the back. Miss Emily, the music instructor, was nice enough to let Riley pick one of her favorite music class activities (dancing with scarves) and she had everyone sing happy birthday to Riley. As usual, Riley had a blast.

Back at home, my dad showed up and the guys headed to the basement to clean out the pipes under the tub while the ladies hung out upstairs having a photo shoot with Riley.

I am so incredibly grateful that we can call my dad for assistance with these things. I know we could fix it on our own (or get help from other family members or call a plumber), but it's nice to know that he's always there. Often when we think we just can't do anymore to fix something he pushes us to try and try again. And in the end he's usually right and we're able to resolve the issue. A big thank you to Jesse and Michael for also helping to fix this!

Riley isn't much of a girly girl, but when I gave her a couple options of what to wear she totally wanted to wear this tutu like skirt. She told me it was like a 'princess'. She also insisted on keeping her name tag sticker on from music class... just in case we forgot who she was apparently.

After the plumbing was fixed (let's just say I'm pretty sure the plug was building up long before we moved in because there was a ridiculous amount of hair pulled out of the pipes. Gag.), we started our 'celebration'. I guess you could call it a party - at least to Riley I'm sure it felt like one - but since there was minimal preparation and guests it didn't really feel like one. I bought all the decorations (instead of making them), although I did fancy up her party hat instead of buying a special fancy one (too spendy). It didn't matter in the end because she wanted to change party hats hourly. In fact we've been wearing party hats daily since her birthday. If anyone were to look in our windows they'd think we all lost it as we wander around doing our normal daily activities in our party hats.

Grandma was a good sport and wore some of Riley's barrettes and jewelry.

I whipped up this red bean and sausage stew. It's the same one I made in my freezer meal post and was a hit with our guests... except Riley who won't eat foods like this. She loves rice and loves sausage separately, but not in this form. Oh well, cheese and tortilla make a tasty lunch too, I suppose.

Love that everyone wore party hats the entire time. Notice Riley has a different color hat in many of these picture.

Jesse will probably dislike that I posted this pictures, but I couldn't help but include it. He was trying to show his mom how to focus our camera so she could take a family picture of us. (Although, it might not have mattered because I feel like something is wrong with the focus on this camera anyway.) Anyhoo, I totally think he should update his Facebook profile picture with this one. 

Silly faces!

After lunch (which included some interesting stories about pigs blood draining and animals eating the food out of other animals crap - thanks dad!) we opened presents, then ate cake and finally handed out purple party bags with treats to our guests. As you can see grandma and grandpa are trying on their new teeth.

Giving nose kisses.

After saying goodbye to her grandparents, Riley went down for a nap. Or, she was supposed to. She was awake the entire time she was in her bedroom. I think part of it was from the excitement of the day, but Jesse decided this was the day we were getting rid of the Nuk. We have been preparing her for this, but I thought it would be after her birthday - not on. Even so, I think she was too wound up to sleep whether she had the nuk or not.

Plus, we had plans to go to the water park and who can sleep when you know that? You'll get to read more about that in part two.