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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

April 2015

Wow, what a month.

This blog post is later than usual, which is just one indicator of what kind of a month it was.  So, last month, I described as purgatory because there were a lot of big chances on the horizon, but I couldn't move forward on any of them and none of them were resolved enough for me to even know what their outcome would be.  I wanted to prepare for the baby, but was just stuck waiting.

This month, by contrast was the month all the changes happened.  It was both good to move forward and be in the next stage and KNOW how things were going to end up and at the same time just. plain. tiring.  For more details, continue to the relevant areas of this post!

So, we start the pictures and videos off with our playgroup's Easter egg hunt.  It was really fun!  Harper got the concept better than I thought she would too!  After showing her an egg or two and telling her to put them in the basket she was gold and was happy to keep finding them and putting them in.  After doing it for a while, she just said, "all done" and that was that!



She also highly enjoyed the opening and eating part.  Her favorite thing to find inside the eggs?  Grapes.



Whenever she got on the trampoline we'd have to flank the sides because she'd just go crazy and get right up to the edge:



Tom's sister, Jen and her family live in Japan.  But, starting at the end of March they came for a nice long visit!  It was kind of sad timing though, because (as you'll see later) we were out of town for a significant portion of that time!  We got together with them when we could though and Harper LOVED playing with her cousins.  She still talks about them regularly (they've been gone a few weeks) and even waves to them and says, "Hi Brooke!" or "Hi Spencer!" like they're her imaginary friends.  It's very endearing.  Anyway, one evening Jen and Curtis (her husband) wanted to go to a concert in Salt Lake.  So, we watched their kids for them.  Harper LOVED it.  At one point, we laid out a bunch of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals on the floor and put a movie on for them.  Just look at Harper's happy little face:


Harper and Tom vacuuming together:


A BIG activity for Harper this month has been picking flowers.  My goodness is she obsessed!  The moment we'd go outside she'd go straight for them and she'd talk about them all day when she wasn't picking them: 



Before I took this she'd been spinning in circles, saying, "TWO flowers!" over and over.  So, I'm making her recreate it:



Easter fell on the same day as one of the General Conference days this year.  One of my friends was going to the Sunday morning session and needed a babysitter for her little girl.  We were happy to take her!  She was really easy and sweet and cute and Harper loved having another little person around (as we suspected).  She was super attached to me the whole time though and would cry if I left the room.  Very endearing.  She even fell asleep for a little while.


The video below is super cute.  Harper was making both herself and Ella laugh:



At some point later in the day, after General Conference was over, we drove to another part of town to look at (not tour, just drive by) an apartment we were considering.  We weren't impressed, but we found a little park nearby and enjoyed some family park time:




Easter evening, Harper with her bunny ears:





Harper got this new toy for Easter:



She heard a siren and hurried over to snuggle with Daddy until it was gone:




The day after Easter we started on a big adventure.  So, we were very ready for a bigger car - especially with the new baby coming.  We knew we wanted a reliable SUV with a 3rd row that had few enough miles to last us for a long time.  We also had a very set budget.  We started off looking in Utah, of course, but soon discovered that the market for 3rd row SUVs is super inflated in Utah (makes sense really - lots of snow and kids).  It was too inflated for us to find something that wasn't a dump in one way or another (damaged, lots of miles, reeeeally old).  So, we started looking outside of Utah.  What we found was that most of the West was a bit more expensive (though not as much as Utah) and the cheapest places (in general) were the NorthEast and....Miami.  And the difference in what you could get in these other places was pretty significant.  After weighing all the pros and cons and going back and forth several times we came up with a plan.  We decided that since I have a good friend who lives in Miami, Harper and I would fly out to Miami, stay with my friend while we looked for a car, then Tom would fly out to meet us and we'd all get home somehow.  We bought our plane tickets from Southwest so that we could change names and dates free of charge and figured we'd decide when the time came whether Tom would fly home with Harper while I drove the car home, vice versa or we'd all drive home together.  Daunting, I know.

Anyway, Harper and I flew to Harper on the day after Easter.  She was pretty good the whole day, but no matter how good she was it was still really hard.  Picture having a big ol' pregnant belly, with a toddler on your lap and the tray table down so you can have her watch shows on your laptop.  How we even wedged that tray table down I don't know.  It was tight and uncomfortable.  But I'm grateful she was in such a good mood.




This was at a little play area in the airport.


The fun part of the trip was hanging out with Alyse and her husband, Tanner and her toddler, Ezra.  Harper and Ezra hit it off big time.  Don't get me wrong, they had their disagreements, but it was so much fun watching them play together.  Harper loved Alyse and Tanner too.  She's such a social being.  


The hard(est) part was finding the car, of course!  We thought it was best to hit the search hard as soon as we got there so that we'd hopefully find something fast and then just be able to play and have a little vacation.  It was really hard going all over Miami looking for a car with two toddlers and I could NOT have done it without Alyse.  If it had just been Harper and I, I'm pretty sure I would have had a break-down.  Not only did she watch the kids each time I was checking for a car, but she provided moral support too - sometimes just by being there.  Anyway, she was great.  The kids were really great too.  They spent hours just chillin in Alyse's car for 2 or 3 days.  Other than the stress of searching with toddlers, it was also mentally taxing because this was the first time I'd ever bought a car and I was doing it without Tom.  Alyse had never bought a car either.  Plus, we were in Miami, which can be a bit sketchy.  See photo below.

We were in a sketchy neighborhood and saw this awesome duct-taped mass of street-light.

Here's what Harp did while I negotiated with salesmen.  I actually took this pic while trying to decide on whether to get the car that I actually did get.

In the end, we bought a 2011 Mazda CX-9 with 29,000 miles.  So far we love it!  The same car would have been about $4,000 more in Utah.
After the stress of getting the car, we got to pretty much relax and play the rest of the time.  





One morning we went to the mall where they were doing a storytime/craft for toddlers.  At one point the storytime lady brought out a flag and Harper, of course, perked up and went straight for it.  She REALLY wanted it, so when the lady started folding it up and put it away she had a total meltdown.  It was mostly just funny.  Oh Harp.


All turned out alright though, because they gave her a cookie at the end.
Our sleeping arrangements were a bit unorthodox since Alyse lives in a 1 bedroom apartment.  It turned out that the best way to maximize everyone's sleep was to Have Ezra fall asleep first, in Alyse & Tanner's room, at night.  Then, once he was fully out (which took a while because he was too excited about having Harper there to fall asleep), Harp would be put to be in the room as well.  When the rest of us were ready for bed, we'd wheel the babies back into the living room, Alyse and Tanner would go to sleep in their room and I'd sleep on their (very comfy, honestly) couch.  I may have actually been more comfortable on their couch than I am in my bed at home.  Then, when Ezra woke up (always before Harp) in the morning, he'd get wheeled back into Alyse and Tanner's room.  When Harp got up we started the day.  The main downsides were that poor Harp had to wait well past her bedtime to go to bed at night and that sometimes Harp didn't sleep as long as usual because of being in a more public place.  It was actually really sad at night when she was waiting for Ezra to fall asleep so she could sleep.  This kid truly loves her sleep, when it's time for it, and she'd ask for a "nap" over and over and lay on the floor.  Then, when we'd let her know it was time for bed she would literally cheer!  She'd say, "yaaaaaay!"  Poor thing.

Sometimes she'd end up on the couch with me after waking up in her crib, but she wouldn't stay asleep there for long.
One day we had just enough time, after naps, to go to the Miami Children's Museum.  We only got to spend under an hour there, but the kids loved it.


Always goes for the banana.



So they wouldn't fight over them we told the kids that the pink chair was Harper's and the other was Ezra's.  They'd sit in them together and be super cute.  Also, for some reason EVERY time Harper sat in the chair she'd request for me to sing her a song.  So weird.

Ezra is 7 weeks older than Harp and A LOT bigger, but this picture makes him look way bigger, compared to her, than he really is!
Went to the beach, which is right across the street from Alyse's apartment.  Harp had mixed feelings.  The sand was too hot for her.  It wasn't that hot, but she's a bit of a wimp.  Also, the waves were a little threatening.  She enjoyed playing with the water in this bucket though!  Also, I made this reversible sun hat for her.  It's white on the inside.




Harper LOVED Tanner.  She still randomly mentions him.



Early morning greetings.  Always happy to see each other.



Harp doesn't like to stay inside for very long.  Sometimes if she needed to get out and nothing was on the agenda I'd just take her for walks around the complex.  Sometimes we'd end up chilling in our pretty new car.
One day we went to a place called the Fruit and Spice Park.  It's pretty awesome.  It was swelteringly hot, but awesome.  Basically, it's a show orchard, where they have a ton of different tropical plants and guides who show you around and let you eat whatever is in season.  When we went we didn't get a guide, but Alyse had been enough times to basically be a guide.  We ate lots of interesting things.  Also, they were having a blues and BBQ festival so we enjoyed some BBQ for lunch.


Probably Harper's favorite part was this guy who was demonstrating a bubble wand that blows HUGE bubbles.  She was in heaven.






Do you see how hot and sweaty she was?  Poor thing isn't used to the heat yet.
On the way home she fell asleep in the car.  Alyse took Ezra up while I stayed with her.  After she woke up we waited for Alyse to open the door to the complex and I notice Harp just looked pathetic.  She reminded me of a little orphan.  She was sweaty and gross, with bits of granola bar all over her, a ribbon wrapped haphazardly around her head and only one shoe on.  Plus, she wasn't wearing her glasses, so she had a nice little lazy eye to complement the look.




Woke up a little too early one morning and I told her I was still tired and was going to keep sleeping (Harp and I have an understanding).  After playing by herself for a little bit, she followed suit.


Fell asleep reading a book.

This was by far her best nap because we napped in Alyse's room and she got to sleep on the bed with me after she woke up.

33 Weeks


Harper and Ezra playing:


Every single time we walked to the elevator in Alyse's apartment building Ezra and Harper played this game where they'd fall down and say, "oops!" over and over.  They thought it was hilarious.


Another outing we took was to the Vizcaya Estate.  It was built by a big, rich, tycoon back in the earliy-ish 1900's.  It's grounds are really, really pretty.  They mostly reminded me of a temple in the jungle a la Angkor Wat or something.  It was also right on the water.  Alyse and I decided to do a pretty informal maternity/mommy-daughter photo shoot while there.  By informal I mean that I didn't even put makeup on!  Whoops.  I really like a lot of these, but I'm sure makeup would have been an improvement :).  Harp is cute.  I like her.  I'm not sure why but they're all out of order and I'm too lazy to fix it.
















Harper and Ezra liked pretending to take naps in this spot.  They'd run all over but had to go back to this spot to pretend to nap.  No other spot would do.








These ones make my heart leap.  We're buds.

Poor Harp had walked A LOT and it was hot.  We only had one stroller (which Ezra was in) and I was too hot and tired to hold her.
More Harper and Ezra playing:





In the elevator, on the way to church.

Perhaps my favorite "patch" picture ever.  Photo courtesy of Alyse, as are some of the others..
More Harper and Ezra playing.  They were so entertaining to watch:


The night after we got back from Vizcaya, Tom flew into town.  We had decided that instead of one of us flying home with Harp and one of us driving across country alone, we'd do it together.  That, right there, is a testament to how much I hate flying with toddlers.  Yup, I'd rather drive all the way across the country with one.  Plus, I missed Tom and didn't want to spend another 3+ days without him in Utah.  We further figured that the best way to drive across the country with a toddler was to drive primarily at night.  Originally, we thought it was only going to take approx. 36 hours and that we'd drive about 12 hours each night, so that it was mostly while she was asleep at night.  Unfortunately, LOTS of construction (like every 30 minutes the entire way) combined with some horrible weather that caused I-80 to close through all of Wyoming (last time we drove through Wyoming we saw a tornado and had to pull to the side of the road and wait out a wicked hail storm) it took more like 45 hours.

Anyway, Harp and I said goodbye to Alyse's family, picked Tom up from the airport and started driving straight from there.  We are hardcore...or crazy...or poor...or all 3.


The first night we headed to Nashville, TN, where my sister, Emily, lives.  It just happened to be 1/3 of the way through, which was great.  The nights of driving are all a bit of a blur, but basically Tom and I would take turns driving (but more Tom than me) while the other one slept in the 2nd row and Harp slept in the 3rd row.  In order to fit her car seat, in a reclined position (for better sleeping) in the 3rd row, we had to have the 2nd row pulled forward quite a bit.  It left VERY little room for maneuvering, especially while pregnant.  Let's just say the sleeping was very fitful.  It's funny to me now to think about.  Like, wow, what a miserable few days!!!  Anyway, we got to Em's around noon, I think.  We did a combination of visiting, sleeping and eating.  It was kind of sad to only be there for a few hours and we seriously considered just staying an extra day.  Unfortunately, we still had to find a new apartment in Salt Lake, which was getting urgent, and Tom only had so many days off.  We made the hard choice and left around 7 that night.

Harp had lots of fun playing with her cousins though :) .


Josie entertaining Harper by being a flower :) :

  

Harp being a flower.  Note the leaf in her hand.
That night, as we drove, Harp started seeming pretty sick.  In Miami I had suspected that she had a UTI and had taken her in.  Her test results weren't back yet at this point, so I still didn't know but knew something was going on.  Turned out it was just case of croup....I guess.  I still don't really know.  I just know that the tests said no UTI.  You're probably wondering how it could seem like those 2 things at the same time.  Just trust me.  Anyway, poor thing was coughing all night and REALLY miserable and clingy as soon as she woke up.  We stayed in Oogallala, NE that night where Alyse's dad happens to own a hotel and was kind enough to let us stay for free!  Tom and I took turns napping during the day again.  While he napped I tried to take her to the local library.  She fell asleep in the car on the way there:

It was only like 3 minutes away and it's impossible to adjust the carseat straps once she's in it.  I realized too late that they weren't long enough with the coat and since it was so close and she was miserable and sick and would have thrown a fit if I took her out to adjust it, I just buckled the bottom.  Judge if you like.  When I parked she was asleep with the chest strap under her glasses.
Anyway, the library was a disaster.  She was so miserable she basically cried the whole time.  At least Tom got a nap though.  You do what you have to do.

We left again in the evening for our last leg. Originally this leg was supposed to be a few hours shorter and we were so happy to be ending on a shorter leg and looking forward to getting home fairly early in the morning.  Then, as we drove up to Cheyenne, in the middle of the night, we discovered that I-80 was closed.  We had to make a detour down to Colorado and take I-70 instead.  It added something like 4 hours to the drive and was largely along snowy mountain roads.  Awesome.

I don't know if I've ever been SO happy to see the Utah and Salt Lake Valley's.  We were SO tired.  It was really hard.  People ask us all the time if it was worth it, and you know what?  It was.  You know why?  Because we're poor and that's what you do when you're poor.  And now, with any luck, we have a car that will last us 10 years instead of 5.

I wish I could say that when we got back we just took the rest of the week off and rested.  Unfortunately, I feel like we still haven't rested to this day (May 13th).  As soon as we got back it was all-out apartment searching.

We did take a nap after we got home though:


Harper for some reason started saying, "bless your body!" all the time.  We have no clue where she got it.  She'll walk around the house saying it with all different tons and levels of volume.  It cracks us up.  Here's a video of her doing it:


Another thing that would have been HUGE in any other month but this one is that we got rid of Harper's binkie!  We knew we wanted to get rid of it before Kid 2 came and we were getting even more anxious to because she was getting even more attached to it.  Harper has ALWAYS loved her binkie, but lately she'd been wanted to have at least 2 binkies at once and had been wanting them almost constantly.  This was especially an issue because she was always losing them and wanting me to find them for her.  This would happen like every 10 minutes and if I didn't find them right away for her she'd throw a big fit.  So tiring and annoying.  We decided to do it cold turkey the first Sunday after getting back from Miami.  We hated to do it amidst all the other changes going on, but it was the best time we could come up with!  Anyway, we were prepared to be strong and not give in and had been assured that it may be hard for a few days but that she'd get over it.  Well, I really think it was a miracle because it was SO much easier than I ever thought it could be!  We took it away after church and she DIDN'T EVEN ASK FOR IT.  Not even when we put her down for her nap!  This is extremely uncharacteristic of her!  It was bizarre, but great.  She didn't have a harder time falling asleep for her nap and we eventually heard her asking for it while she was in her crib, but she still fell asleep without really crying.  Then, she didn't ask for it for several more hours after waking up.  We went to Tom's sister's house that night and she usually asks for it immediately when we get in the car.  She didn't ask for it on the way up or at Em's house.  She threw a fit about it on the way home, but eventually fell asleep without it, in the car.  Over the next couple of days she had a couple of rougher naps (but far from every nap or bedtime and not THAT rough) and asked for it once or twice (but that's all!) and after that she hasn't asked for it or struggled to sleep without it.  Part of me is just a little sad because I feel like taking away the binkie made her grow up a little.  I wasn't prepared for that.  I honestly wish I could just give it to her every once in a while because she loves it so much and taking it away seemed a little sad.  But you know what?  I think it was definitely the right choice.

As mentioned earlier, Tom's sister, Jen, was in town this whole time.  And, as mentioned, one Sunday when they were still here we went to Tom's sister, Em's, house.  There was this dinosaur costume all the kids were trying on and Harp was SO cute in it.  She just kept running around saying, "rawr!" in her little-Harp voice.



Harp doing her favorite thing ever - flower picking.  Interesting fact.  Between yellow dandelions, white puff ball dandelions (which she calls bubble flowers because you blow them) and the dead ones with no petals or seeds, she will pick the dead ones every single time.  Also, not long after I took this video, the landlord had the lawn mowed.  I saw him doing it and my stomach churned because she'd been soooo enjoying the dandelions.  When she saw the mowed grass for the first time she just kept looking around, saying, "Ohhhhh!  Ohhhhh fwowers!  Ohhhhh!"  It was so, so sad.

  






One morning, we just needed to have a good day, so we took a walk to the corner Great Harvest and ate breakfast outside on their patio.

Waiting for food

Happy Harp.
It was a good idea.  We enjoyed the food and Harp enjoyed watching the busses and trucks pass by.  Writing this makes me a little sad because we've moved and I miss this area and there aren't any busses passes by where we are anymore.


Then, we headed to the Children's Museum.  It wasn't open yet, so we just wandered around the mall for a bit.  Harp picked these flowers from a topiary before I could stop her.  Whoops.




Harper REALLY enjoyed the water at the Children's Museum.  Usually she barely notices it because she's too short to see over the top.  I thought she'd lose interest fast, so I didn't try to put a waterproof vest on her, but I was SO wrong.  She had SO much fun splashing in it and everyone around was laughing at her too.  Just watch the last 15 seconds or so of this.  It's so cute.  Luckily, I had a jacket for her so I just took off her shirt and she wore that the rest of the time.


She's in a helicopter but she kept calling this her carseat and asking for me to turn the music on (like she does in the car).  The boys hanging above her thought she was funny and kept watching/laughing at her.

Had to try on both of her friend, Emorie's, coats one day.  Girl needs some dress up clothes.

So, a little about the apartment search.  We needed to find a bigger place before kid 2 arrived and searched VERY thoroughly for a couple of months.  We really wanted to stay close to the area we were in, but we needed to find a place in our price range and we didn't want a dump.  We looked in every way we could think of, including just driving street to street.  Several times we found a place that we thought would work and started to pursue it, only to have something complicate it and have it fall through.  This happened over and over.  What we thought would be a relatively normal search turned into an impossible one, and my due date got closer and closer.  Finally, after lots of thought (and stress) we decided that perhaps our search wasn't supposed to work out.  All along we had the option to move back to Tom's parents' house, in South Jordan, where we lived 2 years ago.  We'd been fighting it though, because we had been SO much happier living downtown than in the suburbs and because we really loved our ward (church congregation - based on where you live).  But, we're wondering if maybe getting roped into a lease would have been a bad idea (read between the lines if you like).  Plus, this arrangement is definitely cheaper.  Plus, Harper LOVES being around Baba and Papa (Tom's parents) and having a backyard.

This move has really been hard for me though.  Don't get me wrong, Tom's parents have been GREAT.  They are NOT the problem.  The problem is that I loved living where we lived and I had made friends there.  I felt like I was in a really good situation there (other than our actual apartment). Now, I'm back in the suburbs, which I just can't get over my dislike for.  They're quiet and boring and not homey to me.  When I go outside there's no one on the street and it feels like all the houses are empty.  When I went outside at our old apartment, BOOM, the world was there.  There were pedestrians and buses and shops and dogs and it felt like a living place.  South Jordan feels dead to me.  Plus, I miss my friends!  Like, a lot!  And I miss Harper having other kids to play with.  We just went to a get-together with some of our Salt Lake friends last night and Harper was SO happy to see a few of her friends there.  And they were happy to see her too!  There's this little boy who's, like, 4 who she has a crush on.  He likes her too.  They're just really cute together.

The other thing is, moving is exhausting...especially when you're very pregnant.  We did it all super fast too.  In fact, I don't think I've ever gotten everything unpacked as quickly as I did this time.  Usually I have stuff lying around in boxes for weeks or even months.  This time it was a matter of days, despite the added difficulty of doing it with a toddler around.  Hello nesting.  And hello extreme exhaustion.

I gave Harper a piece of tape while we were cleaning the old apartment and here's what happened:


Taking advantage of the backyard.


More backyard.  We pulled out the water table one day and Harp was in Heaven.
Took her to a pretty cool park, that's Old West themed, in West Jordan.  She's not really old enough to fully appreciate it, but she liked this "train" (carriage?):


So happy about her bouquet of dead dandelions.
After playing at the Old West park we went to story-time at the library, which ended with this:



Got some new videos for Harp from the library so I could actually get some things done.  She kept trying to grab everything on screen.  Clearly she doesn't watch much TV...


I just love watching Harper and Tom together in the kitchen.  She loves her daddy.
Whew.  Welp, that was April.  It was crazy and hard and I'm pretty glad it's over.  Now if we can just get May to calm down a little bit so that we can have a break before the baby!  I'm writing this on May 13th, so we're already significantly through May.  I could have a baby any time (due May 30th).  By next blog post, he could be here!  Or he could not.  Who knows!  Anyway, until then!