29 June 2009

Big Girl Bed: the Update

I know many of you have been wondering how Audrey is doing with her Big Girl Bed transition. I am here today to give you the update. And those of you who haven't been lying awake at night wondering if the Christian Clan is lying awake at night are probably just in denial, so this update's for you too.


As with most of the transitions and changes we've gone through with Audrey, she has proven to be just as adept at handling this one. My anxiety and worry made me pretty high-strung that first week. I worried that she was just too little, too young to understand and to grasp what was happening. That first week was a challenge. I took you minute by minute through the first four nights.

Well, night #5 went great. Not a peep - from the time I laid her down to the time I heard light tapping on her door the next morning.

Night #6 was pretty great too - just a small hiccup in the middle of the night when she awoke and started crying. But she went back to bed after I came in and soothed her for a few minutes, and only cried for about 5 minutes before falling asleep for the rest of the night.

Night #7 was just like night #5. And that has become the norm. We have our bedtime routine, I lay her down after singing to her softly and she goes right to sleep until the next morning! Only occasionally waking up in the middle of the night. And she does really well for her daytime nap too - just lets me lay her down and she goes right to sleep - only occasionally crying for a few minutes before falling asleep.

This is what it looks like:

What a beautiful sight!

The moral of this story: Never underestimate my Audrey! She makes my dreams come true!

17 June 2009

High Heels, Eyeliner and Pedicures, Oh My!

Have I mentioned that Audrey is all girl? She is. And that's how she's been since the day she was born. From the very beginning she has been so feminine. She is such a sweetheart; she is dainty, petite, and giggly. I've already written that she loves to walk around the house in my high heels. She has begun to show some interest in some of my other shoes but the high heels are by far her favorite and most sought after.

Well, she has officially expanded her girly repertoire.

Last Sunday, as I was getting ready for church, putting on some makeup, I turned my back from Audrey (who was playing with my blush brush - another favorite object) for about 10 seconds to apply my mascara. When I turned back to look at her, this is what I saw:

She had taken my black eyeliner and attempted to do her own makeup for church! I was just amazed that she would already be aware that the black stick-like pen thing was for her eyes - people who say babies and toddlers aren't very observant or smart are ridiculous! She knew exactly what she should do with that makeup. Like I said, 100% girl!

Another piece of evidence that supports her innate femininity: she loves to have her toenails painted. Personally, I hold my sister, Megan, responsible for this one. Last March, while we were in California visiting, Megan painted Audrey's toenails. I couldn't tell if she liked it or really even noticed it after it was done. Then, a few weeks after we got back from our trip, while I was in the bathroom painting my toenails, Audrey walks in, notices what I'm doing and starts to make the sound that corresponds to something she wants while pointing to my toes and then to her toes. The pointing and grunting only got more pronounced and intense as I continued painting mine and not hers; so when I finished, I put her on my lap and painted hers as well. And she giggled the whole time. Ever since that day, every time that I find I need to refresh my pedicure, Audrey is right there begging (in her own special, toddler way) for me to do hers as well. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I feel a little silly that my daughter and I have matching pedicures...

but I figure there are worse things in life. And it's just so stinkin' cute that she loves having her toenails painted - there's no way I could refuse when it's such a simple way to brighten her day! And really, whatever brightens her day, usually brightens mine too!

12 June 2009

Chasing a Dream: A Full Night's Sleep

I will begin this post by warning you that this is a touchy subject and you will probably get way more details and information than you really need... but I need to tell my story... so here it goes....

Our daughter, Audrey, is 18 months old. Here she is:

She's cute. She's so girly and feminine. She is spunky and already has a lot of attitude and personality. She gives crusties on demand these days:

and we think she's hilarious. She has been an amazing addition to our lives. She has been a good baby. I think all babies are good, but what I mean is she's been relatively easy, I think. She has been right on track developmentally, and so far, she's been good at making transitions. She's active and playful and a ton of fun. We can only hope that this new one:

will be just as wonderful and just as much fun. We are so excited for Audrey's little brother to join our family - in just a little over a month. With this new boy on the way, there has been a lot to do. One of those things is to help Audrey make the transition from sleeping in her crib to sleeping in a "big girl bed". I had read somewhere that if you are making the transition because a new baby is on the way, it's best to get the older sibling adjusted about a month before the new baby is born so there isn't a sense that the older one is being kicked out or replaced by the new baby. Who knows if such things are true? It seems to make sense on some levels... so last week we moved all of Audrey's things into her new room with her big girl bed, and Monday night was her first night "sleeping" in it. And so far, it has been a long week! Here are the play by plays on each night. (As you read, if you notice anything that we should do differently, things that have worked for you, I would welcome any suggestions you may have!)

Monday, Night #1:
We did everything as usual for her bedtime routine: a bath, some milk, quiet play, brushing teeth, vitamins, and then we laid her down in her new bed and quietly left the room (this is exactly what we've done with her when she was in her crib - and she never had a hard time going to bed and falling asleep on her own in her crib). We've also always just closed her bedroom door at night, but we felt since she can get in and out of bed on her own now, we didn't want to shut her in - so instead of shutting the door, we put up a child's gate in her doorway and closed the door, but kept it ajar so she didn't feel like we were exiling her or abandoning her in her room. Well, the instant I had closed her door most of the way and closed our bedroom door, Audrey was already at the gate, in the doorway of her room, crying. We decided to give her 10 minutes to see if she would calm herself down. No luck. I went into her room and laid down next to her and calmed her down by singing her favorite primary songs and cuddling with her. And she was calm, but every time I tried to move or even shift my position, she would frantically grab for me. So, then I decided that maybe I'd just lay with her until she fell asleep and then quietly sneak away... it took about 45 minutes for this to happen, but I was finally able to extricate myself from her and slither out of her room without her waking. Victory!

It was a very short-lived victory. When I got to our room, I remembered I had some clothes in the washer that needed to be put in the dryer - so I went downstairs to do that. While I was doing that, I heard Audrey start crying again - she must've heard me going down our stairs (we have hard-wood floors and some are kind of squeaky). When I got back upstairs, Adam had taken over my position, and was laying next to her, softly humming songs. It took him about 45 minutes as well for Audrey to finally fall asleep enough to allow him to leave without disturbing her. And this time she stayed asleep... until about 2:30am. She stood at the gate in her doorway and wailed for about 10 minutes before I got up to comfort her. I laid with her and calmed her down for about 20 minutes - and then I started to feel sick, like I was going to throw up, as that inevitability became clear, I took her into Adam so I could hurry to the bathroom. When I was done, Adam was back in bed with Audrey trying to get her to fall asleep again. I fell asleep, only to find out the next morning that Adam had just slept in Audrey's bed with her because every time he tried to move, she would wake up. None of us got very high quality sleep that night.

Tuesday, Night #2:
All day Tuesday I was filled with anxious thoughts, questioning if this was the right decision, if Audrey was really ready to make the transition. Then, her normal naptime came around and she took a nap just fine in her big girl bed and I had a burst of optimism. And night #2 was great! We did her normal bedtime routine, I laid her in bed with her favorite stuffed animal and blanket and quietly left the room, closing the door most of the way behind me. This time it took a minute for her to get out of bed and make her way to the gate in her doorway. She cried there for 3 minutes, and then the sound of her cry moved to where her bed is and she cried from there for another 3 minutes before stopping and falling asleep. A mini miracle! The next, slightly bigger miracle was that she stayed asleep until 6:30am! I was so excited! I would've been more excited if it had been until closer to 8:00am, but I was just thrilled she didn't wake up in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, Night #3:
I was hopeful that night #3 would be similar to #2. In some ways it was. In others, not so much. It began like night #2. I put her in bed and left the room. She came to her gated doorway and cried for 2 minutes before going back to her bed and falling asleep. Hallelujah! But then Adam got home from his POST class, and Haiku (our obnoxious Pug) was so excited that the noise from her toenails tap-dancing on our wood floors woke Audrey up. I was not pleased. And Audrey definitely was not pleased. She cried at her door for about 15 minutes before moving to her bed, where she cried for another 5 minutes before falling asleep. She stayed asleep until about 2am when she was up again to cry at her doorway. I waited 10 minutes before I went in to calm her down and help her go back to sleep. I laid with her, holding her close and singing songs, until she fell asleep and then I would try to move, and she would wake up and get panicky about me trying to leave, so the process would start all over again. This went on for a little over an hour. Then I decided that I didn't want to start a worse habit (Audrey feeling like she needs to have me or Adam sleep with her) and that it may just be necessary for her to cry herself to sleep and learn to self soothe better so that she doesn't rely on one of us always being there in the middle of the night. So, I told her it was sleepy time and that I was going to leave the room, and that I loved her. I gave her a kiss, tucked her in and quietly left the room. Immediately, she was in her doorway protesting my decision with sobs and tears. She cried for 10 minutes before Adam couldn't take it anymore and went to "take a turn". He ended up sleeping the rest of the night with Audrey.

Thursday, Night #4:
Thursday morning I talked to Adam about not wanting to let Audrey get used to us going in and sleeping with her. Obviously, she wants one of us with her. She feels safe, comfortable, and secure when we're right next to her... but that will only make it harder to break the habit later. Adam agreed. His only concern was that it's so hard to fall back asleep after being awaken by her crying that he wasn't sure what to do other than responding to her so that we can all get back to sleep sooner. I suggested that maybe he could sleep downstairs until Audrey is adjusted better - and since I don't have a problem falling back asleep, I would take care of Audrey and hopefully help her build her sleeping skills. I am naturally a gifted sleeper - it's one of my hidden talents.

Thursday night went well, at first. I laid her down and left the room. This time she didn't even make a peep or move from her bed. She fell asleep soon after I left the room! She only slept for about 15 minutes, woke up and cried for 3 minutes - staying in her bed - but then fell back asleep. Not too bad. This time I also kept Haiku outside until after Adam returned from his POST class so Haiku wouldn't make so much noise and wake up Audrey. It worked! Audrey slept!

Until 3:04am when she must've decided she was lonely, so she cried at her doorway until 3:15am when I went in to comfort her. (Adam took that as his cue to go downstairs and sleep - guessing that it might be a very long - and loud - night for Audrey.) I laid down with her and sang to her and then I told her I was going to leave and that she would stay in her bed because it was still sleepy time. I left her room at 3:25am, she came to the doorway a minute or so later and cried for 8 minutes and then went to her bed and cried another 2 minutes before falling asleep on her own. YAY! Then, she woke up at 3:56am and came to her doorway and started to cry again. This time I decided I would give her 25 minutes before getting up to comfort her. She cried the whole time. I went in and picked her up and held her close while I swayed her gently. I told her that I was so sorry she was having such a hard time sleeping in her new bed, but that I wanted to help her be a good sleeper, so I wasn't going to lay down with her, but that I would stay with her for a few minutes and sing a few songs and then I would lay her down and I would sleep in my bed. So, I swayed with her and sang to her, and then I laid her down. She stayed in her bed for 2 minutes before coming to her doorway. She cried for 5 minutes in the doorway and then for 3 minutes in her bed before falling asleep... for the rest of the night. So, from about 4:48am until 8:00am, we all slept fabulously! Yay!

I feel like we definitely made some progress last night. I wasn't in Audrey's room with her nearly as long as I had been on the other nights. Audrey returned to her bed without me putting her back in, and she fell asleep without one of us right next to her. Hopefully, the amount of times she wakes in the middle of the night diminishes and the length of time she cries will decrease as well. I want to be optimistic and hope that she will be sleeping through the night in the next week or two. We'll make the dream of a full night's sleep a reality!

06 June 2009

Skype and my Sister

Since I'm pretty sure I am usually just about the last person on the planet to know about new technologies or programs or fun things, I don't think it would be a stretch that everyone now reading this has already heard of or actually used Skype. If by some bizarre chance you have not heard of Skype, let me enlighten you. (Well, I really can't enlighten you too much because I just started using it and am still a novice... and as with all things technological, I will continue to be a novice for the rest of my days. It's sad but true. But I am ok with it. Really. I am. No seriously, I am.)

Anyway, (here's a random fact: one of my biggest pet peeves is people who say or write Anyways. There's no S in anyway! Anyways is not a word!)


Anyway, Skype is this great invention where you can connect with all of your family and friends and work associates and acquaintances (well those who have downloaded Skype) FOR FREE online. You can IM with them. You can make phone calls using your computer and you can even make video phone calls over the computer through Skype FOR FREE. It's amazing. It's ingenious. I wish I'd thought of it.

At this point you're probably wondering where my sister fits in with all of this. You might not be wondering that, but if you are keep reading. Back in March I went on a two week trip to my hometown in California with Audrey to see my sister and her husband and my parents. It was a great two weeks. I threw a very cool gravy pitcher on my dad's pottery wheel, we went to the coast (as any Northern Californian knows it is not the beach, it is the coast), we drove around, I ate at my favorite places (The Mutt Hut, Oharu's, Jaws, and Super Taco more than once... Thai Cafe: I'll get you next time!). But mostly, I just spent time with my sister, Megan. And that was really the whole point. Let me tell you something about my sister. If I were allowed to have a favorite person, she would be it. Wait, why can't I have a favorite person? I can? Okay. She is my favorite person. In the world. Ever. Period. Amen.

This was not always the case. We are two years apart and when we were little we were always around each other, which was sometimes a good thing:

and sometimes, not so much:

Our relationship was pretty turbulent. We fought a lot. We laughed a lot. We gave each other crusties a lot. We shared a room until I was 15. For any two girls that have shared a room during their formative childhood and teenage years, this should be enough said. Am I right? So, through no fault of our own (ha!) we sometimes struggled to get along. But then Megan graduated high school and left for college. And I forgot all of the fights, the drama, the pettiness... and I really missed her.

Since my sister first left home, I've spent most of my time missing her and wishing that we lived closer together. It used to be that I was in California and she was in Utah. Then I moved to Utah to hang out with her for a summer... during which time I grew to kinda like Utah (unbelievable! unthinkable! almost blasphemous!) and decided to stay a little longer... during which time I started to date this guy named Adam and decided to stay a little longer... during which time I became engaged to Adam and decided to stay a little longer... during which time I got married to Adam and decided to stay a little longer... and now here I am still in Utah eight years later when I was only intending to hang out with my sister for a summer. And the cruelest part about it is after I moved here to be with her, and we both got married in the summer of 2002, she and her husband decided to move to Oregon! And then after a while, they moved to California. So now she's in California and I'm in Utah. And I continue to miss her ALL THE TIME. Especially now that I'm a little older and I realize what a blessing she is in my life. She is more than my sister. She is my best friend. And to have the two rolled into one? That's just awesome.

So, back to my visit this past March... (holy tangent!) when I got back from Utah I was seriously having Megan withdrawals. A few days after returning home it was my birthday and Megan sent me an email with a recipe for a "perfect chocolate cake" and said that she would make it for me if she were here... so we decided that we would make it together... over Skype. So a few days later we did a video call over Skype and baked the "perfect chocolate cake" together - me in my kitchen in Utah and she in her kitchen in California! And it really felt like we were together. We talked, we laughed, we baked, and we bonded. It was awesome. Since then, we've tried to bake or cook something about once a week over Skype. We trade off picking a recipe, and we synchronize our watches... and we talk and laugh and sometimes cry over Skype while we make some glorious treat or savory entree. And it almost feels like we live closer. And it almost feels like she's not so far away. Almost.

The point of all of this?
I love my sister. I love Skype. You should try it. It just might change your life.

02 June 2009

Audrey: a photo retrospective

Last Friday I took Audrey to the pediatrician for her 18 month well child check up. 18 months! Time is so strange - in some ways it feels much longer than 18 months and in other ways it seems much, much shorter. But then when I compare an old photo of her, like this one:

(in which she is just about one week old) to a more recent photo of her, like this one:

(which was taken a week or so ago) I realize how big she's gotten. She's walking around in my high heels - only my high heels, she has no interest in any of my other shoes - and she's saying more words and communicating and asserting herself. And it's a beautiful thing. And I feel very lucky to be her mom.

I mean, how could I NOT feel lucky?

I love it when she gives crusties...

and when she appreciates me...

and when she smiles...

especially when she smiles...

are you kidding me?! I also love it when she seems to be posing...

or just waiting for me to put the stinkin' camera down...

either way, I have loved getting to capture my beautiful girl over these last 18 months. And I'm looking forward to many more months and pictures and memories.

And you thought I was just kidding about her walking around in my high heels! It's her favorite thing!

No kidding! And we all feel okay about it... as long as it makes her smile like this: