Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Aggie" Becky and The Big Cut

My sister Becky made it here to meet her new niece and back safe and sound--no small feat in February when the weather could wreak havoc on your travel plans. The kids loved having her here (as did I since it meant a pair of helping hands and someone to get up with kruf so I could recouperate from the long evenings spent up with Ms. 2 a.m. herself--aka TEUF).Kieran especially enjoyed his time with his "aggie" Becky, which was what he used to call her before he got the hang of saying "aunt." I kinda like the way "aggie Becky" sounds, so "aggie Becky" you'll be evermore in my mind, dear sis!Teagan put on a good show for Becks, too. She started "talking" while her dear auntie was here. They had quite a few lovely conversations, mostly consisting of coos from Teagan. It was so wonderful that Becky got to be here for that milestone!Alas, Becky had to head back east after much too short of a visit, and Kieran especially missed her. So, how did I cheer him up? Why, with his first ever set of finger paints. Boy does he love them! He has this funny habit of calling any and all art activities "cutter book" (coloring book). So, when he sees crayons or markers or his finger paints he exclaims "cutter book!", thereby indicating his desire to paint or "cutter." One day I had him strapped into his high chair painting when I ran out to use the bathroom. This is what I returned to find: Um, paint is supposed to go on the paper my friend, not on you! (Unless, of course, you are David circa 2000/2001 when he decided he wanted to dye his skin a whole bunch or random splotchy colors--good thing he knew me by then, as I talked him out of it. In that vein, however, on second thought, Kieran, your painting preferences are just further proof that you truly ARE your father's son, just in case you have any lingering questions about that David...) Anyway, pardon that digression my friends. You've gotta love kids' creativity when it comes to art. Of course, David and I think Kieran is a genius no matter what he does.On the sibling front, things are going well. Kieran still, for the most part (say, six times out of ten), ignores Teagan except when she's crying or has something or is doing something that he's interested in as you can see in these pictures:Notice how in this one, Kieran is thoroughly engrossed in something else. He just wants the playmat because Teagan is using it. When she's not laying on it, he has zero interest in it. Teagan, however, loves to share and play with big brother. This big smile was directed at Kieran. Needless to say, I think she's going to love him a ton!

I'm sure that by this point in this post you're all wondering what "the Big Cut" refers to. Never fear--it does NOT refer to anything terrible happening to any of us. You see (and here I go digressing again because this story needs a bit of background info), pretty much since Teagan was born, Kieran has been dealing with one sort of illness or another. All of them, however, have included a persistent runny/stuffy nose. While this typically would be a bit challenging in and of itself, it becomes doubly challenging when one is dealing with the troublesome limitation of only having two hands with which to comfort, console, rock, and otherwise tend to one's two young ones under the age of two. Inevitably, when I would be nursing or rocking Teagan, Kieran would want "Mommy Up! Mommy Up!! Up! Up! Up! Mommy! Up!" Despite my attempts to explain to him that I couldn't pick him up/hold him but that I could sit and snuggle him on the couch or bed or floor, he only wanted "Mommy Up!" Tears, and the resultant snotty nose, would soon ensue when I couldn't drop everything (especially Teagan) in less than two minutes to give him what he wanted. Then he would do the thing I grew to hate more than words can express. He would wipe his nose--yes his snotty, runny nose--in my hair. Ponytail bound or not, he found a way to smear his snot in my hair. Now friends, my hair was not what you would call short. It was quite long. And, it is quite fine (as in texture, not style), so rocking the mom ponytail everyday, all day, would result in lots of hair breakage, which just looks messy when you've got long hair pulled back in a ponytail all day long. So, one day last week, on a particularly bad day in the Ull-Ferg household, I had had it. In my mind something just snapped. I was (internally, of course) saying, "If someone wipes their snot or spits up in my hair ONE more time, things will get pretty nasty around here." Then and there, I called up a stylist who had been recommended by a friend and made an appointment for the next evening.

Now, I had been toying with getting a dramatic cut for quite some time. The long hair was really getting to me in the fall when it was still like 90 degrees in October (OCTOBER, people, OCTOBER! We do NOT live in the South!), but last summer my stylist, whom I LOVEDLOVEDLOVED (Hannah, move back, PLEASE!) moved out of town, and I am always nervous about getting my hair cut by someone new. But, the snot-wiping and spitting-up made me take the plunge with someone totally new to me. So, friends, here is a picture of me moments before I left for the salon: And here is the new 'do:
It's definitely a change. I'm still not sure if I like it or not. The bangs are too short to tuck behind my ear (Hello! I did say I wanted to make sure it was something easy and simple b/c I had two babies at home. BABIES, I tell you, BABIES! Bangs that annoy the life out of me do not equal easy and simple!) I kinda feel like it needed to be thinned out a bit more so it wouldn't create a mushroom on my head. But, as David pointed out, it's going to take some getting used to. It's not what I'm accustomed to seeing on my head, so I'm sure that's part of it, but I do think that part of it is that there was still some cutting to be done to make it a bit easier to shape and lie the way I wanted it to. Oh well, c'est la vie. And, no one tops Hannah as best hairstylist I've ever had. (Please move back?? Please??)

Well, that's the news that's fit to print 'round these parts. We have some awesome videos of Kieran showing off his newest skills. Hopefully I'll be able to get them up sometime soon. Keep an eye out for them!

And, one last picture of Teagan in an adorable onesie from Anja:I love it (and her)! Thanks, Anja (and Casey & Nick)!

Friday, February 15, 2008

One Month Update

So, we've officially been a family of four for one month now. I can't believe it's been a month. It feels like so much less time. I think that's due to several things.

One, you know what you're doing a little bit better the second time around. It's not all brand-new-test-out-different-strategies-as-you-go because you know what works/what worked before, and you start out trying those things instead of starting from scratch. It certainly seems like we fell into some semblance of a routine so much earlier this time around.

Two, you have another wee one (or not-so-wee one--seriously, your former baby looks SO enormous compared to your newborn!) who demands a lot of your attention and energy. It's not all sitting around, napping/being bored while the baby sleeps. There is certainly a part of me that misses the amount of napping I did when Kieran was a newborn, but it is nice to have someone fun to play with when I'm not tired, and Kieran is a great playmate! When I am exhausted, though and can't muster up the energy to be a fun mom, he is certainly content to hone his newly acquire skill of using the mouse on the computer to play games online at PBS Kids. He can navigate the site really well and flits from game to game. His current favorites are Curious George (of course...), Super Why, and Word World. We figure that learning to use the computer will be a valuable asset in the future, plus it's educational (hello, it is PBS Kids, after all!). He works on letter, number and color recognition, among other things. We'll need to take a video of him using the computer. It's amazing, not to mention a big help when I just need a few minutes of relative calm...

Yesterday, however, I was feeling pretty good, so one our activities was that we made cupcakes for Valentine's Day, and Kieran had a blast. (Remember what his smile looks like...) He loves using the "mickie" (aka mixer) and shouts with glee every time we use it (It is second only to the "wack-youm"--aka vacuum--in terms of the amount of delight it elicits from Kieran. Clearly he is my child--a clean house and yummy baked goods top his list of the simple pleasures in life...). You can see how much he enjoyed making the cupcakes! And, yes, I had to quell the panic I felt rising when I contemplated how much stain treating I was going to have to do to his clothes. Next time we make chocolate anything I'll dress him more appropriately, like maybe in one of David's t-shirts with holes in the armpits that he REFUSES to allow me to remove from his closet...oops, sorry dear!

I do think, though, that part of why Kieran likes using the mixer is because I let him sit on the counter while we're using it, and while my attention is diverted elsewhere he can into all kinds of things that he otherwise doesn't have access to. All I have to say is that it's a good thing that I remember to always move the knives when we're baking!

Now, where was little miss Teagan while we were baking? Why, snug as a bug, asleep on momma's chest. I mean, who wouldn't fall asleep when you're nice and cozy and have such a cushiony place to rest your head. I sometimes wish someone would carry me around like that! (any takers???)

Kieran alternates between totally ignoring Teagan (she DOES sleep like 20 hours out of the day...) and loving on her. He does test the water occasionally, though, to see what we'll do or say when he does something to her that he knows he's not supposed to do, like swat at her. I don't think it's any big surprise when we tell him that's not okay, although he is very intrigued by the idea of burping Teagan. Sometimes when he hits Teagan and we tell him that's not okay and that it can give her pain he'll respond with "Bee-Ats burp" (Baby X burp), and then I need to explain that we only pat Teagan's back to burp her, not her face or belly or arm... I think they'll end up being good friends, though. Kieran seems to love Teagan more often than not. :)

As for Teagan, she is growing like a weed! She went for her one month check-up on her one-month birthday, and she weighed 12 pounds even(!) and was 22.5 inches long. That's the 96th percentile in weight and 76th in height. Remarkably similar to her brother's one month stats. Obviously we needn't worry whether or not what we're doing is working... :) In other big Teagan news, she started smiling a couple of weeks ago. Not just "I'm gassy" smiling, but really smiling at people, especially mom and dad. She has the best smile. Our camera doesn't do it justice. (Don't get me started on our overpriced camera that only takes good, non-blurry, non-washed out pictures when you're outside in the daytime--Not so good when your kid is born in the middle of winter in the frigid, frozen prairie...) You really need to see it for yourself. I could look at it all day. (Wait a second, I DO look at it all day!) Seriously, if you could bottle her smile and give it to unhappy folks the world would be a happier place. As you can also see, her eyes are looking super blue these days. I was thinking that they might be green like David's at first, but they look more and more blue every day. I also think she looks a lot like my sister, Elizabeth, although David and Diane (David's sister) think she looks like a Ferguson. I suppose she could, it's just that I only know what Ullrich babies look like, and she looks like one to me...

Well, I think that's all the news that's fit to print at this moment. We're looking forward to visiting with "Aggie Becky" (my sis) for the next few days. She arrives tomorrow for a little visit and to meet the newest family member.

Hope you all had a good Valentine's Day and were able to spend it with the ones you love!