I took Lorelei to her 4-month well baby appointment yesterday. She weighs 13 lbs 4 oz (37th percentile) and is 24 inches long (36th percentile). Those measurements are right along her growth curve, so she is doing great. Her head circumference is in the 75th percentile (not sure what the actual measurement is). I asked the doctor if it was okay/normal for her head to be that much bigger than her body, and she said yes, and that it usually means the parents have big heads too. Hmm, I'll have to tell Chet that he and I have big heads...
According to my blog from June 2010, Sydney weighed exactly 13 lbs (but was wearing a soaking wet diaper when she was weighed) and measured 24 inches long (although the measuring device was questionable) at her 4-month appointment. Those measurements put her in approximately the 25th percentile, but are much closer to Lorelei's measurements than I would have guessed! Lorelei just seems so much chunkier to me than Syd was, and I know she is wearing larger clothing sizes than Sydney did at the same age. Perhaps I stuffed Sydney in clothes that were too small for her and didn't realize it.
Thank you for the compliments on Lorelei's 4-month pictures! Yes, I did take them. My "secret" (ha!) is taking them in the early afternoon, opening the blinds for natural light, turning off my flash, and using a super cooperative baby as a subject. :-)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! I received gorgeous roses from Chet (red, pink, peach, and yellow...my favorite) and NINE cards! Well, six of those cards were for the girls, but I can assure you we feel quite loved! Before Syd came along, I used to mail out Valentine cards...next year I resolve to start again. If you read this blog, trust me, I love you and appreciate you (and you will get a card next year if I have your address)!
Since our husbands were out of the country this Valentine's Day, I had a little get-together at my house last night. Five lovely ladies and four precious kiddos (in addition to Syd and Lorelei) gathered and we dined on slow-cooker chicken tacos and Dr. Pepper cupcakes. Yummy. It was nice to have people to chat with on an evening when most other people are going out to fancy dinners and skipping through Central Park holding hands (hmm, maybe not). A good distraction, nonetheless. Anyway, there were several photo-worthy moments last night, like when all of the kids (minus Lorelei) had lined themselves up on the couch and were sitting all smooshed together. Or when my friend Paige arrived with her teacup Yorkie puppy, and all of the girls started squealing and as if they had seen Justin Bieber. But, alas, I was never in a position to leap up for my camera, so I will have to rely on my memory to relive the evening.
Sydney and Lorelei had adorable Valentine's shirts and bows that I tried to dress them in as often as possible since February 1st. Sydney wore her shirt quite often (and her bow almost every day). Lorelei spit up on her shirt every time I put it on her. EVERY single time. To the extent where I had to take it off of her to wash it as soon as possible. And I carried her bow/headband around with me everywhere we went, but never once put it on her head. It seems that the effort was too great. Oh, well, next year.
Here is Syd in her Valentine get-up. (Ignore the semi-creepy smile.)
So, on to Mardis Gras... I'm not normally very consumed by Mardis Gras, but living in south Mississippi, you can't help but notice that it exists. And that's an understatement. This weekend will be the fourth weekend in a row that parades have occurred to mark the event (which is still six days away). I feel like grocery stores ONLY sell King Cakes this time of year. And when I called to make Lorelei's 4-month well-baby appointment? Here's how the conversation went:
Me: I'd like to make an appointment for my daughter. I know the offices are closed Monday for President's Day, but I'd like to make the appointment for that week. Do you have anything open Tuesday the 21st?
Her: You know that's Mardis Gras, right?
Me: Umm...yes? Are the offices closed Tuesday too?
Her: No, I just wanted you to know Tuesday the 21st is also Mardis Gras, in case you didn't realize that.
Me: Er, um, okay. Thank you!
Her: So do you still want me to tell you what's available Tuesday the 21st?
Me: Yes, I'm okay with scheduling an appointment that day.
WHAT?!?! Did I mention that schools are closed that day? And some private schools are closed ALL WEEK? Gotta love it...
So hats off to our current south Mississippi-Mardis Gras celebrating heritage!
I have been burning through books lately. Mostly because I am tied to our recliner several times a day for several minutes at a time to feed Lorelei. (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE having an excuse to sit and read!) Another reason is because I received a Kindle for Christmas. When they first gained popularity, I was indifferent to eReaders. It wasn't until Lorelei was born, and I was tied to that chair, that I considered getting one myself. I love actual books, but I'm at a point in my life where I have to be practical. It's not easy to hold a 700-page book open with one hand. It IS easy to hold a Kindle in one hand though! It's also easy to toss a Kindle into your diaper bag. I don't want to have to lug around a giant book in my diaper bag (which is already full), in hopes of getting a few pages read while I sit in a doctor's waiting room or wait for ballet practice to end (hehe...no, Sydney and Lorelei do not take ballet...yet). Anyway, I love the convenience of my Kindle.
I am currently reading the second book of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy (the second book is "The Girl Who Played with Fire"). This trilogy is awesome. For a couple of years I saw the books on the store shelves, but didn't think much about them (truthfully, I judged them by their covers...I know that is a no-no, especially for an English major). I thought they were going to be a sci-fi Harry Potter-Twilight-Matrix mixture. (I liked Harry Potter and Twilight, but am not a die hard sci-fi fan, and am certainly no fan of the Matrix movies). So I ignored them. I honestly have no idea what made me take a second look, but I purchased the eBook version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and LOVED it. It is so well-written, and so much different, storyline-wise, than I thought it would be. It's a thriller-type book, but not in a Stephen King way. It's also mysterious, but not in an Agatha Christie way. The author was (he is deceased) Swedish, so it's translated into English, which automatically makes it a little different. It's hard for me to put into words what makes it so great, but I think part of it is the great detail the author uses to tell the story. Not details of the scenery or the characters, but background details and details of what the characters are doing. This makes the books really long (the first book is 500+ pages, the second is 700+), but I truly think it's what makes you get lost in the story. Anyway, you can read all about the trilogy, as well as the movies they made of each of the books, here.
Speaking of the movies, I have not seen "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", but heard that it is pretty graphic. That makes sense, because parts of the book are pretty graphic. There are scenes from the book that make me cringe when I image them being played out on the big screen. I guess I just wanted to warn you in case you decided to go to the movies tonight (is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" even showing at the theater still?! I have no idea, I can't keep up...).
On Sydney's actual birthday, we had a little party at home after Chet got off work. We had a cupcake, opened all of the birthday cards that we received in the mail, and Sydney opened her presents from Chet and me.
Here she is giving her cupcake a hug. She gives hugs to a lot to things she likes, or to things she feels sorry for.
Holding up "two" fingers.
The tedious present-opening technique. I think she was saying "trash" when I took this picture (as in, "Daddy, throw this minuscule piece of paper in the trash before I tear another one off to hand to you").
This was my old copy of "The Cat in the Hat".
How do you like my wrapping paper?
We got her a backpack with her name embroidered on it. It is just her size, and I stocked it with her diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes. I fully intend on having her carry around her own belongings instead of over stuffing my diaper bag. In this picture, Chet is showing Syd his backpack.
Hmm, not exactly what I had in mind, but okay!
We got her a quilt for her big girl bed. Which I hope she does not have to use until after Chet gets home from deployment. She is still in her crib, and I intend on keeping her in there as long as possible! (The thought of transitioning her to a toddler bed by myself makes me cringe!)
People are always asking (and I'm always asking myself) if Sydney and Lorelei favor each other. I honestly don't know. Sometimes I think they look a lot alike (especially when Lorelei is sleeping), and sometimes I think Lorelei has a completely unique look. Here are a couple of comparison pictures; perhaps you can help decide!
Here are each of the girls, the first time they sat in the Bumbo chair. Lorelei is just a tiny bit older than Sydney was, and Sydney's picture isn't very good (it's hard to get a gist of what she actually looks like).
I was looking through Sydney's pictures, and noticed many interesting things. Please don't think I'm comparing them competitively, but it's impossible not to note the differences in children, especially sisters so close in age:
Sydney had her first two teeth by this point. Just barely, though. And I think Lorelei is going to cut teeth any day.
Sydney was MUCH better at raising her head and upper body when she was on her tummy. This is totally my fault, because I don't put Lorelei on her tummy often enough, and Sydney's daycare providers used to put Sydney on her tummy several times a day. Oops.
We started putting Sydney in the jogging stroller at the age Lorelei is now. I remember reclining the seat and stuffing towels on either side of her so she wouldn't slump over. This makes me happy, because I would LOVE to start putting Lorelei in the jogging stroller (right now our jogging stroller...which is also a double stroller...is equipped to fit Lorelei's carseat...but she really doesn't like being in the carseat, so it's not much fun for her...I think she would love sitting in the jogging stroller and facing outward though...woo hoo!).
That's about it. Oh, one more thing. Sydney has a pacifier in her mouth in about 60% of the pictures. Lorelei refuses to take a pacifier. Thank you, Lorelei!
...Chet is on deployment. He actually left last Monday (the day before my birthday, ha!), but I wanted to wait until he was safely at his destination before blogging about it. It's surreal that deployment is finally here, but Chet and I both are so glad that it is, because now we can start the countdown to his return home!
I'm both at a loss for words and filled to the brim with things to say about deployment. I'm not sure how many people who read this blog have had experience with deployments. Probably not many, so I'll do my best to describe the feelings that accompany such a long separation from your spouse: it stinks! Seriously, it does. But at the same time, it's a part of our lives that we (hopefully gracefully) deal with and get through. Deployment is something that always looms on the horizon. Sometimes it feels very far away (like during a homecoming or when Chet is on shore duty and not in a deployable status), but sometimes it feels like it's suffocating you (that's how it's felt since we moved to Gulfport, even though when we moved here deployment was still six months away). And let me tell you, the anticipation of a deployment, especially the last couple of weeks before it begins, is terrible. The stress level is high, both for Chet at work (he was working 18-hour days) and for both of us at home. There are always a million things to get done before he leaves, and an insufficient about of time to do them. It gets to the point where you want nothing more than for deployment to begin, because anything is better than such ridiculous stress and the emotions that make you both act a little crazy.
I think the reason pre-deployment is so stressful (besides the long work days) is because there is this unspoken pressure to enjoy (ha!) the last couple of weeks before deployment. You feel like you should be taking long walks on the beach and curling up on the couch in the evenings, sipping tea and sharing your hearts with one another. The weekends should be filled with joyful, stress-free trips to the children's museum and the park, with your perfectly behaved toddler and infant in tow. (Ha! Okay, now you know I'm being ridiculous!) But in reality, the "honey do" list is a mile long, the evenings are spent going through paperwork and packing and late-night trips to Walmart for deployment supplies, and your toddler and infant still need to eat, take naps, and be disciplined (well, not the infant, but you get what I mean). As you can see, it is very difficult impossible to just sit back and "enjoy" the pre-deployment days. You're tricked into thinking that if you don't do the perfect things and say the perfect things before he leaves, then you've failed. There is simply no good way to deal with it--you just have to endure it. And it's always the same, for every deployment and for every family (I probably shouldn't speak for ALL families, but I'm sure the majority would agree).
Okay, that was depressing, so let me say this. As hard as it is to say goodbye to your husband, knowing you won't see him for more than half a year, there is value in the separation. Obviously, what Chet is doing on deployment is valuable...that is an understatement. And the time I spend without him at home with the girls is a time for us to bond and for me to be stretched to my limits...in a good way. I learn a lot about myself, usually that I can handle a heck of a lot more than I ever thought I could (when Chet was in Djibouti in 2010, I moved to a new house without him...while I was working full time and had a sick 8-month old on my hands...I'm still amazed I made it through that experience!). Also, it is a time for me to band together with the other lovely wives and their children, creating friendships that are strong beyond belief and that will last a lifetime.
Back to what Chet is doing on deployment. Here is a link to NMCB 11's official blog, specifically to a post written by Chet's Commanding Officer. It explains the Battalion's mission while they are in Afghanistan. (NMCB stands for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. And, yes, Chet is in Afghanistan.)
I am so proud of all the Seabees do, and that Chet has the opportunity to serve our country. But, sometimes it doesn't feel fair that MY husband has to be the one to spend months at a time away from us on the other side of the (dangerous) world. Why us? But then I remember the great country we have the privilege to call home, and realize that Chet is EXACTLY the person who should be serving our country. I am willing to make the sacrifice so that others can enjoy their long walks on the beach, curl up together on the couch sipping tea, and take those trips to the park with their children...although find me ONE perfectly behaved toddler in a children's museum, and I'll give you a million dollars!