Thursday, February 28, 2008

Three things I learned from Natalie

When you become a parent, you are supposed to teach your kid a bunch of things. I think most parents will agree that your kids teach you a bunch of stuff too. Here are some things Natalie taught me:
  1. Emptying the dishwasher is FUN.
  2. The best toys aren't really toys at all (current favorites include a bottle of water and Daddy's shoes).
  3. Music is for dancing. Any music. Any time.

Now, that makes me think: What would happen if we could all apply these lessons to our own life...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More snow

We went out in the snow on Saturday:
Daddy, what is this white stuff?

Natalie went on a ride on our improvised sled. She took a spill shortly after this picture was taken and came up with her face all white with snow - and she didn't even complain!

Here's a little video of Natalie and Karsten in the snow.

Night time

It's the middle of the night. Natalie has been sleeping for 5 hours, Karsten and I for a few less. Natalie starts crying. At first, it's just a few unhappy sounds. Then, it get's to be more and more complaining. I'm thinking "Argh, Natalie, just go back to sleep". It's not going to happen. After a few words wispered under my breath that are probably not quite pg-13, we both get up. Natalie is in her crib, with most of her fist in her mouth. She's teething again.

I pick her up. Karsten gives her some pain medication. He starts our "Baby-CD" as he leaves the room. It has five sweet, quite songs. We always play it at bedtime.

I hold Natalie tight. During the first song, we walk around the room. Natalie does not want to be held, does not want to listen to the music, just does not want to have her teeth hurt. I give her a teether, and that calms her down somewhat.

During the second song, the pain medication starts to kick in. Natalie calms down. She looks at me, then reaches up to give me her teether. For a while, I walk around the room with a baby in my arms and a teether in my mouth. For a second, I smile, thinking how silly we must look if anyone could see us. Then I smile even more, thinking about how sweet and generous my little Natalie is. Even though she still is in some pain, she wants to share the one thing she has right now with me.

During the third song, Natalie starts to doze off. About midway thru, I sit down in our rocking chair. It's a stealthy operation we've done many times before. It involves standing in front of the chair rocking from side to side to simulate walking, then switching to rocking back and forth to simulate the movement of the chair, then finally sitting down as smoothly as possible. We're experts at the maneuver, and Natalie only reacts to it with one deep sigh.

During the fourth song, Natalie is sleeping in my arms. I know I can probably put her in her crib now, but she's just soo darn cute. I decide to spend just a few minutes looking at her, sleeping so peacefully with me. After all, we usually put her in the crib after the first song. So I'd better listen to the rest of the CD plus the first song again, so we follow the routine - at least that's my excuse.

During the fifth song, Natalie is dreaming. I can see her facial expressions change with whatever she's dreaming. I see something like surprise and interest - she must be doing one of her favorite experiments. Then, her mouth curls up in the cutest little smile ever, and she totally melts my heart.

We listen to the first song again, then I put Natalie back in her crib. She doesn't even react to the kiss she always get's before she goes in the crib, or to me whispering good-night. As I go back to bed, I curl up to Karsten and whisper a quiet "Thank you". "For what?" he replies, half asleep. "For letting me take care of her tonight" I answer, and I think "For letting me share the night with Natalie".

Monday, February 25, 2008

Then and now

I took this picture a few days ago:

Natalie still likes her "excersaucer" - though most of the time, she wants to be on the outside playing with all the toys (why be stationary when you can choose to move around?) It seems like it was only yesterday that we brought this excersaucer thing home - but it is actually from April last year:

Amazing how time flies when you are having fun!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Experiment of the day

Natalie loves to experiment. She's constantly trying to figure things out...

"I wonder what will happen if I stick my hand in this glass of water..."

"Hmm, it feels all wet..."

"Heh, I learned something new today!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow...

More snow today - yay!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are you busy?

I used to take pride in being busy. In fact, most years I'd start my Christmas letters with "This has been another busy year" - as if that was a great thing, something to be proud of.

Lately, I've noticed that I like being - well, "not busy". I don't think that's the same as being lazy, actually far from. I still like to be active, and to do something with my time. But I guess what I'm doing is changing.

There's nothing better than having an hour or two at home with absolutely nothing planned. Because that's when I get to spend time with my family, doing everyday, "non-important" things - the things that are the most important of all. Things like rolling around on the floor with Natalie, both of us being silly and laughing. Or going for a walk in the snow and discovering how cold the snow feels on your fingers, and how it tastes. Or emptying the dishwasher, with Natalie being sooo proud because she get's to carry her own plates over to the cabinet where they belong.

These are the things that you don't usually put in a Christmas letter. You probably don't even put them on your calendar. But these are the things you never want to be too busy for. These are the things you get to do when you are "not busy".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Natalie had a Valentine's Day party at daycare today - complete with home-made hats. The teacher said that she hadn't been wearing it for all that long, but that she had had soo much fun making it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stairmaster Natalie

Did you know we have a "Stairmaster" in the house? No, not the kind they have at the "Y" (though you get just as much exercise trying to keep up with this one), but the toddler-sized kind.

Natalie was a bit impatient tonight, so for a change of scenery, we took her down in the basement. She didn't want anything to do with running around down there, but the stairs - the stairs were a toddler girls dream come true! Soo much fun just waiting to be had crawling up to the top (with Karsten right behind her for safety, of course). And then she found out that she could crawl down also! Double the fun!

Pretty interesting to see how she experimented with crawling backwards or standing / walking down the stairs holding on to Daddy's hand and sometimes the wall. She was actually very careful, and surprisingly good at it.

Now, that begs the question: How did she learn this new skill? She's only been allowed on the stairs once or twice before, and there are no stairs at daycare, so... Maybe she has a secret staircase somewhere that she plays on when no-one is watching :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

The stacking gene

I've got a stacking gene. Whatever little space I have to work with, I can manufacture a stack that won't tip over - at least until someone innocently walks past it...

After grocery shopping, the freezer is sometimes rather full, and there is a certain avalance danger for anyone brave enough to actually open the door. If Karsten opens the freezer door and something falls out, he'll say that the freezer was "Mommy-stacked" (that is, unless whatever comes out lands on his foot - if it does, he might use slightly different verbage...)

Anyway, last night I came across Natalies latest experiment. I'm proud to announce that the gene has been passed on to the next generation:

No photo editing, and no strings, her little boot is actually magically floating on top of my big ones. Way to go, Natalie!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The sounds of a toddler house

Have you ever noticed how your house sounds different when you have a toddler?

It's not just the pidder-padder of little feet or the sound of numerous electronic toys playing all kinds of soundbites. It's much more than that...

It used to be that when I came home late, I'd hear the sound of the TV or the radio. Now, it's the sound of Karsten and Natalie laughing, the sound of 600 plastic balls rubbing against each other in the ballpit, and then the sound of Natalie running to great me with a huge grin on her face.

During breakfast, there used to be the sound of CNN. Now, it's the sound of Dora the Explorer.

The radio used to be tuned to 80's music, or smooth jazz, or a rock station. Now, it's 80's music, smooth jazz, a rock station, a kid's station or... but they all sound like perfect music for a quick dance around house with Natalie, or for a solo-dance by Natalie!

The sound of the washer and dryer used to sound like a chore waiting to be done. Now, it sounds like a whole basket full of endless fun when Natalie helps me take the laundry out of the dryer and sort and fold it.

In fact, most sounds are the same, they just sound different.

And then, of course, there is the sound of Natalie's belly-laughter - and the sound of her babbling in her crib in the morning. I still haven't decided which of those two are my favorite sound of all!

A message from Natalie

Natalie also wanted to say hi:

Why blog...?

Instead of the usual "welcome to my blog" post, I decided to write about why I'm blogging. I'm blogging to...
  1. ... keep in touch with family and friends. Our little family consists of Karsten, Karen, and Natalie. We live in the US, but we are fortunate to have family and friends not only across the US but in other countries as well. This is a way to keep everyone connected and let them know what's going on in our lives.
  2. ... be a "mom" and show off all the fun stuff our beautiful daughter is up to! She's constantly exploring the world around her, and her adventures are always fun, sweet, cute, and often surprising (did I mention I'm a "Mom" :-)).
  3. ... share in the fun! I've been reading other people's blogs for a while now, and it seems kinda cool. So I figured I'd give it a try.

So there you have it. Hope you'll bear with us as we share a bit of our everyday lives, from the fun to the trivial (but hopefully never boring) stuff...