Monday, June 28, 2010


We are still on the fence about names... although the poll so far (see sidebar) has a pretty clear front-runner... you can write-in suggestions in the comments as well! I temporarily changed the sidebar background color so you can read the names better.

The thing is, I'm not a huge fan of trendy/popular names, and we'd also like a name that's interesting or somewhat unusual, but not too "weird." It's all very subjective, I know. We like Tobias because it's a family name (Leaman branch), although I really don't like the nickname Toby - negative association from a kid I knew in grade school - and we like Oscar because of Oscar Arias and Oscar Romero - and I like how it sounds in Spanish and English. And we like the nickname "Oz." Although most people are first going to think of Oscar the Grouch.

Boy names are hard.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Valerie has developed some very strong preferences for certain things, including the number 9. She looks for the 9 on the digital clock in her room, on the CD player display (although her favorite song is track 8), and among her magnetic number set. In fact when she sees the 9 on the clock her whole face lights up with a big smile and she claps her hands. This developed about the time she learned the word for the digit. (She can now name them all except 1 and 7, and counts to five.)

She also looooooooves this book. Especially the "very fine animal called the Iota," and the heart-shaped "Proo." Although I find some of the illustrations (and the overall theme) somewhat disturbingly colonialist (publication date is 1950), it's a fun book to read and I've memorized enough key lines that I can recite it while she flips violently through the pages looking for her favorites. For a while there we were reading it easily more than 10x a day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Today is also the day Terry comes home!

These pictures are from his last trip but I'll let them stand here emblematically (especially since that's not even the plane he left on last time). (But note the cool reflection captured in the glass. Artsy, no?)


Today is a day to remember my uncle, Dave Sparks. We miss you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sleep update

Soooo.... I'm almost nervous to jinx it, but I right now we're in a good place with the sleep thing. THANKFULLY. We're at the point where I now go to bed expecting V. to sleep through the night...!

In April, while T. was away, I held my breath and took the plunge of leaving the room before she was asleep... and it worked! I was astonished that she didn't cry at all, and at most I only need to go in maximum 2x before she goes to sleep on her own. This was... huge. I was so scared to try it, remembering how much it DIDN'T work last year - at least not well. Five months of CIO and she cried every. single. night. But I guess now she was ready!

Then almost by accident I discovered last month that she was able to sleep through the night when she was in the room alone by herself. After Terry left for Albania, before my parents got here, I had my sitter stay with us overnight to help with the night duty. The 2 nights Rachel slept in the next room, V. didn't wake up. The 3 nights Rachel slept in the room with her, she woke up. So ever since then we've let her sleep by herself... and the ratio of night waking to not reversed itself - instead of sleeping through the night 20% of the time, it flipped to 80% of the time - and as of today, she's gone a full week without night waking. WOW.....

We'll see how long it lasts; I'm kind of assuming that with Terry coming back, then the baby being born, my folks leaving, etc. etc., we still have a long road ahead of us. But for now it's an enormous blessing that she's sleeping well at night.

(Sadly, I still have insomnia from time to time - plus having to get up to pee every 2 hours - but it could be, and has been, so much worse.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growth Spurt?

I'm wondering if Valerie is going through a growth spurt? She was uncommonly clumsy yesterday evening - cut her lip on a water bottle, then fell off the lazy boy, and seemed to be tripping over her own feet with unusual frequency. She's been eating and sleeping a lot. And TALKING so much more - a lot of babbling, and a lot of echoing what we say, but generally using about 20-30 more words than she was a few weeks ago. Some big leaps there.

After supper last night I noticed a bunny sitting on the lawn across the street, so my mom and I went over with V. and I sat on the sidewalk while she (Valerie, not my mom) hop, hop, hopped while the bunnies (a second one showed up then) just stared at her :-) It was super-cute.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Valerie is not the most social of toddlers. It takes her a looooooong time to warm up to new people, and she mostly ignores other children her age. (Except, of course, when she's being required to share toys or Mommy with them.) There is a small handful of kids she tolerates and even at times acknowledges, sharing food and space with them, waving hello and goodbye. These are the kids she sees on a regular basis - usually weekly - and it's really nice to see her learning to play with others.
I wonder sometimes if her introversion is linked to her slowness in starting to talk? I mean she talks, but she's not really linking words into phrases yet, and there seem to be a lot of other kids much younger than she is who are talking much more. I know she'll talk when she's ready but sometimes I get impatient.

She did do something cute last night while I was singing "Old MacDonald" to her (the lullaby of choice) - she said, as she often does, "amamamamam" in a growly voice, which in her lexicon means the animals in the song are eating. And then she said, very clearly, "Fat!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've been getting pointed hints from certain members of the household currently abroad that there has been a dearth of recent updates in this space. Yesterday I finally got around to downloading some pictures, so here are some recent shots of the V.

Here she is in our neighbor's yard, looking for their dog (who coincidentally has the same name as our mayor - it's an unusual name, which in the northern Germanic languages means "keeper of the keys" and in Khmer means "dog." Anyway, I'm guessing by the look on her face that Kai the dog was not in sight.

Playing with water on a hot Sunday after church.

My dad ordered a whole bunch of vitamins and supplements - look at the pretty colored bottles! V. organized them in this symmetrical arrangement and spent maybe half an hour arranging and rearranging them in rows - until she got tired, knocked them all over, and ran off to do something else. (Yes, she was closely supervised, and all the bottle tops still had the manufacturer's seal on.)

She's really into arranging her toys in rows these days - stuffed animals, plastic animals, matchbox cars. Then she'll knock them all down.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I had another check-up today with the specialist at Martha Jefferson, and he said he's "amazed" at how well we are doing! My proteinuria levels are basically back to normal, and my blood pressure is under control with the bedrest and medication. I'm supposed to continue as I am with frequent monitoring until delivery. We are now at 34 weeks and the baby looks great - estimated to weigh in at 6 lbs. 6 oz. Yay!!!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

no news is good news

We're holding steady here, nothing new to report, monitoring my blood pressure, taking my pills, resting. I'm beginning to get a wee bit bored but I think that's probably a good thing!

My folks got here last Wednesday and we are settling into a homey routine. I feel very loved and well cared for!

I am so thankful to be able to be at home with Valerie, even though I can't do as much with her, there are still a lot of little games we can play while I lie on the couch. One that always makes her grin: I show her a toy and say "You think this is yours?" When she reaches for it I say "It's mine!" and snatch it away. On the third reach I let her grab it but don't let go and we play tug-of-war for a minute or two. Then we do it again. For some reason she finds this hilarious.