Wednesday, August 31, 2011

That's What Chloe Said - August

Now that Chloe's starting to learn some words I want to record the most adorable little things she says and does. I'll post them once a month to consolidate them. I think these will be great for the future. We can look back and say, "Oh, I remember when she used to do that!"

They're probably the same things every baby does but, you know, they're super special and of note to us. I'm very forgetful and I don't want to lose these memories forever.

Chloe's favorite saying for the week: "Uppy" This is a progression from "Up Peas" and "Up Pee."
She pretty much wants me to carry her around all over the place or at least hold her. It's adorable and I can hardly say "no." And as soon as Dave gets home she attacks him, "Uppy. Uppy. Uppy. Uppy."

Previous favorites:

Hair - She still points out my hair all the time. "HAAyer" Haaair"

Hi - She'd go back and forth with just about anyone 10-15 times in a row. "Hi." "Hi." "Hi. "Hi." Strangers thought it was hilarious and then wondered if it would ever end.

More Kay! - Chloe learned the power of "More" and she'd use the sign and word together. She would ask for "More" and I would get so excited that I'd answer "OK!" Then she started putting the two together and say (not ask) "More K. More K. More K."

Dank Dooooo - "Thank you". She says it for giving and receiving. For a couple of weeks she was constantly picking stuff up and bringing it to us saying, "Dank Doooooo" and she says it in a high pitch singing kind of voice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

That's What Solana Said - August

I picked Solana up from a pool party. As we began to drive home she asked, "Mommy, when can I have a play-date with some of my friends?"
"Well, Solana, I don't know. You were just at a party and that's kind of like a play-date. I only get to have you for one and a half more weeks before school starts again. And we've been so busy the past few weeks I don't feel like I've had enough time to do anything fun with you. We're always running around to camps or the store, or the doctor. I think I just want to keep you to myself until school starts so we can relax and do some fun stuff together."
"Yeah. I think I know what you mean, Mommy, and I feel the same way."
First my heart melted and then I felt the pressure to come up with something really fun to do! :-)

I was juicing lemons and one squired all over my arm. Solana wiped a drop off my forearm and tasted it. "Mmm. Tasty! And I do say so myself!

Solana: ....because my bootie's wet.
Me: You're bootie's wet?
Solana: It's a long story.
(Turns out she fell in the baby pool when I had let her stay outside to wade in it.)

We went out to eat at a sushi restaurant and Solana decided she needed to visit the Ladies Room.
"So...if I go to the bathroom in a place like this will they have leaves instead of toilet paper?"

While watching an episode of Wild Krattz on PBS Solana starts telling me. "I like that boy with the green the most. I like how his hair goes like this on top. And it's brown, like mine. And he always knows all the stuff. That's the kind of boy that I like. See! Him! I like him the best."
Normally, I would scoff at little girls saying that they like boys but something about the way she said it was so innocent and sweet. I don't even think she realized she was saying she liked a boy! Heeheehee. Sweet girl. :-)

By the way, I just read his character description. I like this boy.

Hallelujah! Apria Mess is Over!

You may recall this post from a while back. Since then I've received one bill from Apria and another from a collections agency - both for a few hundred dollars. Needless to say I was less than pleased. The girl working on our account, Jasmine, should have put a stop to all of that. I contacted the collections agency to dispute the charges and politely informed Jasmine that I received these bills asking her to please take care of it. I periodically wondered how I would handle it when she finally finished reviewing the account and came back to me with the wrong answer.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read this email from Jasmine today:

I received the archived invoices, and after reviewing all the payments on them, the amount that you show of $17.18 is correct. I am having the Apria account adjusted down to that amount, and I turned in an urgent request to remove the balance that went to collections. Any payments that have applied to the account at CBCS will be refunded to you per my request, and you should receive an apology letter from CBCS in 2-3 weeks stating that she was sent to collections in error and has been removed.

I apologize that it took this long to get this issue resolved, and please let me know if you feel there is anything else that needs to be addressed on the account, or if you do not receive the letter or refund from CBCS. Have a good day!

Finally!!!!! Completely ridiculous and unacceptable errors on their part and this is the first non-snotty response I've received but I'll take it!

Eye update - Nystagmus - update

At Chloe's last vision exam I pointed out to the doctor the fact that Chloe's been turning her head again. It appears that she wants to look through her left eye. I thought we had solved this problem when we discovered the dramatic change in her right eye prescription. But now her head turn seems to have returned. This makes me nervous. Could her prescription have changed dramatically again? It's already a 9. That's pretty significant.

The doctor took a look at her and mentioned her nystagmus (this is where you eyes sort of shake from left to right involuntarily) and that she's finding her "null point." I had sort of noticed her eyes shaking. It's not really obvious but if you look close you can see it. I tried to convince myself it wasn't there. According to him, Chloe can turn her head until she finds her null point - the point at which her eyes stop shaking. He also said that Chloe has had so many problems with her eyes that there are any number of reasons for her nystagmus. He warned me against worrying over internet research (that he assumes I'll do). I left his office without a feeling of comfort.

Then Chloe's Vision Therapist, Linda, came over for a visit on Thursday. She feels like Chloe's not moving around quite as steadily as she was a few weeks ago and that she's not using her eyes together quite as well. I would have to agree. Again, pointing things out to me that I know but don't want to admit to myself. I expressed my worry over the doctor's diagnosis. What if he's wrong? I mean, he only looks at her for a few minutes... She asked if I'd considered getting a second opinion. I don't know why but I'm having such a hard time with that. Can anyone tell me why I find this so difficult?

We have an appointment in about two weeks. The vision therapist has kindly agreed to join us for the appointment. She's so much more well-versed in the language of vision than I. I'm really glad she's going. Also ,the doctor is usually pretty fast and I always feel like I'm sitting on his shoe and hanging onto his leg asking questions as he's leaving. Linda won't hang onto him like that. She'll look at him and smile. And her smile will say, "You might as well sit down doctor. You ain't goin' nowhere an'time soon."

Until then, let the worrying continue...

Update: I think I just figured out why getting a 2nd opinion makes my stomach feel queasy. 1. I want to give this doctor the benefit of the doubt because he knows her really really well and I can't imagine trusting another doctor who just met her and (maybe) read her file.
2. I already switched Chloe's eye doctor once. I'd like to think I made the right decision at that time.
3. I hate ruffling feathers or offending people. (Just being honest. This actually did occur to me.)

Annual Checkups

I took Solana and Chloe for their annual visit to the Pediatrician last week. In the spirit of documentation I'm posting the results.

Solana - 6 years
49lb and 46.25inches. 75th%ile in both height and weight.
She's easy - the picture of health. Whew!

Chloe - 2 years
22lb = 6th%ile
33inches = 23rd%ile (length)
17.75inches = 5th%ile (head circumference)

We can't be anything but pleased with her growth. I sometimes worry about her texture issues and the fact that she still eats mainly purees. I've really been pushing her on trying solid foods and that often takes such a long time that she ends up eating a lot less food than she would with just puree. But she's growing and getting a stronger hold on that growth chart every time she's measured. All the doctors seem happy with her growth so we're thankful!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of First Grade

Solana attended her first day of first grade today. She loved it, of course. She loves school and gets on well in almost any situation and with almost anybody. One of my biggest concerns was getting her out the door by 7:30am without me yelling at her to hurry up. I packed lunches, prepared her backpack, prepped breakfast, and picked out her clothes the night before. 30 minutes should be plenty of time to get ready. And, surprisingly, everything went swimmingly this morning! I was amazed!

When it came time to leave we doddled for a few minutes and decided to change her shoes. Then I helped her get her backpack on and coughed down a little lump in my throat. I'd been looking forward to the first day of school for one main reason for a while now. The month of August has been CRAZY! I've been driving her around constantly and have been guilt-ridden for all the car time Chloe's been spending. The house is a disaster area. The floors and bathrooms are filthy and I'm barely keeping up with laundry. I've been planning to get back to work on the house as soon as she went to school. With all of that on my mind I forgot about the fact that I'd miss her.

We went outside to take our annual picture and I told Solana to pose for the picture. This is what I got:

I swear, these poses are all Solana. I had nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with them.

Then we went down the driveway to wait for the bus.
There it is!
As excited and ready to get on the bus as she was I was shocked when she paused before getting on. "Mommy, there are too many little boys on there." I looked into the windows and, indeed, the bus was filled with little boys. "It's ok. You can sit with your friend Anna. She's about to get on." Anna lives two houses down and we could see her waiting at the bottom of her driveway to get picked up. She accepted that and got on. But not before I got another picture of her with Mrs. Tickle, the bus driver.

She was Solana's bus driver last year. We like Mrs. Tickle.
Then the bus drove away with my little girl in it. I turned around and sobbed for about a minute. Then I came inside, pulled it together, assured myself that Solana had a good Summer, retrieved Chloe from her crib, and felt happy again.

Solana reported that she had a great day when she got back. And she even ate all her lunch, except for the watermelon. The clear plastic fork I'd packed was camouflaged in her lunch bag so she didn't know it was there. I won't be making that mistake again :-) The school year has begun once again. How time flies! It's funny how all those cliche's come true when you become a parent.

Summertime Blowout

I wanted to do something really fun with the girls on Solana's last day of summer break. Between Mexico and now Solana was kept very busy with camps and I was always very busy driving her around but I didn't feel like we had done anything really cool together since Mexico. I decided to take the girls to the zoo. It could be a fun end-of-summer activity plus a fun birthday activity for Chloe.

Unfortunately, the day started out a little more slowly than expected. I hadn't expected to clean up poop from around the whole room, bathe Chloe, strip the crib, or do laundry. After her bath Solana and I presented Chloe with a banana bread breakfast equipped with two candles and sang to her. She wasn't so sure about the candles but picked up the entire banana bread and dug in as soon as we finished singing. It was a mini loaf but it was still pretty hilarious.

We left about an hour after I'd hoped so we decided to try out the Cincinnatti Zoo. It's about 20 miles closer than the Columbus Zoo, which we're familiar with. We got there and I saw that children under two were free. Hmmm. Moral dilemma. I decided that, since Chloe was born at 10:30pm that she technically wasn't two quite yet. I didn't pay for her. Judge me if you will.

We had a lovely time at the zoo. Chloe ended up skipping her nap but did great. I packed PB&J sandwiches, Cheetos, cherry tomatoes, and juice boxes for lunch. Chloe also had fruit puree. We sat on a shady bench and enjoyed a nice lunch together. Going alone with the girls turned out to be really nice. I tried to hurry Solana along a bit so that we could see all that she wanted but didn't feel too much pressure so she got to enjoy herself thoroughly.

One of the highlights was in the rain forest area. There was a little bird wandering around on the ground - maybe a little smaller than a chicken. I have no idea what it was but Chloe saw it and ran up to it. I grabbed her just before she got to it and was shocked that it didn't run away. We watched it for a while and followed it from a distance (I didn't want to frighten it). Then it came up to us and was checking us out. As I knelt to hold Chloe and keep her close it came up and pecked at the bottom of my shoe! I stood and scooped up Chloe and it started following...then chasing me! Solana was cracking up. I was kind of getting nervous. It got more brazen the more I backed away. It was pecking on my shoe and ankle and then flapping it's wings so that they hit my calves. I didn't want to kick it but I didn't want it to peck me anymore. I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to step on it so I think I pretty much ran away from it with Chloe in my arms. I probably said something like, "Solana, let's go and get out of here!" Hahaha!

When I finally decided it was time to leave we started heading toward the exit, I thought. 30 minutes later I realized we were actually headed to the far end of the zoo so we turned around and made our way back. Of course, we stopped several times along the way. When we got to the exit (an hour after I decided to leave) Solana remembered her sunglasses were at the play area so we went back in. Another 30 minutes later we were finally leaving. We left home at 10am and didn't get back until 5pm. What a day. The girls did great and loved it. I don't know how many of the animals Chloe actually saw but she seemed to enjoy people-watching and being out and about. She also enjoyed the playground. Other than that she was fairly content to sit in the wagon. We even stopped for a soft pretzel toward the end of the visit and Solana sat in the wagon with her which was very very cool. I had to make Solana get out after a while, though. I'm not as strong as I look and 70 pounds of little girl is a bit much for me to pull uphill :-)

I loved my time at the zoo with the girls yesterday. I think I'd like to get a season pass next year. We had a lovely time and I hope Solana remembers it as fondly as I will in the future.

I'm not used to being out and about on adventures like this without Dave so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked.

Arriving at the zoo. Chloe's ready for a ride in the wagon!
Solana's brushing the goats. I had to drag her out of there. Why won't she brush our dogs or cats like that?

Feeding the goats. They had one of those candy dispensers that you feed a quarter to and it'll give you a handful of food. We put the food in our cherry tomato container and she even fed them the leftover stems from our tomatoes. Talk about recycling!

At the playground. Chloe is a turtle!

Hey Nana! What are you doing in there?
At the playground. Solana is a turtle!

This little penguin was very interested in Solana. Or was he just waiting for her to drop some food?

Petting the iguana.

Posing with the bamboo. Solana really really likes bamboo. I'm not exactly sure why but she talks about it a lot. And she found a piece on the playground one time. So strange. And exciting! It occurred to me last night that I did a book report on bamboo in sixth grade. Why did I choose bamboo? I have no idea. I guess I also had the same fascination...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chloe is Two Today!!!

Our little princess is two years old today. I know I should take a moment to talk about how sweet and wonderful she much of a blessing she we love and adore she's come such a long was from her 1lb 7oz itty bitty she's overcome and persevered...perhaps I should reminisce about her entrance into this world. I shall not.

On the contrary, I will tell you how Chloe welcomed US to her terrible 2's. You're not gonna believe this!

Solana starts school tomorrow and this is the first time she'll be leaving for school early in the morning - she did afternoon pre-k and kingergarden. My plan is to give Chloe a bottle and then focus on getting Solana ready and out the door. Chloe can entertain herself with her bottle and then toys in her crib for 30 minutes. We've been practicing for a week. So this morning I change her diaper and leave her pajama bottoms off because she feels a little warm. I give her a bottle and leave her for about 10 minutes. When I return she has ripped off her diaper, filled her crib with poop marbles, apparently rolled around on top of them, flung two of the larger marbles out of the crib, and has quite possibly tasted one. Aaaaahhhhh!

This kid is taking us on a wild ride. I just know it!

P.S. And to top it all off, Monty came to investigate the commotion and ate a marble off the floor while Solana and I screamed at him in horror. (In case you don't know, Monty is our dog.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Poor Chloe has to be turned to face the rear of the car again. I thought I was doing good since the American Academy of Pediatrics only recently updated their recommendation to keep infants rear-facing from 1 year to 2 years. I know some people who balked or complained about this but...gosh darnit...I was going to wait until Chloe (almost) turned 2! But my sister-in-law recently sent me a link to a video that made me think twice. I did a little bit of reading and am convinced that it's safer to leave Chloe facing the rear for now...maybe another year or two.

This webpage shows a computer animated video of the difference between what happens in a collision when a child is rear-facing vs. forward facing. The first thing I noticed was how loosely the straps and car seat seemed to be attached but the point is still well taken. The force of the collision is more spread out on the child's body when they're rear-facing making them less likely to have a head, neck, or spinal injury.

This video shows lots of kids a lot older than Chloe facing rear and they talk about the practices in Sweden - children stay rear-facing until age 4!

This Swedish website discusses the "Swedish approach" and states that, "Traffic accidents in USA are for example the number one cause of death among young children....We [Swedes] follow our own advice and our fatality rate for children age 0-6 years in traffic accidents is basically zero each year."

From the AAP :"All infants and toddlers should ride in aRear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer." I wasn't aware of the part about " or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed..."
More test and scientific data why rear-facing is safer.

I rescind my initial comment. Not 'poor Chloe.' 'Lucky Chloe.'

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back To School Survival Kit for Teachers

My sister shared this gift idea with me and I just have to share it with you. It's a back -to-school survival kit for teachers. She said that she once received something like this from one of her students and it proved handy as she went back to it several times during the year. It's thoughtful and really didn't cost much at all.

The original blog post she sent me is here and they have a really cute gift tag that you can download and print. I found a nice little bag in my "gift wrapping stash" that I wanted to use so I didn't need to decorate it. Here's a list of what I put in it:

Mrs. Eckhart's Emergency Kit

Binder Clips - to help you keep it together
Stride Gum - to maintain your stride even in sticky situations
Band Aids - to help heal boo boos
Pen & Note Pad - to jot down your best ideas
Highlighter - to remember to highlight the positive
Tissues - to wipe away the fears (and tears)
Granola Bar - when you need a little pick-me-up
Lotion - to keep things running smoothly
Deoderant - for those times you ran out the door too quickly
Cough Drops - for a strong voice to deliver your important words
Toothbrush and Toothpaste - to freshen up your day..

I was thinking of printing out the list and adding it to the bag but I think I might hand-write it on a pretty little piece of stationary for a more personal feel.

I actually had a bunch of these items at home already. I only had to buy:
Stride gum ($.79)
Pen ($.13)
Note Pad ($.49)
Cough Drops ($.10)
Highlighter ($.39)
Tissues ($.47)
Total: $2.37

Granted, I spent more money on the pens, cough drops, and tissues, but I kept most of them. Plus, I hit the Walgreens back-to-school sale and used the coupons from their flyer so the stuff I did buy was super cheap. Still, I think anyone could put something like this together for around $5 pretty easily

Love your kids' teachers. They probably work harder and longer than your realize.

Forward Facing

Look who's forward facing!
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vegetable Garden

If you've ever been to our house in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, you know that I love vegetable gardening. And you would know because I dragged you outside to look at my garden. Now I will drag all my virtual friends. :-) I'm not particularly good at it. This is only my fourth year of gardening. But I do love it and I try really really hard to be good at it.

When we lived in Colorado Dave built an above ground garden for me and I bought a bunch of starter plants to put inside. Colorado has LOTS of sun and our automatic sprinkler system watered the garden almost every day. Plus, all the dirt in the garden was purchased and poured right in. The garden did great and I was hooked.

Then we moved to Ohio. While house hunting we had two requirements for the yard. 1. It had to be big (or at least big enough for a vegetable garden). 2. It had to have lots of trees (Dave and I love trees!). We were thrilled with our house. The yard is HUGE with tons of trees and there was already a vegetable garden tucked away in the back of the property. SOLD!

Being a novice gardener I didn't bother to look up and notice that the area immediately surrounding the garden is forest. I think it gets about 5 hours of sunlight a day. Last year the garden didn't do too well and I was sorely disappointed. I battled cabbage worms and, I believe, insufficient nutrition for the plants. Not to mention the whole sunlight issue. But I decided to give it another go this year.

I borrowed Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholemew, from the library. He believes that many gardens fail because people are overly excited at the beginning of the season planting tons of stuff and overestimating what they'll actually need and also because they give up trying to tend the gardens halfway through the season. Solution: Only plant the amount you want to harvest and put plants close together using his square foot method. I liked it.

I bought tons of seeds this year and started indoors early in the Spring. Being my first year starting seeds I was moderately successful. I was able to set out some good cabbages, lettuce, peppers, and flowers. I killed all but one tomato plant and incorrectly labeled broccoli and cauliflower so they never made it into the garden. Dave made two 4x4 grids for me and I filled them with Mel's mix (equal parts vermiculite, compost [my homemade], and peat moss) and started planting. Seeds planted directly outdoors included: Snap Peas (first round got eaten by maggots), onions (all died), cilantro, sunflowers (eaten), catnip (didn't make it), and spinach (never flourished). I had a difficult Spring and was feeling pretty down in the dumps after all the effort I'd put into the garden already.

Then we went on vacation. We came back and everything had grown like crazy! Maybe the garden just wanted me to stop fussing over it... Here's a picture from the outside of the garden. The flowers are nasturtiums and are supposed to attract helpful insects. You can see my tomato and cucumber trellised in the background.

This is the view as you enter the garden. Nasturtiums on the right. Two rows of purple potatoes straight up the center. Pumpkin plant along the left. Funny story about the pumpkin. It's a volunteer. That means I didn't plant it. It just popped up on its own and I decided to keep it. I thought it was a zucchini at first and then when we saw the first fruit we thought it was a watermelon. On this particular day I realized it's actually a pumpkin. The seed must have come from last year's jack-o-lantern that I tossed into the compost! When I decided to let it grow I had no idea how huge it would get. This is only a third of it.

Garden 1: Cabbage on the left. I was surprised to see how huge those got! Parsley and serrano up front. Carrots and sage in the back left. More carrots right center. Cucumber growing up the trellis back right. I've already harvested three squares of cabbage. The four wet-looking squares are newly planted for fall harvest: broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Plus, I just started some new carrots and spinach in the top left squares.

Garden 2: On the left you can see the tomato plant climbing up my trellis. The white box is protecting my newly planted carrot seeds (the soil can't dry out while they're germinating), cabbage next to the box, and the huge leaves are part of that pumpkin plant. There are also two pepper plants and basil amongst the pumpkin leaves but they're difficult to see. There's also one fall cauliflower square next to the box.

Sweet Potatoes and more of that pumpkin :-)

Purple potatoes won't really be ready until Fall but I just had to dig some up to make sure they were actually there. I think a vole has been visiting our garden so I'm a little nervous about how much he's eaten. The cool thing about purple potatoes is that the flesh is actually purple. I rubbed off some of the dirt to show their color. Isn't that cool?


Tomatoes. We've only eaten one so far. One of these is starting to turn red. Yay!

I didn't plant the cucumbers until right before we left for Mexico and we've already eaten three. it's doing really well. See this one hiding?

The infamous pumpkin volunteer.

I definitely don't think this is the best garden we'll ever see. I'm still learning for sure. And the lack of sun doesn't help matters much. But unless I convince Dave to dig up a section right in the middle of our yard where there aren't any trees (unlikely) this is the best I get. If there was more sun we'd have had a better Spring and probably more tomatoes by now. Otherwise I think we're doing ok.

Harvested thus far: 2 large bowl-fulls of lettuce, cilantro, basil, parsley, 3 serranos, 1 tomato, 3 cucumbers, handful of spinach, 2 carrots, 3 heads of cabbage, 4 small onions, several handfuls of sugar snap peas (most didn't make it across the yard before crossing Solana's lips).

Here's hoping for a productive rest of Summer and Fall!

Another Solana

We were at the pediatrician's office today in the waiting room. Solana wandered over to the bookshelf, which is in the same room but behind a wall so that I couldn't actually see her. All of the sudden I heard a woman say, "Solana, come and wait over here." And she said it in a stern Mommy voice. Weird.

I jumped up ready to pounce on whomever spoke to Solana that way. But I only saw a woman chasing her 3 year-old around and Solana happily reading books in front of the bookshelf. Hmmm. I could have sworn I heard her name. Then, "Solana, come over here."

I asked the woman, "What is her name?" "Solana." "That's MY daughter's name!" We finally met our first 'other' Solana! That was so crazy! The mom was equally as excited as I was to finally have met another Solana so I didn't feel silly at all for reacting so. The girls seemed less than impressed, though. I almost wanted to get her phone number as she left the office. I didn't want to let her go. Hahaha!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Contact

We just got back from the pick up a new pair of contacts. I won't say any more about how this makes me feel because I prefer to not use curse words on the blog.

Brian's trying to finagle 3 or 4 pair from our vision insurance (they usually pay for 1) and we're waiting to hear back on that. In the meantime, we're on our second pair (plus a single). I have a sneaking suspicion we'll get to through 3 or 4 pair before he even hears back. At $100 a pair keeping Chloe's eyes contact-ed is going to be an expensive endeavor.

The good things are that: 1. They were able to get the first pair as a "doctor's RX change" which means it's free for us. 2. Brian's trying to get us those extra free pairs covered by insurance. 3. Every 2nd pair is discounted 50%. So they'll cost $100 and then $50 then $100 then $50, etc. 4. I asked Brian if he could charge the insurance company for all the $100 pairs and just let me pay for all the $50 pairs (at least until we run out of coverage) and he said "heck yeah!"

Ok. I guess I feel a little better now. I just need to work on Chloe's communication now so that she can tell us when she loses a contact. :-)

Mexico - The Pool!

We spent a LOT of time at the pool in Mexico. When Dave switched resorts he got us pretty much the best possible room/pool situation we could have dreamed of. The buildings are in the shape of very long rectangles with the short end of the rectangle facing the beach. The "regular" rooms go all along the building and the balconies are all along the long side of the rectangle. They're angled so that everyone can see the ocean from their balcony. But since we were super fancy on this trip and got a suite we took up the entire short end of the rectangle and had a straight shot of the ocean from our super long balcony.

Here's a picture of me and my Mom sitting at the pool. You can see some shrubs and then our balcony right behind. That's how close we were to our room.
The next picture is taken from the same chairs looking the other direction. My mom and Solana are enjoying some pizza and dancing to salsa music :-) Beyond them is the little round pool that was our "private pool" which led into the big winding pool. On the left you can see the roof of the swim-up bar. And beyond that, the beach. Because we could lounge so close to our room, we could actually use the baby monitor during Chloe's naps (the hottest part of the day) and go lay out without fear of her waking early from her nap. IT WAS AAAAWESOME! Yay Dave! We couldn't have asked for a more perfect situation.
Our hero and his two baby girls.
Me and Chloe Bea. There was a really wide and shallow step that she could play on. It worked out pretty well until she wanted to move farther and faster. Then sitting just didn't cut it anymore :-)
There were iguanas EVERYWHERE! We literally saw about 20 a day. This one lived in that little bit of landscaping right by the pool and liked to sun himself right there every day. Our two umbrellas are the right two in the picture and our building/balcony is the one you see in the background. (We were on the bottom floor.) He lived so close to "our" chairs that we got to see him every day.

This super hot guy agreed to take a picture with me. I think he's like a movie star or something.

Light as a feather stiff as a board...I tried to do that but I wasn't quite as good. Only my nose and mouth were sticking out of the water. Haha!
I can't even tell you how many times Dave had to do this over the course of 7 days...

You may notice that there are almost no other people in these pictures. It's not because they were strategically taken. The resort was practically empty the first few days we were there! It was like we had the whole place to ourselves. We considered whether or not to go because of the violence we'd heard of but Dave did some research and we decided it was plenty safe. Plus, we never left the resort except to go to/from the airport. It's a bummer for them that they're so empty but it sure was nice for us!

La Familia Hendrickson. My parents picked up this float for Chloe in the gift shop. It was a great purchase! She loved going in the water and I loved not having to hold her every time she got in the water.

At one point during the week Dave and my Dad took off for a round of golf. They were transported to one of the other Palace Resorts because ours didn't have a golf course. It ended up being an all day affair. My mom had some spa treatments scheduled at the same time (I think she had a massage and facial, or something like that) so she was also gone for 3 hours or so. I was stuck watching the girls all by myself during prime laying-out time! And let me tell you. It was ROUGH! No fun what-so-ever. Here I am watching Solana.
Here I am watching Chloe. (BTW-check out my sweet abs. They already don't look like that so I have to save this picture for proof that they once did. )
15 minutes later I made Solana get out of the sun for a bit. I can't believe they all took off and left me watching the girls. These two are a handful! Lame.

Pool time was fun, relaxing, wonderful, rejuvenating, intoxicating. :-) We can't get enough of those resorts and I almost wish I'd done these blog entries while we were still there. I'm missing our home away from home!

To be continued...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Their Take on Leila's Day

Solana's Take:

Chloe's Take:

Close Call

We picked up Solana from soccer camp and the weather was beautiful so we spent an entire hour on the playground. I was glad Chloe left her sunglasses alone the whole time. Then we got to the van and I took them off. Surprise! Look what was sitting UNDER her eye!

Then I was REALLY glad she left her sunglasses on the whole time - they're the only things that saved her contact. Whew! I had them check the fit on her contacts just the other day. We're hoping her eye just needs a little more time getting used to the contact. Fingers crossed!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Leila's 2nd Angel Day

We spent yesterday remembering, thinking and talking about Leila. After dropping Solana off at soccer camp Chloe and I met my friend, Kim, for breakfast. She'd invited me several days earlier and I was looking forward to having my morning occupied but thought that she just happened to be off that day. When we arrived Kim gave us a beautiful little pot of flowers and said breakfast was her treat. I didn't think anyone would remember and was shocked and touched by her thoughtfulness. Cry 1.

Then my mom sent me a lovely text. Cry 2.

I don't talk about Leila a lot but sometimes it's completely appropriate and a fluid part of the conversation for me to mention her or the "twins." Sometimes I think it makes people uncomfortable and I imagine they rather wish I didn't. I feel like I certainly don't try to shove my grief in anyone's face and I usually speak matter-of-factly. But I also don't try to hide my thoughts of Chloe's twinness or Leila's existence either. If it comes to mind and makes sense I'll just say it. Yesterday I posted something on Facebook about Leila and 20 people commented saying wonderful sweet things about her. It felt so lovely to have her recognized and remembered. I love her so much! Cry 3.

My sister, Leticia, prefers to text me personal messages rather than comment on FB. She did and it was poetic. Cry 4.

After soccer the girls and I ate lunch and then Chloe laid down for her nap. Solana helped me bakc a carrot cake for Leila's special day.

Then we went to Kroger for cream cheese (icing, of course), balloons, and a few other things before stopping at the local bakery for a take-n-bake pizza. By the time Dave got home the pizza was ready and the cake only needed icing. He brought flowers and said they were for all of us but Solana was pretty insistent that they be for Leila. So be it. Solana, Dave, and I then gave a team effort designing and decorating the cake. It came out beautiful. And, if I do say so myself, Solana and I bake the BEST carrot cake.

Solana asked if she could make the peace sign in the picture. (?)

We sat down at the table to eat and I suggested Dave say the prayer. Have you ever noticed that, even in a moment of weakness when you are just a hairs·breadth away from crying, you can still be strong and stoic if someone next to you needs that of you? I ended up saying the prayer. Besides, I'd already cried 4 times that day.

Then we took our balloons outside and wrote messages to Leila. We each sent her one but Chloe got to send her two. Since she is her twin and all... It was sweet and perfect. I like celebrating Leila on her special day. It makes me feel happy and connected to her. And I think it's good for all of us.