Turned a corner…

It’s been a long time since I’ve written much here, but I felt like this was worth writing about. For day-to-day stuff, I’ve found it simpler — despite all of Facebook’s shortcomings and things I dislike about it — to put stuff there…

Li and Monkey on her new bed
Li and sleep: no longer mutually exclusive

Li has definitely turned a corner with respect to sleep: she’s coming closer to sleeping through the night on a regular basis and she’s spending the whole night in her own room. For most of the past year or so, she’s started the night in her room in her bed but has come in and slept on the floor in our room next to our bed at some point during the middle of the night. Prior to that, it was likely to be some combination of time in her bed, time on our floor, and time in our bed. Starting a couple weeks ago, she just started spending the night in her room — sort of all of a sudden — as in the whole night. Two weeks in, and it is rare that she wakes up and fusses.

She’s sleeping; we’re sleeping. It feels odd. It feels great. It is two and a half years of prayers answered all of a sudden…

A New Year Begins

It has been a bit since I last wrote anything here, I realize, but I will try to get caught up on a variety of fronts with sort of a catch-all post here…

Christmas and Li

Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)
Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)

We survived Christmas, with the combination of the holidays and an extended break from work (for me) and school (for Ian) being something of a mixed bag. My workplace shuts down (officially) between Christmas and New Year’s Day for a holiday curtailment, so I took all of the week ahead of Christmas (mostly) off as I had some banked comp hours I needed to use ahead of the end of the year (or lose them) and I’m taking a couple more days after New Year’s, as well, which will stretch my holiday break to almost three weeks. Ian has had the past week and a half off from school, too, so we’ve all been home together for the first time in a long time — which has been wonderful.

Li was definitely “in” to Christmas this year, and loved having three Christmases: ours as a family on Christmas Day, followed by two more as both sets of grandparents came to stay with us for a couple days each. We had decided, after traveling with her for Ian’s state soccer tournament in October, that travel just wasn’t in the cards for us at this point and in retrospect staying home with her (and having visitors here) was the right move.

We tried to keep as much of a routine through the holidays for Li as possible, but we still ended up with some sleep struggles beginning the Friday before Christmas. Lots of rest-less nights, particularly ahead of Christmas itself, and several days with no naps… which were trying and exhausting for all of us to varying degrees. Just in the past couple of days, it seems — based on sleep patterns — that she is working her way out this latest cycle.

Li participating in her first Christmas program at church
Li "participating" in her first Christmas program at church (12/2009)

Aside from the sleep problems, Li is doing great. She continues to grow and develop in leaps and bounds. When it comes to food, her palette is continuing to expand (her new favorite is “pork chop” — pork tenderloin, in actuality, which she tried for Christmas dinner when I grilled a couple) and she’s more willing to try new things. She “participated” in her first Christmas program at church this year, where “participated” would be defined as learning “Away in a Manger” and then standing stoically at the front of the sanctuary with the other kids while they sang. It’s about what we had expected; when we asked if she was going to sing, she responded “No, I already sang that song.” She’s close to reading at this point, and her sense of humor is pretty amazing for a not-yet three year old. We took her sledding for the first time yesterday and she loved it, even being willing to go down the hill by herself.

Deb and Ian

Ian and his adoring little sister
Ian and his adoring little sister, both in tye-die splendor (12/2009)

Ian has a bad case of “end of break blues” right now, but other than that is doing well. He found out in early December that he and a couple of other interns from his summer job won the high school division of ¬†an international digital forensics competition sponsored by the DoD and will be traveling to St. Louis for a related conference in late January (we’re still trying to figure out how this will work). He’s in the midst of the college application process (continually being prodded slowly forward by Deb) but hasn’t yet decided where he will attend. He’s squeezing in a bit of soccer (indoor) when he can and generally suffering through his senior year of high school.

Deb also has been playing a bit of soccer (also indoor), playing in a women’s league and on a team that competed in a Christmas break tournament which was definitely a change of pace for all of us. The highlight of their tournament was playing the eventual tournament winners 3-2 (Deb’s team lost) with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of the match; not bad for a team with 3 players over 50 against a bunch of college-aged players. She has also been attending a weekly Bible study (one that provides childcare for Li during the class), which is a good change of pace for her in a couple of ways.

A Bit of Reading

Over the break, I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading, too. I finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (a gift from Santa’s bibliophilic elf — a tradition at our house) and “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, sandwiched around a bit fluff (“Thunderhead” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child). To Thunderhead’s fluff, “The Road” is flint: beautifully and sparely written, gripping, haunting, disturbing. It’s a movie I won’t see; the book is extraordinary and more troubling than anything I’ve read in a while. It’s the first of his works that I have read, but almost certainly will not be the last. “Into Thin Air” was a gift from Ian; engaging, fairly well-written, tragic.

Some Geek Stuff

I’m in the middle of a couple of projects on the geek front these days, too, in the odd moments of spare time I can squeeze out: working on getting a lightweight CFML and database server environment up and running on my netbook (based on Railo and Apache Derby, respectively) and also working on a CFML mode for ActiveState’s excellent Komodo editor. I will write a bit more on both of those at some point in the near future. I also did a bit of troubleshooting on another project (a cross-platform editor called “redcar” intended to be semi-compatible with TextMate but capable of running on Mac, Linux, and that other OS) and got to play a bit with Ruby in the process.

Those of you with reasonably modern semi-standards-compliant browsers (read: not MSIE) will notice a bit of geekery in the handling of the pix on this particular post. I’ve tweaked the styling for my blog here based on some CSS stuff I was playing with ahead of Christmas. Those of you still clinging to MSIE should consider an alternative…

Catching Up

Li, a big box of new soccer balls, and an active imagination (04/2009)
Li, a big box of new soccer balls, and an active imagination (04/2009)

I just never know what I might find when I walk into our living room. Leave a two year old little girl with a developing love of “the beautiful game” — although I think at this point, her love of the game is based on the fact that her adored big brother Ian plays and every match is an opportunity for her to get to spend a couple of hours outside — alone in a room with a box full of new balls and look what happens…

Soccer is in full swing at this point, occupying a big chunk of our lives, and has been accompanied by the usual early Spring soccer weather: snow, wind, rain, wind, sleet, wind, rain, snow, hail, clouds, wind, and the occasional explosion of a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds. Despite the lousy weather so far this season, Li hasn’t missed any of Ian’s matches. She must dream about it, as well; one morning last week when we brought her in to snuggle up in her little bed in our room at about 2:00 AM, she mumbled “Watch soccer?” in her sleep.

The weather has finally begun to turn to something resembling spring, noticeable particularly just these past couple days. I’m guessing we’ve yet a few snow flurries to suffer through before we can really say, “It’s over!” but it is nice to see the occasional crocus without snow, the lawn greening up (slowly), and the first early signs of leaves beginning to bud on one of our trees. With highs in the upper 50’s, we’ve been able to open windows and let some of that wonderful fresh air in, as well. Deb’s outside right now, doing some early season work in the beds and I know the lengthening and warming days are good for both her and Li.

Li has been sleeping significantly better over the past month or so, with only two or three nights that I would call poor. She’s to the point where she usually wakes up around 2:00 AM and we bring her in to sleep in a small bed in our room for the rest of the night. That change alone has made a big difference for all of us, as we don’t feel nearly as sleep deprived as we have until recently. She’s counting to 10, enjoys showers (in addition to her more-normal bathtime), is stringing more and more words together, has finally learned the word “No” (we knew, unfortunately, that would come eventually), and is showing a more varied palette when it comes to mealtime (although, I think she’d live on homemade apple cider and homemade apple sauce if we let her).

Long Time Gone…

It has been a long time — over a month since Miss Li’s birthday — since I wrote anything here. Time for an update… OK, long overdue for an update…

So, what’s been keeping us busy, you might ask?

A few days after Li’s birthday, I came down with some sort of nasty stomach bug that kept me down and away from work (and almost everything else) for a full week. Much misery, but I’m grateful none of the rest of us came down with this (and I know the rest of us are even more grateful that whatever got me didn’t seem communicable).

Work has been more than hectic, between organizational changes, deadlines, deliverables, and missing a week. I’m glad January is now in our rear-view mirrors; February, although hectic, is beginning to feel like I’m beginning to be caught up. Probably just an illusion, I know.

Li at the piano (January 2009)
Li at the piano (January 2009)

Li is, generally speaking, continuing to do well. We’ve struggled recently with another stretch of about 10 days or so of sleep problems. Problems as in, when Li doesn’t sleep or doesn’t sleep well, neither do Deb or I. Those nights tend to lead to long brittle days for all of us. The past few days, however, have been much better and the good days, though, are really good… she’s growing, and her vocabulary is blossoming. She loves to play the piano, loves to draw, has taken to helping dry dishes and helping set the table for dinner (we’re trying to convince her to get Ian to help more often with these things, but so far it’s not working — but not because she isn’t trying). She has a “vacuum” that she uses to help clean the house — a cardboard wrapping paper tube that she walks around the house with, saying “baboo, baboo”. She seems to like to say “Yes!” with an emphatic nod (and despite being two, has not yet discovered the power of “No” yet — at least not the verbal version of “No”), and she says an emphatic “Amen!” at the end of our pre-meal prayer.

Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)
Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)

Ian got his driver’s license this past week, which is also milestone of sorts.

We’ve been doing a bit of reading over the past few weeks, as well. I’ve enjoyed “Pattern Recognition” and “Idoru”, both by William Gibson and both very good. I also enjoyed “The Eleventh Man” by Ivan Doig, and although it was good, I don’t feel like it was up to the extraordinary standard he set with his earlier works. I’m part way through “The Irregulars”, which is a biographical account of Roald Dahl’s involvement with the British intelligence community in the US during World War II. He’s always been an intriguing author: we’ve long loved some of his kid lit, and his adult stuff is so off-beat that it’s interesting to learn a little about the guy behind the BFG and other books. Deb has been doing some reading on the subject of “spirited children” given what we are continuing to see from Li, and there have been some valuable insights from that.

Soccer is starting to ramp up, which seems odd given our very wintry winter with no real sign of spring yet. Ian and I are headed to Las Vegas next weekend for a season-opening tournament this weekend, so the team has been doing a bit of fitness work and is playing in the indoor league, but we haven’t been able to train as a group. It will be an interesting start to the season, I’m thinking. Some of the politics surrounding youth soccer have reared their heads again this past week which continues to take a bit of the luster off the Beautiful Game, too… maybe more on that later, but probably not. Deb is also playing adult co-ed indoors these days — she’s actually off playing as I draft this post — and enjoying both the game and the social aspect of adult conversation. Probably says a great deal about life around our house these days.

A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.
A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.

All of that doesn’t leave much in the way of spare time. I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering on some technical stuff for an open source software project (which occupied most of what I might consider spare time available for geek stuff for the past 3 months), and I’ve also been working on a facelift for the blog. Here’s a preview at right, and with any luck I’ll have this in place in the next couple weeks (although these things have a way of taking much longer than I tend to think). My goals for this are a lightweight theme that’s reasonably attractive (particularly in light of who is creating it), fluid (enabling it to take better advantage of screen real estate — both large and small), standards compliant in its markup, and easy to maintain/tweak. It will take advantage of some of the capabilities of current browsers (things like rounded corners), will use jQuery for some subtle enhancements, and will (hopefully) degrade gracefully for those still forced to suffer with old broken technology like MSIE v6. OK, probably more than just two weeks, but it is coming…

Week 2: A Tough Week for Li

Kind of a tough second week for Li, with more lows than highs…

  • She came down with a stomach bug early in the week that necessitated a scaling back of her diet, lots of diaper changes, and lots of laundry. She shared it with Deb, it would seem, on Tuesday which made for a long day for all of us. By Wednesday afternoon, though, she seemed to have shaken it and was feeling better.
  • Late Wednesday and early Thursday, Li just didn’t seem to feel good. As best we can tell from the symptoms, she was dealing with a slight reaction to her MMR shot a week earlier — not all that uncommon but obviously not all that pleasant either.
  • Li, Deb, and Grandma StewartShe met one set of her grandparents on Friday (that visit having been postponed from Tuesday for obvious reasons) as my parents came over for the day from Twin Falls. We weren’t really sure what to expect from her. She was pretty quiet and slow in the morning, still dealing with the aftermath of the shot the previous week. After her mid-day nap — not yet a regular occurrence — she seemed to be feeling better, and had a great afternoon with all of us. We went out for Chinese food at our favorite local place and she loved it.
  • Li woke up unhappy at 3am Saturday and aside from sleeping fitfully for a couple of 30 minute-ish stretches didn’t sleep again until collapsing somewhere around 10pm. Every little thing resulted in what looked and sounded like a temper tantrum (kicking, screaming, arched back) that would go on for (in a couple cases) an hour or more. We’d love to know what was wrong, but we have no way of getting into her little head to find out. As best we could tell, there wasn’t anything physically amiss. This was the toughest day yet for all of us since we got her, and was all the more unexpected based on how she was Friday afternoon and evening. At one point or another during this day, all of us except Ian, was in tears from frustration, anger, and/or exhaustion.
  • Sunday started with a 6am wakeup, but she was generally happy. Li showed no inclination to go back to bed and was happy to play with toys in our bedroom for an hour or so as we dozed and finished waking up. She ate well at breakfast and then promptly fell asleep in my arms after breakfast for an hour and a half nap; given Saturday, we were reluctant to try to put her down and just let her nap in our arms. She woke just in time for a quick snack before church — her first time there — and she did great at church: she seemed to like the music, wanted to walk a bit during the message, and lasted until the very end of the service by which time she was getting a little antsy. She was a bit overwhelmed with all of the attention and new faces, but dealt with all of it pretty well. She had a great afternoon, with a bit of a nap in the stroller during Mom’s walk (the weather has finally turned a bit warmer!) and enjoyed being outside while we got a bit of yardwork done. Ate well at dinner, a good bath, books, and then she went down to sleep with only a minor squawk or two. (It’s nearly 6am as I am drafting this, and she has only fussed a couple of times during the night, making this the closest we have come to a full night’s sleep so far.)

This will be an interesting week to watch, as I head back to work on a half-day basis and it is going to be a busy week with Ian’s parent/teacher conferences, soccer every day (including a tournament in Pocatello next weekend), Deb’s folks visiting on Tuesday and Wednesday, and all of us continuing to move toward some sort of regular pattern of life.