Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun with Fall

As I write, there are 28mph winds outside blowing our tidy little piles of leaves all over the yard.  Which is a big boo.  But it's also 67 degrees outside, which I suppose makes up for it, right?

We're enjoying fall here in Chicagoland, with the alternating freezing and warm weather.  We're taking lots of walks, enjoying the outdoor playgrounds while we can, and keeping all of our fingers crossed for Byron's third round interviews at ACCO on Tuesday.  :)  If that works out, we'll be staying here in Chicagoland, which would be really exciting.

A few entertaining kiddo tidbits:  in the last two days, Leo has started saying "yes" instead of "yeah."  Not sure where that came from, but it seems to be a very conscious thing.  He'll say "yeah," then stop himself and say "yes" instead.  Makes him sound like such a big boy!  The train obsession continues, so I'm sure we'll have a christmas of trains trains trains....

And Mikaela is babbling nonstop, and scootching all over the floor.  It's not quite crawling, but it's definitely intentional movement. 

Hoping we have good job news to share soon.  In the meantime, enjoy more fall pictures in the Fall 2011 album on Flickr.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trains and crawling

Not sure how I managed to have such a long lapse in posting.  You know how sometimes when your schedule is wide open it's even easier to procrastinate?  I have that problem.  I get more done when I have less time.  And we've had all sorts of time on our hands.
In a nutshell, we have relocated up to Chicagoland, and are currently staying with Byron's parents in the burbs.  Byron's still job hunting (had a good phone interview with one company and a couple really solid leads elsewhere, but no offers yet).  Mikaela turned 6 months old this week (!) and is working really hard at crawling (!!!).  I mean it's great, but wow.  Not really ready for it.  Kinda thought we'd be all settled in somewhere by the time we had to deal with stage 1 babyproofing again. In the last two weeks, she's progressed from just pushing up with her arms, to getting her belly all the way off the floor, to getting up on her knees, to rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, then skootching backward, to now getting a little forward momentum.  I think we're just weeks away from genuine crawling.  I don't remember exactly when Leo started crawling, but I'm pretty sure she's ahead of him.
We've also started feeding her a little solid food, which she is taking to with mixed results.  First feed - great.  Grabbed the spoon and shoved it into her own mouth and devoured it.  Next few times, most of it got spit right back out.  Meh.  We'll keep working on it.
And she's still a pretty happy little girl.  Lots of smiles for everyone, she laughs hysterically quite often (at a sneezing cat, her brother doing all sorts of things, and Daddy making silly faces).  If we were settled I'd be starting to work on transitioning her into a crib (and out of my bed) but that's hard to do in a temporary space where you don't want to wake the whole house up.  Oh and where you don't have a spare crib.  :)

Leo has developed a real obsession for Thomas the Tank Engine, so his days are largely stuffed with trains train trains trains.  Which would be OK if he didn't often insist that we play trains with him.  You can only sit on the floor playing trains for so long before you never want to see a train again.

Overall, our lives are still very unsettled and up in the air.  But all things considered, we are coping pretty well.  Things could be worse, but we'll certainly be relieved and excited when Byron gets a job and we can settle somewhere. I'm ready to put our homeless austerity program to an end!

Plenty more pictures for your viewing pleasure on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A short and amusing story for you.  Last week, we had some severe lightning and thunder, and Great Grma taught Leo the word 'thunder.'  He thought it was pretty cool, and called out "Thunder!" every time he heard it.

Fast forward to a few days ago.  Leo was playing with his cars and trains with Grandma, and let out a big fart as he was squatting over to move a car.  Grandma said "Oooh Leo, what was that?" to which Leo enthusiastically replied with a grin, "THUNDER!!!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hot Times In The Country

Here is a visual sampling of some of the adventures we're having down here in Missouri - learning to wash the car, playing around Grandma's house, splashing in the creek.....

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"That way, o-tay"

These are Leo's new favorite words.  Yes, he has become a chatterbox.  We understand most of what he says, though some of it still sounds like Russian gibberish.  He has started to say "otay" at the end of every request, as if he's learned that that's the word we use to say yes, so if he says it then his request will be approved.  It's pretty cute.  He repeats EVERYTHING we say, which means Mommy has to be very careful what she says sometimes...

Last week, Byron and I were wondering when imagination begins to flourish in a child, and I can now positively state that Leo has hit that stage.  We're at my mom's house right now, and she picked up a little kitchen play set for him (which he totally totally loves).  He has spent hours playing with all the parts of the kitchen, particularly a blender which he then brings around to pour us drinks.  One strawberry daiquiri please! But his favorite part of the kitchen is a little plastic phone.  He'll hold it up to his ear and walk around having conversations with imaginary people.  The other day he was walking around saying " you too.....bye bye."  Repeatedly.  It was pretty awesome. 

Speaking of my mom's - we are here in lovely Potosi Missouri for a bit while Byron continues the job hunt.  He graduated from the Notre Dame MBA program at the end of May.  We spent two weeks in Chicago at Byron's parents house, and after here we might head down to Florida.  Who knows.  Leo is enjoying all the attention from family, and we are enjoying the generosity of meals and a place to sleep. :) 

As for little Miss Mikaela, she is getting big in a rush (she's already 14 pounds! and almost 13 weeks old!) and she rolled over for the first time last week.  She smiles alot, "agoo"s and "aga"s alot, and is already starting into the pre-teething drool stage.  Nothing more fun than having two children who drool alot.  She's continuing to be a great sleeper, thank god.  Now if she'd stop leaking through her clothes several times a day, life would be peachy!  She's even starting to find her own thumb every once in a while, which is a fantastic development for a child that has no interest in a pacifier.

Gotta go, Leo says we have to "go that way otay!", wherever that way is.....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

6 Weeks and 2 Years

Little Miss Mikaela is 6 weeks old now, which is hard to believe.  She's proven to be a pretty happy girl so far - sleeps well, eats well, all the usual baby earmarks of excellence.  And just in time for Mother's Day, she has started to smile at us.  She'll smile back at me when she's in the right mood, and I saw her smile up at the animals dangling above her changing table.  I haven't managed to get a picture of it yet, but I'm trying.  She's currently going through the standard newborn acne period - good thing she won't remember us calling her pizza face. 
And she's getting big - at her 1 month check-up she was a few ounces shy of 11 pounds.  And she's a couple inches taller and her head growth is good too, so she's in about the 75th percentile in every category.  Now if only she were happier to hang out with Daddy, everything would be peachy. 

Mister Leo has actually been more of a challenge these days than Mikaela - this kid now has tantrums and meltdowns at the drop of a hat.  Could be his age (turns 2 next week!!!), could be sibling jealousy, could be he is intentionally trying to drive us crazy.  Whatever it is, it's been really challenging to deal with.  He has become especially attached to Daddy (since they do more fun stuff together these days  - both intentionally to give him attention but also as a side effect of nicer weather), so whenever Byron leaves to go to school, Leo gets very upset.  Hopefully this will pass soon, because all his wailing is driving us crazy.  Though I imagine the drama and activity of moving (to an as of yet undetermined location) after graduation means we won't see the end of his emotional roller coaster any time soon.  He's getting more articulate every day, starting to speak in phrases, so maybe he'll at least start using words instead of wails to express whatever the problem is...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bare Bottom Pics

Christine Sweet, the wife of one of Byron's classmates, is a photographer looking to break into newborn photography.  She took these beautiful pictures of Miss Mikaela last weekend - and I'm really excited to finally share them with you! Here are a few of my faves, check out the entire collection on Flickr:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Settling In

Our little girl is a week and a half old now, and we're settling into the new normal at home.  Just like her birth was the opposite of Leo's, her adjustment to life outside the womb has been opposite to his.  She is a super sleepy girl - most nights start with a 3 to 4 hour uninterrupted chunk of sleep, with just a few more brief wake-ups the rest of the night.  I can honestly (and surprisingly) say that I feel pretty well rested.  And she is sleeping most of the day still - and can drift off to sleep on her own without nursing.  She doesn't cry much, is happy to lay in her bassinet and look around when awake, and is generally super easy.  It's basically a miracle.  :)  Especially for a second child, we are very appreciative of how easy she is.  Leo actually gets more time and attention from me now than he did the last few months, now that I don't have pregnancy exhaustion and size holding me back. 

While I do love the fact that she is a relaxed, easy baby, I am looking forward to her waking up a bit more soon.  I'm ready to see her smile (while not asleep) and play. 

Leo is taking to her pretty well so far - he tries to help rock her bassinet (but too vigorously), or shove her head back onto my chest when she's already finished breastfeeding.  When she cries he usually says "baby cry" but mostly he just ignores her. 

A funny thing I've noticed is how big Leo seems to me after handling her.  I mean, he's a big toddler, but once you spend a few hours handling a newborn (so light!) then Leo seems enormous.  And heavy.  Very heavy.  But on the other hand, I appreciate it so much more when he can do things like help us dress him.  After dressing a squirming newborn, simple things like Leo helping to push his arms into the sleeves of a shirt are much appreciated.  And a silent newborn makes his happy (and effusive) speech even more enjoyable.  Each of them makes me appreciate the other all the more.

I'm sure we'll have plenty of challenging days ahead, sleepless nights and sibling fights, but for the moment, things are blissfully easier than expected.  Now please excuse me while I go knock on wood.

I'll keep posting pics on Flickr:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Presenting Mikaela Green Kern

She's here at last!  Last night was crazy, and not at all the birth I expected.  I had some decent but very sporadic contractions all day, but nothing consistent.  We were scheduled to come in to the hospital at 8:30pm to start me on a low dose of Pitocin (a labor induction drug) with the hopes that since I was already a little bit dilated and softened, a low dose administered overnight while I slept would get things going.  I was even prescribed a sleeping pill. 

So we checked in, and by the time everything was all hooked up with about 10:45.  The nurses said we probably wouldn't see any action for a while, so we decided Byron should head back home for the night (we only live 5 minutes away) and get some sleep, and be ready to be called back in as soon as things started to happen.  The nurses assured me they wouldn't be unecessarily waking me up all night, and strapped on the fetal heartrate and contraction monitors and left me to sleep. 

I dozed on and off for about two hours before I started to get some pretty decent contractions, but I was able to breathe/moan my way through them as I laid on my side.  At about 3 am they started to get really strong, and I started to wish I hadn't sent Byron home.  But I figured I would wait a little while longer before calling the nurses back in (I had long intense contractions with Leo for hours, so I had no reason to think this wouldn't be the case again).  Well by 3:15, each contraction came with an urge to push, which I tried to ignore, thinking I just needed to relax a bit (it couldn't possibly be time to push already, right?).  Finally at 3:30, I just HAD to get up out of the bed, and had a contraction as I sat up that sent a gush of liquid down my leg.  For some reason, I was sure I had just peed on myself.  Ha. Turns out it was my water breaking.

I scooted into the bathroom, and the moment I sat down on the toilet I was overwhelmed by the need to push.  Now I've heard other women say before that they feel a strong urge to push, but with Leo it was never that intense - I pushed with him because they said I was ready.  Not so this time.  There was nothing in this world that could have stopped me.  For some reason (grogginess maybe?), I still wasn't convinced I was pushing out a baby - but 15 seconds later her head was out, and I reached down and grabbed her and pushed one more time and pulled her up onto my lap. She cried for about 5 seconds, them tucked in next to me.

After hyperventilating for a few seconds, I remembered there was a nurse call button next to me, and whacked it.  And then sat there, by myself on the toilet, still hyperventilating, and looking at the baby on my lap.  The nurse showed up about 15 seconds later, and with a very shocked look on her face, said "Oh.  You had a baby."  About 5 other nurses appeared about of nowhere, and limped me back to the bed, cleaned up and checked over the baby, and summoned the on-call doctor to check me over and deliver the placenta. 

And oh yeah, called Byron to tell him to come back in because his wife just had the baby.  Craziness.

Despite the wild delivery, she started to nurse right away (and vigorously).  And nursed well all morning before spending the vast majority of this afternoon asleep.  She's officially 9 pounds, 1 ounce, and 21 inches long.  When I asked one of the nurses about whether they could see any of my increasing contractions on their monitor, she said that because I was laying on my side, it didn't show up as strongly as it should.  So they had no idea how close I was.

So somehow, I had an unattended, self-delivered birth in the middle of a hospital.  It sucks that Byron missed it, but it's still much better than lingering on for 3 days.  I'll take 4 hours of intensity over Leo's 53 hours anytime. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Still waiting

 I was hoping to have exciting baby Kern arrival news to share with you, but we're still waiting.  She was due March 15th, and here we are five days later.  Boo. Not even last night's supermoon drew her out.  I've had plenty of sporadic contractions, and lots of discomfort, but nothing substantial so far. We're headed back to the midwife's office tomorrow for the standard post-due ultrasound (to make sure there's enough amniotic fluid in there) and non-stress test to monitor heart rate and all that. We'll probably discuss setting a date for induction late next week assuming we get that far.

In the meantime, we can only wait.  My mom came up from Missouri for the last week, with the intention of watching Leo while we were at the hospital and all that.  No dice there, and she had to drive home this morning, but she became Leo's new best friend while she was here (I think every other word out of his mouth was "Graaammaaaww"). We hit up every playground in town, and even got to play outside a bit when some freakishly good weather hit for a few days. They had tons and tons of playtime and giggles, and Leo was pretty inconsolable (for about 5 minutes) when she drove off this morning. 
 Happily, Byron's mom is on her was over from Chicago at this moment to be on hand for Leo-watching for a while, so he gets a new Gram to play with.  Hopefully this girl shows up soon!  In the meantime, pictures of Leo will have to suffice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Almost an Outtie!

My belly button never popped out with Leo.  You'd think a kid that turned out to be a whopping 9 pounds 5 ounces would cause a girl's belly button to pop, but no.  And it may sound weird, but it's just one of this little things I always kinda wanted to happen. 
And now here I am, at 36 weeks with little Kernel #2, and I have almost popped!  There's still a slight indentation, but it's getting shallower by the day.  Ergo, baby girl is getting bigger and bigger, though hopefully (please God) not getting up to Leo's birth weight (or 95th percentile head size...)
All seems to be progressing well with the pregnancy - lots and lots of vigorous movement, plenty of Braxton-Hicks contractions, still lots of hiccups, you know - all the usual things.  We've got a stack of cute (and oh-so-tiny) basic clothes all washed and folded, and a little sleeper/rocker/bassinet thing for daytime downstairs naps.  We're ready to rock!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are we there yet?

South Bend has received an astonishing 92 inches of snow this season.  And don't look now, but it's currently snowing!  Sigh.  Ready for this winter to be over. 

As you can tell from this picture, however, a certain member of our family is enjoying the weather.  We happened upon a super-cheap pair of snow pants on a clearance rack in his size (miracle!) and suited him up last week to go explore the frozen tundra that is our backyard.  The snow was so deep that he had a really hard time walking it in, but he had a fantastic time.  And when he saw his swing dangling from the tree, he insisted on swinging in it.  As you can imagine looking at this picture, he was squealing with excitement.  He also tried to eat a snowball, but was a little less enthusiastic about the results. 

In other ready-for-it-to-be-over news, I have 5 weeks left until little Kern #2 is due to show up.  Which means she could show up (early) any time soon.  I've definitely gotten to that stage of pregnancy where all the shine has come off - my hip joints hurt, I feel slow and out of breath alot, I'm always tired regardless of how many hours I sleep (when I can comfortably sleep) and I'm just ready for this to be over.  Seriously, are we there yet?  Medically, everything is going quite well - blood pressure, blood sugar, weight gain, belly measurement, all on track.  And thank God, no ridiculous itchy rash on my arms and legs like I had with Leo.   Just a weariness undoubtedly augmented by the daily demands of a toddler.....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ride 'em, little doggie

An amusing video for you from our Christmastime visit with Byron's family, wherein Leo rides, pets, pokes, pushes, smacks, and hugs Monty, Uncle Scott & Aunt Adee's dog. I don't think Monty is even aware that Leo is in the same room.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Christmas break is (finally) officially over - Byron started back at school today. It was great having time of for us all to travel and play together, but it's honestly nice to be back into our normal lives. Other friends (and their kids) are back in town now, playgroups are scheduled again, and our spring student loan payout has finally dispersed (big hooray!).

As for Christmas, we spent a week at my mom's in Missouri, then a week and a half at Byron's folks in Chicago. Leo got to see (and play with) a ton of family members, and came home with a ton of really cool new toys. He got to go 4-wheeling (that's riding an ATV for you non-country folks), make snowballs, play with a dog, show off his dancing skills, drag both of his great-grandmothers around, and help 'decorate' the Christmas tree with his Legos. Considering all the travel, new people, and unfamiliar sleeping places, he was a champ. You can see more pictures of our travels on my Flickr page:

But the most exciting part of the time (for us anyway) was hearing his sudden language explosion. The pediatrician said it would happen around 18 months, and we've really seen it over the last 3 weeks. He now repeats everything, and says words without prompting. While most people wouldn't understand most of the words he says, we can really understand quite alot. And he loves letters and numbers - he loves to watch Wheel of Fortune and repeat all the letters as they come up. We're pretty excited about this development, mainly because it means an a near end to all of the moaning and pointing he's been doing! He has also developed an absolute love of clementines (up to 3 a day, sometimes 2 in a row) and is getting pretty good at peeling them and separating segments without much help.

So our little boy is growing up fast. Which is good, considering he's going to be a big brother in about two months. Guess that means I should enjoy this relative calm while I can?