"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I'm grateful to have had a couple of hours to just hang out with Eleanor this afternoon and not have to be somewhere or go anywhere else.  We just played in the quiet of her room and I took a few photos. 
Hmm... how can I fit this baby into my bed? 
 Guess she'll just have to lay in the cradle. 
 Have I mentioned that she  can open doors now?  Our handles are the lever style (see picture below) and if she stands on her tip toes than she can reach the handle and pull down.  It's easier to open doors that she can push open, but she can also open doors that she has to pull to open.  She doesn't just open doors, she goes in and closes the door behind her.  She had just opened her bedroom door and turned around to see if I was watching before she left the room. 
 Trying to get that baby doll to stand up. 
 She was interested in my lens cover because it's a circle.  She just kicked back and traced the shape with her finger. 
She's been identifying circles and stars for quite a while, but most recently she can also identify triangles.  We had shown her a triangle shaped toy one night and she repeated the word (which is adorable by the way), but I didn't think she would retain it until she pointed out a triangle on her pajamas a few days later and said, "Ti-an-gle".  She amazes me with something every day.  Is that normal?  To identify shapes at this age?  I don't know, but I think she's pretty smart. (Also, I'm trying not to say "You're so smart!" to her, because I don't want to give her a big head.  I do think she's so smart, but I'd rather point out how observant or creative she is so as to encourage her to keep learning and not just be cocky about what she can already do.) 
It's not the 4th of the month, but I've spent so much time focused on and writing about Grandpa in the last month that I'm going to take the time to write about what else Eleanor has been doing.  So if you aren't interested in my bragging then move along. 
Still reading?  Okay then, let the mommy gushing continue. 
I get emails from a parenting website every month.  Today I got one about Eleanor turning 18 months old soon and all the developmental things she may be up to.  It began with, "An expanding 15-20 word vocabulary makes for a thrilling accomplishment this month!"  Isn't that cute?  15-20 words!  Ha!  My talking toddler laughs in the face of your development milestone!  I actually sat there and counted in my head and I could think of at least 120 words that she uses frequently, spontaneously, and clearly enough to communicate with us.  That's just counting the words that actually sound like what she intends to say.  Example: She says "bobble" for "bottle".  It sounds like what she means and it clearly communicates what she intends.  She has more words that don't sound like what she means, but get her point across anyway. Example: her favorite food right now is Cuties (mandarin oranges).  Since they sit in a bowl on the kitchen table, she has full view of them every time we sit down to eat.  It took me a while to realize that "noonsh" means orange.  She points, nods yes, and says, "Noonsh!" It doesn't sound much like "orange", but it gets her point across.  She often puts two words together.  Example:  "Poopy potty".  She's recently begun stringing three words together.  Example: "I did it!"  or "There it is!" 
She is walking and starting to run and is doing some climbing, all of which she does with great caution and care.  She's not reckless at all and rarely has falls (somebody knock on wood, please).  We found out this week that if she stretches out and gets on her tip toes that she can reach the edge of the kitchen counters.  I need to measure her height and see how tall she's gotten, because reaching door knobs and counter tops doesn't seem possible, but it is.  She's started walking backward, side stepping and turning in circles in the last couple of weeks and seems quite impressed with herself. 
Know what else I'm surprised about?  Potty training.  If you're still reading then I'm going to assume that you are okay with toddler potty talk.  If you aren't then you should stop reading now. 
We definitely aren't going all in on the potty training because there's been so much else going on (and she's only 17 months old), but I'm really just letting her take the lead and it's going really well.  It started right before Christmas when the potty chairs arrived.  I set them up and would let her come with me when I went to the bathroom.  I would take her diaper off, let her sit on the potty if she wanted, and just see what happened.  The very first time she sat on the potty, she peed, looked down, got wide eyes, and said, "Whoa!"  After that first time, she was game.  I don't ever make her do it, but if I can tell she needs to go and she's getting impatient then I sit on the floor beside her and we read a book until she's done.  Pooping seems to be easier to do in the potty because there's more warning time when she needs to go.  Once she's done she stands up and says, "Good girl!  Potty!"  Being out and about makes the potty thing more difficult and she usually doesn't ask to go, but on Christmas Eve we were at Dottie's and she patted her bottom and said "potty".  I made the mistake of trying to sit her on the big toilet and she sort of freaked out.  By the time I asked for and found the baby potty, it was too late and she was upset.  Anyway, it's awesome that she's trying and having some success and I hope that it means that she will continue to figure it out on her own until she's officially potty trained.  At this point I just think it's cool that we're saving a diaper or two a day by going potty. 
Maybe it's only fair to point out the not-so-cool things that she's doing, too.  How about the word "no"?  It's not cute and she uses it loudly & frequently, especially if someone talks to her or gets too close.  That's not even just with new people, it could be people that she knows and loves.  It embarrasses me, but I think it's normal.  Right?  Right? She's not too keen on sharing, either.  If she could, then I think she would say, "That's mine, that's mine, and that's mine.  You can't have it and you really shouldn't even touch it."  Since she's not quite that articulate yet, she just screams and starts swinging.  Add that to the not-so-cool list.  Maybe it's time to pull out that Love And Logic parenting book again and brush up on some parenting techniques. 
So as not to end this unexpectedly long post on a sour note, let's end with a picture.  Seriously, y'all.  She's just lovely.  I just want to squish her and kiss her all day (until she screams and starts swinging, of course). 


Things have been kind of crappy with Grandpa for a few days. The short of it is... 
His arterial fibrillation causes his heart rate to be irregular and sometimes dangerously high. The medication to control that has caused his blood pressure to go too low. Keeping him hydrated has been one way to encourage better blood pressure. Too much IV fluids caused fluid retention, complicated his congestive heart failure, and resulted in fluid in his lungs. Fluid in the lungs (in addition to laying in bed for such a long time) turned in to pneumonia and pulmonary edema. Treating pneumonia required antibiotics, treating pulmonary edema required steroids, and getting rid of excess fluid required Lasix. Too much Lasix can stress his already compromised kidneys, so that has to be closely monitored. All of that boils down to trying to find a balance that clears up his lungs and maintains an acceptable heart rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure. How to fix one thing without making another worse has been an ordeal, but the doctors and nurses at Mercy Hosptal have been fantastic. One doctor put it like this... we are driving on a narrow road with large ditches on each side, we are just trying to stay on the road. Oh yeah, and this all started with a hip replacement. That part seems to be doing okay and today physical therapy was able to get him up and in a chair for the first time in a few days. This morning the doctor was hopeful that he will be stable enough to go back to rehab in the next day or two. 
Mentally, Grandpa has been anywhere from unwilling & unable to open his eyes or say anything understandable to wide eyed and alert but not quite coherent.  
I'm grateful that Drew has had this week off from work so that Eleanor can stay at home with Daddy and I can be at the hospital as necessary. 
Continued prayers are appreciated. 

In addition to all of Grandpa's stuff, Tuesday was Alex's birthday. She would have been 14 years old. We celebrated her by watching & sharing her 11th birthday Roar video and visiting her grave. Sunday will mark three years since she passed and that's hard to comprehend. In some ways it feels like it's been a hundred years and in other ways it seems like yesterday. That's a lot of emotion to process, especially on top of everything else that is happening with Grandpa right now. 

Am I the only one that thinks that having a project that is completely unnecessary can be therapeutic? I'm not talking about something that needs to be done. I'm talking about a wild hair that is done purely because it seems like a good idea. Something that serves almost no purpose but to look beautiful, burn some energy, and provide some sense of control over some tiny portion of life. I present to you... Mandy & Drew's Great Fireplace Makeover. Can you say shiplap and super awesome new mantle?  Designed by me and custom made by Drew. Move over Chip & Joanna Gaines, the Harrises are in town. 
Before (totally acceptable builder's choice fireplace & mantel, complete with toys & child sized furniture, because, you know, we live here): 
In process, with help from Eleanor (also, don't try this at home, the safety measures are questionable): 
Side by side. Left is before, right is after. 
You guys, it's so beautiful and I love it. I'll have to take better photos with the big camera, especially once I find the perfect thing to hang in the middle. Drew did a fabulous job, the living room has a fresh & custom feature, and nobody was injured in the makeover of this fireplace. Win, win, win. 

I'll leave you with a snap shot of an intense light saber battle between father and daughter. Y'all, I'm not even a Star Wars fan (gasp!) and even I know this is epic.