December 26, 2011

Macy's and the "Hozzle-dazzle" 2011

Like last year, and as I am hoping will become a holiday tradition, we went downtown with my parents a couple of weeks ago to see the Macy's show and the Holidazzle parade. Audia of course loved seeing all of the elves and reindeer doing silly things. Callen, on the other hand, was a little less sure of the whole thing. Over the past couple of weeks I think we've come to discover that while he sure is a laid back little dude, he also is very sensitive to loud and hectic events. Not that I can blame him....I am the same way!

After the Macy's show, we decided to try to have the kids picture taken with Santa. Audia was a bit unsure of sitting on a strangers lap (who can blame her?!) so we got in the photo too. I'm actually glad we did; it is very rare to get a picture of the four of us together!

 Then we went outside and braved the cold (ok, so it wasn't cold so much as it was windy) to watch the Holidazzle parade. Or, as Audia calls it, "the Hozzle-dazzle parade." It was definitely Audia's favorite part of the evening; she loves Christmas lights, and to watch a ton of floats decked out in them go by was her idea of the perfect evening!

 It certainly was a fun time, and I really look forward to the coming years where Callen can enjoy and understand a bit more of what's going on!

December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays! 2011

I have been meaning to write a post about some fun holiday things we've been doing over the past couple of weeks but time has gotten away from me! Hopefully I'll find some time to blog before the new year. In the meantime, here's wishing you the happiest of holidays!

December 17, 2011

Callen at 6 months

6 months!
Our little man turned 6 months old a week ago. We had his well check yesterday, and at 19 lbs, 13 oz (90th percentile) and 28.5" (97th percentile,) he's still growing like a weed. His weight gain has slowed down a bit, but according to Dr. S, it's nothing to be concerned about. Apparently it's typical for breastfed babies to start off chunky and then lean out around this time. As solids become a more substantial part of his diet, the weight gain will pick up again.

We have tried rice cereal a few times and squash once just last week, and while he certainly has lost that tongue-thrust reflex, he also doesn't seem all that interested in baby food. We'll try some oatmeal this week, and maybe even mix it with some fruit to make it more interesting. Admittedly I'm not as gung-ho about getting him on solids as I was with Audia. A little more seasoned in parenting, I would rather let him take things at his own pace. I'm all too aware how kids will do things on their own, in their own way, in their own time.

While Dr. S said he definitely has enough core strength to be sitting up on his own, Callen has no interest in sitting up. As soon as he's put in a sitting position, he twists to the side to get on his belly and then starts rolling across the floor. He can pivot 360 degrees in the blink of an eye, and is really figuring out how to get around.

He is still one of the happiest babies I've ever met; while he is starting to show a bit of that 'stranger danger' that babies get around this age, he still smiles what seems like constantly, and loves to giggle and babble at us. Most of his babbles sound like "Hi," which I get a huge kick out of.

Callen adores Audia like no other, and I am so grateful that the feeling seems to be mutual. No one can make him laugh like his big sister can, and she is still so good with him. She loves to hug him, make silly faces at him, sing to him, and talk to him. Watching their relationship develop is one of my favorite things so far about being a mom. I am sure that they'll have their rivalries, but I can also see a strong bond in their future.  

November 17, 2011

If I could put time in a bottle....

Yes, I did just quote a super corny song. But the words ring true. There is something about having a second child that really puts time in perspective. It definitely gets put into perspective with one, but then when number two comes along for whatever reason it really solidifies things. With number one, phases seem to drag on because you don't know how long they will last and you're not really sure what the heck you're doing. With two, you know from experience that everything is fleeting and you get more of a chance to truly cherish the moment and mourn the moment's passing.

Callen is doing this thing lately where, after a feed, he'll nuzzle his face into my neck, close his eyes, and make pterodactyl noises. It's this half squawk/half groan sound that he'll make for a few minutes as he falls asleep on my chest. To anyone else it is probably the most irritating sound on the planet, but for me it is the sweetest noise in the world. And it brings tears to my eyes, knowing that in a few weeks chances are he won't be doing it anymore. I would give anything to be able to put those moments in a bottle and keep them, to be able to re-live them whenever I please.

And the same goes for Audia; she is at a stage of her life where she is testing and asserting independence, but she still has this fierce need for our closeness, both physically and emotionally. I do everything I can, in those moments that she climbs into my lap or into bed with me in the morning to snuggle, to just breathe her in and enjoy it. Because goodness knows it will be all-too-soon that she won't need me in that way nearly as often as she does now.

My babies are growing up. And they won't ever stop. I love it and I hate it.

November 11, 2011

Callen at 5 Months

Our little buddy sure is keeping us busy these days! According to my measurements, Callen's now 19.5 lbs and 28.25"! At the rate he's growing, he'll be out of his infant carseat in a month or two, which is probably for the best as carrying him around in it is getting a bit difficult. He figured out how to roll to get places about a week ago, and has been keeping us on our toes ever since. There's no more putting him on his play mat on the floor while I wash dishes or throw in a load of laundry; goodness knows where I'd find him when I came back!
Just heading into the kitchen, Mom! No big deal.
He is still teething, and just yesterday I noticed what I think is his lower front left tooth starting to break through. It's hard to get a good look with all of his talking and smiling though. He's been passing toys back and forth between his hands for a couple of weeks, and just recently discovered his hands. It is so funny to watch him stare at a hand while he moves it closer to and farther from his face, wiggling his fingers just to really be sure that he is in control of this thing that he's looking at. His favorite thing to watch, however, is still his sister. The way that he looks, smiles, squeals, and laughs at Audia is absolutely heart-melting. He is in such awe of, and so totally in love with his big sissy. And while she has a hard time understanding that he doesn't purposely try to pull her hair or clothes, she is still absolutely wonderful with him. I love watching their relationship develop!


November 7, 2011

Tyrannical Threes

Before I had kids, and even while Audia was a baby, I had heard plenty about the "Terrible Twos." Enough so that I braced myself for all hell to break loose and prepared for the worst. Maybe it's because I was expecting the worst that the "Terrible Twos" didn't really seem that bad. Sure, we had our days of testing and we had quite a few nights of refusal to go to sleep or stay asleep, but overall the twos just did not seem that terrible. And maybe because of that, because I was over-prepared for the twos to be terrible and they weren't, or maybe because I had heard the threes referred to as the "Terrific Threes," or maybe because our daughter has never done (and probably will never do) things 'by the book', or maybe a combination of all of these things, the "terrific threes" are simply not. They are, instead, the "Tyrannical Threes." This isn't to say that Audia is a tyrant all the time. Nor is it to say that she's a tyrant at heart. She's not. She is truly a sweet, loving, hilarious, engaging, and lovable little girl. However, she is also very smart. A little too smart. And, as I've said from day one, she is also very strong-willed. And increasingly independent. And extremely curious. When you combine these things with the typical ego-centricism of any 3-year old, you essentially get a mini tyrant or dictator. She truly believes that she should have a say in whatever goes on in our household as well as in what anyone around her should happen to be doing at the time. And obviously, this cannot be the case, nor do I let it be the case. This, of course, is met with fierce opposition by the mini tyrant. I see flashes of her teenage years and am admittedly terrified. I've read my share of parenting advice both via books and the web, (and continue to do so....any recommendations? I'm all ears!) and of course testing at this age (and really, at any age between 6 months and 5 years) is typical. The problem is that our strong-willed daughter doesn't just test things a dozen times. She tests things hundreds of times, waiting for just one slip-up by one person. And then she starts testing it all over again. I try so hard not to get mad about repeating myself for the fiftieth time because I know that really she is just trying to figure out how things work. Even her teacher mentioned that while most kids her age just ask "why?" Audia has very specific and detailed questions. Which is wonderful. I love that she is so interested and curious and inquizitive. But it is also exhausting. All I can do is hope for "Fantastic" rather than "Fearsome" Fours......

November 5, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween this year was a lot of fun. I really like when Halloween falls on the end of a weekend...or, in this case, on a Monday. It gives us a whole weekend to celebrate and do fun Halloween things!

Our Halloween celebrations started for on Thursday. Audia got to go to preschool dressed in her costume, and all the kids did a little Halloween parade around the school and had a Halloween party in class. It was so cute to see them all in their costumes!

Munchkin decided early on that she wanted to be a skeleton, and when we went shopping for her costume she insisted that she wanted to be a scary skeleton. Of course as soon as we got the costume on her, she decided she wanted nothing to do with the mask, which was the part that made the costume scary. She loved wearing that jumpsuit, though!

On Saturday we went to the Arboretum with my parents and enjoyed their "Goblins and Ghouls" event. It was the perfect fall day; clear skies and a bit chilly. They had a trick or treat trail, crafts, and a big maze. The trick or treat trail up to the maze was a bit more of a trek than I think any of us had anticipated, so we ended up skipping the maze. We all had a great time, however, and I am sure we will return next year!

Sunday afternoon Chris' dad and brother came to town for a little while, and we met them at a park to carve pumpkins and play in the leaves. Audia sure loves her Grandpa Mustache and Uncle Brent! She is asking me quite regularly now when they are going to come play with her again. I really love that she seems to feel such a closeness to them even though we don't get to see them that often.

And that brings us to Halloween! We started off our All Hallows Eve with a trip to the mall to take part in their "Mall-O-Ween." Audia got a good base of candy trick or treating there, and after a quick dinner we went to my parents house to see them and so that Audia could do some trick or treating in their neighborhood. Callen and I helped my mom pass out candy while the Munchkin went trick or treating with dad and grandpa.

Just like last year, Audia seems to have more fun sorting her candy than eating it. Unfortunately for us, there's no sneaking candy as she has the memory of an elephant and notices even if the littlest piece goes missing. That's probably for the best, though. I gotta get rid of this post-baby marshmallow belly sooner or later!

October 14, 2011

Callen at 4 Months

Four months, and yet I feel like I've been his mother my whole life. That's how it is with babies. Really, that's how it is with anyone who you truly love. It is hard to imagine what life felt like before them.

These days, our super sweet boy is learning all kinds of new tricks!

~He loves to "talk" to his toys and to us; sometimes it's a quiet coo, a bubbly gurgle, or, more frequently, a high pitched, excited shreik.
~Just like his sister did, he is doing things backward and is rolling back to belly regularly, and has rolled belly to back only a handful of times.
~He loves tummy time, and still is pushing himself forward with his feet, though more often these days he is getting up on his knees, chest on the ground, and sticking his butt in the air. I will not be surprised if he's an early crawler; he is definitely anxious to MOVE!
~He is chewing on everything, a sign of teething I am afraid.
~In the span of the past 5 days, he's gone from batting at his toys and sometimes hitting them to grabbing them in his first try; he also loves to grab my nose or lip and laughs hysterically when I pretend to eat his hand.
~He absolutely loves to watch his sister. When she comes around, he will stop whatevery he is doing to just sit and watch her in awe.

As for his stats, our big boy is HUGE! He is even farther off the charts at 27.5 inches long (the length of the average 9 month old!) and is in the 95th percentile at 18 lbs, 5 oz (the weight of the average 6 month old.) I am willing to bet that he is going to be even taller than his daddy one day!

October 9, 2011

Lesson: You are your own (and your kids own) best advocate.

One lesson I learned the hard way in life is that you are your own best advocate when it comes to your health. It's one of those lessons that I try to impart on anyone I know who is having health issues: if you have a gut feeling something is wrong, beyond what the doctors say is going on, listen to your gut. Push for more tests, get a second opinion, research your symptoms on your own. Do not silence your intuition just because a doctor gives you their diagnosis. Doctors are not Gods; they are human. And they can be wrong.

My only interaction with doctors as a kid was with my pediatrician, for standard things. Well checks, strep tests, vaccinations, diagnosing the chicken pox. I had perfect vision and perfect hearing. I never broke a bone, needed stitches, or had any odd illnesses that required me to see a specialist. Overall, I was pretty healthy and pretty lucky. But because of my only ever interfacing with my pediatrician (for 18 years,) I also think that I developed an unrealistic view of doctors. In my mind, doctors (at least the vast majority of them) knew everything. They rarely, if ever, faltered. My first wake-up call was in the spring of 2005 when I developed a blood clot and spent a week in the hospital, half of my days in ICU. I only saw my doctor 2 or 3 times total in a span of 6 days, had to teach three different nurses how to draw blood out of my arterial line, and while I finally left the hospital with a diagnosis, I also left without the surgery I needed because I was so horrified at how alone I realized I was in defending my own health. I won't go into details because the story is LONG, but the short of it is that after a bunch of research done by me, my family, and a family friend, I decided to have the surgery done in a different state by a doctor who not only knew what the heck he was doing (and later told me that he would have been able to give me a diagnosis in a day or two tops) but also had bedside manner, which my first doctor definitely didn't.

My second experience with this has been in the past couple of weeks. Again, it is a ridiculously long story, but the short version is that Audia was having light sensitivity and watering in her left eye. First we were told it was "non-contagious conjunctivitis" and prescribed drops. A couple days later, we noticed a whitish spot on her cornea and brought her back in on day 4 of the drops because she had not improved at all and the spot was still there. We were referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist. He couldn't see any spot and said it was probably just pink eye and to give the drops another week (it had been 6 days on the drops already.) The next day her eye was worse and my gut told me that it just was NOT pink eye. We insisted on another appointment, and this time the eye doctor actually used a slit lamp and magnification (which he did not the first time....) and saw what we were talking about. He brought in a corneal specialist to look as well and they both agreed that she needed to have surgery to have the abnormality removed ASAP so it wouldn't cause permanent scarring of her cornea. The day after that, our brave little girl went under anesthesia for the first time in her life to have an "abnormality in the epithelial layer of her cornea" scraped off. Apparently they typically see that kind of abnormality when there is a foreign body embedded in the cornea (like a piece of sand or glass) but they did not find any foreign body, and the "sample" of tissue was too small to send off for testing. The good news is that so far it seems to be healing well and her light sensitivity has diminished immensely compared to a week ago. Only time will tell if this is something that will recur or has impacted her vision.
Lesson reiterated: trust your gut!!

October 8, 2011

My Memories Suite - Software Review and GIVEAWAY!

A couple of weeks ago I recieved an email asking me if I would be interested in trying and reviewing a digital scrapbooking software. If you know anything about me, you know that I love to scrapbook. Of course, these days with two little ones I don't get much of a chance to actually do any physical scrapbooking, so I've taken to digital scrapbooking to feed my addiction. I used My Memories Suite to make a brag book for my dad, as well as a card template and a few scrapbooking pages, and I have to say that I am quite impressed! Here's an example of a page I made in about 10 minutes.  

I found the software super easy to use; it is very intuitive and only took me a couple of minutes to get used to the controls and how to start making a page. For those who are a bit less technologically inclined, their website has links to some great video tutorials. They also have a ton of additional scrapbooking kits, both free and for sale. And a huge plus is that you can also use the software with papers and embellishments that you've already purchased or made yourself.  

In return for my reviewing their software, My Memories has been kind enough to give me a coupon code that you can use for $10 off of My Memories Suite and $10 off of a purchase from the My Memories store. The coupon code is  STMMMS76732.

In addition to that, they are allowing me to give away one copy of My Memories Suite to one of my readers! So, here's the deal:

1. Go to and take a look at their scrapbooking kits. Then, come back here and leave a comment telling me which kit you like best. Easy as pie, you're entered to win!
2. For an additional entry, follow My Memories on Twitter, then leave a seperate comment letting me know you're following them.
3. For an additional entry, like My Memories on Facebook, then leave a seperate comment letting me know you've liked them.

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, October 14th, 2011 and announced here on my blog!

September 12, 2011

Callen at 3 Months

Our little man is growing by leaps and bounds! Unfortunately, we don't have a well check for Callen this month so we have to do our own measurements. While I am sure they are accurate, it just doesn't feel as official as getting them from the doctor. That said, today Callen is 16 lbs, 6 oz and 26.5" long. This puts him at the 95th percentile for weight and off the charts for height.

 At three months, he:

  •  Is smiling all the time! I have to avoid making eye contact with him while he's eating because otherwise he'll smile that big, gummy grin of his and dribble milk all over the place!
  • Still has a minor case of tongue tie, though it doesn't seem to affect him too much. He is a bit messier of an eater than his sister was, but that's pretty much all it seems to be affecting.
  • Is laughing! He just started laughing the other day, and it's seriously the best sound in the world. He'll grin up at me and laugh, turning his head to the side like he's being bashful. I die every time he does it :-)

  • Has rolled back to belly a few times but isn't doing it regularly yet.
  • Has crazy upper body strength! During tummy time, he will lift his head and shoulders well off the ground and will sometimes even hold them up without using his arms to prop himself up. It is insane how quickly babies get so strong.
  • Chews on his hands a lot. This is totally normal baby behavior, but it still cracks me up. He still hasn't really "found" his thumb and won't take a pacifier, but he loves to suck and chew on his fist.
  • Babbles and coos all the time!
  • Loves to watch his feet. He discovered them a couple of weeks ago, and now his favorite thing to do if he's in his bouncy chair, carseat, or sitting in someone's lap, is to watch his feet moving around. He'll even lean forward, seemingly to try to get them in his mouth.
  • Sleeps for anywhere from 4-6 hours at night (in a crib!), and then wakes up every 2-3 hours until around 7 or 8.
  • Still doesn't really have a set nap schedule, but will take 3 to 5 naps from 30 minutes to an hour and a half each.
  • Is still very relaxed and easy-going, at least in my opinion. Most days he is easy to get down for naps, still doesn't mind the car seat too much, will take a bottle (though it does take him much longer to eat from one,) and overall seems to be a very happy baby. He's the perfect addition to our family!

September 11, 2011

10 Years

While this is a blog mainly about my kiddos, it is also mainly for my kiddos, and I would feel remiss if I didn't acknowledge the importance of this day.

10 years ago today I was in my 3rd week as a sophomore at ASU. I was living in the dorms, and while I don't think I had yet declared it my major, I had started making movement to change my major from Psychology to Photography. I only had one morning (before 10 am) class first semester and it was on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though I can't remember what class it was. I do remember that I had decided the night before that I would skip my morning class and sleep in. I woke up on Tuesday morning to my next door neighbor, Jason, knocking on my door, saying that classes were cancelled and to turn on the news. Confused and a bit scared, I turned on my TV to see footage being replayed of the planes crashing into the twin towers. I was horrified, trying desperately to think of anyone I knew who might be or know someone in New York City. I remember little of the rest of the day. I know I spent a good portion of it watching tv with various kids from my floor. I remember being really annoyed with most of the newscasters. I remember being stunned silent. And I remember thinking to myself "Why are people so suprised that someone would try to do something like this to the US?" At the time, I don't think I said those words out loud to anyone besides my parents. The rest of the semester is somewhat of a blur due mainly to the events of that day. The entire country was in a state of mourning and shock (not to mention extreme paranoia,) which I am not sure will ever be shaken entirely, at least not until our generation has passed. I only hope that my kids never have to experience such a devestating event, though it seems every generation has their own. Columbine and 9/11 were ours.

September 9, 2011

Audia's First Day of School

So, not only was yesterday Audia's birthday, but it was her first day of preschool as well! She's attending twice a week for 2.5 hours and is in a class of 16 kids, with 2 teachers. In order to avoid making the first day too overwhelming (and also at the request of the director of the preschool, who intelligently asked parents to just "drop and go" on the first day), I didn't bring my camera along to drop her off. I figure there will be plenty of oppertunities to get photos of her at school throughout the year. So, I took her 'first day' photo at home, and she insisted that it be taken with Peter Pan. 

You'll notice that she has her infamous "Michael Jackson Sock," as we call it. She very rarely will wear two socks at once unless she has shoes on over them.

I was a bit nervous about dropping her off yesterday, but our brave little girl, although a bit quieter than her normal, talkative self, walked in without a glance back. I was so proud! Chris and I picked her up together so we could get a special birthday lunch afterwards, and she was in great spirits. She said she had a lot of fun, and last night at bedtime even asked if she could go back again today. I'd call it a success! I am really looking forward to seeing all that the school year holds for our munchkin!

September 8, 2011

Audia is 3!

Dear Audia,
Three years ago today you entered this world in your own way, and you've been doing things your own way ever since. I cannot even begin to put into words how you've changed our world, how you've changed us. You've taught us so much already about life and what's important. You have such a bright light inside of you, my darling. My goal is to make sure you know to always let it shine.
Here you are on the day you were born.
One year old
Two years old
Three years old
At age three, these are some of the things you are doing and are into:

  • You love, love, love to sing and dance! Some of your favorite songs are, in no particular order: 'Twinkle, Twinkle,' 'Distant Melody,' 'Don't Stand So Close to Me,' 'Be Mine,' 'Lullaby and Goodnight,' 'I'll Stand By You,' and every song in the Care Bears Movies from the 80's.

  • You are compassionate and sweet. If someone is hurt or sad or upset (or even if they aren't but you imagine that they are or should be,) you immediately try to console that person and to make the situation better. You love giving kisses and hugs and snuggling, especially with your baby brother.

  • You are insanely imaginative. You have entire conversations back and forth with all of your toys, and you regularly ask us to make the most random things talk to you: the sun, the trees, the car, and of course all of the characters from shows or movies you've seen recently.

  • Your favorite TV shows are: Dragon Tales, 30 Rock, Shaun the Sheep, Yo Gabba Gabba, Wonder Pets, Pee Wee's Playhouse, and The Backyardigans.

  • Your favorite movies are: Disney's Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Care Bears Movie, The Wizard of Oz, and The Aristocats.

  • You love to sort things and set everything out in vast piles, I'm assuming so you can see them all and admire your collections.

    • You eat things most people assume kids don't/won't like: Asparagus, spinach, green beans, pickles, mushrooms, onions, and olives, to name a few.
    • You love scary things. You love to spook people and to be spooked. The other day, while watching the Wizard of Oz, you said to me "Momma, I don't like the pink witch. I only like the green witch, 'cause she's scary!" And, you've locked into being a skeleton for halloween this year.
    • You are still, and probably always will be, incredibly willful. If there is something you want to do, it sticks in your mind like glue and you will find a way to do it. Same goes for things you don't want to do.
    Happy Birthday, my little munchkin. While part of me really wishes that time would slow down, and that you could stay our little girl forever, another part of me is so excited to watch you continue to grow and blossom into the amazing woman I know that you will be.

    I love you more than words.

      September 6, 2011

      Audia's 3rd Birthday Party

      While Audia's birthday isn't until Thursday, we had her party this past weekend. Audia's favorite movie these days is Disney's 'Peter Pan.' So, of course she wanted a Peter Pan themed party. Unfortunately she is about 15 years late on the Peter Pan wagon, and it is near impossible to find any party supplies that are Peter Pan themed. There are plenty of Tinkerbell supplies, but she isn't into Tinkerbell as much as she's into Peter Pan himself, as well as Wendy, John, Michael, and Captain Hook. We did manage to find a life-sized Peter Pan cutout online but it was wicked expensive with shipping, and we just couldn't justify spending upwards of $40 for a piece of cardboard. The stars aligned, however, and just a couple of weeks ago my parents needed to buy a new fridge. While I of course am not happy that they needed to buy a new one, my mom has been saying for a few months that she thought theirs was on it's way out, so I am just glad that they needed one when they did. They gave me the box, and I borrowed a good friend's projector to make our own life sized Peter Pan. We took photos of all of the guests with Peter, and I intend to make a little photo album for Audia of all of her family and friends with her beloved Peter Pan. I'll let the rest of the party happenings speak for themselves through photos....

      Searching for buried treasure

      Decorating their pirate hats

      Nana and Grandpa Mustache came from Illinois to be there!
      Opening presents

      She got a musical Peter Pan pop-up book from Pappy and Grandma!

      The cake

      Being bashful while everyone sang



      Auntie Em was in town from NY!

      Daddy's girl