Monday, December 31, 2012

new year, new photos, new project.

I have been wanting to do something different this year, something for me. Well, I decided to start 2013 with a bang by taking one of the first steps towards my dream of  my someday making a career out of my photography. I made a page for my photography. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow my skills as a photgrapher. I also can't wait to upgrade to a much more powerful DSLR very soon!
Please visit and like the Jess Gougeon Photography page.

Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Isn't it amazing how much changes in so little time?! This year, we are celebrating together as a family of four, in the sunny state of Texas.  Last year, Elliot had just turned one, I was 16 weeks pregnant with his baby brother, and we were back home in Michigan freezing our bums off. And two years ago? Well, that was possibly the best Christmas of all.

Christmas day 2010 was an extremely special day for us. We received the best Christmas gift ever- being able to hold our precious baby boy in our arms for the very first time. We had waited nine days. Nine days might not sound like long to you, but it felt like an eternity!

I feel so blessed to have two healthy, happy boys this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, everyone

Saturday, December 22, 2012

3 days!

I can't believe there are only THREE DAYS until Christmas!

... I finally finished and mailed our holiday cards Thursday. I know, I know... about time. They will probably not arrive before Christmas. It's the thought that counts, right?

There are currently 38 presents under our tree. Yes, I just counted. That is not including gifts from Santa. I can't remember the last time I was this excited for Christmas morning. I can't wait to see Elliot go crazy tearing through all of that wrapping paper! He won't know what to do with himself or what to play with first!

Enjoy your Christmas weekend! 
Aaron is lucky enough to be off until Wednesday! I hope you all are similarly blessed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

thoughts on schooling

Ever since the tradgedy in Sandy Hook, my facebook newsfeed has been full of people saying they are going to start homeschooling. While keeping children safe is definitely important, I don't think it is neccessarily the best reason to pull kids out of the public school system. Homeschooling is a BIG responsibility and time commitment, and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. When done right, homeschooling can be a wonderful thing... but when done wrong, it could do more harm than good. It is the somewhat less invested parents who give homeschooling a bit of a bad reputation.

With that said, my husband and I have been considering homeschooling for a few years now, even before we were pregnant. Growing up, I moved a lot. As I experienced one new school after another, in different states all across the country, one thing became painfully clear. The quality of education varies greatly from one school to another. I had some wonderful teachers, and I had some pretty lousy ones, too.  More than once, when I entered a new classroom, I would be far ahead of my classmates, proficient in subjects they had barely even been introduced to. In my fifth grade class in Wyoming, we learned a new language in every quarter- Spanish, German, French, and American Sign Language. To contrast, in my school in Michigan, most kids didn't start a foreign language class until eighth grade, and they only had one option- Spanish.

There is a lot about the public school system that I am unsure about. The quality of education really depends on the teacher and school system. There are some phonomenal teachers who spend countless hours working outside the classroom, however, there are also teachers who have been turned sour after years of being underpaid and taken advantage of. It seems catastrophic to expect one person, no matter how skilled he/she may be, to manage a classroom of over 20 children all on their own. How could every child POSSIBLY get the one on one attention and help that he needs? 

Every child is different. Each has his own strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and personalities. Yet we expect them all to sit quietly in their seats, learning in the same way? No wonder so many children fall through the cracks are labelled with one learning disability or another. Do you know how many children are misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD just because they don't fit perfectly into the mold of an "ideal student?"

How, exactly, do we determine how well a student is doing in the classroom? Usually, by grades and test scores. Does being a poor testtaker also make you a bad student? I was one of those students who barely ever studied yet managed to ace almost every test. I learned only the information that I knew I would need on the test, and by the time I had turned it in, I had already forgotten most of it. Yet I excelled. I was an honor student, but how much did I really learn? I had friends who studied for hours, who surely knew much more about the subject matter than I did, yet still managed to score poorly, and were therefore labelled as "sub-par" students. It wasn't fair. Looking back, I know now that I was bored, understimulated, and unethused throughout most of my school years. I had lost interest in learning, lost the all-important thirst for knowledge.

Something needs to change. Clearly, the public education system in this country is not working... at least, not for everyone. There has to be a better way to do things!

I don't anticipate any earth-shattering changes to be made to the education system anytime soon. That is one of many reasons why I have decided to homeschool. While it is definitely not the right choice for eveyone, we feel that it is the right choice for us. There will be more blog posts to follow about our decision to homeschool, and just homeschooling in general.

I have so much more to say, but I fear that I may have lost some of you several paragraphs ago. If any of this interests, concerns, or even annoys you, read some of the articles below.

The Failure of American Public Education by John Hood
The Battle Over School Choice {various opinions}

Click below to read some fascinating facts about homeschool vs. public school:
Homeschool Domination: why these kids will take you down

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

less than a week!

1. Make a gingerbread house
2. Drive around and look at lights
3. Introduce Elliot to the classic Rudolph movie {my favorite}
4. Decorate sugar cookies and give some to friends
5. Go see Santa
6. Make  personalized ornaments
7. Mail our Christmas cards
8. Make homemade cookies, using one of my mom's recipes
9. Take pictures of the boys in Santa hats
10. Make a handprint wreath
11. Make a delicious breakfast/casserole for Christmas morning
12. Make special thankyou cards 
13. Read a Christmas book

I just want to start off by saying that with less than a week until Christmas, it is 80 degrees here in Texas. EIGHTY degrees! The fabulous weather is definitely at the top of my list of things to love about living in Texas.

I'd like to blame my procrastination on the weather... after all, it's kind of hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner when it's so hot and sunny outside. But I know that's not really the problem. December has just been a very busy month for us.

#1 Make a Gingerbread House:
We made our gingerbread house yesterday. Elliot decorated pretty much the whole thing all by himself, once the house was put together by Daddy. We did help him with the frosting, but that didn't stop him from getting it all over the place- even on his foot! Who knew making a gingerbread house could be so messy?

The finished product. It's silly, messy, and crazy {apparently our gingerbread man was attacked by a rogue gingerbread zombie?}... but Elliot put all the candy on by himself so I like it! His first gingerbread house turned out perfectly, to me. I can't wait to see next year's!

#2 Drive Around and Look at Lights: 
Since Elliot likes Christmas lights so much, we decided to take him to see the Nature in Lights light display at Blora (Belton Lake) on Saturday night. It was pretty neat, but apparently everyone else had the same idea because we left at 6pm and didn't get home until almost midnight. The traffic was UNBELIEVABLE. We waited almost two hours just to get through the gates! At first, Elliot was SUPER excited, he was pointing at all the lights and saying, "oooohhh! ooooohhhhh! woooowwwwww!" An hour or two in, he was losing interest and started chanting for Santa. By the time we got to Santa's Village, however, it was after 10 and we were in no mood to wait in that long line to see Santa. We're going to go see Santa somewhere else this weekend instead. 

I tried to take a few pictures, but it was awkward trying to stretch over Aaron's lap and leaning out the window with my camera. I have decided I might be the world's worst Christmas lights photographer... haha.  

#13 Read a Christmas Story:

 Okay. So we haven't snuggled on the couch together as a family to read a Christmas story like I want to, yet, but... Elliot did have fun "reading" The Polar Express to Emmett the other day. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a day of silence

"The death of a child is the single most traumatic event in medicine. 
To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself."
- Dr. Burton Greblin

I'll be praying ♥

Monday, December 17, 2012

Elliot's Birthday Party

I always feel a little bad for winter babies {having been one myself} because the party options are so limited. We moved a lot when I was growing up, yet we still never once lived anywhere where it was warm enough for me to have a party outside- and my birthday is in November, which is just the beginning of winter.

Poor Elliot was born smack in the middle of winter AND only a week from Christmas. It is improtant to us, though, that we still celebrate and make sure he has a very special birthday every year. Yesterday, a lot of kids were sick and couldn't make it to his party, but we can't complain too much because here in Texas it was 70 degrees and we were able to have his party at the park!

It was a Mickey Mouse themed party, because Elliot is pretty much obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We were working with a small budget {another downside to having your birthday so close to Christmas!} but at this age, he could have honestly cared less about the decorations. He did LOVE his cupcakes and his Mickey Mouse balloons, though. And he had an absolute blast- and that's all that really matters.

 When we first got there, all he wanted to do was eat the cupcakes. He made several attempts to run off with them and stole a few Mickey Mouse ears.

Then when it was FINALLY cupcake time, it was all we could do to drag him from the playground. He had a blast blowing out the candle (multiple times) BUT barely ate any of his cupcake. Instead, he insisted on having a fork and feeding frosting to his friends...

We are lucky to have such wonderful, generous friends. Elliot received a ton of great gifts... and looking at them all strewn across the floor this morning has made it clear that it's time for me to get him the toy organizer I've been eying for awhile now. That way we have a specific spot for all of his different kinds of toys- little people, play food, puzzles, blocks, balls, cars, etc. We've been using a bin organizer, but since he can't see inside he dumps them. 

This one:

A few more pictures:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elliot: two years old!

Two years ago:

I never could have imagined how wonderful the tiny person that I was carrying inside of my belly was. He is truly my little miracle baby. Nobody should have to come into the world the way he did, but was a fighter!
 God had a plan.   

On December 16th, 2010, at 10:08 in the morning, a little miracle was born, and my life changed forever. Weighing just 6 pounds, and with several of his internal organs on the outside of his body, that tiny baby had a rough start to his life. He made it through, though.

One Year Ago:

Last year, in 2011, with all of his troubles behind him, that brave little boy celebrated his first birthday. 


Elliot Reid is turning TWO! Right before my eyes, he has transformed from a fragile newborn into a busy, happy, and healthy toddler. He is the best little son and big brother ever.

Happy birthday, Elliot Reid. Mommy loves you with all her heart. I hope you have a very, very special day. ♥

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fab Friday

The fabulous thing about today is that both of my boys are finally, finally feeling 100% better. Just in time for a very busy, fun-filled weekend!

No more coughing, runny or stuffy noses, red puffy eyes, disgusting diaper explosions, or fevers in THIS house!

My bloggy Samantha from Where the Green Grass Grows made the three hour drive down for the weekend. Since she is a Thirty-One consultant, and 31's products are amazing, I'm hosting a party at my house tomorrow afternoon. We're using the new spring catalog, which is full of all kinds of bright prints and has a whole new organizational line {um, hello!} so that should be awesome.

He destroyed an ornament the other day. Luckily it was one of the cheapies I use soley for pictures

Another fabulous thing?
Sunday is Elliot's second birthday! 
I absolutely cannot believe that my handsome little man will be two already. Where has the time gone?! What happened to my tiny little baby? I'm seriously having a hard time wrapping my head around it.. but ready or not, his birthday is coming! And so is his birthday party! Sunday he will be having a Mickey Mouse themed second birthday party. He is obsessed with Mickey so I can't wait to see his face when he sees his cupcakes, balloons, and all the other decorations.

Naughty almost-two-year-old got into one of the Christmas presents the other day, too.
It was one of Emmett's presents, though. 

... and he made up for it by enteraining baby brother for quite some time so I could get some serious cleaning done!
Okay, I'd better get going. Lots to do in so little time! I'm also hoping to squish a few holiday photo sessions and Christmas crafts into this weekend, too- and I have a blog design to finish! Lots on my plate. 'Tis the season! I'll leave you with another festive photo of Emmett.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Be Patient.

Every time I see this commercial, I smile, tell my ovaries to stop twitching, and then I think about how badly I'd like to have a full term baby. By "full term," I don't mean 37 weeks... I mean 39 weeks. 40 weeks. Even 41!

Personally, I think the March of Dimes new "39 Weeks" campaign is brilliant!

Right after Emmett was born, when he wasn't strong enough to eat, regulate his own body temperature, or do anything other than sleep, I wished like anything that he could've just been born five weeks later. Five weeks! That might not seem like much, but a lot happens in those last five weeks. My lactation consultant was always telling me, "you have to remember, he was five weeks early. Wait until he reaches his due date. He will be a completely different baby." She couldn't have been more right. Emmett didn't successfully breastfeed until over a week after my due date.

The sad truth is that the next baby will likely be even more premature than my first two babies. My doctor maintains that our best bet next time would be to try the progesterone shots so that I'd have a better chance of having a full term baby. We shall see. We aren't planning on having our third for awhile, anyways.

I see so many women at 36 weeks doing all kinds of crazy things to try to jump-start their labor, all because they have been told that "37 weeks is full term." Little do they know, a lot of development occurs in those last few weeks! There are so many women who would literally give anything to be able to have a normal, healthy, 40 week pregnancy. Including myself.

So don't rush it! I know you're uncomfortable and huge... but a healthy baby is worth the wait. Besides, you will miss your pregnant belly. Trust me!

If you haven't read  40 Reasons to go 40 Weeks, please do! :) And enjoy every moment of that precious pregnancy. I sure do miss it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Countdown

There are only TWO WEEKS until Christmas. Can you believe it? I've always loved the holidays because there are so many wonderful things to do together as a family. My mom is a Christmas fanatic... I definitely got all of my christmas spirit from her. Christmastime was always a very joyful time in our house. 

All these presents under the tree already... and Santa hasn't even come yet!!

I want to create wonderful memories that my boys can look back on when they get older, too. With that in mind, I decided to do a Christmas countdown this year. Since there are only two weeks until Christmas, we will do a different fun activity together every day until Christmas morning!
1. Make a gingerbread house
2. Drive around and look at lights
3. Introduce Elliot to the classic Rudolph movie {my favorite}
4. Decorate sugar cookies and give some to friends
5. Go see Santa
6. Make  personalized ornaments
7. Mail our Christmas cards
8. Make homemade cookies, using one of my mom's recipes
9. Take pictures of the boys in Santa hats
10. Make a handprint wreath
11. Make a delicious breakfast/casserole for Christmas morning
12. Make special thankyou cards 
13. Read a Christmas book

{I left out one day for Elliot's special "Happy Birthday" post.}

Another instagram shot of our tree.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

This year, Elliot's favorite things are wooden food and accessories for cooking in his play kitchen, little people, Dr. Suess books, little cars, and balls. 

Favorites on Elliot's List:
- Hape Gourmet Kitchen $100
- Melissa & Doug deluxe cutting set $16
- Little Tikes shopping cart $32
- Melissa & Doug wooden vehicles set $18
- Little People schoolbus $19
- car rug $40 

Emmett isn't quite old enough to know what Christmas is yet, so mommy had the liberty of deciding what he wants/needs from Santa this year. :)  

Some things on Emme's list:
- Christmasy babylegs
- Kidkraft bead maze cube $38
- Fisher Price brilliant basics xylophone $14
- Owl hat $25
- Vulli Sophie the Giraffe (yes, we lost ours!) $19

Luckily, Elliot and Emmett have EXTREMELY generous grandparents. I made them a huge wishlist, so I could just direct family and friends to that list instead of having to name off what they were interested in this year. Almost all of them have been purchased already... and Santa hasn't even started making their toys yet ;) Elliot is going to be SOOO excited Christmas morning! I can't wait. 

 If I could {really} get what I wanted, it would be a world where everyone coexisted happily and lived in peace.

But since that's not happening anytime soon-

My list this year:
- Minetonka peace moccasins $40
- Canon Speedlite 270 EXII external flash $154
- Love mosaic hanging mirror wall art $28
- Spring birds pillow $25
- Imperfections box sign $20

do YOUR little ones 
have on their lists 
this year?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm a little behind the times...

I'm afraid my blog is in need of some serious TLC!
Please excuse the mess as I do a much needed update to this little blog :) ♥

... and guess who FINALLY joined bloglovin? 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, December 7, 2012

Brotherly Love... a post on sibling spacing

Everyone has their own opinions about sibling spacing. So I thought I'd share mine. I have known for a long time now that I wanted to have my first two children close together. How? I was an only child until I was 8, and honestly? I hated it. It was lonely. Both of my parents worked a lot, and I had nobody to play with. I literally begged my parents for a little brother or sister for years. When my little brother was finally born, I was in third grade, and I was ecstatic. My brother Matthew and I have an awesome relationship nowadays, and we did back then, too... only I felt a lot more like a caregiver than a sister. Don't get me wrong- I loved helping my parents with my little brother. I would sing to him, rock him, give him bottles... but I never really got the one thing I had always wanted- someone to talk to, to explore and play with. I saw the relationships my friends had with their siblings, and even when they argued or didn't get along, I was jealous. 

So I just knew. I knew I would NEVER have an only child, and I knew I wanted my kids to be close in age.

When I found out I was pregnant with Emmett, I almost instantly started wondering and worrying about how Elliot would get along with his baby sibling. After all, up until that point, he was the spoiled only child who had his mama catering to his every whim. I lost so much sleep worrying about how I would juggle two under two.

Reading to his baby brother.
LUCKILY all that worrying was for nothing. Although Elliot was a little confused the first couple weeks, he was never really jealous. Almost IMMEDIATELY he loved his baby brother. He is always ready to help. You can bet if anything happens to baby brother that I don't see- if he spits up, or rolls over, etc, Elliot will run full speed to me saying, "Uh oh! Uh oh!" When it's time to change Emmett's diaper, Elliot is right there with the wipes. He always wants baby brother right next to him, and frequently tries to pick him up and carry him places (but I either stop or help him). Elliot always shares his toys, and enjoys "reading" to his baby brother. He also loves bouncing Emmett  in his jumperoo and giving him random, sweet kisses. Watching them together always makes me smile. 

More kisses.
I have come to the conclusion that the spacing between them, sixteen months, is pretty much perfect. ♥ Apparently, many medical professionals agree. You have NO IDEA how many times we have been told (by their pediatrician, my lactation consultant, and even Elliot's speech therapist) that the perfect/easiest time to bring a new baby into the family is before the first child turns 2. Once kids turn two, we've been told, they struggle much more with jealousy and two year olds tend to have a much harder time adjusting to having a little baby stealing all of their Mommy's time.

We are going to wait a little while before having #3, but if my husband agrees, I would like to have another set of siblings close together like these two. We shall see. Aaron seems convinced now that he only wants 3- which pretty much throws my life plan for children out the window. But I can be pretty convincing ;) and he sure does love him some babies!

Here, have a leaf!

Like I said, I always wanted to have my first two children close together. They ended up a little closer than intended, and I'll be honest, at first I questioned my sanity a little. Juggling a newborn and a young toddler is TOUGH. But, like I said, in no time at all, we settled into a routine that worked for all of us, and things are wonderful now. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Having 2 kids under 2 might not be for everyone... but I wouldn't have it any other way.

So that's my opinion. Now I'd love to hear yours!