Monday, November 18, 2013

fall festivities (catching up on October)

I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the extreme photobomb I'm about to unleash on the bloggy universe. I realized today, while redesigning a friend's blog, that I haven't blogged since September, and I miss it. The main thing holding me back was the fact that painted all over my blog was the fact that we were supposed to be moving overseas. I guess Michigan just pales in comparison to Costa Rica or Panama... but our decision has been made for awhile now, so it's about time that I moved on, huh?

We enjoyed our last October in Texas by visiting a local pumpkin farm- and don't let our outfits fool you- it was 80 degrees that day. We all had a blast, though. It was so much fun this year, because Emmett was old enough to play and explore right alongside Elliot. It's hard to believe that last year, he was only five months old, not even sitting up on his own yet, and this year a walking, talking toddler. Emmett was more content to ride in the stroller and climb all over the pumpkins while Elliot rode a barrel train, fed/pet the goats, picked mama flowers, and carefully chose his very own "wittle kunkin!".

The boys had just as much (if not more) fun on Halloween. Elliot picked out his own costume this year. He was a "bigggg MONSTER!" in his words. Emmett wore the same lion costume that Elliot wore last year. Elliot walked almost the entire time, and he said "trick or treat!" and "thank you" at every single door. Emmett sat in the stroller holding onto his pumpkin bucket full of candy.

Okay- that's about enough pictures for one post, right? I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween and fall!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

things I don't want to forget #2

Elliot, 33 months:

  • Elliot's favorite new sayings include "I'm too shy", "one last time!", "just right", "I did it!" and "watch this!" His vocabulary has absolutely exploded in the last few months, and although he still has a bad habit of mispronouncing a lot of sounds/words, he likely won't qualify for speech therapy anymore after his evaluation next month.
  • he will repeat something over and over until you either acknowledge him or repeat what he said back to him. He got into this habit back when people had a hard time understanding him- he would wait to hear you repeat what he said so he knew that you knew what he was saying. 
  • he is REALLY artistic and absolutely loves to color, draw, paint, and play with play dough. 
  • he is obsessed with dinosaurs and (still) trains
  • he is fond of collecting things- currently, he has rather large collections of rubber duckies, bouncy balls, and dinosaurs.
  • I'm proud to say that he seems to have grown out of his camera-hating stage. In fact, he will even say "cheese" for pictures without me asking, sometimes
  • he loves to do flashcards- particularly the ABC and animal ones.
  • he hasn't been eating very much at mealtimes lately, instead preferring to have small snacks throughout the day. He really loves broccoli (still), pizza, popcorn, Chinese food, cheese, and chocolate milk.
  • he always has to have a bedtime snack- I think that's because he inherited my super fast metabolism. (I always have a bedtime snack, too).
  • his favorite animals are parrots, and he loves visiting them at pet stores and the zoo. 
  • his favorite shows include Super Why, Dragon Tales, Godzilla (the 1970's version), and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. 
  • he fights his naps tooth & nail ("I'm not tired! I don't want it!") but the minute he gets comfy in his carseat he's fast asleep. His bedtime is 9pm but if he skips his nap he will fall asleep before that on the couch. He usually wakes up between 8:30-9:00 in the morning which is perfect because it gives me a chance to shower before his brother wakes up.
  • he wears mostly 24 month & 2t shirts and can wear anything from 12m-24m shorts because of his tiny waist.
  • he weighs 27 lbs and is 37.5", and was at the 5th percentile for his age until he recently lost weight and fell off the growth scale altogether. 

Emmett, 16 months:

  • Emmett is what we call an "aggressive snuggler." He LOVES to cuddle and he will make that known by randomly and enthusiastically diving onto unsuspecting people (which sometimes results in painful headbutting/etc)
  • He LOVES chocolate milk and will usually gulp his cup down and then proceed to try to steal Elliot's 
  • he has recently grown attached to his green polka dotted blanket and often brings it along when I lift him out of his crib 
  • he says a wide variety of words, but the ones we hear most frequently are "mama, dada, please, more, up, all done, uh oh, water, love you, bye bye, choo choo, and thank you". He often surprises me by saying a new word out of the blue, like "brother." 
  • he LOVES his big brother and follows him around pretty much everywhere. He also loves destroying block towers that Elliot is working on.
  • Emmett loves to give kisses :)
  • he also loves to make toy dinosaurs and lions go "RAWWWRRRR!"
  • he will stop whatever he's doing and say "choo choo! all aboard!" whenever the train goes by.
  • he is always hungry, always eating, and will nearly never turn down food that is offered to him. Also, if you made yourself something to eat, you'd better be prepared to share! 
  • he could care less what is on TV but gets mad whenever a show on Netflix ends. He'll point at the TV and say "uh oh!" with increasing urgency until I put something else on. I think he mostly just likes the background noise. 
  • he usually takes one long nap in the afternoon, and occasionally a second. His bedtime is 8pm and he sleeps in until 9:30-10:30 almost every morning. 
  • he nurses only once a day now (before bed). He dropped his nighttime nursing a month or two ago.
  • he wears 12-18 month shirts and 9 & 12 month shorts. We are about to move up to 24 month pj's for the length, though. 
  • He weighs 24 lbs and is 31" and is at the 68th percentile. He's definitely thicker than his brother and has a little belly. We always joke around that he got my husband's genes and Elliot got mine. 
It's hard to believe how quickly my little boys are growing up :( but at the same time, it's fascinating to watch them grow and develop into individuals- and to watch their relationship grow, too. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

our plans have changed again... but at least my kids are still cute

I have decided I am a unpredictable blogger. I blame part of this on the fact that our plans are always changing. I tend to get an idea, get super excited, and run with it. Then the army (or in this case, the VA) throws us a curveball or two and our plans have to change, and I get discouraged and simply stop blogging for awhile.

It's happened again. Our plans changed. Instead of moving to Costa Rica this winter/spring... we will instead be moving to... wait for it... northern Michigan. Womp womp womp. Why? Well, the VA is now teaming up with the good ol' Army and making things really difficult for us. Trying to plan anything, let alone a move overseas, is nearly impossible right now. Deadlines keep getting pushed back, news keeps changing, and nothing about our financial future is set in stone. All of this was making me really uneasy. As a result, the sensible side of me pushed the dreamer to the side and developed a whole new grand plan.

You see, my little boys are lucky enough to have three sets of grandparents all in one town. The same small, safe town where Aaron and I met and fell in love. Said town also happens to have a community college with a welding degree that my husband is quite interested in. And Aaron has access to a pretty amazing GI Bill, which is probably the only real thing he will have to show for the past six years he spent in the army, other than a few tattoos and a metal plate in his head. Are you seeing where I'm going with this, yet?

We're going to move back to Aaron's hometown, where Aaron will go to college. As for me? Well, I'll mostly be doing the same thing that I've been doing all along- working on my photography and raising my two rambunctious little boys, except that we will also be starting to homeschool (pre-k), we will be able to spend a lot more time with family, and I might enroll in a college class or two myself- because I really miss it! Oh, and let's not forget the fact that half the year we'll be buried under snow. I'm not looking forward to that part. Hopefully during the winter I'll be able to keep myself busy indoors (because in case you didn't know, I am not a winter-loving girl) and of course I'll be continuing to plan our future move out of the country. Because you can bet your bottom dollar that although we will be spending 1-3 years back in Michigan, my husband and I are both bent on moving out of the country soon after Aaron gets his degree. 

So that's the plan! I can't promise a timeframe or anything like that, because let's face it- we're still waiting. Sitting ducks. In case you're wondering what we've been up to, well- it's been hot. Here we are in the second week of September and it is still in the 100's every day. But the heat doesn't bother my boys one bit, so we've been spending lots of time outside. And inside doing crafts, too. More blog posts about later ;)

I'll leave you to ponder about our ever-changing life with a few recent pictures of the boys. See? I told you they were still cute ;) At least that will never change. I hope. 

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

currently #6

go link up with Harvesting Kale & Ot & Et!

THIS WEEK'S THEMES: trying, wearing, choosing, laughing, tasting

Elliot and Emmett are currently...

Trying Elliot has been trying to evade naps any way possible lately, despite being exhausted every day by 1 or 2pm. My solution? I've been letting him fall asleep on the couch after I put Emmett down for his afternoon nap. While the couch might not be the most conventional or practical place for a toddler to nap, he falls asleep there easily and our afternoons are now much more stress free.

Wearing some of the same size shorts (12-18 months) & "ship shops" as Elliot calls them (flip flops)

Choosing to drag mama outside no matter how hot it is outside. I mean, really... 106 degrees? According to Elliot, that's the perfect weather to "go play playground!" You'd think they'd change their minds once they were out in the heat for awhile, but nope... I think if I let them, they'd stay outside all day even if it were like 130 degrees outside. Provided that I bring lots and lots of water to refill their straw cups.

Laughing at eachother. It is SO cute! Elliot and Emmett have been forming a really close bond over the last month or so. They spend much of the day following each other around, playing together, trying to make each other laugh, etc. And Elliot's new favorite thing to do? Feed Emmett. Emmett prefers to use his own fork or spoon now, but when Elliot comes over? Elliot gets to feed his baby brother- either with a utensil or even just  putting bites right into his mouth- and Emmett seems to love being fed this way by his big brother. They are melting my heart lately, guys. And really affirming my decision to have them so close together. I can't even imagine my life with one and not the other anymore.

I am currently...

Trying to make further plans for our future... but the Army and the VA are making that really hard right now. I'm not going to lie, it was a pretty stressful week. Right now, we have theoretically talked about all of our options, all the places we may end up, and when... now we really just have to wait for the VA to give Aaron his ratings! It's driving me crazy. I've said this before and I'll say it again- I am a serial  planner and having a soldier as a husband makes it impossible to plan anything very far in advance.

Wearing sundresses and lots of new jeans shorts. Despite finally being back to my pre-baby weight (can I get a woot woot?), I'm still not fitting into my pre-baby jeans comfortably. My butt and hips have definitely changed. While my husband sees this as a good thing, I'm on the fence and would love to tone up some more- the trouble is finding the time when you have one & two year old little boys.

Choosing my battles, when it comes to Elliot. He's a sensitive little boy and his feelings get hurt very easily. Luckily a hug or kiss and "Mama/Daddy's sorry" usually makes it all better. But really! He gets upset so easily sometimes. Like if he asks politely for me to play with him or get him a snack and (god forbid) I need to do something for Emmett first- Oh no- Elliot's little heart will be crushed into a million tiny pieces. That's the nature of being two though, right?

Laughing at the hilarious things that my boys do. Emmett insists on giving you three, four, or five enthusiastic high-fives in a row, Elliot thinks it's hilarious to sneak up and lick people, Emmett growls like Elliot while Elliot can almost perfectly mimic Emmett's babbling sometimes, Emmett likes to raid my cupboards and walk away with pots and pans, Elliot is obsessed with drawing "cupcake choo choo trains" and "BIIIG sailboats"... I could go on and on. They're too funny!

Tasting a lot of restaurant food. Somehow we managed to fall almost completely off the diet bandwagon and ate out a LOT last paycheck. I blame it mostly on the long holiday weekend but... wow. Next paycheck? I'll be making a lot cheaper and healthier meals at home again.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

why we have no family pictures hanging on our walls

We desperately need family photos taken. Our boys have grown and changed so much in the last year- it makes me really sad to think that we don't have any family pictures at all when Emmett was a tiny baby. There are a lot of reasons for this- for one, I'm normally the one with the camera, which means I rarely make it into a photo. The fact that I was basically a nursing slave to Emmett for the first several months of his life, and wore nothing but stretchy clothes that provided easy access for nursing, is also to blame. Not to mention the fact that I hated  my post-baby body so much that I pretty much avoided the camera lens like the plague. Sure, I have plenty of pictures of Elliot and Emmett, or of Daddy and the boys, and (thanks to my cooperative husband) a few recent ones taken with me in them, too. However... we have taken, sadly, exactly ONE family photo since Emmett was born.

Let's be honest, that one photo is pretty horrible. I'm embarrassed that it ended up on our Christmas cards last year. It was a spur of the moment idea, so our outfits were nothing special- for pete's sake, I'm wearing yoga pants.... and let's not even talk about my hair. Also, I took it with my tripod- do you have any idea how hard it is to run back and forth from the camera to the photo spot and manage to compose yourself (and two babies) in 20 seconds flat? Yeah. It wasn't easy. I know they make these nifty things called remotes that make working with a tripod a lot easier- but I wasn't about to buy one for my old Canon camera when I was planning on upgrading so soon. This was the best shot we got- and it's awful. Just awful.

So, my new mission in life is to schedule a family photo session- and soon. Hopefully, I'll report back within the next month or two with some great photos to share, okay? If not, feel free to harass me on here, twitter, facebook- wherever. ;)

Now, I haven't been failing totally at the whole capturing memories via photos with my kids, at least. Lately, I've been handing my camera over to Aaron and forcing bribing him to take some pictures of me with with the boys. Surprisingly, he got some really cute shots! Here are a few of my favorite recent pictures with the kids- all taken by my husband, who knows pretty much nothing about my camera. :)

How often do you guys get family photos taken? Do you ever use a tripod to take your own? Do you just ask your friends to do it, or do you make sure to get professional pictures taken regularly, too? 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Happy 4th of July from my little firecrackers (a little late)

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Aaron had the long weekend off, so I've been trying to simply enjoy our time as a family and I've been to busy during the day (and too tired at night) to blog. I really need to learn the fine art of blogging while still spending time with my family, or better yet... blogging about all the great things we've been doing together! I've been a bad blogger :(

Well, we had a FANTASTIC fourth of July! It was, probably, the last time we will be celebrating America's birthday IN the United States. So we made sure to have the best day possible! First, we all dressed in red, white, and blue- like any good 'Merica family, right?? We drove out to Round Rock, which is only supposed to be a little over an hour away... but somehow we ended up driving all the way to Austin. It was worth the drive. The festival/fair in Round Rock was really fun- Elliot got to ride a "choo choo train" and he got to follow goats and chickens around in the petting zoo (he couldn't understand why they weren't more interested in the feed!). It was hot- even by Texas standards- so we ended up leaving the festival for awhile and checking out a huge mall in Cedarville (more driving). We returned to the festival just in time to watch the sky divers! My boys were totally fascinated watching them twirl and twist in the sky. Emmett couldn't stop pointing and clapping and I don't think Elliot quite knew what to think about "flying" people- I mean, only "airpwanes" and "hewacoppers" can fly, right?

The fireworks were delayed by over an hour, and didn't start until about 10:15, but they were well worth the wait. The firework show was far more impressive than the one we saw last year at Freedom Fest at Fort Hood. Elliot and Emmett were both totally entranced and Emmett clapped and said "ooooh!" after every. single. firework. :) I was a little nervous how Emmett would handle all the noise and staying up so late, but he was a little champ. In fact, both of my boys were absolute angels the whole day. I sure am glad they loved the fireworks and festival so much, and that they spent most of the day running around. They were so tired that they both fell asleep and slept through what was probably the slowest moving traffic jam I've ever been in (and I've been in some horrible rush hour Chicago and NYC traffic before) along with the rest of the ride home. I'm not kidding guys, our car didn't even move for over an hour, and we didn't make it out of Old Settlers Park until after midnight. During our drive, we nearly hit (but missed) a kitten and a raccoon, and we saw over 25 deer on the side of the road. Someone was looking out for us! My babies didn't end up back in their own beds until after 2AM.

Aaron and I realized, at about 1AM, that this was our very first time keeping the boys out so late- and after talking about our sweet boys and the day's events for a bit, we both agreed that God blessed us with such well behaved children. We can always take them out in public without worrying about meltdowns, tantrums, or really any trouble at all, and that makes our lives so much easier. I sure do love those little men!

totally enthralled

one of the sky divers


Elliot trying to coax the chickens into eating some of his feed- and Emmett feeding them grass through the bars! ha.

Elliot walking with his best friend, Trenton- and no, we didn't prompt them to hold hands. :) So sweet.

Our day could have definitely ended up less-than-thrilling, what with all the extra driving, the extreme heat, etc- but with toddlers, you just have to roll with the punches, right? Thankfully my boys didn't feel like throwing many punches that day ;)

I hope you all had great 4th of July's too! What did you do?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

stay true to yourself

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”- Dr Seuss 

I have struggled with my self confidence and body image my whole life. First of all, God gifted me with red hair... which I have grown to love now, but I definitely did not appreciate as a child. Children can be cruel, and I can't even tell you how much time I wasted as a child wishing I was born a brunette or blonde like every other kid. I can honestly say that for the first 19 or 20 years of my life, I never felt pretty, or attractive, or good enough... for anyone. In fact, I battled depression and struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of my adolescence. This isn't something I have blogged about, really. I'm not sure why. I guess there is a "stigma" with mental illness, and I was scared of that. But this is MY blog, and I feel like I should talk about it. Who knows, maybe these words will comfort someone struggling with an eating disorder like my blogs about Elliot's birth defect comforted many gastroschisis parents. That would be wonderful!

When I was 20 years old and a sophomore in college, my depression and anorexia nearly took my life, which led me to spend 2 weeks (unvoluntarily) at a mental hospital in an extensive eating disorder treatment plan. After an additional week and a half of outpatient therapy, I was finally cleared to re-enter society/normal life. But my life took a wild and somewhat crazy turn. I sadly never returned to the college that I loved, instead, I moved back home. Living at home after you've been away for 1.5 years is tough. Things between my family and I were rather tumultuous. The main person who was there for me after I returned home was my highschool sweetheart, Aaron, who had been deployed in Iraq nearly the entire time that I had been in college. Just a few months after we started talking again, I flew out to Colorado Springs to Fort Carson, to see a man I hadn't seen in two years. A week after that, we were married. I think everyone (including myself) thought I was a little crazy. In all honesty, though- Aaron saved me. He really did. And these (almost) four years that we've been married have been the absolute happiest years of my life. ♥

"I found you, in my darkest hour
I found you, in the pouring rain
I found you, when I was on my knees
And your light brought me back again"
-lyrics from "I Found You" by the Wanted (go ahead, laugh. I love them. haha)

Of course, having two kids in less than two years can be a little stressful. It also changes your body, which I'm sure is tough for anyone to handle, let alone someone who struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of her life. Somewhere along the way, I kind of lost myself. I spent too much time cooped up in a house without adult company. I was always so busy caring for someone else, trying to make everyone else happy... that I forgot about myself. I think this is common among stay at home mothers.

Fast forward to now. Elliot is two and a half (wow is that strange to write!) and Emmett is one, and I have to say that for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE, I am about 95% happy with the way I look- my hair, my body, everything. I am also happy with who I am! I have been making an effort to make time for myself, to buy myself pretty things, and to remind myself that I am a person too- not just a mother. There comes a time in everyone's life when you suddenly realize that you have to stop trying to make everyone happy- that'll never happen. Just work on making YOURSELF happy. That's what I did. It worked!

This is the picture of a truly happy, fairly confident, mother of two little boys. ♥
 I love my life, I love my boys, I love my husband... and I love who I am today.

To all my fellow mama readers: Who are you? Outside of being a mother? 
Do you know? Do you take time for yourself every day? Do you have your own hobbies/goals?

If the answer to any of the above questions was "no," I urge you to take the the time to rediscover yourself. I did, and you know what I realized? I am a lot of things. I am a mother- but that's not all. I am a writer, a runner, a friend, a wife, a sister, a catholic, an animal lover, a cook, a daughter, a photographer, a thrifter, a bohemian, a traveler, a swimmer... I could go on. :) 

Our children can only be truly happy if their parents are happy, too. So go on- find (and keep!) your happiness! :) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

not the ocean, but it'll have to do... for now

Aaron finally sat down with his case manager last week, and got more things accomplished for his medical retirement. It looks like we won't be able to leave Texas until probably the end of September or beginning of October. At first, I was really disappointed to hear this, but at the same time, it gives us more time to save and prepare, so I guess I can't complain too much. Apparently Costa Rica is practically underwater for nearly all of October, anyways, so it could be a blessing in disguise. During much of the rainy season, it is sunny in the morning but rainy in the afternoons- that I can handle (I think). Nearly constant rain for a month straight? Not so much.

To be honest, I'm really loving Texas lately, so this summer, we will just make the best of it! I keep saying that I really need to start going through and downsizing some of our belongings- particularly the boys' things. People, these kids of mine have a LOT of stuff. They're a little spoiled. Oh well. We have time. I'll have to try to squeeze it in sometime between keeping my two little men happy in the mornings (aka preparing them 23 snacks, constantly refilling their water cups, trying to keep them from accidentally injuring eachother, and walking behind them trying to pick up the tornado of toys they leave behind them) and our time spent outside. Seriously, when it's 99 degrees and sunny outside, my boys simply DO NOT want to spend one minute inside. They are definitely my kids. When everyone else is holed up inside with their air conditioners, we're out there running around having a blast. And chugging bottles of water.

My poor husband has hand foot and mouth disease, which is going around like crazy around here. I guess it's a good thing that he didn't find out sooner, or else I probably wouldn't have been able to drag him out to the lake on Saturday ;) I'm hoping and praying that hand-foot-mouth was what Emmett and I were sick with last week and the week before, because otherwise we will likely catch it- and I definitely don't want it!!

A few pictures from our weekend-

It was our second time to this particular lake- which is called Stillhouse Hollow Park, and we enjoyed ourselves even more this time than last! Except Aaron of course, who pretty much laid pathetically in the water most of the time, other than one exploration into the bushes while wearing Emmett in the Boba so he could take a much-needed nap. Our only complaint from our last trip was the sloppy clay sand, but we picked a different spot on the beach this time and the clay was buried beneath regular sand- yay! It also helped that we finally found swim trunks to fit Elliot- size 12-18 months from Crazy 8. He's such a skinny mini!

Emmett could NOT get enough of splashing in this water.

It's definitely not the ocean, but it'll have to do for now. Oh, how I miss the ocean. What I wouldn't give to dive into the cold, salty sea right about now. I grew up going to the ocean often, but we haven't been to the coast since we moved to Texas! In fact, the last time I swam in the ocean, I was pregnant with Elliot. That was when Aaron was in Korea and before we knew for sure which birth defect he had, and I found a lot of peace and solace in the sea. You can read about that here, if you want. 

Hopefully, the next time I set foot in salty water, it will be on a beach in Costa Rica! I want my children to grow up knowing the wonder and healing powers of the ocean... just like I did. Especially if they are unlucky enough to inherit my acne-prone skin. Lake beaches can be fun, but they just don't compare to the real thing!

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