Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas Card and Newsletter

I had the HARDEST time with our Christmas Cards this year.  I wanted something simple, something classic, something with pictures.  But, I couldn't decide if I wanted color photos or black and white, if I wanted a white background, or black, plain or patterned!  It was just so much.  Then, I debated our holiday newsletter.  I didn't want to do a full page, but I also wanted to include our highlights.  Which meant I decided to fit it into a 5x7, which meant that as I wrote, I ended up in a 10pt font...

But, here it is, our Christmas Card and our Newsletter!

And here is the text of our newsletter for easier reading :)

Hello Family and Friends!

Can you believe another year has already passed?  It feels like just yesterday we were 
celebrating the New Year!

We’ve had such an incredible year!  We traveled to Las Vegas twice, during one trip Kaitlyn 
was a beautiful flower girl for the second time.  We also visited beautiful San Antonio, Texas 
and had the luxury of watching a Giant’s game at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ and 
another in Oakland.  We had lazy days by the pool and lots of cuddling and story sharing!

Our year was filled with a gazillion memories captured in thousands of photographs. We 
shared too many laughs to count and enjoyed the company of good family and friends.

Kaitlyn graduated from the first grade with flying colors!  For 2nd grade we decided to 
transfer her to a school that challenged her more.  It has been challenging, but she loves it.  
She’s at the top of her class and made the Principal’s Honor Roll with her straight As.  She’s 
reading over a 5th grade level and mastering multiplication and division.  She loves Monster 
High and Victorious, riding her bike, playing video games and makes friends faster than 
anyone I’ve ever seen!  She is so excited about being 7 and we cannot believe how fast
 she’s growing up!

This year we celebrated Matthew’s 4th Birthday with our traditional balloon release at the 
cemetery with family and friends.  We are so incredibly grateful and thankful to those that 
continue to keep his memory and spirit alive.  Thank you so much to those that walk with us in 
March for Babies (did you know we’ve been the number 1 family team in both money and 
walkers for a couple years now??) and that join us in releasing balloons for his birthday both 
in presence and in spirit,  Kaitlyn has done a beautiful job of sharing Matthew’s memory with 
Samantha.  We can see so much of him and who he could have been in her.  Four years 
since his passing and we continue to miss him each day.

Samantha is absolutely thriving!  She LOVED her birthday cake and attacked it like she had 
never eaten a day in her life!  She has grown so much this year!  She’s really tall for her age 
and such a talker!  She had her tongue clipped over the summer and just has so much to say!  
She is completely off the bottle and in her own bed, most of the time.  She loves Elmo and
Sesame Street, running from Daddy and bath time.  She hates Kaitlyn going to school and 
just lights up when it’s time to pick her up.  She is such a joy and pleasue and has been the
perfect fit in our family.

We hope this year has brought you times of joy, peace and a lifetime of memories. 
May 2012 bring you wonderful times and nothing but happiness.  Thank you for being a 
part of our lives!


As 2011 come to an end, it's pretty traditional to reflect on the resolutions of the past year and to decide on resolutions for the one beginning.  The old saying, out with the old and in with the new, is pretty commonly heard these days, although I don't find it to be necessarily the best.  I mean, far too often, new is not always better.  New needs to work out the quirks and wrinkles to become the best, and why leave something that is working so well in exchange for something that may not work at all?

My resolutions last year were:  Live for today, concentrating on the positive people in our lives and get healthier.  Overall, I think I've done pretty good.  We make the most of every day and enjoy the busy days as much as the lazy ones.  We've spent more time and energy on those that are positive aspects in our lives and sometimes I am healthier ;).

I think my New Year's resolution this year is similar to those last year and an underwritten tone I had in 2011, striving for simplicity.  I think so far I've done a pretty good job of it.  My goal has been to make life simpler.  To me, that means a life without constant drama, a life with good friends and family, events that are more intimate to make things more personal and to concentrate on those things that really matter.

I've started the sometimes uncomfortable battle of weeding out the negative in our lives, saying good-bye to relationships that have been outgrown or are the result of feeling an obligation rather than a bond.  I've done what I can to end the issues of drama and being the doormat that is passive aggressive when something is bothering me rather than just out and out saying what exactly is bothering me to whoever it is.  We have one life, we have one chance and no one knows how long that life will last, so why waste time or energy on things that are not adding something positive to your life?  

I think I reached a point where I felt less lonely in a room of dozens of people than in a room with just a few.  It provided more of a distraction when that was all I felt I needed.  Does that make it right or healthy?  Absolutely not.  This year, I've wanted to expand and deepen the relationships that were really important to me.  Which meant I had to admit that I'm not a superhero with unlimited hours and energy.  I had to make a decision, is it more important to have superficial relationships with many or deep relationships with much fewer?  To me, having deep relationships just meant more.  I wanted to focus on those that had been such a source of support, those I trusted, those who I enjoyed spending time with, who I respected and who I thought were not only good for me to be around, but good for my kids too.

I want 2012 to continue the simplicity.  I want to focus on what matters, I want to spend less time in the car jumping from event to event and I want to spend even more quality time with our girls.  The weekends have become so valuable to me.  With Kaitlyn in school until 3:30 every, single day, and us getting home just a short time before it gets dark only to start homework, dinner and bedtime routines, I want to really enjoy the weekend with her.

I wish the same for everyone I've ever known, anyone that reads this and anyone who knows any of those people.  My wish for you this year is for a year of peace, of happiness and of joyful beginnings.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What a beautiful Christmas

I think Christmas is one of those magical times of year when everything just seems to come together.  For so many, the magic of Christmas is a lot of work, a lot of planning and a lot of strategy.  But, it's nearly always worth it.

This year, our Christmas started on Thursday the 22nd.  We hosted a small Winter Wonderland party for the kids of our closest friends and family.  We kept the invitation list incredibly short (it's the first time ever we've had anything and kept the invitations fewer than double digits!  And it was hard!) to keep things more intimate and kept the playroom lit only by the glow of Christmas lights.  The kids got to decorate Santa hats with glitter glue and cookies with frosting.  They got to run around on a sugar rush from hot coco and a variety of cookies before Santa made his surprise visit.  The look on some of their faces was priceless.  One ran from the room as quickly as she could, but quickly warmed up.  It felt like Christmas surrounded by some of our favorite people and delicious treats.

Friday we took care of last minute things.  Such as goodies for the stockings.  Kaitlyn and Samantha went to play with their cousin at Nana's house while I went to overly packed stores to finish up my shopping.  We went home to meet Daddy who was home at noon and spent the day relaxing, decorating gingerbread houses, watching Christmas movies and gearing up for the festivities of the weekend!

Christmas, and all holidays really, are typically jam packed with family fun.  We are incredibly blessed to be a short car drive from both sets of family.  We're even more blessed that we maintain such a close relationship with both and our kids are so excited to go to both.  There is something so heart warming to see the seamless merging of two sets of families and their extensions.  One of my favorite parts of the holidays is spending time with family.  I think it's so important for our kids to have a strong bond with their extended family that I couldn't ever imagine living anywhere else.  It's funny, but even when Dusty and I see other places that would be gorgeous to live in, or where the cost of living is lower or the laws are less ridiculous, unless both complete sets of family are relocating with us, I couldn't do it.  It also gives me such a deep depth of gratitude and respect for our military families.

Christmas Eve, we woke up, had breakfast, got dressed and sorted the presents that were going with us, loaded the car with plenty of diapers and toddler things and headed to Dusty's family's house to spend the day.  The girls played and played with their cousin, we ate some yummy food, talked, laughed and the girls all opened far too many gifts.  This year, Matthew received a beautiful snow globe from his Aunt Christy and Uncle Dennis.  The older girls enjoyed Samantha's toys almost as much as she did and the car was packed for the ride home late that night.  Kaitlyn's favorites of the night were her angry bird jammies and tablet for the wii and toys r us gift card, Samantha's favorites were her texting toy, baby doll and princess ride on.

Christmas morning came early for us.  Samantha was up at 2 AM with a really bad cold.  She tried to lay with me, but just was so miserable she cried and fussed until 6:45.  Then, at 7:15 Kaitlyn came running in desperate to find out what Santa had left her.  We held her off for about 45 minutes, then Samantha was gently woken up to go see what was behind the wrapping paper under the tree.  Kaitlyn was so excited Santa brought her the karaoke machine and Victorious microphone she had been asking for, Samantha was in love with her slide (once she realized what it was and I picked her up).  They ripped into their stockings and the gifts under the tree.  Although they were sorted, Kaitlyn still made a mistake on one of them, opening Samantha's and quizzically looking at the small shirt wondering what she was supposed to do with it before realizing it wasn't for her.

After a quick breakfast and showers, and a short nap for Samantha, we were back in the car.  It was time to go to the cemetery to take Matthew the stocking Santa had filled for him.  Kaitlyn helped lay out all of his gifts and we realized Santa has been bringing him too much every year because there is hardly a space left.  A very crabby Samantha explored the cemetery, looking at the beautiful decorations so many loving families had left out for their little ones.

From there, we headed to my parent's house.  We stopped at Walgreens for some more baby advil and unloaded our goodies to give from the car.  Kaitlyn was so excited to pass out presents for everyone to open and I have to tell you, it took a while.  Some of Kaitlyn's favorites were her Big Time Rush concert Tickets, DS games, jammies and clothes.  Samantha's favorites were her ABC train, adorable clothes galore and her very own twinkle toes!  Unfortunately, Samantha slept through most of the day, she was just so uncomfortable.

We left for home after dark and unloaded the car, then stood and wondered where in the world everything would go.  The girls went to sleep fairly easily and like that, another Christmas had past.

The only things that could have made Christmas any better would be having Matthew with us physically and having Samantha feel better.  We know that he is forever with us, and a part of the festivities in our hearts.

It was truly a beautiful Christmas, even if it feels like 2011 just started.  It's been awesome having Kaitlyn home all last week and I really look forward to having her home this week.  I want to get some pictures taken in one of the matching outfits I got them, we'll see how they are feeling though.  Today, the Christmas decor comes down and deep cleaning begins so we can start the new year with a fresh start.

I sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of love and laughter.  I hope your heart was filled with peace and you were surrounded by the ones you love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From one December to the next

Well, so much for trying to blog every day.  Obviously since it's been nearly 3 weeks!!!!  I failed.  But, you know what, even so, I can always try to start it again now :)

The Christmas spirit has done an amazing job of evading me.  A lot of this month, I've felt like I've been going through the motions.  I put the Christmas decorations up in hopes that it would get me feeling like Christmas.  It didn't quite work.  I put Cinnamon Apple glade plug ins, again in hopes of catching that spirit.  Dusty put up lights outside, which he was so excited about and did such an amazing job with, and again, it was refusing to come to me.  I had purchased a few gifts for the girls' cousins in August, but that had been all the shopping I had done so far, last Wednesday and Thursday, I did all the rest of the shopping.  I did a lot of wrapping, trying to get it all done before Kaitlyn was on winter break.  Samantha was an amazing trooper with lots of all day shopping.  We watched Elf as a family together (Kaitlyn's first time), we went to holiday parties, did family photos, sent out Christmas cards, we went and saw Santa, we looked at Christmas lights and still, it was just not happening.

On Sunday, we decorated the cemetery.  We took Matthew his tree.  We took him his Santa's, his nativity scene, his Jesus figurines and we made it sparkle just for him.  He is so incredibly missed.

This year would have been his 4th Christmas.  For Kaitlyn's 4th Christmas she was so excited for Christmas.  She told Santa she had to have the Barbie Diamond Castle doll house that made noise and lit up.  Santa, of course, was happy to oblige.  I wonder what he would have asked for?  A car to drive in the backyard?  A big boy bike?  Something to do with Cars or Toys Story?  Tonka Trucks?  Dinosaurs?  Would he be super excited or more laid back about it?  Would he have cried with Santa or ran up excited?  Would it have been harder to take Santa pictures with 3 kids in the picture instead of 2?

Decorating at the cemetery definitely helped.  It helped make our family feel like we were partially complete at Christmas.

Tonight we went to Discovery Kingdom's holiday in the park.  A place of wonder and magic.  A gazillion lights and fake snow hills to slide down.  A place with Santa's workshop where Santa has nothing better to do than spend 20 minutes talking to your kids about their year before handing out some Twix bars.  It was chilly, I could see my breath when I talked.  I had to actually wear a jacket and borrow Dusty's gloves.  It felt like Christmas.

It's Christmas time.  And I'm getting excited.  Tomorrow we are going to host a small, intimate and magical Winter Wonderland party.  The wind is keeping me from having it outside like I had originally planned, but I plan on using way too many twinkle lights anyways as we open our doors to some of our favorite kids and await the special visit from Santa.

I'm excited about giving a very special niece and nephew their presents and watching them open them.  I'm hoping they love them.  I'm excited about the family in Alabama getting their presents and hoping they have a blast playing with their gifts. I'm excited for Christmas Eve and watching our niece open her present and keeping my fingers crossed it's still something she wants!  And I am most excited about putting the littles to bed on Christmas Eve and then staying up with my best friend and partner in everything and playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus while setting up gifts and eating cookies.  I know the are both going to flip out Christmas morning when they see what Santa has left.

I cannot believe this year is already nearly over.  I cannot believe Samantha is already closing in on 14 months and Kaitlyn is more than halfway to teenagerhood.  I cannot begin to believe that Matthew is not going to be here for yet another Christmas.  I swear, the only thing that could possibly make this time of year any better is for him to still be here with us.

With Christmas just a couple days away, I hope that your heart is warm with Christmas Cheer and your life is filled with nothing but peace and joy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Everywhere I turn.

You know, even though it's only December 1, when I go out and explore the world, I could easily guess it was much further in the month.  Old Navy has already marked down their winter clothes (20 days before Winter even begins and really just weeks after we started getting any cool weather at all!) and have the spring line out and on display.  Seriously people, it's December 1.

I am usually pretty torn on whether or not I like Christmas starting so early.  Normally, I love the holiday season.  It's so warm and comfy.  It's a time of spending together, watching the look of wonder on the littlest of faces, sharing the most amazing birth story imaginable and seeing minds of growing kids spinning with questions how Santa could really do so much.

It's the time of year we not only relax and enjoy our family and friends, but that we also rush as fast as we can do to as much as possible.  We take more pictures in December than I bet we do the rest of the year combined!

Normally, I decorate the day after Thanksgiving and pack it all up the day after Christmas because if I had to look at it for even another moment I would stress out from the clutterness of it all.  This year, I didn't.  I haven't decorated yet.  I'm going to try and put it off as long as I can.  I'm thinking maybe next weekend?  I'm sure that I'll be spending a lot of time keeping Samantha out of the tree, even with the gate around it, and I'm just not looking forward to that aspect.  I also want to enjoy the beauty of the decorations all season without reaching that point where I am beyond ready to put it all away.

And, because I haven't decorated yet, to be honest, it doesn't really feel like Christmas yet.  It's one of those catch 22's I suppose...

How about you, when do you normally start decorating?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parenting our Children

One of the hardest tasks I believe in life is being a parent.  And while it is true that it is infinitely rewarding, a blessing like no other and one of the the greatest gifts in life, none of that takes away from the fact that it is incredibly hard work.

Not only are we as a society inundated with the latest and greatest trends in every aspect of parenting in our day to day lives, those trends often contradict what research proved to be the greatest idea just a few months or couple years prior, but we're also such an incredibly competitive society that I feel far too often we didn't live in the moment.  We don't truly sit down and reflect and enjoy the life that is going on around us.

I often wonder if parenting 80 years ago was easier?  No facebook, no McDonald's or Starbucks on every corner, no debates about vaccines, no electronics or cameras.  Just lots and lots of time together.  Of course, infant and child mortality rates were higher, it wasn't as easy to get parenting advice or suggestions and how would I survive without my tens of thousands of photographs documenting everything going on?

I do not believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent.  I believe that to be a good parent, you have to mean it.  You have to want to parent, you have to have that desire to be a good parent.  That's it.  I think that if you really want to be a good parent, want to parent and put forth that energy and effort, you will be a good parent.  Granted, you may make mistakes, but all parents do.  At one time or another all parents are going to send their kid to school with a tummy ache, because they are obviously faking it, only to pick them up an hour later covered in puke.  Or something like that.  It is going to happen to all of us.

There are three lessons or values I want to instill in my children.  I truly believe these are the most important they can know or learn.  And I respect that not everyone under the sun is going to agree with me ;)  I also believe that they are all related to each other.  In no particular order they are: Empathy, Courage and Family.

I think that one of the reasons we have such a high bully rate these days is because of a lack of empathy in our children.  I think that empathy can be taught at a really young age in very basic terms that can be built upon as time passes.  I truly believe that if more people practiced empathy we would be a nicer society.  At the end of the day, what is the arm in teaching our society at a young age what empathy means?

I believe children today are lacking courage.  I'm torn on why I believe this true.  Part of me believes that there is so much patting on the back that someone is doing a great job at something, they end up too scared to try something new because they may not be good at it when they first begin.  Yet, another part of me believes that we give up too easy as a society.  If something is hard, we stop doing it.  We give up and do something else.  I think kids should be encouraged to take risks (as in singing in front of a group, not rock climbing without a helmet), and know that there is a good chance they will not be good at it to begin with, and that's ok.  I think they should also be given the strength and courage to go against the norm and not be part of the crowd.  Fitting in does not equal normalcy.  Some of the greatest minds in the world had the courage to be different.  I also think that if more kids were more courageous and empathetic, they would be willing to stand up for the kids getting bullied.

And lastly, family.  Family, I've written about before.  Family is amazing.  It is a place where you can be yourself, you can lean for support, you can always count on and that can make the hugest difference in your life.  But, family is also work.  You cannot expect family to always be there for you without you being there for family.  And I believe family is consistent, strong, loving, supportive and builds you up instead of down.  Family is not always made of blood and not all blood makes a family.  A family is a supportive group, who is there for one another regardless of distance or age.  I am so incredibly blessed that my kids have the amazing extended family that they have, through blood and through strong ties, but I hope I have taught them it requires effort, work and a whole lotta love.

Our children are our legacy.  We have the unique pleasure, opportunity and responsibility to shape them into a strong community that will take over the world.  What do you feel are the most important things to instill in our children?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lack of Sleep

Samantha started out a terrible sleeper and transformed into a "fantastic most of the time" sleeper when we moved her into her crib a few months ago.

This has changed.  I'm not sure why, but it has.

It all started last Friday night.  My sister and I had this bright idea to do a craft show on Saturday morning, and I figured since it was so super close to my house, I could let Samantha sleep like she normally did until 7-8 then Daddy could bring her over to me.

Samantha went to sleep around 9:30 Friday night and I stayed up until 1 working on last minute prep.  I crawled into bed, closed my eyes and the crying started.  It was 2:30 AM and I thought maybe if I just let her lay with us, she'll go back to sleep.  She didn't.  She didn't go back to sleep until 8:00 AM.

That Saturday was a really long day.  Saturday night, she went to sleep around 10 and did awesome through the night.  Of course, Kaitlyn woke up at 5, eager for breakfast and playing and demanded I get up as well.  Sunday came and went and Samantha went to sleep at 10:30 or so.  Monday through Friday should have been great sleeping in days since Kaitlyn was out of school.  They were anything but.

Sunday night, bed at 10:30, awake at 2:30 until 7, Kaitlyn up by 8.
Monday night, bed at 11:00, awake at 2:30 until 6:30, Kaitlyn up by 10.
Tuesday night, bed at 11:00, awake at 2;30 until 8, Kaitlyn up at 7.
Wednesday night, bed at 11:30, awake at 2:30 until 7, Kaitlyn up at 7.
Thursday night, bed at 1:30 AM!!!!!  awake at 4:30 until 9, Kaitlyn up at 8
Friday night, bed at 11:30, awake at 2:30 until about 8, Kaitlyn up at 10
Saturday night, bed at 12:00 AM, awake at 2:30, until 8:30, Kaitlyn up at 10.
Sunday night, bed at 12:00 AM and thankfully slept until 7.

At about 8 PM, I start rocking her, singing to her and easing her into the world of sleep.  She fights it so hard.  She used to just lull to sleep.

I think I've reached the point where we have to give up rocking to sleep and make her learn to sleep on her own.  :(  I'm not looking forward to it, she is one stubborn kid!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kaitlyn is 7

* My goal is to start having 5 new blogs a week, lets see if I can do it and not always feel so behind :) *

9 days ago, our itty bitty baby girl who took us by surprise when I took my first ever pregnancy test and read that exciting "pregnant" on it, who blessed us with an easy pregnancy even after our car accident with the drunk driver, who took her time getting here 3 days late, who encouraged us to up our wedding date drastically so we could be married before her arrival, who was such an easy baby that I was ready for another within the first 4 months and who made us parents turned 7.

I don't feel old enough to have a 7 year old.  I don't feel old enough to have a husband, much less one that turns 31 tomorrow.  I don't feel old enough to have accomplished the things that we have, and I sure as heck don't feel nearly 30 years old.  I feel 12.  Sometimes 16.  Sometimes 80.  Isn't that weird how our mind does that?  It tries to coincide how we feel with what the calendar tells us we should?

But, I digress.

Kaitlyn, our big girl version of Samantha in so many ways, has so much personality.  She's outgoing, energetic, empathetic to nearly a fault, eager to please and has enough sass some days where it's enough to institute a 6 PM bedtime and deeply fear puberty only to be a perfect angel the next day.  She's developed her mama's ability to think faster than her lips can move and talks a mile a minute for hours on end.  She'll start a conversation about the most off the wall things and the oddest of times.  Her idea of quiet time is taking a breath in-between sentences.

Kaitlyn has lost all of her front baby teeth, a total of 8 this year with most of the adult teeth nearly half way here when she lost the baby one.  I suppose she was determined to either skip the awkward stage or make it as short as possible.  She looks so much older than she did last year.  She doesn't look little girl in the slightest and has grown so tall.  She's become more interested in her looks and being cute for school or places her friends might be.  She's over grocery shopping and running errands if she can stay home and watch TV or play outside.

We spent her birthday how she wanted.  We had bacon and eggs for breakfast, over medium because she is much too grown for scrambled she tells us, we went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch, had her parent teacher conference and followed it up with girl scouts (where she was overly-tired and overly toddler like as a result) and some rest time after before our families got together to celebrate her birthday with spaghetti tacos in her honor.

Kaitlyn's teacher is amazing.  She spent her primary education in the GATE program and being at the head of her class and she recognizes the things she hated about it and vows not to repeat those mistakes with her bright students.  She thinks Kaitlyn is exceptionally bright and said that while it's apparent she's amazing in reading and her English skills, it's easy to overlook how advanced she is in math.  She said that she is often the first one done and since she refuses to force her to be teacher's pet and always help around the classroom, she gives her the option of curling up with a good book, helping others or helping her.  Kaitlyn chooses a mix of each on a regular basis.  She was thankful we switched her to this school and complimented Kaitlyn on the work she has done with another student.

Kevin is Kaitlyn's best friend at this school.  Kevin is Asian and Kaitlyn talks about him all the time.  Often times she gets upset because while they are great friends and Kevin is always making things for her to bring home, he is not her boyfriend and hates when the other kids tease them as such.  2 kids were reprimanded a couple weeks ago for trying to get them to kiss by pushing them together.  Kaitlyn did not tolerate that behavior and scolded them for being inappropriate she said.  Her teacher says it's just a really good relationship, a strong friendship that has really helped Kevin this year.

While I knew that Kevin was her good friend and she had fun playing with him, what I did not know was that Kevin speaks limited English and was painfully shy to the point where he was without friends and was struggling in school.  Kaitlyn has been helping him with math, reading and teaching him English.  She's helped him make friends and according to her teacher he's thriving on a level he wasn't before.

I think that made us the proudest of all, more proud than of her perfect report card or near perfect behavior.  Her teacher did say she got onto her twice for chit chatting, and both times the look of disappointment on Kaitlyn's face and how upset she got nearly drove Mrs. to tears and she vowed not to do it again.

Our princess is 7.  In 9 years she'll be driving.  In 11 she'll be headed off to college.  Where's the button to make time slow down?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Can you even believe it?!?!?!?!

Our little miracle is no longer an itty bitty baby girl!

She's an official member of the 1 year old club!  She is toddling around like a pro and so stinkin' cute that it's so hard to tell her no!

Somehow, I blinked one day, and all of this happened.  Maybe, I need to blink less often.

Samantha turned a year old last Wednesday.  She is up to 20 lbs and 11 oz, which is in the 50% time and nearly triple what her birth weight was!  She is also up to 30.5 inches tall, which is in the 90%.  She's like mama though, where it's more of a long torso than long legs.  Kaitlyn is the same way.  Her head is 46.6 cm which is also 90% and I believe every bit of it!

Her hair is getting so much thicker and a tad bit darker.  I think she'll have a light honey brown hair, much less blonde than Kaitlyn is.  She's completely off of bottles (yay!) and we're working on moving from sippy cups to straws and cups with straws.  It's going ok so far, but we do fall back on sippy cups a lot.  Especially at night.  She's on half formula and half milk and obviously thriving.

Samantha is definitely a carnivore.  Where Kaitlyn has always preferred vegetables over everything else, Samantha will throw everything on the floor if she sees some chicken somewhere.  She can demolish a whole chicken breast on her own and still look for more.  She's eating 3 meals a day and a few snacks with her formula or milk in between those.

And she's talking!  She repeats a lot of what you tell her.  Her favorite words are still "dada" and "What's that?" while pointing.  Especially at food.

Samantha is also walking! WooHoo!  Everywhere.  She is determined to run and has a few scratches on her face to prove it.  But, she is a toe walker, not that she walks on her toes, but more that she grips with her toes and refuses to walk with shoes on.  So, we need to work on that.  She wants to go as fast as the dogs and her sister.  I keep trying to tell her she will soon enough, but she must not believe me.

She's also a great sleeper.  We get 2 naps a day, the first is usually about 2 hours and the second is about 45 minutes.  You can tell when she is tired because she gets really mad and moody.  She usually sleeps 10-12 hours a night and wakes up so happy.

Her and Kaitlyn had a great Halloween!  Samantha went to a few doors, but was really impatient waiting for people to open them.  She had absolutely no patience for any of that lol.  Kaitlyn only likes to do a couple of blocks.  She prefers to pass out candy, so we were out for maybe an hour before they were done.

This past Saturday, we had their birthday party and I think everyone had a great time!

A year has gone by.  An entire year, and it feels like just yesterday we were waiting and waiting and waiting for that darned OR to open up so that she can be delivered.  Isn't it amazing how a year can feel like a blink of an eye, but 4 years can feel like a lifetime?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Angel Days and Rainbow Babies

I remember reading a book covering the topics of loss and grief not too long after Matthew died.  One of the topics in the book that scared me was that the second year after a loss is so much harder than the first.  The first you are still experiencing shock and denial and in the second here, you hit reality.  You realize that the person you lost isn't returning and that they did exist and the pain of forever slaps you in the face.  I completely believe that.  I do believe that the second year is like a punch in the throat.

I also believe that there is a part about having a "rainbow" baby that no one tells you about.  No one tells you that it is so similar to that second year.

There is obviously so much joy and happiness with each and every baby you have.  And there is so much hope and promise.  And with a rainbow baby, I think you have a different kind of appreciation.  You know how easily it can sleep away and that turns you into a different parent than you were before.  There is so much gratitude and for me at least, even more patience.

But, there is also a different kind of reminder.  With everything new Samantha does, I'm reminded in a different way of what we didn't have with Matthew.  We didn't get to see that first grin, hear those first little giggles, listen to him click and clack his tongue, watch him explore a lemon wedge, encourage him to take his first steps or chase after him as he laughs, crawling at the fastest pace he has down the hallway.

It's not like I didn't realize I missed those things, but you tend to focus on the big aspects.  The first day of school, the first birthday, the first haircut.  You know, all the milestones and not so much the little things that make up so much of their personality and so much of their daily lives.

I think those realizations made Matthew's Angel Day harder this year than maybe it was before.  And maybe part of it was that daily fear that something is going to happen to Kaitlyn or Samantha.  And knowing that obviously October 15 is a bad day for our household, it didn't make me rest easy.

This year for Matthew's angel day, we took our time getting ready.  We had a big breakfast.  We got dressed and we went to the cemetery with the items the girls and I had purchased the day before.  Kaitlyn had drawn him a picture and wanted to read him a book like she does for Samantha every night.  She was worried about leaving the picture there though because she hates how the cemetery throws things away on a whim when they want to cut the grass.  We noticed some bald patches in the grass and made plans to fertilize it.  We talked to him.  Kaitlyn read to him and Samantha crawled towards his grave marker.

We celebrated him.  We honored his life.  We missed him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Anniversary No One Wants

Tomorrow is our "Anniversary No One Wants."  Tomorrow it will be 4 years since Matthew left our home to never return.

4 years since the frantic 911 call.

4 years since Dusty performed CPR.

4 years since that terrible ride to the ER.

4 years waiting for Dusty to get there.

4 years since the EMT told me there was nothing more they could do.

4 years since she took me into the ER and I saw the team frantically working on him.

4 years since I had to ask to hold him.

4 years since I begged them to at least remove the needle from him leg to cuddle him.

4 years since we sat with his body until the coroner arrived.

4 years since we left the hospital empty handed, again, only to not return for him.

4 years since we had to go home and reenact how we found him with a fake doll provided by the coronor.

4 years since we started waiting for answers.

4 years since we started wondering why.

4 years since our new life began, the life without him.

Tomorrow is Matthew's angel day.  The anniversary of his death.  If I could make the day disappear from the calendar I would in a heartbeat.  Tomorrow is also the "wave of light" and Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness day.  At 7:00 PM people are encouraged to light a candle for the little ones lost far too soon to begin a wave of light around the world for these missed princes and princesses.

When you have a baby, you never stop and think "what will I do if he dies?"  In the excitement of planning nurseries and birthday parties and cake smashing, you don't stop to think about how you would honor his life on the anniversary of the day he died.  You don't think about what the plan will be for his angelversarry.

Tomorrow, we will go to the cemetery.  We will decorate for fall.  We will tell him the 4 things we know he already knows.  We love him to the moon and back.  We miss him so much our hearts hurt.  We wish that he was here to play and learn and grow with us.  And we look forward to being reunited.

A lifetime can last as little has 70 days and leave an impact that touches the world for eternity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

11 months

This little girl is on the go and moving quickly towards her first birthday.  I cannot believe that this is the same little girl that was just in my belly a year ago punching, prodding, kicking and poking, getting nice and comfy in there.

She has grown so much in the last month.  She's up to:
20 lbs and 6 oz, which puts her at 51%
29.25 inches (or so?) which puts her at 73%
19" around the noggin, which puts her at  99.6%

She has really thinned out.  She still has chunky little thighs, but overall, she just looks thinner.  I'm sure it's part "I refuse to drink as much formula" and "If I'm awake, I'm on the go"

There are times when I cannot tell who is a bigger ham, Kaitlyn or Samantha.  Samantha is really big on mimicking you right now.  She loves to make faces and have faces made at her.  She loves playing peek a boo and with any of her toys that make noise.  She is cruising along like a pro now and on a couple of occasions has taken a step or two without holding onto anything.  Considering that she hasn't mastered standing and balancing yet, it might be a little while before she's walking.  

We've been battling an awful yeast diaper rash all month.  We even tried taking her off of all dairy to help, but it didn't really help anything.  So, we put her back on regular formula from the soy.  She hated soy.  Hated it.  Refused it.  She is loving food though.  She eats 3 meals a day and a couple of snacks.  An average breakfast for her is half a waffle and half a banana (she hates eggs for some reason and gags whenever they touch her tongue), lunch is usually some kind of meat, like chicken and veggies, dinner is whatever we're having.  She is down to about 15-18 oz of formula a day and sometime this month we'll start transitioning over to milk.  

Samantha's tongue has healed nicely and she uses it ALL the time.  She's constantly twisting it, turning it, pulling on it, sticking it out and being thrilled with it.  She obviously understands a few words like No, which doesn't mean she always follows instructions, but she knows what it means.  She says a couple of words.  She repeats No back to us and she says Dada.  She says mama, but not to me, mostly when she is tired and hasn't been to sleep yet.  With Dada though, she knows what she is saying.  She is an absolute Daddy's girl and gets so excited when he comes into view.

We're getting close to the girls' joint birthday party and I cannot wait!  Just one more month and she won't be our little baby anymore.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In a week

We will mark 4 years since Matthew left us.  4 years.

I notice that sometimes I fall into the same patterns I remember having right after his death.  A lot of days after feel like a blur.  I have minimal recollection of a lot of things while so many memories are so there and so forward in my brain that I feel like even if I took a scrubber to my brain, they will always be there.

While during the long hospital stay and our NICU stay the internet and message boards provided such a sense of support,  I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the internet after Matthew passed.  I didn't want to stumble across the wrong story, I didn't want to be asked how I was doing, I didn't want to feel pitied.  But, I used the computer a lot.  I played a lot of solitaire.  It was a distraction.  It forced my brain to not think about what we were experiencing.  It took my mind of the incredible pain of engorgement, or the fact that I didn't have any baby diapers to change, any bottoms to pat asleep and if people were around, it offered my an opportunity to be in control.

When my mind wasn't occupied, the tears would not stop.  How could they?  Our baby was gone and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.  A part of our life had ended and time had stopped for him and in a way for us.  Yet, for the rest of the world, life still went on.  People still had to go to work, had to eat, had to clean bathrooms and so did we.  Sometimes I think this is why I still like to stay so busy.

It's funny what the mind remembers.  I remember it being a long time before I could be by myself for even a moment.  I hated being by myself so much that I would have Dusty sit in the bathroom with me when I took a shower.  I'm not exactly sure why I was so afraid of being by myself.  While I can remember hat so clearly, I couldn't tell you how we got through Christmas.  Sometimes I still don't know how we get through Christmas.

4 years ago, we were a happy and hopeful family of 4.  Our biggest concerns were getting through the winter without Matthew being hospitalized with an infection and getting Kaitlyn to and from Speech therapy.  We had no idea what the future held for us.

Friday, September 30, 2011

An update on the Girls

With as hectic things have been, I haven't had a chance to blog on all the goings on with the princesses of the family.

As I blogged about last year, I was really not impressed with Kaitlyn's school last year.  It had so many flaws that I could have individually over looked, but together was too much for me to handle.  It resulted in me having a meeting with the principal, going over my concerns and him assuring me that it will be better next year.  I understood that some of the problems were a result of the district closing the school Kaitlyn went to in Kindergarten and shoving all those kids, and some teachers, into random schools.  Chaos obviously ensued.  And while I believe the district failed to make the transition easy and did not give the principals the proper tools to ensure a successful year for everyone involved, I also believed the principal failed to take the simplest steps to make it easy and welcoming for the parents and students.

The school year started with Kaitlyn being assigned to the one class I did not want her in, and considering in the principal's meeting, he promised me he would not only not put Kaitlyn in that class (I constantly saw the teacher on his blackberry on facebook while his kids ran wild) but that he would put her in a class that challenged students on an individual level.  When I voiced my concern about the class he told me I should have gotten his promises in writing so they would mean something.  My jaw nearly hit the floor.  I explained she would not be in that class and she was changed to the teacher who was supposed to be the best at teaching to the students based on their skill level.

Within the first couple weeks, my stress level over the school increased and my anxiety over even taking her to school got so bad that I would feel guilty even taking her.  Then, I picked her up one day and she was starving.  I asked if she ate her lunch, she said no because C had spit in it. I asked if she had told a grown-up and she said she had.  The grown up told her "Well, he said he was sorry, what do you want me to do about it?"  I immediately called the school.  I was told that the would talk to the staff and return my call in the morning.  Late the next afternoon, I received a return call that everyone in the cafeteria said it didn't happen and Kaitlyn must have been confused.  I explained I would bring Kaitlyn down to point out the staff member and was told that was unnecessary, they'd all been talked to and it never happened.  Kaitlyn swears it did, to the point of tears as do the kids who sat around her.

That's when I started calling other schools.  Then, all of second grade began losing their recesses because of a few unruly kids.  About a month in, it was back to school night.  The straw that broke the camel's back.

In preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade we got the same speech "This year will be difficult and challenging because so much is expected out of them next year and we want them to be prepared."  This years speech was "Third grade is so hard and challenging and so many kids struggle, that we want to have as much fun as possible this year."  I asked "wouldn't it make more sense to spend the year preparing them for next year so they don't struggle?"  And was met with a blank stare followed by the speech on using clorox wipes once a week on their desks.

After the classroom speech was done, many parents approach the teacher and do the "How is so and so doing in class" speech.  I already know how Kaitlyn is doing.  She has never, ever been in trouble at school.  Not so much as a "quiet down Kaitlyn" and I know she's far above grade level in every subject.  So, instead we had this conversation:

Me- Hi, we're Kaitlyn's parents, I had a question about the curriculum.
Ms. R- Ok
Me- I understand that many of the kids need review, but I'm concerned that 3 and 4 weeks into the year they are having the words "I", "am", "we" and so on as spelling words.  When do you anticipate the spelling words will be more challenging?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still doing review
Me- Ok.  How long do you think you'll do review?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still working on review
Me- Ok.  I understand that, when do you think you'll move onto more challenging topics?
Mrs. R- Well, we're only on our second story of the year.
Me- Ok.  I get that you're doing review.  How long do you anticipate doing review?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still working on review
Me (can feel my eye starting to twitch)- I totally get that you're doing review, Kaitlyn is bored out of her ever loving mind.  What is going to be done for the students that do not need more review.  What is your game plan?
Mrs. R- Well, you can do more work with her at home.
Me- We do.  We're challenging her like crazy at home, which just widens the gap between what she knows and what she's doing here.  Do you think you'll be done with review soon?
Mrs. R- We're still doing review.
Me- Ok, thanks.

I was so aggravated.  Here I was, sending my child to school there for 7 hours a day for her to have ridiculously easy work, finish it at then spending the rest of the time with her head on a desk.  Then, missing recesses and spending all that time with her head on the desk.  I can so do that here!!

So, began the "hardcore" search for a new school.  I literally went straight from there to Back to school night at the school her kindergarten principal had been transferred to.  But, they were full.  And so were the other 5 I called.  Finally, one of my favorites answered the phone.  I asked if they had openings.  She said she didn't think so.  I may have sounded desperate, but I was, as I nearly broke down and explained to her how badly my child needed out of the school and if I didn't find a new one, we would be homeschooling and I just didn't know what else to do.  She talked to the principal and Kaitlyn was able to start the following week.

Kaitlyn went back and forth between being upset and excited.  She was so sad to leave her friends, but so happy to not sit all day with her head on a desk.  The night before her first day, I took her to 8 different stores for her to find the perfect first day of school outfit.  We went together that morning, the amazing secretary gave us a tour, everyone was just so nice and friendly.  When I picked her up, she was almost sad that she had a great day because she knew that it meant she was probably not going to be seeing her old friends every day.

We've been there since the 8th and already she's thriving.  I was worried that she would be really far behind the class, but she caught up quick.  Her progress report was awesome, she's still above grade level for everything and producing quality work.  Her teacher utilizes two different online computer software programs for the students to be able to work at their skill level in both reading and math.  Kaitlyn LOVES that, so she has been using her laptop a ton.  Thanks Santa!  Plus, the school has so many activities, parent involvement stuff and communicates really well with the families.  And, they have a Watch D.O.G.S. program: Dads of Great Students to help get the male influences more involved with the school.  So, we love it.  Kaitlyn loves it and we're so relieved we made the switch!

Other than that, Kaitlyn is going back and forth between being our sweet little angel and some attitude-y monster from the depths of the sea.  She is an amazing big sister, loving girl scouts and just overall enjoying the last month or so of being 6!

Samantha has had some changes too.  She's cruising along with her toy and on the furniture.  She wants to be standing all the time really.  She is pulling up to stand constantly and getting better at standing on her own for a few additional seconds each day.

A couple weeks ago, we took her to the ENT for her tongue-tied tongue.  We were fortunate that it is the same doctor who performed Kaitlyn's tonsil surgery and I trust and like him.  He confirmed that it was pretty moderate and because of Kaitlyn enduring speech therapy, wanted to take care of it.  We opted to do it in the office then so we could have it done as soon as possible and avoid as much delay as possible.

It was so much different than with Kaitlyn.  This time, she was placed on a table and bundled up with what I can describe as a heavy swaddle blanket.  Then, the doctor waited for her to cry.  And she didn't.  And so he poked her.  And she didn't cry.  So, he started to numb under her tongue, thinking that then she would cry, life her tongue and he could have easy access.  Nope.  She would not cry.  She had no desire to cry whatsoever.

So, he had to go in and try to clip it.  She didn't let a cry out until he cut it.  And it was more of a "what do you think you are doing cry" than a pain cry.  I cuddled her and in just a few moments (after bleeding on me a bit) she stopped and was giggling.  I think her biggest complaint was nothing crunchy for a week.

A few days after that ordeal, she developed this persistent jerk of a diaper rash.  NOTHING would cure it.  Her doctor thinks she got yeast in her small intestines so her poop is literally giving her a rash just by touching her skin at all.  Nice.  We've been using probiotics and creams and disposable diapers (we don't want to ruin the cloth, and we needed to sanitize the cloth to make sure any yeast was out of it) and it's still there.  I suspect a sensitivity to tomatoes, so I've cut them out.  And that has helped.  But, in keeping this food diary, I've also noticed she spits up a ton more when she has yogurt or cheese.  I've cut those out and debating switching to a soy formula to see if that helps with spitting up and tummy aches over all.  Anyone had experience with soy opposed to milk?  If so, share why you switched please :)

And that's really it for now :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life can be amazing and still hold rough days

I do feel incredibly blessed for what I have in this life.  I am healthy, I have an amazing husband that I am truly in love with (even in the moments when I can tell he's testing my last nerve), I have 3 beautiful children, I have 2 little girls that makes the sun shine brighter and the colors of the rainbow more intense than I ever could have imagined, I have wonderful friends who I know I can depend on in any situation and whom I trust, we have a house with plenty of room for all of us and our stuff, we have full bellies and we're making happy memories each and every day.

However, you can be happy with life and still have moments where it grief makes it so incredibly painful to breath.  Sometimes you can predict them, you can avoid things that are going to trigger a feeling of such immense sadness that it just overcomes you, but you can't always.  One of the rough parts about grieving your child is that while a part of you is always missing, and even in the happiest of moments, a part of you is sad beyond words, is that sometimes it hits you like a punch in the stomach and the tears start and don't stop.

This is "that time of year."  It's when the grief is at it's worse.  And from the past years (how can it possibly be years since we've held, touched, loved on, kissed, fed and cuddled with our little boy???) I know to expect there to be more rough days through December than there are in the spring.  We are in the time of year where I can say "4 years ago today we were ______ with Matthew."  We are in that short time frame of year where 4 years ago he was alive, he was at home with us and we had hope.  We had no reason to think he would become a statistic, a part of this ridiculous world of SIDS and all that comes with it.  We're quickly approaching the 4 year anniversary of his death and I hate that.  I hate everything about October 15.

I think this has also become the time of year when I reevaluate the things and relationships in our lives.  I have less patience.  I feel more "blah" about things and at the same time I am even more appreciative of the positive, supporting relationships that we have.  I feel almost all over the place.  And I know that's ok.  I don't need to be Miss Cheery Sunshine all the time just to prevent other people from being uncomfortable.

And, I have to say, I am getting to a point where I don't necessarily believe in SIDS.  I'm sure I'll need to explain that further in the future, and I will.  I think I've reached the point in my grieving where I don't feel as though I have to know WHY because I know that knowing will not change a single thing in the world.  It will not bring him back, it will not give us back the last 4 years and there is a good chance it will not prevent the death of another little one.  I believe SIDS was a term invented because it's really hard to tell parents "we're very sorry and we know you did everything right but sometimes, babies just die.  There is nothing you could have done differently to prevent this, sadly, your baby died for unknown reasons."  And it's even harder for society to accept that.  Then again, we've become a society that lives to be 95 and then when someone's body and soul are ready to pass at that age we still keep them hooked up to life support to gain more time.  And I completely understand that desire to have more time.  COMPLETELY.

At the end of the day though, and every moment throughout, I miss him.  I'm sad that he didn't get to meet Samantha.  I'm sad that Kaitlyn doesn't have her 4 year old brother to play with, I'm sad that we don't get to know more about him and explore the world through his eyes.  And I'm sad that we're going into another holiday season missing a part of our family.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's been a while

Since I've blogged.  It's not because of a lack of topics I have on my mind or things to discuss.  Right now, it's more like a lack of time, a lack of desire and maybe a bit of funk.

We're in that place.  That place where I can look back on 4 years ago and remember what we did that day and what I would have done differently if I would have known how close we were to the end of Matthew's life on Earth.

In a place where hugs last a little longer, tears flow a little easier and I dread the fact that in less than a month it will be 4 years since we held him, kissed him, snuggled with him, brushed his hair behind his ear and whispered to him all of our hopes, dreams and love for him to him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Double Digits!!

Um, how?  How is it possible that in only 2 short months, we'll be out of onesie stickers and a whole YEAR will have passed since Samantha came into this world?  I have a really hard time believing it!

She is up to 29" (or close to, it's the best I could get with a baby on the move!) and 20 lbs and 10 oz!  Her head is up to 19"!   Holy Moly!  She is really growing, but it looks like she is starting to lean out some.  Her thighs just don't look as chunky.  Her percentiles for the month are: weight: 68%, length: 80%, head: 99.8%

Samantha is up to 5 teeth.  Poor baby has cut the same one top tooth at least 3 times now.  This one tooth keeps cutting through, you can feel it, you can see it, it leaves marks in your skin, but then the next day it's recessed back into the gum line.  It is finally out even more now, so I'm hoping she's done cutting that one.  It amazes me that just a month ago she was cutting her first and here we are no with 5!  And, as of today, I can see number 6 getting close to the top of the gum line :)

She has been cruising along the furniture like crazy and will even go from one piece to the next.  She is convinced she can walk on her own, and gets really mad when she tries to let go and walk and lands flat on her fluffy little bottom.  I keep trying to tell her she has to be able to at least stand on her own for more than 5 seconds, but she's stubborn!

Samantha is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sleeper!  I never would have thought this a month ago!  She goes to bed around 9:30 and stays asleep until about 7:45 or so. Then, we get 2 hour to hour and a half naps through the day :)  It is so nice.  I have learned, she likes a "real" mattress.  She does not sleep so well in a pack and play or the co-sleeper.  She likes her crib mattress.

She's also a really good eater.  She eats 3 meals and a couple snacks a day and is at about 22-24 ounces of formula a day.  She LOVES her sippy cup.  She gets it for both formula and water (which she gets so excited for) in her sippy cup throughout the day.  Her favorites are rice (particularly fried rice), avocado and toddler cookies.  She shares with you like crazy and loves trying just about anything.

If I could change just one little thing, it would be fore time to slow down.  The days are just flying by and I just can't believe it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking things personally

I like facebook.  I like the ability to keep in touch with friends and family, near and far and to easily maintain and enhance friendships and relationships with the touch of a button and the upload of a gazillion pictures.  I like being able to get opinions and advice from people I admire, respect and consider important in my life.

But, there are parts of facebook that rub me the wrong way.  There are actually 2 in particular.  One is the woe is me mentality.  I totally understand and "get" the urge to vent.  Believe me, even I have those moments.  But, there are days or people or pages that just seem to be negative all. the. time.  It is almost as if they believe that the world is out to get them or that everything in their life is so terrible.  And I'm willing to bet that in real life, they don't actually feel that way, but rather it's the way they present themselves unintentionally.  Typically, I have a super easy solution for this, the wonderful "hide" option.  Of course, it seems that now facebook has done away with this option, which would mean that an easy solution would be the glorious unfriend button.

However, in the world of facebook unfriending someone is the equivalent of using a slew of "your mama..." jokes or actually unfriending someone in real life.  It is taken incredibly personally.  I'm fairly confident wars have been started because of unfriending someone on facebook.

I think the problem is that we have become such a "me me me" society that we automatically assume that everything is a personal attack.  We have to watch everything we type, everything we say and everything we do because someone, somewhere might get their feelings hurt.  What kind of society are we living in?

Here are some life lessons I've learned:

* Bad things happen to good people.  All the time.  And good things happen to bad people.  Getting a flat tire, losing a loved one, having your dog step in crap and then jump on your new sweater and breaking a bone are sadly a part of life.  Those individual situations, or even combination of some of the worst possible situations do not determine what kind of life you live.  What determines that is your reaction to the situations life deals you.  I am not saying you shouldn't vent.  Vent away.  Scream it from the rooftops while stomping your feet if that makes you feel better.  But, remember to move through it.  I promise you, the universe is not out to get you.  It is not a personal attack on you.  Sometimes, it just stinks.

* Facebook "games" about breast cancer, testicular cancer, or anything else are not done to hurt your feelings.  If you truly believe they are hurtful, delete your facebook.  Please.  Because it is going to not only drive you crazy, but it is going to put you in a state of deep depression.  I have suffered through secondary infertility, multiple miscarriages and the loss of our son, and I still do not get how the breast cancer "games" are offensive.  I think they're silly and don't do much to raise awareness, but I don't get how it could hurt your feelings any more than any other standard post.  It reminds me of the Gas X commercials. You know, the guy goes in the for the interview, has really bad gas and thinks that everything he hears has one thing or another to do with gas.  It doesn't, but that how he sees the world right then because that is what he is dealing with on the front burner.  It's the same thing.  When you are deep in your pain, that is what consumes you.  You have to do what you have to do to survive as healthy as possible.  I learned that one of the most important things to learn is that even the most amazing and supportive friend is going to say or do something that hurts your feelings.  They aren't doing it to hurt you.  They have completely innocent intentions, and while that doesn't take the sting of it away, it is important to remember.  And sometimes, it's necessary and healthy to take a step back and have some "me" time.

* You can easily become enraged just about anywhere in the world.  It does not mean that it is worth becoming enraged, it is bad for your blood pressure.  If there is a shirt at the mall you don't think is appropriate for girls, don't buy it, if there is a TV show that you cannot believe is on TV, don't watch it, if there is a commercial that disgusts you, don't buy the product.  It is not necessary to take it personally and make a huge statement about it.  

* Even your best friend and soul mate is going to disagree with you on something.  It is not personal.  It is totally possible to agree with someone and to love and respect someone, be it a spouse, family member or friend and to disagree with them.  Again, how we react determines the outcome.  Just because someone thinks differently than you do on politics, religion or how big a birthday party needs to be (:P) does not mean that they are personally attacking you.

I know that some people are going to be offended by this, and I am truly sorry.  I do not want to offend anyone, but I think it's quickly becoming forgotten that not everything is done as a personal attack against you.  And it's totally ok if you disagree with me.  I'm a "if I don't like it I'm going to do something about it or move on" type of girl.  And I know there are some situations that I cannot change, there are life events that have shaken me to my core and changed everything about who I am, but I can determine how I react to those.  And when it comes to something like Kaitlyn's school, the rising cost of cable or how much I hate McDonald's commercials, I can do something about it, other than running to the internet and complaining about it :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Blogging!

Chicks In Crisis is an organization in our community with a simple goal, Love, Home and Family for Every child.

Think about that for just a moment.  Love, home and family for every child.  Sometimes, it's the opposite of what we're thinking about when we're so desperately wanting to add to our family or when we are missing the little one that was taken from us.  We think about how much we want to give our baby the home that was rightfully his and how much we want to have him as a daily, active, contributing member of our family in the traditional way.  But, how often do we think about the babies who are born, who do not get that.

The foster care system in most states leaves so much to be desired.  These poor, innocent children are shuffled from home to home, never given the chance to really bond, never knowing where they will be next month.  I look at Kaitlyn and Samantha and while I know how blessed they are (and how blessed we are) I hate to let my mind wander to a place where babies, just like them, were born into families that simply could not or would not care for them.  They don't have their routines or their rituals.  They don't have a mom and/or a dad there for them every single day to make them feel like they can conquer anything.  And the older ones.  My heart just breaks for the older ones.

Chicks in Crisis works to prevent that.  Help birth parents chose adoption OR give them the tools and the skills they need to parent their child.  Keep babies and kids out of the foster care system and keep them in loving homes with parents who would do anything for them.

Anyways, check out their site, browse around at the services they offer and check out the article I wrote in their "New Perspective" section on the drastic rise in the cost of child care while you're there!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The upside and downside of a 6 year age difference...

To the random passer-byer, the checkout lady at the grocery store, the sales woman at Justice, the waiter at Red Lobster or the random stranger in Walmart, we have 2 kids, they are girls and they are 6 years apart.  Having two kids 6 years apart has it's challenges that I do think would be so different if Matthew was alive and running around like the active 4 year old I know he would have been.

Kaitlyn being 6 years older than Samantha is awesome for so much.  She is incredibly helpful, can play with her, entertain her, I can trust her to sit with her while I get the mail or throw clothes in the washer.  She can put socks on her, get a hair brush and really, Kaitlyn can just about get herself ready for the day every day.  And while they are obviously going to like way different things, Kaitlyn is perfectly satisfied to play baby with toys with her.

When Kaitlyn was younger, I loved when all the kids went back to school and we could go to a nearly empty zoo, park, mall, fairytale town and so on.  I hate going on weekends and the summer.  It's hot.  It's crowded.  People are rude and you have to almost battle for your teeny little kid to have a turn.

I want to take Samantha to the zoo, but I don't want to take her on the weekend.  And I feel bad that Kaitlyn will be at school and miss out on something she loves.

While Kaitlyn being at school ensures lots of 1 on 1 time with Samantha, it's also different, she won't see San Francisco on a random weekday when traffic is light, she probably won't go to the zoo or fairytale town as much, and our by our-self time will end at 2:30 with our wait in the pick up line.  But, she'll grow up with one entertaining and loving big sister.

I am not a passive person.

There, I admitted it.  But, it's true, I'm not.  I'm just not a stand back and let the world happen, while I just stand there and whistle a little tune to pass the time kinda lady.  There are times I wish I was, life would be simpler and I'd hopefully be a better whistler.  Instead, I'm passionate, opinionated, vocal and not afraid to get to the bottom of things.  Sometimes that is observed as creating drama or being dramatic.  But, I disagree.  (Shocker I know)  I define drama as the overreaction to something.  Or the desire to create conflict for funsies.

I love differing opinions.  I strongly believe that you can be best friends with someone who has a completely different viewpoint from you, even though I am incredibly conservative, I think it's important to have friends who are also liberal.  I think this is how we learn and how we grow as people.  We learn things by the experiences we experience, hear about and talk about.  I have learned that some of my view points were not realistic by talking to people who have different thoughts than I do and why they do and it made sense.  I think one of the huge differences between having a difference of opinion and just being dramatic is your ability to debate just the topic and not make personal attacked against the one holding the opinion.

I am also not shy at getting to the bottom of things.  If I have been told something second hand, before I assume anything about it, I'm always going to ask.  Of course, if it's over something trivial, it's unlikely I'll waste my time, but I would rather know the truth and go from there then make assumptions and fester over something that wasn't historically accurate.  If there is something being discussed that offends me (and really, there is only one topic that does), I will not hesitate to ask you to stop.  You obviously have the option of not, and I obviously have the option of calling it a day if the request isn't honored, but that's just how life is.

As a constant thinker, I was beginning to think maybe I should just train myself to be the whistler in the corner.  Maybe I had life all wrong and that was the key to everlasting happiness.  Then, I read a blog.  I read Etiquette Hell a couple of times a week.  I love it.  I love the stories, I love the advice given and I especially love the different opinions in the comments, it is a really good way to see so many different sides of the same story.  Yesterday's post was entitled When Defamed By Family and is basically the story of a girl who didn't attend the wedding of her cousin after a falling out and then was ostracized by that side of the family.  Years later she found out that it was rumored she had said some unfavorable things about the bride at the wedding.  The wedding she didn't attend.  She cleared it up with much of the family but questioned whether she should ask the mother of the bride why she would begin such an awful rumor.  The blogger gave her advice (which basically was, she knows her best, is the outcome worth what will be asked?) and also gave another amazing piece of advice.

 One way to insulate oneself from becoming the family pariah based on gossip is to have an impeccable character.   If one is known for being excruciatingly honest, this works in one’s favor to cast doubt in the minds of those who hear slander.  Sometimes it takes years to achieve that level of perceived character but since family relationships last for decades, it is well worth the investment.

What amazing advice, and how true it is!  I can admit that I have been bitten by the angry bug and voiced my opinion in an unsavory manner more than once, but I have invested the last couple of years in doing my best not to, but I'm going to work a lot harder at it.  I also believe that your actions are the loudest voice that you have.  Nothing you can ever say will be louder than your actions.

Another belief I hold true is that birds of a feather really do flock together.  Recently, this was used against me in a way that I think was supposed to be offensive, obviously said by someone who wanted to be mean and hurtful.  But, I was being thrown into a flock of 2 amazing mothers who are honest, dependable, fun and actually put forth the effort they commit to.  Which led to me resuming my role as Troop Leader for Girl Scouts, but that's a different story for a different day...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Before I know it...

The other night, Kaitlyn had a sleep over at her Nana and Papa's house.  It was a last hooray to summer and a time for her to have a slumber party with her cousin.  It was the night before the night before the first day of summer.  After the slumber party, the girls came to our house for swimming.  They swam hard and they must have played hard the night before, because our little Kaitlyn, who never naps, sat in her little recliner in her playroom to watch some TV, and without so much as reclining the chair or letting 5 minutes pass from the time her cousin left, was fast asleep.  I figured it was a cat nap, but after an hour, I decided to move her to our bed.

I rarely pick Kaitlyn up anymore.  She's at nearly 51 lbs, and that's a lot.  It hurts my back to pick her up and she is almost 7...  I couldn't put her in her bed, she has a loft bunk bed, and I didn't want to risk carrying her on the ladder.  And she slept.  As she slept, I realized, soon she'll be too big for me to even try to pick her up.  One day I'm going to blink and she's going to be a teenager, instead of taking a nap when she's too exhausted, she's just going to be grumpy and slam the door to her bedroom.  She is just getting so big so fast.

That night, I let Samantha fall asleep in my arms before bed.  Yes, I know it isn't great for teaching her how to sleep on her own, but it's ok.  I held her tubby thighs and chipmunk cheeks in my arms and realized that it's going by all too fast.  One day, I'm going to blink and this little angel is going to be a 2nd grader.

Time goes by so fast, and life is so short.  Sometimes, these reminders come to us at times we really need to remember what's important in life and to stop more often and spend time cuddling and carrying instead of on things that don't really matter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our 9 month old Princess

Can you believe 75% of her first year is already behind us?  I can't.  I have no idea where it went!  It's so hard to believe that our itty, bitty, cuddly baby isn't so itty or bitty anymore, and only cuddles on her terms.

Isn't she gorgeous though?

This past month Samantha has grown leaps and bounds!  She is crawling.  She is climbing onto her knees.  She is grabbing onto furniture with the hopes that she will magically stand on it :)  She has sprouted a tooth with another right behind it!  She claps, gives kisses and love, plays games, LOVES playing catch with daddy and his baseball, and loves to throw her head back on you as hard as she can for some reason.  She loves the dogs, loves to eat and loves to drink water.

Samantha had her 9 month appointment yesterday.  On her actual 9 month birthday, sorry I didn't post our update yesterday.  I didn't forget, I swear, but the Etsy store is doing awesome, we had friends over to swim, we had dinner at the in-laws and we stayed busy from the time we woke up until we went to bed.

Anywho, her appointment went well.  She is weighing in at 19 lbs and 13 oz.  This places her at the 75% mark.  And is exactly 12 lbs above what she was born at, so nearly triple her birth weight!  Way to go chunk-a-munk!  Her length is 28.5 " which is 80% and awesome.  She's starting to thin out a bit in those thighs lol.  And her head is 45 cm, which is the exact same as Kaitlyn, at 15 months!  Her head is 80% for her age.

We are going to take her to see an ENT about her tongue.  It is similar to how Kaitlyn's was prior to being clipped, and we want to snip it in the bud if necessary earlier than later.  If we can avoid speech therapy, that would be awesome!

She eats like CRAZY!  I love Baby-Led weaning.  Some of Samantha's favorite foods are fried rice, avocado, peas, chicken and just about anything she can get her hands on.  She is also getting about 30 oz of formula a day.  I am completely out of milk, and doing ok with it.  I really like the similac spit up ready-feed formula.  She likes the taste, I don't mind the smell, and she doesn't spit up as much with it.  It's just hard when we're on the go to take it with us.  So, we use powdered Similac formula when we're out and it doesn't work as great to stay down with her.  So, I need to work on a new plan for feeding when out and about.  She is also getting about 4 bottles a day, so starting today, one feeding a day goes into a sippy cup instead of bottle.  Next month we'll take out another one and so on and so forth until we're done with the bottle, which should be around 12 months old.

Sleeping is going AWESOME as well!  We moved her into her crib nearly 2 weeks ago.  We had some rough times the first couple nights, falling asleep, but she only woke up once through the night and went to sleep easily.  Without food.  Then, we had a couple of nights where there was a ton of crying through the night, but she sprouted a tooth.  Now, we're doing good.  Most of the time she goes down around 9 and is up about 7:45 or so.  And still takes 3- 1 hour naps a day.  There have been a couple nights where she got up at 5:30 and I just brought her to bed with me to cuddle for a couple hours.

Our goals right now are to help her get standing on her own.  It's hard to believe that Kaitlyn was only 3 weeks older when she started walking!  I'm not quite ready for that yet though!

Tomorrow Kaitlyn goes back to school and on Monday we head to Vegas for the week!  Yay!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Prince

4 years ago today, the contractions wouldn't stop.  The pain was intense.  I could feel the knife through my skin. I waited, feeling as though I was holding my breath, just waiting.  I could feel the tugs, the pulls, the hands trying to "fish" him out.  And finally, he was out, with 2 fingers in his mouth like a fish on a fisherman's hook.  He cried. To this day, one of the most beautiful sounds I'd ever heard.  It was his cry.  It wasn't the loudest, but it didn't need to be.  It was his.

I was stitched up while daddy went to be with him as they got him set up in the NICU.  He needed help.  It was still 7 weeks before he was due, he couldn't breath on his own, he needed an IV to eat, he needed bilirubim lights to treat his jaundice, he needed medication, he had IVs in and 5 days passed before I was able to hold him, but it was the sweetest moment a mother could ask for.  He was my baby and I wanted to memorize everything about him.

He was beautiful.

August 6, 2007 at 4:29 AM, a little boy cried his way into the world, in such a rush daddy barely had time to put his shoes on.

Over the next 27 days, he got bigger, stronger and even more handsome.  He came home with us.  He embedded himself into our family.  He was loved beyond measure.  Quietly, in the wee hours of the morning, he left us.  Everyday he continues to be a part of our family, continues to be loved, continues to be missed.

Today is Matthew's 4th birthday.  While I didn't get the joy of picking him out the perfect present, watching his face when he opened it, planning a party that he loved, or watching him run wild, our family was surrounded by family and friends who are appreciated more than words could ever describe.  We are forever grateful for their love and support.

In Matthew's honor, we released balloons, enjoyed cupcakes and spent a little bit of time together.

Thank you to all those who spent a part of their day with us and to all those that made Matthew a part of their day.  You cannot understand how much that means to us.  We are incredibly blessed and lucky to have such an amazing support system.

Happy Birthday our sweet little prince.