Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quarterly Top 5 Photos

Mae turned one on the 10th of January and I enjoyed taking her first birthday photoshoot
At the end of January I really decided to start working on improving my skills as a photographer
Ace was very helpful and occassionally would stay still to let me snap a shot.  I love this one!

Mae absolutely loves her brother.  She also loves to pose for pictures
and goes and stands against that wall when she wants me to take her picture. 

We had 'Messy March' and one day we played with toilet paper!
I just love his face!  Pure joy!!
Mae loves to play outside (so does Ace of course)
Here she is  playing on the playground with her big brother, Mae showed no fear
What are your favorite five from the first quarter of 2012? Link up over at Sarah Halstead the Naptime Momtog there is a random giveaway too (no skill or amazing photography skills required to win!)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Support

Nothing is more important than support during a military deployment for those left behind at home.  Whether it's someone cooking you a meal (thank you to my church family for the kind offer and meal!) or the friend willing to watch your little ones whenever they can (Vanessa has been a Godsend!) or grabbing lunch with a few girlfriends (and all the kiddos that now accompany us!) anything helps when your better half is away.   Yes, Loving Husband has been away for a while now - he's nearly ready to be home now and we couldn't be more thrilled!


It's been a very trying time.  Not because the duration was long - 2 months this time - but more because I swear he left and we all got sick and stayed that way.  I coughed for 46 days straight before I finally felt better.  So if deployments aren't hard enough - having everyone in the house sick just is brutal!  It limits playdates (aka mommy socialization with ADULTS!) it limits sleep, it limits breaks.  Needless to say it's been a very long two months.  Nights are the loneliest - I get the kids in bed and then its crickets.  That's where friends come in handy!   Vanessa has come over for girl's night in since there's no babysitter for girl's night out...  

I have to say I have some of the greatest friends in the world.  My friend Mo has been 'around' daily online chatting with me - a pretty standard routine for her and I on a non-deployment schedule, but she's been ever so kind to endure my whining, complaining, mini-meltdowns regarding whatever ;) and she repeatedly expressed desire to come help me if she could only afford another trip.   She was just here for New Years.  She even looked up to have dinner delivered to me as a surprise during one of my 'dark' weeks.


Becky scheduled a visit for her and Ben in February only a few weeks after Loving Husband left on his mission.  She caught us at a good time in between the major portions of our illnesses.  I believe since the beginning of February we've had three decent colds that have come through here.  It was so great to see her.  Sadly her Ben had his first bad cold begin while he was here so there was a lot of sitting at home and playing here.   Becky was able to be here to see my baptized!  I was so thankful for that, because even though my husband missed that important event in my Christian walk - it was so nice to have a friend that has been with me on my Christian journey these past two+ decades to be there to witness the joyous time. 



My friend Carrie also made a very purposeful trip to come to the NW to help me out and hang out with me and she was a HUGE help.   She not only was simply here to chat with, hang out with, drink wine with, but also was such a help giving me a free afternoon and being quite the baby whisperer on two occasions getting Mae down for a nap.  The Monday she watched Mae was the first time in six weeks of Loving Husband being gone that I had an afternoon to myself for FUN.  Vanessa has watched both kids for me, but it was so that I could go to the doctor to get a chest xray... not exactly the spa type relaxation (although equally as appreciated, certainly!)    We had a lot of fun and did a lot of shopping.  Now I know why she hasn't visited the NW in a few years... we can't afford it!  :)  She also helped me build my new kitchen island and we got buff lifting the 150lb granite counter top ... and together we had a good laugh at our problem solving skills. 


Support is so important when a loved one is away, and while I was able to talk to LH nearly every day it is hardly the same and so I am so thankful that friends from afar were so supportive and worked around their own busy schedules to really help us out - because when Becky and Carrie came to visit so did their little ones and oh boy how much for my kids had with their 'cousins' :)   Aiden absolutely loves having house guests - especially little ones he can play with.    I loved seeing some of my favorite people for multiple days in a row!    And now I'm on the final countdown to seeing my favorite person of all, my husband!   Hurry home, my love!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Messy Eating

Yes Messy March continues and a reoccurring event includes self-feeding.  While myself, Loving Husband, and Ace seem for the most part to avoid much mess - Mae still is on a learning curve when it comes to food consumption on her own and so there are may days that an immediate trip to the tub is necessary.   Last night (and tonight) happen to be just such nights!



But what fun it is when she gets to splash in the tub after she's all done eating! What fun for mommy to play with her new lens too :) 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Critique Me!

Today one of my photos is being featured for critique over at Click It Up A Notch.   As you recall I decided to get serious about photography make improving my photography skills my resolution this year.   Courtney has been a tremendous help in already improving my photography skills and now she is kindly featuring one of my photos to help me improve even more with some free critique from readers.  

It is thanks to her blog that I have officially switched from auto to manual almost exclusively and really understanding the balance between all the various 'pieces' that bring the camera into functioning mode.    Already from when I took the picture that is featured over on her page I've improved leaps and bounds in my sharpness and achieving it with some regularity. 

Like yesterday (today? I haven't slept yet and it's 1am... so you decide.)  I snapped this picture below of Ace  Unknown Confederate Hat Wearing Incredible Boy (after all I can't identify him he has his mask on as "my idenity is the most important part and I need to protect it.")   He's a silly boy - but the clarity that I got of his eye - I was so proud and excited!  :)  

Hard to tell?  Here let me zoom in for you.  :)   There is a tiny tiny fraction of motion blur - but it's so minimal - that with a preschooler I think that's the sharpest you're ever going to get unless you're shooting upwards of 1/2000 shutter speed.  This was shot at 1/200ss instead. 

I'm having a lot of fun with learning new things with my camera, pushing myself to learn something new regularly and really trying to have fun with it.   I highly recommend stopping by Click It Up A Notch and checking out some of her great tutorials!

Friday, March 16, 2012

One Year Ago

This date has not been lost on me.  The 16th marks one year since Mae was admitted to Children's for RSV.   She was 9 weeks old and my little girl received and endured: xrays, ivs, oxygen, aburterol, and LOTS of deep suctioning over the course of a week.   It was a very dark week, but even through it all - little Mae still found time to smile.   That week was very hard on Mae and the days dragged on  3, 4, 5, 6... and finally we went home almost to the minute of a week in the hospital.   It was the longest I had ever stayed in a hospital - no I never left the building that week.   It was the longest I had been away from Ace too.   It was the longest Loving Husband was a 'Stay At Home Dad' -  it was a long week.   It was a long walk toward recovery - but one our family journeyed just fine.

That week ended and within the next week she was all healed and wasn't sick again with anything more than a runny nose until December.   We rejoice in God's plan for our little girl and even though she endured some tough trials in that week,  I believe she is stronger for it.   She remembers nothing - she's a happy, sweet little girl.   Who is prone to broncolitis (she's had it twice this winter) but who still smiles and runs and plays and has a great giggle.


Mae went through something major, but showed us all a great lesson in love and faith and it is one that this mommy has not forgotten even though one year has gone by.   You never know what road you will travel.  It might be a healthy one, or it might be one of illness and struggle.  The lesson that I was reminded of during Mae's hospitalization is that God is always there walking with you.   In control and watching over you.


My little girl is a happy, silly, fourteen month old (mostly) healthy little girl, who already has had more medical intervention than her brother and more personal experiences with emergent care that I have ever had.   She's a strong and wonderful baby girl who I am so blessed to call my daughter.


So while I reflect on this milestone on the closing of yet another upper respiratory illness Mae has been fighting off for the past two weeks - I just want to say that I am thankful for the reminders of faith that week gave me.   The renewed sense in relying on God for strength and to say thank you to Jesus for allowing our little baby girl to grow up and chase her big brother and the opportunity to one day catch him!

"...Not my will, but thine, be done" 
Luke 22:42(KJV)



Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Purple Power of Prayer

I pray nightly for my friend Katie and her fight against colon cancer.   This week I prayed even more than normal because on Tuesday she went in for another scan to assess where her tumors stand.   Her previous scans have been encouraging either by shrinkage or no growth - today that story changed.   Today, Katie had to hear words of 'growth' and in two places.    I encourage you all to visit Katie's page and share words on encouragement and stories of triumph!  I know that with Katie it won't take her long to regain her positive footing, but these words she heard today certainly won't be easily brushed aside.  Today she begins a new chemo that will hopefully help in shrinking those mean-ol' tumors into nonexistence.   Please pray with me that the side effects will be few and the effectiveness abundant.  And rock a little purple this weekend in your wardrobe in honor of Katie and her 17th round of chemo.

Now to lighten the mood a bit, let's enjoy a picture of Katie and her husband Ryan with their spoils from The Great White Elephant Gift Exchange of 2006!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fourteen Months Old

Little Miss Mae is 14 months old and counting!   She's precious.  She's expressive.  She is on the go! 

New firsts for Mae this past months:  a new bed, her first dentist appointment, and attachment lovies.

Mae has really regressed in the sleep department in the last week - but I have to give her credit for sleeping in her own bed for the first stint of the night.  Yes, Mae is sleeping in her very own toddler bed.  I'm still working on a post on Mae's sleep, but in general she falls asleep on her own without milk about 40% of the time.  For the first two weeks in  her new bed she never got out of it - but in the last week or so she's figured out that she can just get up - so she gets out of bed a few times on some nights.  Lately she's been sick and as a result needs more snuggling, so she's been waking up a lot more frequently.  As mentioned in her 'firsts' list she has new lovies that she snuggles with.  Piglet and a little blanket.  I have since purchased a second set of them and they are rotated - already washed due to illness.

Yes, poor Mae has been pretty sick this past week with another virus.  Lots of vomit from a bad cough.  Lots of laundry has been done and many-a-piglets washed.  It made for long, icky nights last week - but she's on the mend and although the cough is lingering and nights are still sad to some extent she's much happier in the day.

Vocabulary is starting to eek out of our little girl she now says: mama, dada, bruda, boooh (book), mooorrre, mek (milk), teef (teeth) and every now and then she will say UP! My favorite by far is "cheeeese" and then she smiles and wants her picture taken.  Yes Mae poses for the camera, yes this mommy knows she's created a monster ... and I love it!  Her signs are about the same.   She also communicates by listening very well and follows instructions. I love that she's so intent on listening to us and following instructions.   Mae loves to play peek-a-boo and singing If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands!  And she loves to give high fives!

Mae has started to enjoy reading more and even has gotten her own Tag Reading system with some board books.  She loves to push her pen onto the book and make it talk.  She gets so excited.   Mae LOVES her brother, loves to follow him, help him, be with him and hit him in the head. It gives her a huge smile and Ace screams for his sister to PLEASE STOP SISTER!   Ah it begins.   For the most part they do great together.

Size wise she still is happily in 9 month sleepers and at her doctor's appointment last Monday she weighed 18lbs with clothes on.  Doctor isn't worried and neither are we.  She still nurses most of the time and eats about 2 meals a day (we try 3 or 4 times a day but she isn't interested most of the time!)  and has cows milk in the morning.  

Mae is a sweet girl, but she gets cranky.  She's not been a good napper lately and she gets quite angry and overtired.   She also can throw herself a good ol' fashion tantrum when she doesn't get her way.  But the good always out weighs the bad and we love every second with our Little Miss Mae.  We're looking forward to what this next month holds!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ten on Ten - March

My Saturday started out yummy, involved a lot of cleaning, and ended on a heartwarming note when a friend spontaneously "answered my wish" for sushi.   It really made my week - which had been pretty bleak.  I've been feeling a bit undervalued and cast aside and so that nod of appreciation and kindness really made not only my day, but honestly my whole week.  It's been rough between loneliness, sickness, lack of socialization.    I'm counting down the days... weeks...

8:00: We had been awake for an hour but it took about an hour to get going.
This is my breakfast: broiled grapefuit (a favored pin floating around Pinterest)

9:00:  Skype time with Grammie.  She loves to have the computer on  her lap.

10:00:  Ace did the Mickey puzzle twice.  First the 'normal' way and the second time upside down.

11:00:  Time to sort some laundry. A favorite activity of both kids! No, seriously.

12:00: Time for a little LeapFrog Tag Pen action.  Mae is quite good at using hers.

1:00:  Lunch and Toy Story.  Both kids focused. Ace mildly annoyed Sister is sitting on him.

2:00:  Organizing the closet under the stairs finally (yes this is organized)

3:00:  Naptime = Time for mom to decorate a little!

4:00:  A random act of kindness after I posted online that I was craving* California Rolls.  A friend brought them to me!

5:00:  Before dinner Ace asked to work on more sign language words.  We chose 'read' and 'bookshelf' to learn.
Another fun month with 10 on 10!  Stop by A Bit of Sunshine to see others and their Saturdays!


* This use of craving in NO way implies any even REMOTE hint
 that I am pregnant, desire to be pregnant, or plan to be in the future. 
But it was indeed a craving.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Manly Rainbow...

Tomorrow is 'Rainbow Day' at preschool - typically on Color Days you wear the color.   This month's color is 'rainbow' -  yes he could have chosen his favorite color - or he could have worn several different colored clothing (although honestly, I am pretty sure I fail to collect the whole rainbow in an Ace fitting wardrobe)  so I went to the masses for suggestions.   My friend Rachel had the idea that I let him color on a shirt with markers.   There were other good suggestions, all of them involving the need to go to the store for supplies.  I had no desire to go shopping today.   So I decided to 'make it work' and went on the hunt.

First, I had to find a shirt that he could color on that was light in color and didn't have anything else on it.   That was pretty much impossible.  So next I went on the hunt and found a shirt that he had long since outgrown and flipped it over and created a canvas for him to draw on.    Next up was trying to figure out how to keep the shirt with the piece of cardstock I had put in it from sliding around too much.  So I decided some painters tape on their floor mural (butcher paper from the day before they colored on) would do just fine.  


I handed Ace the sharpies and gave him the instructions.   He was very excited (after he had scolded me for making the square in the first place "You don't draw on clothes, mom!") and decided he wanted to write his name.   Mae decided she wanted to help too - which we allowed with the cap on!   Ace was very patient with her poking in her artistic imagined drawings in between his own and she was happy with her results so it was good fun  had by all.   Eventually Ace deemed his project complete and we moved into the next round.


I grabbed the pinking shears and found a plain long sleeve shirt that we had in a size that fit.   Pinned it and sewed it in place.    However, it was a big enough square that it needed some extra pinning down.  So I took the same zig zag setting and made some various zig zags throughout the shirt in an artsy fashion.


Wala!  Now the boy has a creative and manly rainbow-ish shirt to wear for Rainbow Day.   :)   He was pretty excited by this project and aside for the time it took to hunt down what I was going to use the whole thing took about 20 minutes.   Time well spent.  It's far from perfect and I think if I did it again I probably wouldn't use the pinking shears as it kind of makes a 'ruffle' effect that isn't so manly. ;-)  But overall for wearable art it's not too bad.   I used sharpies so for the most part it should even hold up somewhat in the wash. 



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ace Makes Dinner

Yes this was a Messy March project, how could you tell?  ;-)  Ace has been helping in the kitchen for years (literally) now as much as we ever let him to - so I thought it was high time he learn how to make dinner all by himself  mostly by himself.    Continuing with our theme of Messy March I thought what better time to give him some freedom in the kitchen!

I planned to do this on Friday night and he patiently awaited dinner time that night and after we finished several less than fun tasks we headed downstairs to get started.  Mommy fail! I did not have the biscuits that we needed and it was far to late to whip up some of my own dough to make anything.   He was disappointed but he recovered well enough with a trip through McDonald's drive thru as a substitute.

Saturday was plain too busy with toilet paper fun to bother getting ourselves ready to go to the grocery store (yes the whole day) and so we did something else for dinner.  However, that night I asked him to remind me after church so that we could go to the store to get some biscuits.   Sunday rolled around, we went to church, and came home got out of the car and then he remembered - kudos for remembering - but would have been SUPER awesome if we had still been in the car.  We went a few hours later.  :)

With our supplies ready: Pillsbury biscuits, marinara sauce, shredded cheese, mini pepperoni, and spinach I let the boy get to work.  I let Mae play too - but she freaked out when I plopped down biscuit dough on her tray.   She has made it bizarrely clear that she is NOT ok with anything dough related. Noted, Baby Girl...


Ace got to work patting the dough flatter. He worked in pretty quick fashion, didn't really lingering or play with it.   Really focused on the end goal.  I ended up smashing them a bit more for him because he agreed that they weren't flat enough.  :)



He did a great job applying the sauce as well and Mae enjoyed that part of the fun - she rubbed her fingers all over her tray and enjoyed sucking the sauce off of her fingers.  Ace didn't sample any of that - he was focused on the cheese.   Mae the second she saw it squawked her desire for some too!


Finally after cheese was liberally applied to all the pizzas he got to work applying the pepperoni and spinach to the pizzas in whatever way he felt led.  It was fun to watch him decide how to apply it.  He was insistent that they all have pepperoni and spinach rather than some without one or the other.   Well, ok then.



After he declared his work done I cleaned up around the individual pizzas and tossed the extra cheese on top of the pizzas and then put them in the oven.  Mae was fidgity in her chair so I let her down to wander while they cooked (which for the record was a total of 9 minutes at 350')


 
9 minutes later the pizzas came out - and looked delicious - cut one up for the boy and sent it on over to him.   He was thrilled.  Ate the whole thing and enjoyed it.   I won't lie I ate 4.  DELICIOUS!  Quick, fun, somewhat messy, and a great confidence builder in our young chef!!