Friday, May 30, 2008

The Puzzle Whiz Kid

Every Mom wants to believe that her child is some sort of genius or at least advanced for his / her age. Luckily for me, mine is!! :) J/K - I did feel the need to blog about her puzzle skills though as we have been quite impressed and have received several comments on Haylie's unique puzzle interests and abilities. One of Haylie's favorite things to do is puzzles. She has been doing them since she turned two when I decided to buy her one of those 25 piece puzzles with Dora on it (for ages 3 and up!) I wanted to see what she would do with it and to my surprise after a little while of playing with it non-stop she was able to do it all by herself. Since then I have continued to buy her more puzzles and every now and then I step up the challenge with a little bigger puzzle. Just the other day I bought her this 48 piece "floor puzzle" (see below) and within about 30 minutes she had completed it ALL BY HERSELF. Some days she gets in her puzzle zone and will complete every single puzzle that she has, one after the other (she now has about 10 total). Lately though, I think the puzzles are losing the challenge for her because she has started making Mommy put them together - Haylie will stand by the puzzle and make Mommy pick up the pieces; then Haylie will point to where they go for Mommy to put them in (so either the puzzles need a new way to challenge Haylie or she has decided it was time for her to be promoted to management). I love to see how her amazing personality develops at just 2 1/2 years old. She has such determination and focus and she is so proud of her completed puzzle at the end. We are so proud of our little puzzle whiz!
Haylie's new "Big Diego puzzle"
Haylie's other 9 puzzles which she did right in a row last weekend
She is very concentrated and knows exactly what pieces she needs
Almost Done!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Song in My Head

If you easily get songs stuck in your head and then end up singing them all day long and it drives you up the wall, proceed with caution here. Lately Haylie and I have been enjoying singing a song together that brings nostalgia from Mommy's teenage years. Here it is: Don't Worry. Be Happy. by Bobby McFerrin, released September 1988, the first a capella to reach number one on the Billboard charts. Gotta love it!!!

The Song in My Head

And here is Haylie's version...

video

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Weekend Fun

We had a fun Memorial Day weekend, filled with the traditional BBQ's, family and friends. We also called Auntie Bekah to thank her for her service to our country. We love you Auntie Bekah!! (On a side note, it was a little weird this year actually having a family member in the armed forces. When they honored each of the military branches at church I actually started crying when they got to the Coast Guard - we are just so proud of Miss Bekah!). So here are some photos of our nice long weekend:

We went to the cabin on Sunday
James had to help Daddy play cards!
At the Cabin with Grandma and Grandpa
Kiley, Jacob and Haylie playing at the park on Monday
The kids in our Bible Study Group
Our Bible Study girls
Auntie Nicole is so fun!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I LOVE My New Lens

Lately I have been OBSESSED with trying to get better at taking pictures. I have spent hours looking at photographers' websites, joining photography discussion forums and just plain practicing with my camera. My main interest in photography is portraits (as opposed to landscape or wildlife, etc.), primarily because I just want to be able to take pictures of my children and really be able to capture how amazing and beautiful I think they are. So I knew after I started learning more that I would want to purchase a better portrait lens. I have been researching for a while and made my final decision based on the recommendation of a REALLY good photographer - Rebecca Linh Rodgers - her link was on my friend Heidi's blog and I LOVE her photos so I finally got the courage to email her and bombard her with questions :)

I made my purchase this week and have been playing with my lens every day. It is a 50 mm f/1.4 for my Canon Digital Rebel. I still have NO IDEA what I am doing but I think the more I practice the more I will start to figure it out. I took some shots of James today and a random one of Haylie that I was pretty pleased with. They are still a little fuzzy around the edges but I just have to get better at understanding how it focuses, overall I am soooo excited because the lens is so much more crisp than the standard one that came with the camera.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Dictionary According to Haylie

I've seen that puzzled look more than once..."What did she say?" So in case anyone needs a guide for translation purposes (this is just a sampling...)

Abana = Banana
Beeping Cutie = Sleeping Beauty
Buckin = Button
Cackifier = Pacifier
Crows = Clothes
Este = This one
Gooey = Silly
Grinka = Princess
Grinkaka = Princesses
Her = He, She, His, Her
Howt = Heart
Lapping = Laughing
Nindy Yella = Cinderella
Picker = Picture
Pine it = Find it
Pone = Phone
Puhlow = Puzzle
Rojo = Red
Yumic = Music

"My little Grinka" (see translation)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Half and Half

Have you ever heard the saying, "You can't ride two horses with one bottom?" (Ok that's not exactly the words they use, but this is the Sandy version.) Well I am about to attempt to do just that! I got final approval from my boss today that I could move to a part-time schedule at work. I am so excited!! I just couldn't handle being a full-time worker and was dying to spend more time with the kids, so I am trying this out to see how it works. I will be able to work 20 hours a week (from home) and now spend the other 20 hours with my babies and my mommy friends of course. Thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes over the last couple weeks!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daddy's Pride and Joy

Go Dodgers!

Monday, May 19, 2008

This One's For You Auntie Bekah

Micah's sister Bekah, better known as Auntie Bekah, just joined the Coast Guard last month and was stationed in Key West, Florida or "station vacation" as she calls it. (You can check out her blog here.) We miss her so much and love our opportunities to hear about what new adventures she is up to. This weekend we received some fun souvenirs from the sunshine state, so these pics are for you Auntie Bekah!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

JAAAAAMES!!

Haylie absolutely loves her new baby brother James. Right from the start she wanted to hold him, feed him, burp him and take care of him in anyway possible. When baby James would cry, you could hear Haylie from the other side of the house, "ok, ok, ok I'm coming..." She loves to come to his rescue, shove the pacifier in his mouth, pat his head and and say "you're ok buddy." Most recently, as James has gotten a little bigger Haylie has decided she can now be more playful with him. She loves to squish his cheeks together, give him big hugs and turn him round and round in his saucer. James seems to put up with her most of the time; however, Haylie has found the way to push his buttons. Out of the nourishing, sweet, motherly Haylie, suddenly a new side emerges... Haylie now loves to stick her face in Baby James' face and shout JAAAAAMES. This sends him into hysteria, screaming and crying with tears streaming down his cheeks (It is very sad!). Haylie instantly gets this look on her face like "I didn't do it!" Then Mommy and Daddy proceed to instruct (ok threaten) Haylie not to shout at her brother. Haylie is so used to this routine that she sometimes says it before we can. "Haylie don't shout at Baby James, you going to scare him..." I fear for the sibling rivalry we have ahead of us!!

Baby James turned 4 months old today. This month he has become very playful. He loves to be bounced and swung around. He is very ticklish and has a contagious laugh. He plays happily in his saucer and is still attempting to roll over. He has also developed a strong hate for the car, screaming almost the entire time we are driving. James had his first rice cereal this month and he seemed to like it. He is very laid back and mellow, in fact, most of the time you can find him swaddled up and sleeping on a couch somewhere in the midst of all the noise and people around him. We can't wait to see how he continues to develop.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Finding Community in the Blogosphere

I am new to the blogging world, only a month or so in, but I must say I am addicted. I love to write about the things going on in our life and even more, I love to read about what everyone else is doing or thinking. The whole blogging thing has become quite the obsession around here and my husband now refers to me as "the Runner Daily Reporter." I have been thinking a lot about my new hobby and what draws me to it, whether it is something I want to keep up with and spend my time on and whether it is a healthy pastime or a new fad that people haven't yet seen the dangers of. I find "blogging" a very fascinating phenomenon that has spread like wildfire, especially with the "mommy blogger" crowd. There are even whole conferences dedicated to blogging that I had no idea about.

Before I share my conclusion, I decided I will give some admissions first.

1. I check my friends' blogs for updates pretty much every day and sometimes even multiple times a day. I can't wait to see new posts :)
2. I am sometimes a blogger stalker! Yes, I look at other people's blogs that I don't even know and I do not make comments. I have been trying to give myself up and let people know I have been reading their blog but sometimes I can't bring myself to do it, especially if I don't know the person. (If you are reading this and stalking my blog, let me know because I am probably stalking yours too and we could just get it out in the open...)
3. I still have not figured out proper blogger protocol - like, my girlfriends and I were talking about this a little while ago, how good of friends do you have to be with someone before you add them to your friends list?
4. Lately whenever I have a spare moment I steal away to my computer and when my husband finds me and asks, "What are you doing?" he already knows the answer, "blogging!!" or at least reading someone else's blog...
5. I love comments. It's nice to know that people are reading what you are writing and what they think about it. I think its because of my own need for affirmation, but I try to leave comments as often as possible on other people's blogs too.
6. Sometimes after I finish a post I get so excited I call my sister or my husband and say you have to read my blog!!

So now that I am out in the open and have exposed my inner secrets on blogging, here is my conlusion. I have decided that blogging provides a sort of "community" among friends that I enjoy being a part of. I am sticking with it and enjoying the fun it provides. Blogging has become the topic of many conversations with friends and acquaintances alike. In addition, I am learning about my existing friends, catching up with old friends and making new friends through the activity of blogging. I think that blogging becomes dangerous when we allow it to replace interpersonal, face to face relationship building, but it's nice to be able to put our thoughts out there and share them with our friends, from the joys and struggles of raising our children to the fun and challenges of our everyday lives. We can share in each other's stories and laugh along with each other about the funny things our children did that day. So thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for the entertainment and sense of community that you provide. Now take a deep breath, publish post!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Long Lunch

Thanks to a flexible work schedule I was able to take an extended lunch today so Haylie and I could join our playgroup for some fun at Fairytale town. Haylie really likes Fairytale town as it is perfect for her age. She loves the slides, the crooked mile and all the other things to climb and play on. We all brought our lunch and had a nice little picnic. Haylie and I could only stay for a little over an hour but I was so grateful that we could be there with our friends.
On the way home Haylie said she had so much fun and I asked her:
"What was your favorite part of Fairytale Town?"
Haylie: "Eli." (Here is a photo of Haylie making faces at Eli - which he found quite funny)
Mommy: "What else?"
Haylie: "The slides." (OK so this isn't a photo of a slide but those didn't come out very well)
Mommy: "What else?"
Haylie: "The Pumpkin." (Haylie was dying to get into Cinderella's pumpkin at a time when there were already 6 or 7 kids inside. I tried to hold her off but finally gave in. She squished herself right in between two girls on the bench inside. Everyone inside the pumpkin was speaking Spanish and Haylie was just beaming, looking around at all the kids like she felt right at home. It was too funny.)
Mommy: "What else?"
Haylie: "Yeah" (That would be Haylie's indication that she is done answering Mommy's questions) Our playgroup Moms chatting it up over our picnic lunch.

Cackifier

What is "cackifier" you say? It is the sound in my ears at 2:00 am in the morning...Last night James slept through the night - Yay!!! Hallelujah!!! We have arrived!!! He slept from 9:30 pm - 6:00 am, without waking up. As life would have it though, Haylie woke up 3 times crying for her cackifier (that would be pacifier, only Haylie is in desperate need of some speech therapy). She never wakes up in the middle of the night, not even when I am in her room feeding James and banging around for a diaper or change of clothes for him. Well, at least it gave me the opportunity to check on him 3 times and make sure he was still breathing. Way to look on the bright side right?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all my mommy friends had a wonderful Mother's Day!! We had a great day yesterday, well apart from Baby James deciding he would scream his head off half of the day for some unknown reason, but then again he didn't know it was Mother's Day! I got to sleep in - yeah!! and Haylie learned how to say Happy Mother's Day which was so cute and Micah and the kids made me a wonderful card that made me cry (I'm so sentimental now!) One of the best parts of the day for me was my family happily indulging me for some family photo time. I really wanted to get some family photos and I just love experimenting with my camera and with who better than my favorite subjects. I'm not sure any of the pictures will get framed because it's hard to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time that my hair looks ok! but we had a fun time taking photos by the river and then enjoying a picnic with a picnic basket and all!! Later Brian and Nicole came over along with my Mom and her husband so I took some quick photos of them too. What a great day - I feel so lucky to be a Mom!

Also I have to make a quick plug for a company called Colette Creations. Last year I ordered an adorable charm bracelet from them for my mother-in-law and this year I ordered her an updated one (to include James) and also ordered one for my mom. The bracelets are simply adorable and the lady who makes them is the nicest person. I am always so last minute and she is just so flexible and incredibly nice. She does a great job and the bracelets make the cutest gift (photos below).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Finding Jammies for Monkey and Baby

Every day when I get Haylie up from her nap I enter her room to find all of her clothes removed from the drawers where I had neatly folded and placed them the day before. Haylie is perched on her bed in such a way as to assure Mommy she had followed directions and stayed in her bed the whole time. Only now she has clothes in her bed with her, which somehow jumped out of her drawers and onto her lap. This has been going on for several weeks and each day it looks a little different. Some days she only empties the shirt drawer, some days only the pajama drawer. Usually, all of the clothes are in a pile in front of the dresser, as shown below. Sometimes I find a mound of shirts, carefully laid one on top of the other over Haylie's favorite monkey (she's apparently testing out how they will look). One day I entered and there were no clothes on the ground and both drawers were closed. I thought, WOW, I don't have to re-fold and re-put away all of Haylie's clothes today. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the very full laundry hamper. Haylie had taken every article of clothing out of her drawers and filled the laundry hamper to the brim, which she happened to find hilarious. The last couple days I came prepared with my camera as I knew exactly what to expect, and I was not disappointed. I don't know why I had never asked before (I just accepted it as our daily ritual), but for the first time yesterday I asked Haylie, "Why do you take all of your clothes out of your drawers?" And she responded, "I finding jammies for Monkey and Baby." So there you have it, we dressed Monkey and Baby as we do most days and proceeded to put all the clothes back in the drawers. I can't tell you how much I love her carefree spirit and willingness to pull every single article of clothing out of those drawers to find exactly the right shirt or jammies for Monkey and Baby.

Yesterday

The Day Before

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So Blessed

Yesterday I lamented about my woes of returning to work, but today I was so grateful to consider my many blessings. Throughout the day on Monday I received emails from several friends and family members letting me know they were thinking about me and praying for me on my first day back. Also my husband added me onto our family prayer list and prayed for my first day. I am so thankful and I feel so blessed to have people in my life who care about me and took the time to let me know. (Please Note: I say this in NO WAY to make anyone feel bad for not sending a note, because I am so terrible at things like that. I would never post this to make someone feel bad!!!) I post this to remind us all that we have so much power to bring happiness to the people around us and most of the time we have no idea. I know I feel challenged and will make it my personal goal to bless others in the way that I felt blessed by the people around me this week.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

'Working' - 'Mom'

So it came, the end of my maternity leave, faster than I expected of course. I returned to work yesterday and amazingly enough both my kids and I survived the day, not without tears (on both our parts - but I'll get to that). I have already told these stories to several people this week but there is something cathartic about writing it down and putting it out there.

Sad Story #1
Yesterday, my first day back, I was on a conference call and Haylie began knocking at my door. I couldn't answer it because I was in the middle of a conversation with two people and couldn't just stop them to have a chat with her. After a bit of knocking I heard Haylie's nanny come and try to convince her to go play outside. Although Haylie loves to play outside she just kept saying, "No, I need Mommy." It really broke my heart because I needed her too and I hated not being able be there for her right in that moment.

Sad Story #2
While I was on maternity leave our nanny was coming two days a week and I think Haylie was starting to get used to that schedule because yesterday after nanny came and it was time for bed Haylie said, "After you wake up, Mommy and Haylie go see Eli." Unfortunately I had to tell her no, "after you wake up you can play with nanny." But Mommy really wanted to take Haylie and go play with Eli.

So now that I have tears in my eyes again, I am reminded of a book I have just started. Micah just finished reading it and highly recommended it - so far it is very inspiring. The book is Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life (Living in Your Sweet Spot). Right at the beginning it quotes 1 Cor. 12:7 (MSG) "Each person is given something to do that shows who God is." Then it goes on to say, "God gave you...A zone, a region, a life precinct in which you were made to dwell... And life makes sweet sense when you find your spot." He continues, "Our Maker gives assignments to people, 'to each according to one's unique ability' (Matt 25:15). As He calls, He equips... Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness."

This is a topic I have been thinking (and reading) about A LOT over the last year. Although I'm not saying that staying home with the kids is truly that sweet spot God has laid out for me, I know He has given me a new passion for the time spent with them. In my exploration I have been learning so much about my "uniqueness" and God's purpose for my life. Over the last 3 months I have truly enjoyed the time spent with my kids, but that said, I am good at my job and God definitely gave me strong skills in the areas of business, leadership and communication. My goal now as I struggle to figure out how to be a 'Working' 'Mom' is "Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants." (Eph 5:17) "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that." (Gal 6:4 MSG) OK, sorry for my ranting (and absence of cute pictures in this post); it has been a difficult couple days, but God is good and I am growing in my faith as I search for my sweet spot!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Girl and Her Shoes

Haylie has reached the age where she now wants to pick out what she wears. Mommy and Haylie don't always agree on what that should be but Haylie is pretty persistent (I wonder where she gets that from??) She particularly likes to wear her "character" shirts from Dora, to the Princesses, to Minnie Mouse. We pretty much have a daily negotiation about what she actually wears out of the house. Most recently though, she has become quite obsessed with shoes (what girl isn't right?). It seems Haylie wakes up in the morning and knows exactly what shoes she wants on! Over the past couple weeks Haylie's shoes of choice are her rain boots - it just got warm outside - perfect time to wear rain boots - makes sense! Either way it is too cute and I love taking pictures of her in her boots (some of these were pre-broken arm).




Friday, May 2, 2008

Our Last Hurrah

Well this was it... today was the last day of my almost 4 months of maternity leave. I have loved every second of my fun-filled days with the kids. Today we had our final hurrah, a day at the lake with some good friends. The weather was nice, a little overcast but still warm - in fact I got totally burnt. Our fun started out with quite the hike down to the water because it was so low. We brought all the sand toys so the kids played in the sand for awhile. Then we let them into the water and they had a fun time splashing around. Arwyn especially loved running around in the water, she was so cute!


Haylie couldn't wait to get there so she could put on her new Ariel swimsuit!

James slept almost the entire time.
Malachi was hanging out by Nicole as she had all the yummy treats and snacks.
Danielle and Isaiah - cute crocs!!
Haylie, Arwyn and Kiley had a fun time playing in the sand and the water.
Poor Jack has been tagging along with the girls the past few days (he is Eli's granpda, in town for a couple weeks). We have sure enjoyed having him and he has been quite the big help!!

Heidi with Malachi and Arwin, Jaime with Eli, Danielle with Isaiah, Haylie and I, Nicole with Kiley and Lea