Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of 2014

In last year's end of the year post, I wished that 2014 would be a much less exciting year than 2013... with all of the kids arriving and figuring out how to become a parent of first one then two kids.

I think I got my wish. As I looked back over the blogs of the year and then went through my annual jar of mementos, I made a few observations.

This year had big moments for other people, but not too many for us. My brother and sister in law got married, and I had two cousins have their babies. Huge events (invites featured in the top left) for those people, and events we were excited to celebrate with our family, but not big events for us personally.

In the top right you can see three race bibs (much less bibs than those featured in the 2012 end of year post), but the funny thing is that none of them carry much significance to me. The 2311 race number is for a race I did to try to get a good time for the Avengers Marathon (the 2360 race), so I could be in a good corral to start (which I did). Trouble was, I managed to break my toe a few weeks before the event, so though I did it... and finished... I walked it. Best thing about that day was having fun with my sister in law, bonding with her, and being in a superhero costume. But definitely less than the "I ran a half marathon" feeling. The little race bib is Remington's. It was for his first race, but even that was a dampened affair. Grace was supposed to do the race with him. They were both signed up to do the inaugural Avengers Kids race together. But the night before... Grace got a fever. A minor one. But enough that we had to do the whole ER visit, late night, blood draw evening, instead of the night before a race evening. It also meant that I went with Remington, but Blake wasn't there for his son's first race, and Grace just missed out on the fun. (For the record, he needed a lot of encouragement and some hand holding, but he did the whole 100 meters on his own two feet). I hope that in one month from tomorrow, I can officially say that I did my marathon, and that will be a race bib of 2015 to be proud of, but the race bibs of 2014 are all somewhat dampened for me.

On the left bottom you can see a category of mementos that seems to keep growing- sports stubs (and there were many more that never even made it to the bottle). We went to two baseball games, a football game, and many hockey games in 2014. Blake is becoming more and more a sports guy and I seem to be pulled along for the ride, and am finding myself enjoying these sporting events right along with him.

We have mementos of some of the stand out events of the year- Grace's first recital (a disaster in which she did not appear on stage), our family vacation to San Diego, OC Fair, my 30th at the House of Blues, first family trip to Disneyland, and seeing a musical. (Two less significant mementos- movie stub and carousel ride stub).

But one of the observations I made on this trip back through 2014 is of the big things that don't have any physical marker for them in the jar. This includes events like Blake's 30th boat ride, the girls karaoke night, and the trip to California Adventures, but it also includes things that I would say mark 2014 the most.

At the end of 2013, Remington was little more than a blob (a cute adorable blob) who had just learned to roll over, but he couldn't do much when you put him on the ground. Now, he is almost running, and is able to very much communicate with us, with several words! 2014 marks the year he went from baby to toddler.

Pretend City is another big one. We got a membership in March, and went countless times in 2014. I have seen both kids play with every area of that place in many different ways, and we have tons of memories made there this year.

If you had asked me back before I reread my year's blogs if Grace has drastically changed this year, I would have said no. But I would be wrong. Conversations with her in early 2014 were mostly run by us with her adding little bits. Now, Grace is saying many full, long, complex sentences and stories. For example, today on the ride home from some errands, she was pretending to drive. She said, "Bye, see you later, I'm going to work. I'm back, now I'm going to the gym. I'm back, I'm going to drink a protein shake." (Based off of what Blake does daily). Another day she was talking to her dinosaur and telling him to make good choices and to eat his rocks. If we tell her not to do something because she might get hurt she says, "I don't want to get hurt, then, I go to hospital, and get poked. " If you ask her what she will be when she grows up she says, "A doctor." (Except for the time she answered, "Santa, so I could have a long beard.")

She goes to preschool, she can undress herself, she brushes her own teeth, she takes her medicine daily like a champ. She understands and knows so much! She can count to 13 perfectly (and the next numbers vary, in one instance being nineteen, seventeen, eleventeen).

She and Remington argue, as all siblings do, but she also can be super nice to him, and says, "Thank you, Remington," when he gives her things, and will also volunteer to give stuff to him.

This year has had its less than perfect moments too. Like when Grace missed her first trip to the mountains because of a bad crisis triggered by a beach trip. Landed her eventually in the hospital for two days, and she got an MRI (though thankfully nothing worse came of that crisis). She missed her first day of preschool for this hospital trip too. As mentioned above, she missed her first race to a fever. She, at all of three, had a liver biopsy this year (and already has some liver damage consistent with her known medical history, but nothing too bad to start a new medicine for sickle cell).  This new medicine is a gamble, as the doctors aren't sure how it will affect her other problems, and it is known to weaken the immune system, but the payoffs are great, so they advised us to start it. We shall see.

We had our one year old birthday party and our three year old birthday party, we had many Remington first holidays, and overall, I think we had a great year, enjoying the beautiful kids that are such a blessing to us.

My wish for 2015 is much of the same. I wish for continued health and happiness for our family and for others. I wish for us all to focus on each other more, and less on our stuff and our electronics. I wish for us all to make good choices (as I so often emphasize with my 3 yr old) for ourselves and for our relationships with others. Happy New Year!

p.s. Where are the cute kid photos and videos? They will be featured on another post within the week. :-D

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Living Life versus Recording Life

I think it is a modern day problem of having to actively choose to live life versus recording life.

When I was growing up, there were of course the video camera and the cameras with film that needed to be developed, but they were both limited. You could record a video, but if you recorded too much "fluff" you might not have space for the big moments. I remember being very aware of just how many pictures were on my disposable camera on field trips or family trips, and wanting to save them for the "best" moments, and the rest of the day I just enjoyed my trip.

But now, my phone is my camera, both video and still pictures, and is always with me. I happen to think (as hopefully all parents do at times) that my kids are adorable, and there are times that I feel like I could be constantly documenting all of the cute things they say and do, and sharing all of their moments on a blog or facebook or instagram or one of the other many social media outlets.

However, it comes at a cost. For one thing, even though both kids are still so young, they are very aware of when I am using my phone, and really want to see what I am doing, or see the pictures after I take them, or watch the video if I recorded one. In practice, this means that if my kids are both doing a great job playing with each other and I go to take a picture of them, suddenly, they aren't playing together any more, but are looking at my phone, wanting to see what I am doing. I lose the precious moment by documenting it.

Part of it too, is simply logistics. Grace's birthday party went great, and I think it was a success... but I didn't take a single picture the whole time. I think some other people got pictures... but not me. I was too busy running it! I was organizing the games, making sure the food was out, helping her open presents, and being a completely, involved, hands-on mama, which meant that I didn't even have a moment to think about my camera until the event was over and everyone was leaving. Oh well. It wasn't an active choice, but I probably would have done the same if it was. Same with her first Thanksgiving party at school. I was there, I was making sure she got food, making sure Remington didn't get into trouble... and not taking pictures.

As far as this blog goes, back before kids, there was a lot of time available where I could spend time with Blake, watching TV together or playing a computer game together etc. and still have time left over to do computer stuff or read. But now, each blog comes at a cost as well.

Blake and my time together without kids is limited to the few hours between their bedtime and my bedtime. I generally don't want to take much, if any of that precious time, doing something as solo as a blog post. So the other option is doing it while the kids are around. They tend to get into trouble if I do much on the computer while they play nearby if there isn't someone watching them. So blogs are now a very conscious choice made on a weekend afternoon, when Blake can watch the kids ( like now).

Most of the time, again, I have been choosing to live life with the kids instead of spending even part of it behind the computer, but at the same time, as I have said before, I like this blog as a record, and I know of people who only really get to follow my kids growing up on my blog (as they aren't on facebook and don't see them in real life often).  So, today, I am carving out that time.

(This blog turned into more of a commentary on life and documenting life, so I am actually going to do the Grace birthday post on a separate post. )

 I do think that in general, we, this generation of moms, need to be more willing to put down the phones, and live life with our kids without the need to document every cute thing they do. I even remember learning about a study where you remember things less well that you take pictures of, because you at least subconsciously trust the picture to help you remember it, so you don't actually remember those moments as much.

It makes me sad how often I see (and I am guilty of this as well) parents focused on their phones instead of their kids. I recognize that there are times we need to do something on them, or even relax with facebook, but we also are sending a message that the kids are less important than our phones at that moment. I am trying to more actively limit my phone time around the kids, and I hope I can encourage others to do the same as well.

Grace's birthday

Grace's 3rd Birthday

Grace's third birthday was a Doc McStuffins theme, which is a TV show which she likes, featuring a little black girl who takes care of her toys, and fixes them with her very similar to real doctor tools, and her cute little diagnosis of their problems. On a side note, I actually really like the show, as there is usually a great real life application to each of the toy problems. For example, one episode has a soccer ball who is afraid to be re inflated because he is afraid of the needle.

Grace dressed up like Doc Mcstuffins complete with her very own real stethoscope. One game was the kids diagnosing the problems with toys, and then working together to fix it, while drawing the problems in their "Big Book of Boo Boos." They also played "Doctor Says" which was basically Simon Says but instead reinforces how it is important to do what the doctor says. The final game was the classic "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" idea, except the poster was another character from the show who needed a bandaid on his ouch.

Grace really seemed to have a great time, and I think the party was a huge success. 

Family Disney Trip

Unlike her un-photographed birthday party, I remembered to take lots of pictures of our family trip to Disneyland which we did on her actual third birthday (Blake even took a day off work).

For the sake of time, it will be a lot of pictures and just a few stories.

Couple stories of the day:

The roller coaster was the big favorite of the day. She saw it when we were in toon town and she she barely made the requirements. I knew she had never experienced that kind of a fast ride before, and I had no idea of what to expect.

The ride starts and she is immediately terrified. Screaming, but not in the fun way, like in the same way that she does when she has to get a blood draw. Holding onto me, crying, "Mama," the whole thing. I think to myself... okay, so not ready for this... good thing it is a quick ride.

Then the ride ends. I ask if it was scary, and she said yes.. and then she says the craziest thing, "Again?"

I was confused, I thought she couldn't possibly be asking to go again... oh yes, she was, very emphatically, and to that end, she didn't even want to get out! I convinced her we had to go through the (thankfully short) line again, so we went again.

The crazy screaming was back, but slightly less... and she wanted to go again! In total, she went four times with me, and twice with Blake, and he reported that the last time she went, there was no crying, just excited laughing the whole time. She probably would have just kept going ALL DAY but the line was getting longer, and we wanted to do some other rides!

Meeting Tigger and characters is another story where she started with fear. She wasn't interested in the princesses at all, but Tigger caught her eye, as a big favorite for a long time (though out of vogue in our house more recently). She wanted to meet him, but she was scared, so first we just watched him meet other kids for a while till she finally decided that she did want to meet him (even though it meant waiting in line). She was still fairly fearful as she met him, but then she was less afraid with Eeyore, and then totally excited to meet Pooh.

The last two pictures were of us watching a parade, which Remington was excited about, but Grace was very tired by this point, as we were seeing if she could go without a nap. Moments before the last picture above, she said she wasn't tired, and didn't need a nap... and then sitting on dad's lap after a long day, she just totally crashed. Extra funny (in retrospect), is that she ended up peeing while she slept... all over Blake (glad it wasn't me). But it was okay, because we knew our day was almost over anyways.

It was actually a fantastic Disney day. Temperatures were not too hot, not too cold, she loved going on rides, and the lines weren't too bad throughout the park (on a random Monday in October).

As for Remington, he probably would have been equally happy with a day at the park, as the rides were less impressive to him than the swings or slide are on a typical park day, and while he didn't mind them, he wasn't really smiling or laughing on them either. But as we expected, at three, Grace was the perfect age to appreciate all the fun Disneyland can bring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I miss naptimes

I didn't realize how good I had it. For a long time, I was able to have both Grace and Remington take a nap at the same time and I had a blissful little break where I could choose to do whatever I wanted. Now I no longer have that luxury.

Remington no longer takes two naps. Instead, the ideal for him is one nap at the middle of the day (very inconvenient) while Grace still (in theory) takes one afternoon nap. This means there is no way that both naps could be at the same time without running into problems for one or both. 

I never realized how much that time meant to me. I really truly miss the time that I could choose to do whatever I wanted without having to take into consideration anyone but myself. I do still have the evenings when the kids are asleep but that's time with Blake, not just me time. It's good too, don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with him, of course, but it isn't the ideal time to read or do projects on my computer because then I would be wasting my precious little husband time. 

It used to be that there were certain things I would do during naptime and certain things I would do in that evening free time but now my list of things I want to do hasn't changed but I have half the time I used to have to do it. 

As I adjust to this new normal, I'm figuring it out, of course but I still miss those naptimes. 

It doesn't help that ever since Grace started preschool she doesn't like the separation of naptime and has been giving me a really hard time going to sleep in the afternoons, if she goes to sleep at all. 

Remington has become quite the little toddler, complete with walking around, standing up independently, babbling nonstop and very much expressing his own opinions. If he doesn't want to eat something, it's on the floor, if he wants your food he will insist that you give it to him, if he wants a ball or a toy he will demand it with much pointing or just take it. On the cute side, he will voluntarily give hugs and kisses, can blow a kiss, wave and clap his hands, among other talents. 

I'll do a picture post after Grace's birthday, but for now, there is a small snapshot of life. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Remington's Birthday

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, how much is a video worth?

I spent some free time the last couple weeks putting together a few videos and pictures from Remington's birthday to make a somewhat cohesive look at his first birthday party. Enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

How Remington joined the Toddler world

Since September 7th, we have seen Remington take a few steps here or there, but weren't able to capture them on film, as crawling was still his preferred mode of travel.

But just these last few days, he has decided that this walking thing is pretty cool, and is taking steps between toys, voluntarily, and today, finally, we got a really good video of his walking skills.

I decided to combine it with a few other videos to show a short progression of his steps from barely crawling to fully walking, so stick with the video to the end to see his latest walking skills.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunrise, sunset

"Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

I don't remember growing older
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears"

I'm sure this song will only resonate more as the years pass, but it seemed fitting for this post.

I don't know how... but my kids are growing up! 

Grace started preschool today. She was hesitant at first, then got comfortable enough for me to leave. It was a strange feeling leaving Grace not with a grandparent or at Sunday School, but at preschool. 

She apparently had a great day. Her report of the day is that she played with boys (starting young, this one). She already has a friend she asked about by name (a boy) in the car ride home.

Her teacher said she had a great time and played with everything.  She was in a very happy mood when I picked her up too! 

I can tell that she definitely had a good day, she is already asking when she gets to go back!

It is funny to be on the other side of school too. I already have paperwork to complete and a permission slip to return.

Grace is growing up in other ways too. She used to say, "Sure," if you asked her to do something. Now it is, "I guess so," with a big sigh. 

But at least with Grace, I can reason that it went so fast because of the portion of her life that I missed... but Remington is growing up too.

Somehow... without my permission... he has gone from a helpless, tiny infant to a little boy with his own opinions who explores the world as he sees fit. 

He will emphatically point to what he wants, and get mad if you don't obey. He asks, "that?" about various objects all the time, and I would swear he can answer some questions with, "Right there." There are many other words we think we hear, plus plenty of baby babble. 

He is a pro at finger foods and getting better at spoon feeding himself too! He cruises along everywhere holding on to things, but prefers to crawl to cross between objects. Though, he has taken a few select free steps (usually to me) in the last few weeks. If people ask if he is walking yet, we usually answer that he can... he just chooses not to, which we truly believe.

I'm genuinely having a hard time with him turning one tomorrow. It probably has something to do with the chance that he was my first and last baby (since Blake really does not want a third and even I see the impracticalness of having another kid- though I'm not convinced yet.)

I am so proud of him and all of his abilities, and it is so exciting to see him grow up... but at the same time I miss the preciousness of a little boy who desperately wanted to be held, cuddled and nursed all the time. This boy hates keeping still so much it is a challenge to change his diaper or his clothes before he starts trying to wiggle away!

The last big "baby" thing I am not ready to let go of is the nursing twice a day, just once before bed and once in the morning. It is one of the few times left to me that he is so calm and happy being held, I'm going to truly miss it when I am ready to surrender his last big baby thing. 

To Grace, I am so glad you enjoyed your first experience at school, played, made friends and are excited to go back. I hope you can hold onto the idea that school is fun forever (and don't mock.. I always liked school). You mean the world to us, and are so thankful that you are with us, and usually a happy, goofy, active, sweet, beautiful little girl.

To Remington, Happy Birthday little boy. I love your adorable grin, your baby blue eyes which get comments from everyone, and your precious laugh. It is so much fun to see your personality come out! Crawl as long as you like, it keeps you feeling just a tiny bit younger to me. Big or small, you will always have a special place in my heart.  

 Grace as Doc McStuffins

 Remington kicking back in his chair...which he climbed into himself and sat that way.

 Grace and I at the doctor.
 Grace and I at the hospital last week (bad sickle crisis, but thankfully totally good now).
 Grace wearing the Ducks shirt I made for her because she asked for a Ducks shirt and the ones for sale were designed more for boys.
 Remington pictures for his birthday.
 Grace outside her classroom today on her first day (above) and below are two pictures taken at home for her official first day photos.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Video Troubles

I have so many cute videos of the kids, and I have been trying to share them in various ways, but have been running into some difficulties.

These videos tend to be too long to share on facebook, instagram or the blog. They are too big to e-mail from my phone, and have to go through my computer first.

The best avenue I have found lately is YouTube. I can do something called unlisted, where you can only watch the videos if you go through the link, but I can share the link anywhere I would like, including the blog or facebook, but you can't find them if you search for them.

So, below are some links of recent cute videos. I hope you enjoy!

I'll try to do this from time to time, while also looking at other ways to share these special moments. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Different trainings needed

There is a Bible verse about running the race set before you, and as I am training for a race, running metaphors seem especially fitting lately.

Many Bible studies I attend talk about trails, and the difficulties of life that are sure to come, and I keep being apprehensive about the next " big one" I'll  experience. The adoption journey followed by the pregnancy journey felt like big ones, full of angst, tears and heartache. 

But since Remington was born, I haven't had another huge hard crazy time of crying out to God and I couldn't help but wonder if this time is just the calm before the next storm.

That may still be true, and maybe I will have a huge something come up soon, or it could be a different kind of training.

For my marathon, I am following an online training program, and some days are long runs with lots of miles, but a comfortable pace, and some days are short all out sprints mixed with jogs.

I thought about it today, that maybe I don't have to fear the next big disaster, because my testing/ trials/ training for heaven from God is sprint days for now.

It's the toddler tantrums and accidents and baby climbing up stairs hard days, that is just a day, but for that day is a lot harder than the long drawn out adoption process, which was hard because it was so long , but not full of acutely hard days.

Each day presents its own little challenges ( sprints if you will) that have to be overcome, but overall life is good. I'm thankful for the good, and will try to be better about my little tests ( and not give into the temptation to scream at my preschooler or cry to Blake about my days). I will try to be thankful that today's challenge for Grace is yet another low grade fever doctor visit night, and not months in the hospital battling something major ( my heart goes out to families that are facing this scenario instead). 

I also see this relative calm time as practice in prayer for others, who are going through their big trials (or long runs in my analogy) and need more prayer than I do. 

These are my thoughts tonight as I nurse Remington to sleep and Grace is at the doctor for a little fever yet again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Time Flies When you are a Parent (Part 2, more pictures and video)

Building Grace's new tricycle together

Remington pushing the wagon around while Grace rode her bike.

Making bread together.
Remington's close encounter with an iguana at the fair.

Friends at the fair.

Family Vacation down to San Diego. Kids's first train ride.
Remington slept through it (which we wanted).

Grace's attempt to eat an ice cream cone.
The family Vans, all ready for the next day at the zoo.

Getting practice feeding himself.

First fair game.

Grace was quite scared about her first fair ride.
Her second went much better with Blake by her side.
Date afternoon at an Angels game (they won!)

Big fan of Doc McStuffins these days.

They look grumpy, but are having fun...just a bad picture.