Friday, November 6, 2009

--Thanks & Giving--

It's been a while since I've blogged & I'm sorry for that! I suppose it's easy to get so caught up in *living* that you forget to update everyone.

October came & went. We filled our days with Halloweenie Arts & Crafts and various activities around town. I threw Ava a Halloween Party at the park with a couple of her little friends. They all had a blast & I thoroughly enjoyed preparing all of the themed decorations & goodies for the big day. I also took Ava to the Pumpkin Patch Party at Christ's Church, a Halloween Party at bank of America, and a few other small events. This was the first year that I was able to bring Ava to little events & do activities with her and have her actually enjoy them. We visited the Pumpkin Patch near our home 3 TIMES! It was probably the best patch around town with multiple photo opp areas and little things for the kids to play with.

I took Ava, dressed as tinkerbell, trick or treating in our neighborhood. I wasn't sure that she would be into it, but she loved it. She helped me ring each doorbell and actually said "trick or treat" and "thank you" at every stop along the way. I skipped quite a few houses as my child would not be eating even 1/4 of what she received anyway. No need to waste the candy :)

On to November...
This is a month of *thanks & giving* and I'm thrilled to go through this month and introduce Ava (and Bella too) to the story of Thanksgiving and what it's all about. After all, we've got more than enough to be thankful for. Not only is it important to give thanks, but to give period. Give of ourselves, our time, etc. and give others something to be thankful for as well.

God has blessed me with an amazing & courageous husband and has entrusted us with two beautiful baby girls. We are all happy & healthy. We are all safe. I do not deserve what I have been given, but I am so appreciative of these many gifts. At church a few weeks back, I was taught that "We are blessed to be blessings to others." That is our family theme this month as Thanksgiving draws near.

Chic-a-dees updates:
Ava: Miss Ava is a counting fool. She counts anything & everything. If there's nothing to count, she just counts to count! She is also into singing more than ever before. Anything long that can be grasped with one of her little hands, she uses as a microphone. A week or so ago, she put on a full concert for her daddy during one of our video chats. It was the most precious thing! She is cutting all 4 cuspids. I can't believe it! She always gets 4 teeth at a time. After these come through, the only teeth left are her two year old molars. She is putting sentences together with more and more words. It truly is my favorite stage thus far. I really enjoy actually being able to have a conversation with her!!

Princess Bella is already 4 months old! Where has the time gone?! She is sleeping roughly 7-9 hours through the night and taking naps in her own bed now. She has recently started rolling over from her belly to her back. I'm convinced her hatred for tummy time is her only motivation! ;) She grabs at anything she can get her hands on and laughs and laughs for us. Her eyes stay glued to Ava. You can see it in her face that she is aching to run around with her. Bella is exclusively on formula now and doing better, although I'm giving serious thought to starting to at least pump again in hopes of more success with nursing to get through the peak of flu season. Otherwise, she is 14 lbs 10 oz & 24 3/4 inches long as of October 22nd.

I will upload pictures in a seperate post soon so that you will be able to see a few things we've been up to the past few weeks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

{{sweet giggles}}

Princess Bella gave me a big giggle for the first time today. She'd been on the verge of one for the past couple of days && today I finally succeeded. I was holding her up under her armpits and gently bouncing her up and down saying "hi, hi, hi!" in a silly voice. She thought I was hilarious (she'd be the only one to think so, I'm positive). As soon as I got one (a giggle), I kept going. It was the most darling thing ever! I was really surprised I got one from her. I didn't think she would giggle any time soon as Ava wouldn't giggle for me until she was closer to 6 months old (or maybe older?). I was so worried that something was wrong with her && that she would never laugh. Needless to say, ALL babies are different and I'm glad she is. Bella has proven to be my very happy, smiling, GIGGLING baby girl & I'm so in love with that fact! :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

darling Isabella...Bless your *sweet* heart!

Princess Bella had another doctor appointment today. I swear this child has been to the doctor 5 times (not including wellness visits) since she was born. It just seems to be one thing after the other. This doctor's appointment (which the nurse said I should come in for, though I think this could have been settled over the phone) was because Bella has been arching back and letting out a cry in the middle of me nursing her. Even after a burp, she continues to do so. As a result, I started trying to give her the bottle more. That didn't work. She just did the same thing. The doctor said it was probably just reflux and she perscribed me some medicine to help the "burning" that results from the reflux. Hopefully after a few days, I will see an improvement. I also let Dr. Garrett know that I still occasionally see spots in Bella's stool. She told me to bring in the next dirty diaper that she has for testing to see if it is in fact blood. She also perscribed me some eye drops for Bella's clogged tear ducts. They are much better than they were before, but have recently started getting goopy again. As a result, the poor child has watery eyes ALL the time. I think, however, that she has allergies and that this is also contributing to the watery eyes. Thankfully, all of these things are minor, with the exception of the blood (if that's what it really is). Although I started to introduce foods that contained soy back into my diet, I am eliminating them once more until the blood in her stool (or whatever it is) goes away. It's back to fresh fruits and veggies and meats for me!! As a bread and cheese lover, this is torture! :)

Miss Bella is now 11 lbs 6 oz. She is gaining weight, smiling, and cooing up a storm! I am very grateful for this! She is such a sweet baby. Her smile is addicting and her sweet coos light up my life!

Cute sidenote: On the way home from the doctor appointment, A Cobblestone Mills truck pulls up and is riding along side our car. The truck is on Ava's side and she is in awe of how big the loaf of bread and sandwich are pictured on the side. After a minute or two, our lane comes to a stop and the truck passes. Ava shouts "MOMMY!!!!! go! peas! hurry!" The animation coupled with these words make this such a hilariously sweet moment. Oh Ava... you're mommy's precious big girl!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

it's the simple things in life..

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday and because it's a Monday, we celebrated today. Well..... I should say that her and Ava celebrated today and we ALL celebrated tonight. My mom informed me that she wanted Ava for the whole entire day today as her gift from me. As odd as it may seem, this was a big deal to my mom. I have never been away from Ava for a whole entire day EVER. It may seem extreme to some and it is not as though I questioned the hands she would be in. It's just never really come up and frankly, I've never been able to give her up. I suppose I have had a bad case of "the first child" syndrome. Nevertheless, she was dropped off at my mom's house this morning at 9:30. Bella and I returned to a quiet house. She passed out within seconds as a result of not having her big sister running around the house. I honestly did not know what to do with myself or my time. All I could think about was how Ava was doing. After the 3rd call to my mom to make sure Ava was not crying and to remind her what time snack/lunch time was, I was asked not to call again. Okay okay... so I was being too protective. I took a deep breath and made myself let go a little. After all, what was I going to do when my husband returns and wants to spend the weekend together without the kids? I've come to terms with the fact that I'm eventually going to have to leave her and that it's almost garunteed that she will not miss me. If she does, it will not be nearly as much as I miss her, but I'm okay with that.

All I could think to do was clean the house & do laundry. BORING! I do that every day! Today I was going to switch it up... so while Bella napped I sat outside in the sun. Afterwards, I took a shower and packed Bella up and we went to the outlet mall. No better way to stay busy than by shopping, right?!

I wasn't allowed back to my mom's house until 5 o'clock. I pulled in the driveway at 4:59 and walked in to find my darling daughter as content as she could be. I was informed of their day which consisted of playing in the pool, using sidewalk chalk & sidewalk paint on the driveway, playing in the mister, etc. Mom said they spent the WHOLE day outside because Ava didn't want to come inside. She wouldn't even take a nap. She stayed up until 4 when her body won the battle and she fell asleep for 45 minutes. She was as happy as she could be & my mom was too. I am so thankful that they were able to spend time together and that Ava was in a good mood the whole day.

When I brought Bella inside, Ava got so excited. It was as if she was happier to see her than she was me! I laid Bella on the couch to change her diaper and Ava laid right by her rubbing her head and kissing her hands. My heart absolutely melted!

I survived my mom's gift :) Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

{{let's play}}

We've been busy ladies lately! The past two weeks I've really tried to set up playdates and get out a little more for the sanity of Ava & I. We had started to develop cabin fever as a result of very few ventures from the house. It was just too hard for me to take both of them by myself and when I did it would just be to the store. It was nothing *fun* for Ava at all. Now that Bella is a little older, I've decided to dive full force into our active lifestyle again. I find that when Ava gets to get out of the house and burn off some energy that she's much more apt to listen and behave nicely. I am also a lot happier and am able to maintain a patient attitude. We've had many playdates at our home (it's easier to keep up with Ava that way) and we've gone to visit friends a few times as well.

We're regulars at the Banstra home. Bri is 3 days older than Ava and we've had many many playdates with them so it was nice to get together with them again. Rachel has been so sweet since I've had Bella. She's brought us a few meals and come to visit numerous times. Ava always asks about "B" and when she will come to play. It's the cutest thing!

My best friend, Alisha (or Aunt Wisha as Ava knows her) came to visit from out of town. Ava had so much fun with her two boys, Aiden (3 1/2) & Cam (18 mo.). It had been a little over 6 months since they had been able to play so it was really nice to be able to see them again. We let the kids play at the house & later that day we took them to the play place at the mall. Ava & Aiden seemed to really click. They took turns on the slide and giving each other high fives. It was a great playdate.

Laura & Ella Westwood came to play the next day. This was only the second time they've gotten together as a result of our schedules (pre Bella). The girls were absolutely adorable together!

When Kadie & Nick came to play, they were hilarious. Between Ava's click click shoes and doctor kit, and Nick's cars, it was definitely a "my turn/your turn" exercise. Nevertheless, they had a wonderful time.

This week we went to visit The Vanzants. Ava & Reese had never met. The girls were too cute together. Jobeth & I were talking and turn around to find one of the girls on a riding toy & the other pushing. Kids are the sweetest. It took a little while for the girls to warm up and they really started playing sweetly (instead of parallel play) right as we were leaving. I hated to go, but we'll play together again soon.

It's been really nice to be able to get out of the house and have visitors in our home. With Tony being gone any company is GREAT company especially since we can't do the things we used to due to the Florida heat. Ava has also started favoring others before me as well. I'm starting to think she's trying to tell me she needs her own time instead of always being with mommy. SAD. Haha.

We are truly blessed to have such great friends!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


In February of 2008, I took Ava for her 2 month wellness visit. I didn't know what to expect. I knew that she would be getting a shot, but that was about it. As soon as the nurse came in with 4 shots and an oral applicator, I immediately felt all color drain from my skin. I was sick to see that she would be stuck so many times with vaccinations that I hadn't even heard of before. The sound of her cries sent the sharpest pain through my heart and all I could do was cry along with her until the nurse had finished. I immediately picked her up and nursed her back to calmness. The whole feeding, all I could think about was what kind of mother I was letting my daughter go through all of that and not even knowing what she was receiving and why. Needless to say, I started my research. I did hours and hours of research and read books on vaccinations until I figured out a little about them. It was then that I found out of the suspected link between vaccinations and autism. I also learned of the ingradients in the vaccinations and the insane number given now compared to when I was a baby. I was horrified to learn of the traces of mercury that are still present in these vaccinations while most doctors swear it's all been taken out. Not only that, but that the dosage they administer is the same for a child as it is for an adult. WHAT?! Ingredients such as animal blood and formaldehyde making up the vaccinations that I just ignorantly let my child be injected with made me sick. I'm fully aware of the importance of vaccinations and am not at all against them. I am, however, against the ingredients and number of vaccinations administered at one time. As a result, I have chosen to use an alternate schedule with my children. One in which they receive the vaccinations they need but not all at once. The vaccines are also paired in a certain way such that the child doesn't receive high levels of a certain ingredient in one visit.

Bella's 2 month wellness visit was on Friday. I was fully prepared with the shots I would allow her to take. The morning started off rocky as Ava woke up screaming at 4:30 AM and wouldn't go back to sleep. Then, things went downhill from there. The nurse came in the room to take the vitals, etc. She's not very friendly and I do not like when she's our nurse. She went to take Bella's temperature (in her ear) and pulls her ear so hard Bella screams like I've never heard before. I looked at the nurse like "what are you doing?!" Bella has had her temperature taken by ear before and has NEVER screamed like that. It took everything in me not to grab her hand and remove it from my poor child's ear! I let that roll off my shoulder. Then she gives me the papers to initial the vaccines she would receive today. I let her know I was only getting 2 and not the 5. She said "what? why?!" I let her know that I'm doing an alternate schedule with her like I do with Ava. She said "I don't know what that is! What schedule?" Was she serious?! She had the worst attitude towards me and was being so rude! Keeping as composed as possible I informed her that there was a copy of the schedule in Ava's file and that if she would like to see it she can pull the file and look. I told her once more the two shots she would be getting and that was it. She stormed out of the room. Dr. Garrett came in to conduct the check up and then talked to me about the vaccinations. There were a total of 5 that she was to receive. I told her I was only doing two and she said that was fine but that by the next appointment she would still have one more that she needed. She told me there was one shot that she was to receive today (Pentacel) which combined 3 of the 4 shots she was supposed to have and then she would just have one more shot and the oral vaccine. After being up since 4 and just ready to leave, I settled for the combo shot (which I am VERY MUCH AGAINST by the way) and the oral. After she got the shot I had a sick feeling like I had when Ava had hers. I couldn't wait to get home to look up this shot. This is what I found. My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. Against my better judgement, I was sucked into making a decision that I wouldn't have normally done. I was so upset with myself. All I could do was pray for God's hedge of protection around my sweet daughter that she would have no adverse effects as a result of this vaccination. God is good and thus far, Bella has had no severe reactions. Saturday, Bella did have a temperature of 101.8. I was really worried, but I think she was just too warm from clothing more than from the vaccinations. She's been smiling and cooing normally, thank God.

The one thing I always tell new moms is that you do NOT have to do ANYTHING you don't want to do when it comes to your child. You are in control NOT the doctor/nurse. If you are uncomfortable for whatever reason or have a bad feeling, I always say not to go through with whatever it is that is causing it. Tell your doctor/nurse you need to think about it and come back. It's an extra doctor's visit and more money, I understand, but I strongly believe that it's worth the money to make sure you're doing the right thing.

Otherwise, Bella had a good visit. She is 10 lbs 12.8 oz. & 22 1/2 inches long! I bought Alimentum which the doctor told me was the only kind of formula I was to use because it was hypoallergenic. She doesn't want me using milk/soy based formula since she suspects a protein allergy. I gave Bella 2 bottles of formula yesterday and 1 today. She drank them no problem, but I'm struggling with the whole idea of formula feeding. I want to nurse for at least 6 months, but if Bella is more comfortable with formula and she feels better as a result, then I don't want to be selfish. I'm nervous about my milk drying up from not feeding her as much. I am going to try to pump what I don't feed her to hopefully keep my milk in enough to feed her still. I'm planning on nursing her at night and in the morning and formula feeding in mid afternoon/early evening. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2 months old..really?!

Isabella Faith is 2 months old today! I cannot believe it! I just look at her and thank God for this precious gift! I'm so incredibly thankful that He has entrusted his daughters to me! Boy, does she look like her daddy! I wanted her to look just like him.. and here she is! We can't tell exactly what color her eyes are yet, but I'm thinking they will be brown. I don't believe they will be blue like Ava's. Only time will tell.. She is getting really good at holding her head up. We don't do tummy time though because she HATES it. She screams and kicks her legs. Our version of tummy time is just me holding her upright and letting her strengthen her neck muscles that way. She's sleeping pretty well at night right now. She sleeps anywhere from 4-6 hours at night before waking up for her first feeding. Lately it's been 5-6 hours. I enjoy the sleep! After that first night feeding, she wakes up every 3 hours to eat. She also smiles & coos now. It's the most adorable thing to see! She will let out a screaming cry when I put her down sometimes (to clean/tend to Ava). As soon as I walk back over to her and ask her what's wrong she immediately stops, gives me a HUGE grin, and starts to coo. While I don't believe that babies can be spoiled this young, I am almost positive Princess Bella is wrapping me around her little finger!
Ava is the world's sweetest big sister. She always wants to give her little sister kisses on her head, feet, anywhere she can reach. She talks to Bella and gets so excited when Bella coos at her. The look on Ava's face is priceless. The other day I was nursing Bella and Ava shouts "Bella, watch me!" I look up to find Ava on the steps of her slide waiting for me to hold Bella up to watch her go down. Moments like that really melt my heart. Anytime we go somewhere, I usually put Ava in the car first. She throws a fit because she wants "Bella come." I've now had to start putting Bella in the car first. If Bella cries, Ava says "shh" trying to help her calm down and alerts me seconds after the paci falls from Bella's mouth. There are so many adorable moments in this family, I cannot even explain :)

Bella's 2 month well baby check up is tomorrow. I'm super excited to see how much she weighs. Last appt we took her to (about 2 weeks ago) she weighed 10 lbs 6 oz. That's the exact amount Ava weighed at her 2month check up. She's been 75th percentile for weight and 90th for height thus far. I will update you on her stats after our appt tomorrow. Bella will also receive her first set of the dreaded vaccinations tomorrow. I'm using an alternate schedule with my girls so she'll only get 2 of the 4 and won't get the oral. I am also going to discuss supplementing with formula. I've really been hesitant to introduce it as I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months at least (if not longer). However, Bella is acting unsatisfied after her feedings. I plan on nursing her in the morning and at night and giving her formula during the day and for her last feeding before bed. I am hoping this solves her unsatifaction as I do not want her to be hungry no matter how bad I want to exclusively breastfeed.

While these last two months have been a challenge, I am so grateful for each and every opportunity to learn and grow from these two little girls. I've wanted to be a mom ever since I can remember and I will tell you that motherhood is even better than I'd imagined!

Here are some pictures of my princess!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

-- the world is a blank canvas --

Ava is a little artist. From the day she was introduced to the crayon, she's become infatuated. She loves to draw pictures and use water colors. Anything and everything that has to do with color on paper lures her interest. My mom bought Ava the Alex Super Art Table a few months ago. This table has a chalkboard top and little cup holders for crayons/chalk/you name it. Ava caught on really fast that she is to only color at the table. Needless to say, her curiosity tempted her to test her artistic abilities elsewhere. Unfortunately for Ava, I had to take the crayons & chalk away. She was only able to use them with my supervision. A friend came over to show me pictures one day. I took them to the light to see them more clearly when out of the corner of my eye I noticed Ava. This caught my attention as I had left her at her art table with one piece of chalk. I'm sure you can guess what happens next.... Oh yes, darling Ava decided to use our couch cushions as her canvas. I had tried to be the "cool mom" earlier in the day and put the couch cushions on the floor for her to jump on since we weren't able to get out of the house the past few days. I wanted her to release her energy. She did. She also created a masterpiece. I was so upset (mostly with myself).

I took her back to her table and told her that's where she was to color. I immediately ran to get the stain remover in hopes that the blue chalk would come out. As I was spraying, Ava kept wanting to touch the wet fabric. Frustrated, I tried to redirect her. As I was picking her up to pull her away she points her little finger at the wet spot and says "oh-ul", "cir-ul". It's moments like that where your heart melts. I confirmed yes, oval & circle. Afterwards, still a little upset, I started blotting out the stain. She kept saying "peas! peas!" Misunderstanding, I told her that she couldn't touch because it was a chemical and I didn't want it to hurt her. So she runs and grabs her sisters burp cloth and comes back to help me blot.

How could I be mad at that? One of my largest goals as a mother is to teach my daughter and to instill in her good values. How could I be upset that she was exercising her knowledge of the shapes I have taught her and showing remorse by helping me to clean up the "mess?" Do not get me wrong, I'm not thrilled to have to pay someone to professionally clean the couch, but they needed to be cleaned anyway....

Needless to say, I am thankful for the experience :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

{getting into the *swing* of things}

I wouldn't say Isabella is a super difficult baby, but there were a few weeks where I didn't know how on earth I was supposed to handle both girls. Bella just was not content. She seemed to always be uncomfortable and wanted me to hold her ALL the time. Do not mistake this as me complaing. I adore holding that precious baby girl, but the reality of my world is that there's another precious "big girl" that needs me too and without daddy here to help I have to stretch myself accordingly. It became a struggle to keep them both content. Bella hated her swing and needed a new position other than laying in her bassinet all the time while I tended to Miss Ava. Just when I was about to give up on the swing..... I went over to my mom's house for dinner. She had the boppy travel swing that I bought for Ava when she was little. We traveled so much that there was no need for a full size swing. I decided to put Bella in it so I could spend some time with Ava. She didn't scream, which was a good sign! After about 10 minutes, I check on her because she still wasn't making a sound. To my surprise, my darling baby was SLEEPING in the swing. I couldn't believe it. This may seem silly to some, but for Isabella Faith this is HUGE! The longest she's gone is 5 minutes in her swing before crying. To fall asleep and stay asleep was such a big deal. Now that she's gotten into *the swing of things* our daily routine will go much smoother. Thank You, Lord!

Happy little camper!

Smiles & all

Sweet Success!

{Let Freedom Ring}

Yesterday makes one month to the day that I watched my husband's plane take off for Afghanastan. I can honestly say that I never thought that I'd be married to a man in the military. To have a husband that is half a world away, putting his life on the line for this country, is hard to swallow. How blessed I am, though, to have such a curagious man for a husband & father to my children.

I'm trying desperately to cling to God with all my strength and let him lead me in this new season. Being a mother of *one* while Tony was in training was difficult enough. Those days were *cake* compared to now, though. Holding down the fort is proving to be quite the callenge. Between Ava (19 months), Bella (8 weeks), and Sweet Pea (our 3 1/2 year old Cocker) I've got my hands more than full. All I can do is take life one *sweet* moment at a time.

We've been able to communicate with Tony most days. This has really helped me & Ava. I will never forget the first time Ava saw Tony on the webcam. She held her arms up to the screen and said "daddy! up..peas?" (Daddy, up, please?) Talk about a tear jerker! She then proceeded to bring him every book she could, hold it up to the screen, and ask him to read to her. How do you respond to that? It's the hardest thing in the world to explain to a 1 1/2 year old that daddy can't pick her up because he's not really *here*, he's just on the computer. Nevertheless, the video calls have been amazing. Every time Ava sees the computer she says "daddy?!" and wants to get on. I'm so thankful for the internet!

The following months will be a rollercoaster, I am sure of that. I am clinging to Psalm 91 (specifically 91:7) and embracing the ride.

Check 1..2..

We are rather late in joining the blogging world, I know. However, we've decided to jump on the bandwagon. With daddy half a world away and family/friends scattering the states, I can't think of a more perfect way to keep in touch. Please have patience as I know NOTHING about blogging nor do I know how to personalize our page. I suppose you can not only join our family in the journey that is our life, but you can also watch our blog evolve as we learn what we're doing :)

Thank you for stopping by.