31 August 2012

Giveaway!

No, not me this time. :)

My friend Sierra is giving away a copy of The Power of Prophetic Blessing by John Hagee! You can check out here review for this book (I can't wait to read it!) here.






26 August 2012

2013 Tax Changes: Should You Be Worried? | Military.com

2013 Tax Changes: Should You Be Worried? | Military.com

Lots of big changes coming. 

Edward Update

I feel like with all this writing about Sophie's big week of starting school and Daphne turning one, I should have a post about Edward too.

He has been growing and growing! His hands and feet are so big. Sophie has tiny dainty hands while Edward has huge, man-sized hands. Except on scale of a toddler. I guess you have to see him . . . He is also getting taller - he's almost caught up with Sophie. He has surpassed Sophie on shoe size. We bought him new shoes in late spring and in the summer he's been wearing his flip flops most of the time. The other day, I put his shoes on him and he comes to me and says his feet hurt. I look at his shoes, and his toes are sticking out the end! Not kidding! So the shoes we bought him four months ago he has now outgrown. (We bought Sophie new shoes at the same time and she has not outgrown her shoes.) New shoes it is then! Good thing we give the kids money in their clothing allowance every month.

The really big thing with Edward this summer has been his talking. He has just taken off! He talks in full sentences now and even occasionally corrects our grammar. For example, at lunch today, Mike asked him if he was all done. He said, "No, I'm not finished." Not kidding. I know this is not normal. He's not even two and a half yet and Sophie just barely reached this level of talking. Some of it is probably copying Sophie, but I don't think all of it can be attributed to that. He also talks about visiting friends quite often. The friend he talks about the most is Lana, who has moved. One morning he was talking about Lana and he says "Go see Lana. Miss Lana." I said, "No, we can't go see Lana. She moved to X state." Edward replies "Go to X state and see Lana." It was so sad . . he was really serious and he looked so sad when he said he missed her.

Edward is a very serious little guy and will sit reading something or studying something. He'll often bring a book or something to the table to read while he is waiting for breakfast. It's so cute, and to me, a bit funny. It's like he's sitting at the table, all serious, reading the daily news or something while waiting to be served his breakfast. Maybe he'll be a professor or something . . .

Edward has taken complete ownership of Galileo, the kitty. Whenever he sees him, he runs over and hugs him, or carries him around, or lays his head gently down on him. He'll follow him around saying "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." Although, this is not always a good thing, as one might imagine. We were out playing in the pool a few weeks ago, and he picked up Galileo and put him in the kitty pool! Galileo was so good about it, he just calmly got up and stepped out of the pool and shook his paws off. I let him back inside so he could dry himself off unhindered. My Dad was visiting at the time and thought it was the most hilarious thing! It was pretty funny, except, perhaps, to poor Galileo . . .

I have to get going for now, so I'll just leave you with a few pictures of the Little Man.:

Riding Sophie's trike while she's at school.
Edward, Galileo, and Daphne

Galileo has got to be one of the most patient kitties  . ..  ever.

Here Edward is gently sharing his blanky and Squawky with Galileo.

Playing doctor.

I think their expressions say it all.

He's not really that tall, he's standing on the back of the couch.

Edward is Daddy's Little Man

Look Who's One!!

Daphne has turned a year old!

Time has really gone by quickly this past year .. . Daphne is still my little cuddle flower and loves to be worn in the wrap or sling. She's still nursing (a huge praise - Thank you SO much Lord for that precious gift!). Daphne is my little pooter scooter, scooting around everywhere and getting into lots of mischief - she is a very busy little baby!

Daphne is truly a happy little baby who hardly ever cries. She is pretty mild tempered and doesn't have the strong, passionate streak that her older sister does. Nonetheless, she is determined when she sets her mind to something. She's learning what "no" means and she's usually pretty good about listening and obeying when I tell her no. I usually follow up with redirection, however I am encouraged by her good attitude. She is very sweet and loving and really loves her older sister and brother. She follows Sophie around (which Sophie does not like) and tries to hug her legs and she says "Eder" when she sees Edward. Edward has started trying to pick her up, like he does with Galileo the kitty, but we're trying to put a stop to that. She usually has a smile for everyone. She does have a shy streak (like her Mama), but smiles anyway. She also has seven teeth, three of which came in this week. She's still eating baby food and puffs only, since she chokes on pretty much everything else. The choking has been pretty scary - she's choked on tiny bits of mashed banana and avocado, on the rice cake puffs and other "baby" foods. And I'm not talking a small choke - I'm talking I've had to tip her upside down and pat her on the back. Several times. Very scary. So we're taking it easy with the solid foods and taking our time with baby food. Her pediatrician is very on board with this. She said its' fine to take our time. She's still nursing anyway, and she gets over 80% of her nutrition from breastmilk alone anyway, so it's not like the solid food would be a major part of her diet that contributes to her growth anyway. At her age, it's more like just "bonus food".

Mike was able to be here for her birthday, which was really special. He was originally supposed to be TDY, but he ended up coming home early, so that was really neat. On her actual birthday, we opened her present from Grandma and Grandpa as a family (and it was a family affair unwrapping it).

We had a small birthday party for her and had a few friends come over - it was definitely a really special time. I made a flower cake for her - I actually had to have my friend Angel cut it because I couldn't bring myself to cut into it after all the time I put into making and decorating it. It was a really fun time and I'm so glad that friends were able to come. Thank you Tammi, Emily, Eli, Lindsey, Nathan and Bitty, Linda and her children Aidiah and KK, Mary and her husband John and daughter Seren, Angel and her sons Logan and Ian.

Now I'll leave you with some pictures of my One Year old and the party. :)


Daphne is our little "sippy stealer" - she likes to scoot around collecting sippy cups and carry them all in her arms.

She loves books! (Just like everyone else in the family.)

We still have this sort of thing going on . . .

Opening her present.


A flower cake for my little Daphne-Flower.

Finishing lunch and preparing for cake - Edward, Sophie, Angel, Logan, Ian, me, Daphne, Mike.

About to sing Happy Birthday! Edward, Angel, Logan, Ian, Mike, me, Daphne, Linda, Aidiah

Kisses for my baby!

Edward loves cake!

"What was that? There's more cake??" - Sophie

Daphne really enjoyed her cake! And she didn't choke - yay!

She's getting quite good at using a fork and spoon.

"Mmm yummy! Is there more?"



Development Progress

Daphne has been a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to the gross motor development skills. I haven't been worried about it because I think she is just taking her time. She's been super ahead in some fine motor development skills and is right on time or slightly ahead in all other developmental skills, so again, I'm not worried.

We had her one year well child check a few weeks ago (yep, you read that right - my little baby has turned a year old! More on that in another post.) Since Daphne isn't doing any of the twelve month developmental stuff for gross motor, her pediatrician was a little concerned. So we go back in two months for a follow up and if she still isn't doing any of the skills, we'll have to see a developmental pediatrician.

In case you are wondering what the twelve month gross motor development skills are, they are as follows: while standing and holding onto something, does your baby reach down for an object and then return to standing position? While holding onto furniture, does your baby lower herself with control? Does your baby walk along furniture while only holding on with one hand? If you hold both hands to balance baby, does your baby take several steps without tripping or falling? If you hold baby with just one hand to balance, does baby take several steps without tripping or falling? Does your baby stand up in the middle of the room and take several steps? You can see these for yourself, and all the other baby ASQ questions here.

Since we saw the pediatrician three weeks ago, Daphne has made tremendous progress in her gross motor. She will now actually stand for longer than a few minutes at the coffee table or couch. She has moved one foot half a step (well, it was a scoot), and she is starting to play at the table while only holding on with one hand. And the big one: Daphne pulled herself up to a standing position for the first time this week! She completely surprised me and now she is doing it all the time! So exciting! She is also working on lowering herself with control. I'm pretty sure we won't have to see the developmental pediatrician . . .

Here's a pic of Daphne playing at the coffee table while standing:

The sticking out the tongue while concentrating seems to run in the family, on my side . . .

My happy little Flower! :)



So much to catch up on! School has arrived to our home!

There is so much to catch up on it's not even funny. I don't even know where to begin . . .

This past week has been busy, great, tiring and wondrous. Yes, all of that. At once. But not all of it will be included in this post, lol.

We turned a corner and headed into a new season in the V house . . . Sophie started school! We enrolled Sophie in a Christian preschool in the area for two days a week. There was excitement, anxiety, anticipation, wonder, talk, prayer and more as we prepared for Sophie to go to school - and that was just me! Seriously though, Sophie was pretty excited. We got a few books about going to school and we read them often. We also talked about what school would be like a lot.1

I think it really helped that her school hosted an open house the week before she started, so she got to meet her teachers and see her classroom and she had a concrete image of what "school" was. The first day, we all got up super early (read: before 0800) and got ready to school. I was really worried that we would be running late since I've been perpetually late since Sophie was born, but we were right on time (Praise the Lord!) . . .

The day before Sophie was supposed to start, I got a call saying that a spot had opened up in the younger 3's class, so Sophie switched to that class, instead of being in the older 3's class. She is technically supposed to be in the younger 3's class, but her birthday falls right on their line, so I was able to pick.

I explained to Sophie that she'd be in a different class, and it turned out to really be a God thing for us in so many ways. On the first day, Edward, Daphne and I dropped Sophie off at school, and she went right to play with some toys (so did Edward as soon as we got in the room) and she seemed pretty content. She gave me a huge hug and a big smile when I said goodbye and ran back over to play with the toy dinosaurs.

When I picked her up a few hours later, Sophie was all smiles and excited chatter telling me about her day. When we were walking back out to the car, as Sophie was talking non stop, she signs dreamily (not kidding) and says "I love school!". I was so glad - it was definitely affirmation that putting Sophie in preschool was the right decision for our family at this time. From the time I picked her up until she went back to school two days later, she talked nonstop about going back to school. It's been the same since I picked her up after her second day too.

It's been really great in so many ways. Sophie is just doing so much better at home since she's been going to school, and I've been able to run errands more easily. Going shopping with two little ones is definitely much, much easier than with three. I remember when I thought it was task to go shopping with just one! What was I thinking?? It was so easy! Two is still quite the relief, which is really nice.

The extra time I've been able to spend with Edward and Daphne has been really great for them as well. Edward has started being such a little helper when Sophie is gone and is really enjoying one on one time with Mama.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what this means for our family - we have a child in school. Preschool, yes, but still an institute of learning. It is literally the beginning of the rest of her life. For the next twenty years she'll be spending a good part of day doing all kinds of learning. Not that she hasn't been doing that already her whole life, but now she'll be learning different kinds of skills, such as reading and writing and math. Just slightly different than learning how to walk, talk and so on. I guess, as I think about what I've just written, we really spend our entire lives learning, in one fashion or another. The Lord has truly created us in such a wondrous way!

Back to my original thought . . . we are entering into a new season - the season of schooling. We are still very much in the season of babies and will be for at least two more years, but we are also in a season of packing lunches, shuttling to and from school, talking about what we learned at school, reiterating learned lessons and meeting new friends. It some ways it's so exciting, and well, such a relief! Light at the proverbial end of the toddler tunnel, so to speak. I love having a baby who is on the verge of being a toddler, and having a toddler, but after being in a state of constant business and changing diapers (and by business, I mean things like spending over an hour a day dressing and undressing children (and yes, I spend that much time or more every day doing that) , preparing five or more meals/snacks a day, refereeing disputes, picking up toys countless times as they kids follow behind me and take them back out and many, many sleepless nights - honestly, I can't remember the last time I slept through the night), it is such a relief to know that I'm not stuck in some kind of sleepless, constant motion limbo of the baby/toddler season. One day they will dress themselves! One day they will all be potty trained! I know that when I reach that point, I will miss having a baby in my arms (or sling/wrap) and nursing and cuddling, so I am trying to treasure what is left in the baby/toddler season. It does just feel so good though to know that life is moving forward.

At dinner on the night of the first day of school, Mike and I spent a lot of time talking with the kids (that is not new) and asking Sophie different types of questions about school and what she did and what she learned. We did the same on the second night after school. After the kids were asleep, we talked with each other about how much we enjoyed that and we plan to continue to do that until the kids are out of the house and on their own.

So with all that, I'll leave you with some pictures of the Big Day! :)

Edward has been growing and growing!

Sophie is so excited to be going to school!

All set to go in her new classroom! Already found the dinosaurs.

Edward found the cars - he really wanted to stay and was sad that he couldn't.


09 August 2012

TDY Adventures and Reflections





Look,  you can see my counter!! Yay!!

That's beside the point though. :)

Yes, Mike was TDY recently. Just for two weeks, so not bad at all. Especially since it was supposed to be longer and they all came home early.

Pictured above is a chain of all the days that Mike was TDY. I thought that removing a link from the chain each morning would help the kids visualize how long it would be until Daddy came home.

Except that they couldn't care less.

Maybe they're a little young for that. So I quit removing links halfway through, since I was the only one that cared, and saved the rest for later.

I think we had a pretty good time together - we did lots of exploring. It seems like when Mike is away, I turn into a scout, scouring the local area for things to do as a family and exploring new areas. I don't know why I don't do this when Mike is home. I guess it is because I put on a different mindset when Mike is gone - the strong, explorer, independent, "I can do it" attitude. I have to, to survive.

Back to scouting - the kids and I found some excellent areas to go hiking with wide, open trails in the Manzano Open Space area in Albuquerque. We're all pretty excited about going hiking with Mike soon. I also found the aircraft viewing area at the airport. The kids love watching the planes take off and land. You can even watch an occasional helicopter. And there's a picnic table under a pavilion there as well. And it's free! Bonus!

Okay, so, I didn't actually hike, with all the kids, alone.  Something about hiking with three children three years and under in an area riddled with rattlesnakes, bears, mountain lions and coyotes alone in the desert heat of the day. All alone. Yeah, that just screams disaster of the worst kind. If the kids were one year older, and had some kind of experience hiking, I might consider it. But not for the first time out.

So, we're all excited about our very first hike in the Manzano Open Space soon! Yay!

I also discovered a really cool neighborhood. Well, it's cool in that all the streets are named after Kentucky Derby winners. The houses are really close together and not really our style, so I wouldn't actually buy a house in that neighborhood, but the thought of living on Man O War Court or Gallant Fox Road is pretty cool.

My Dad also came out for a surprise visit, which was awesome! He called me up on the Sunday a week after Mike left and asked me how I was doing. I said I was doing okay (trying to sound cheerful) and he said he wanted to come out and visit! He was going to check his leave on the books the next day and see if he could come out. So Monday morning Dad called me bright and early (that's about 0830 for us) and said he would be flying in the next day!! I was really excited! And the kids were really excited that GrandDad was coming out for a visit too. And it was perfect timing because I was starting to get sick that day.

While Dad was out he cooked every breakfast every day and dinner every night (or we went out to eat), he did the dishes every day, he watched the kids so I could go to the commissary or nap or work on PWOC stuff, he helped give the kids baths and put the kids to bed and just encouraged me so much. Dad's visit was just an incredible blessing and a God-send. I feel so honored to have such an amazing Dad who do all of that for me.

We also went to the Balloon Museum when Dad was here, which was really fun. The kids really loved it and Dad and I had a good time too. (More on that in another post.)

After this TDY, Mike and I have put some more serious thought into whether we should have any more biological children. This spring and early summer, I thought I was feeling a lot stronger and was very optimistic about having more children. After taking care of the kids without Mike's help, I have come to the conclusion that I am no more physically stronger than I was a year ago. It's very disappointing, but I'm not sure what I can do about it. I walk a couple of times a week, I eat well, I take vitamins . .. I know that going to the gym and lifting weights would help - but I don't have the time or energy for that. I would love to start running again, but I don't have the energy for that either. I actually got severely dehydrated while out on a walk with the kids while Mike was gone- I was pushing Sophie and Edward in the double stroller and wearing Daphne on my back. We only walked for about half an hour, but I was done for a day and a half after that. Like lay on the couch for the rest of the day done . . .Maybe it was the 80 pounds I was pushing while wearing 20 on my back . . . too much, maybe??

Mike is home now and life is back to normal. Yay!