17 September 2014

Arden Quinn is three years old!!!

I am one proud Mama. Three years ago I gave birth to the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. I loved her with my whole being from the moment I saw her. I just never imagined that she would cause my heart to grow to hold more love than I knew existed. Sometimes I look back at old photos and I can't even remember how she was when she was littler, because she's grown into such a precocious and grown-up girl!
The past three years have blown my mind. As a nanny with 2 years experience and prior to that, 6 years in various settings of childcare experience, I thought I *knew* how to be a parent. How to get a kid to do what they needed to do. How to potty train. How to sleep train. What I hadn't counted on was that I would have an attachment to my own child I could not have imagined before, and that I became a completely different person once it became real to me that I was the one making choices for a helpless child, and that it was essential for her growth and development that I admit I had no more of a clue than any other new parent. With the philosophy that hormones and instincts were created for a reason, and the fact that I had the fiercest desire to protect this beautiful gift we had been given, I transformed into a type of parent I had never met before. All because I had been given the honor and responsibility to nurture, hold and love a sweet, innocent, beautiful baby girl.

She is inquisitive.
She is bright.
She is beautiful.
She is active.
She is strong.
She is lithe.
She is happy.
She is perceptive.
She is smart.
She is loving.
She is every amazing thing I could have imagined in a daughter.

I am blown away by this girl daily. 

Her passions include art, ballet and chocolate chips. :) 

Her eyes sparkle and it makes me glad she knows what joy feels like. She's crafty and tricky and it makes me glad for her exceptional neural development. I am thankful she was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He continues to work within her to cause her to grow more beautiful all the time, and that her body and mind continue to develop in a healthy and positive way. 
I am so proud to announce that she is totally free of diapers, after a year-long regression period. I don't have to worry about accidents anymore, her bed hasn't been wet in weeks, and now I don't even have to force her to sit on the potty in the morning as soon as she wakes up dry. I know it wasn't a "delay" but to be honest, I was a little embarrassed that she took so long. It was my fault she regressed so far and for so long. The first time around, she led the toilet training and was completely trained. It's hard for me to admit but after years of training two year olds to use the potty, I felt over-qualified and like it would be a piece of cake. The last girl I nannied I trained in one week, two weeks before her 2nd birthday. I knew my daughter was at least as smart as Caroline, and I was right. It was when some transitions came into her life so rudely, that she started to have accidents. And I didn't take it well, since I was adjusting to life with two kids...the more I criticized/punished, the worse it got. Until she had such a horrible association with the potty that she *only* peed and pooped on her clothes. It was my fault, and I'm sorry. I'm not sure if I had been more gentle and understanding if she wouldn't have continued to regress, but I know I played a part in making her transition to "big sisterhood" harder than it needed to be. And all the while I was priding myself on tandem nursing and "making it easy on her". I'm still very glad I did (the tandeming), as I hope it softened the blow of my criticism that she didn't "stay potty trained" at two years old

I'm sharing this because I hope it can keep someone else from making this mistake. Childhood isn't for competition. I have always known that children reach milestones at different times, but I let pride take me into a difficult situation because I *knew* Arden was advanced, and I *knew* how to let my child toilet train themselves "without pushing". I just forgot that last part when things went south.
All that to say, I'm SO proud of my daughter, and that she has a strong will. I'm glad my pride brought me low enough to realize my children aren't a "show pony" for me to display my amazing "early childhood development" skills. Any advanced development and beauty they have is nothing I did. I'm not the one creating synapses in those bright little minds. And also, I'm so happy I only have one in diapers again. I forgot how wonderful and easy it was!!!

favorite color: "pink"
favorite animal: "giraffes"
favorite place to go: "to the zoo"
favorite drink: "kombucha"
favorite food: "pizza"
favorite place to eat: "Chipotle"
favorite dessert: "yogurt"

09 September 2014

Arden's 3rd Birthday Party!

I procrastinated SO long in planning this party, mostly because Arden couldn't decide what kind of party she wanted to have. She went back and forth between tigers, pink dolphins, and giraffes. I brought up ballet classes one day, and asked her if she would like to go to ballet for her birthday gift. She immediately latched onto that, and decided she wanted a ballerina birthday too!

The first thing we got for her was a lovely leotard, tights, a skirt and the sweetest little leather ballet slippers! I had been searching for classes, but not seriously, and after I ordered her little outfit I realized there's a dress code at most places. I found one that was reasonably priced, and taught the class we wanted her in, for her age group, and it just so happens that their dress code matches what we already have!

Once we decided that ballet classes were something we were going to take seriously, since Arden is absolutely obsessed and ecstatic about all things ballet, always dancing with classical music, imitating the finest details of every movement she watches on various ballets we find on YouTube, we registered her to begin on September 11. That meant that she HAD to be totally potty trained. I'm sure I've written a long time ago that she was trained, and she was. But between having a baby brother, moving to a big girl bed, stress of getting ready to move, and moving, she decided she did NOT want to use the potty. Not because she didn't know how, but because she is independent and won't be told. Since it's not something I can enforce without delaying the whole process even more (it happened once already when she first regressed; it only got worse the more I tried to crack down), I quit trying. Went back to diapers and decided she would let me know when she was ready. Lately, she had been waking every morning with a dry diaper, so I knew she was absolutely capable. I used ballet classes as a bargaining chip, and for the last two weeks we have ONLY been in panties. Night and day. She has done very well, and I am so thrilled to be *BACK* to only one in diapers, after waiting about a year!

So about the party! Mom is planning to go to CA to meet Tamee's new baby when it comes, and she leaves the 13th! So in order to include her, we had to plan it for much earlier than the 17th! Also, Molly planned Chandler and Clare's birthday for the only Saturday we had, and we had planned on going there, and wanted them to have an opportunity to come if they would, so we planned it for the following day, Sunday, September 7th!

When I finally got a date and a theme idea, I created an invitation to send over email, since there wasn't time to print and send them in the mail!

We invited all of our community group friends (and only three couples could make it--Miller & Emily, Ryan & AnnaMarie, and Daniel & Liz with Kate! I'm so thankful for all the ones that came! They are all such special, amazing people that I just love having around our children), some Fredericksburg friends, and family! I was bummed that Clare and Molly didn't come, but almost everyone we invited was able to make it!
Arden couldn't decide if she wanted pink frosting or chocolate so I did both :) 

Beet juice colored the frosting for our lovely ballerina pink rose cake

pirouettes have to be served at a ballet party, right? ;)
I loved how the canvases and the tulle poms turned out!

At the last minute I decided I needed to do something with the leftover gold glitter fabric I used to make her A canvas (I mod podged that btw), and I love how the pointe shoe piece came out! I also made the wands for all the little girls; they LOVED the bells, especially the babies!
me, Liz & Emily

Joslyn & Steph

Chris & Miller

Happy FULL little house!!

Daniel, Kate & Joslyn (I realized just a bit ago that Kate and Joslyn are only a few weeks apart in age!)

waking slowly...

Chris & Lizzi

Arden & sweet baby Kate <3

Daniel asking Arden how old she is

She was so excited that she blew out the candles as soon as we lit them! <3 We had to re-light them so we could sing to her xD

Second time around :)
Mmmm....the one thing that never wavered when I asked her about her party was CHOCOLATE cake. Nothing else would be considered :)

Sweet ballerina friends! Arden, Edith & Abigail

Thayer is a little skeptical of the dancing going on in there. Ballet is not his style.

Waving goodbye to friends!

we opened presents after the small people left

I was so bummed that Theresa missed Arden opening the present from them...she got a phone call right as Arden chose to open it! I didn't even get any pictures of it, either. :( She did love it though! Nana knows her granddaughter-fun art supplies!!! :)

She was pretty thrilled with the princess box from Miller & Emily! 

Reading our new Angelina Ballerina book from Daniel & Liz, while she tries on all her fancy princess garb from James & Steph!
The other day she decided she needed a veil, after me getting out the tulle for the poms :) So I fixed one up for her to play with 

I'm pretty sure this little girl has never experienced more fun than she did with all her friends on Sunday! She looked so beautiful, and I am so proud to be her mama. She is growing up so fast, and I'm thankful for her sweetness.

More fun to come for her *actual* birthday!

08 July 2014

Thayer August is 15 months old!

15 month update, over a month late :(

I fully intended on photographing, weighing and measuring this big man around his 15 monthiversary...but time, it does crazy stuff when you have kids. These photos are pretty much all I have from around July 8th. I took the littles to Twin Hickory Park to shoot some new photos, and even made sure I had a card in the camera. Once I got there I tried to take a picture, and the shutter wouldn't release. My SD card was locked, and the slider was missing. Safe to say I was annoyed. So much for that. So I took a couple with my phone... So his 15 mo photos are a conglomeration of photos from a family picnic we had at Byrd Park, some my mom took at their house one day, and the phone pictures from Twin Hickory.

I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't weighed or measured this dude, not since his 1st birthday...but I do know he's in 18-24 month clothes, a size 7 shoe, and weighs about the same amount as his big sister! I'm in love with this big handsome boy, but goodness these months go by so fast! I was just looking at photos from our trip to Missouri in May of last year and he was 7 weeks old. So tiny and sweet. Now he's big and sweet.

A true Mama's boy.
Loves to be with his Daddy, and when Daddy walks out of the room or any door (even in the car if Drew runs into a store without us, or even for a moment to grab something from his car before we leave our house), Thayer is just heartbroken. That sad face...I will have to photograph it sometime. It's the saddest but cutest thing you'll ever see.
He is talking more every day! Let me see if I can list all the words he uses often/occasionally!
Love you
Let's go
"Let it go" :|
Thank you

Other sounds he makes: Rawr (for lions and tigers), Woof, bbbrrrmmm (for a car/truck), choo choo (a train)

Although his word list is shorter than Arden's was at this age, his comprehension is amazing. He understands about anything we say.

He *loves* to sing, and he dances with music of any kind. He will dance in circles and sing "Let It Go" at the top of his little lungs. Pretty cute, considering he isn't even talking in sentences yet.

He's obsessed with animals, especially dogs. He calls any animal that moves in the yard a "doggie".

We are still going strong with nursing-he calls it "ssst" and shoves his fist at my chest. Man of few words but gets his point across. I'm thankful we've had the opportunity to keep it going this long, and for the health and nourishment it continues to provide.

Loves to be silly. He squints his eyes and wrinkles his nose, throws his head back or bows it down, I suppose its for effect when he's pretending to laugh. He makes all of us laugh. He has such a genuine, precious laugh though, and shares it so often.

When we are about to pray before we eat, he sticks his hand out toward me so I can hold it, and when I do he bows his head as low as he can without putting his nose in his food. :)

Still wakes 3-6 times per night--yay. ;)

Byrd Park picnic July 14


photo cred to Gramma <3

iPhone photo, last resort

17 June 2014

14 month update!

I haven't done an update on Thayer since he turned a year old, and I figured it was about time since his vocabulary is starting to really grow all of a sudden!

He is so silly, and has a great sense of humor! He's adventurous, and loves danger! He and his sister were doing some crazy flips in Florida and ever since he's been trying it on various pieces of furniture. He loves water, loves hugging Mama, and gives the best kisses! He has such a fun personality and makes everyone laugh. He does this squinty face thing if you just stare at him for a bit.

Some of the words he uses regularly:
"Let's go!"
uh-uh (while shaking his head for 'no')

Pretty decent vocabulary for a 14 month old! I love this stage because it is so fast from day to day, you can see major changes, and they add words like crazy.

I may add to this post as I remember the things that I'm forgetting at this moment...which I know I am. My brain likes to do nothing better than forget. :(

15 June 2014


Every once in a while I love going to the beach. It had been a while, and I had wanted to go to Florida for quite a while. Drew promised me a trip for our 5th anniversary, which was in April. Everything worked out so perfectly for us to go, so after helping a little bit at the Elijah House Academy's graduation party (with our community group), we came home, packed up all the food I had prepared, and then went to dinner with our community group at Plaza Azteca. 
We love spending time with these people!

We started driving around 11, and thankfully Arden slept most of the night! 

Thayer had a rougher time, and I hardly slept, but we did it!
Coming over the Clearwater Causeway to Clearwater Beach
Arden copying Mama-relaxing in a lounge

Checking out the hotel's private beach across the street

Dinner our first night, and one of the only ones I photographed! Teryaki Chicken, roasted potatoes and pineapple
 While we were in the pool on one of the first days, Drew and Arden had a little episode of struggling in the water...I wasn't sure how much water was required for "secondary drowning", which I had read about and it scared me enough that we all wanted to be on the safe side. So we bought a pulse oximeter to check blood oxygen levels periodically. They were both fine, but we were a little nervous since she acted out of it when she was in the bathtub later. Normally I'm not easily worried, but I really don't like the ER and otherwise we would have no way of knowing, at least early enough.

I just can't pass up an opportunity to take a picture of a sleeping babe.

Reading Thomas with Daddy
 Walking about Clearwater is so much fun. There's so much to do and it is just beautiful. We walked to Pier 60 and let the kids play in the playground, then went out on the pier.
looking into the water from the pier-there's a reason it's called "Clearwater"

While we were out on the pier, there was a dolphin swimming around underneath!

We found this amazing little sweets shop called Kilwin's...they make their own waffle cones-the smell of them cooking was what brought us in. I'm convinced they do that on purpose :)

Thayer is such a goob! He isn't scared of much.

This boy knows how to kiss a girl. <3 :*
We also went to the Sand Key Park across the bridge next to our hotel. It was a beautiful day! I had one issue after another with trying to get the camera so I could capture a bit of our trip. I had been fairly lazy about taking pictures and at this point I decided I didn't want to miss any more! I was pretty bummed that I forgot it, so back over the bridge we went to the hotel to get it. THEN, I realized none of the cards were working; all of them said they were locked, and they were full. I was pretty bummed, but finally just grabbed a little 512 card that I had in the case. Then, of course when I got back to the beach I remembered the card but forgot to grab the camera out of the car. It was highly frustrating, but I will say I got quite a bit of exercise!

Picnic on the beach!

Thayer snuggling in for a nap in the shade 

Drew got a wretched sickness on about Tuesday...it wasn't pretty. Poor guy spent a lot of the night in the bathroom. Arden also was throwing up on her bed that night. I thought they needed a good breakfast after all that but it turns out they weren't quite ready to eat it, despite how amazing it looked. Spelt pancakes, pastured eggs, uncured bacon, and peaches.

Thayer and I enjoyed our breakfast anyway...out on the balcony.
 After breakfast, since Drew and Arden were both still wanting to lay around and not eat, Thayer and I went to Target for a few things. Someone had stolen my (new) swimsuit and I didn't have one. On our way back, I picked up Starbucks for my sickies; Drew said it sounded good, and Arden is always in the mood for a cake pop! :)

Thayer found Arden's pillow-I missed a picture of him snuggling down in it. So cute.

These two are best friends.
We ended up eating out far more than I intended--Drew being sick sorta ruined some things.

A stranger at the next table took this for us after we took one of their family for them!

Me & my beautiful girl.

swimming again!

Thayer was not thrilled to lose his freedom of movement. He spent very little time in the floatie and we spent very little time relaxing when we were at the pool. The boy flirts with danger.

The bridge to Sand Key, from our front balcony

Off to meet Winter!

She was SO EXCITED. I love this picture. She had just seen the picture of Winter and just was dancing and squealing happily, trying to hug the picture.

First glimpse of Winter, underwater!

Winter's back end :)

She wouldn't stay behind the blue belt...she was so entranced by Winter.

Watching Nicholas perform some tricks!

 What I love about CMA is that it's not a "show" aquarium that holds captive animals for show and money...they "Rescue, Rehab & Release". The only animals they keep are those that are ineligible for release for one reason or another. They treat sick and hurt animals, most of them hurt by humans and our contraptions. There is also a lot of awareness built through CMA because it causes people to be more aware of the impact of their actions.
The house boat that was built and used for Dolphin Tale

On the boat going over to Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure

set chairs

Daddy putting on Arden's Winter Necklace :) She was so thrilled. <3

We had to buy the movie (we had only checked it out from the Stafford Library before), and then watch it as soon as we got back to the hotel...Arden still loves it. Even more now. ;)

Thursday on our Dolphin Adventure on Little Toot! :)

A lovely Winter mural!

He's a boat man. The crew said they had never seen someone so little so comfortable out on a boat. He walked around like he owned the place, never losing his balance. 

One of the dolphins we saw...there was also a mama & baby dolphin, which was pretty awesome! Babies nurse for at least 2 years (cool!) and continue to follow their mamas for at least 7 years to learn how to survive, which is why Nicholas was ineligible for release...he is an orphan.

Apparently toward the end of the trip on Little Toot Arden was pretty sleepy. I think she would've gone to sleep if we hadn't pulled into the slip!

On our way back to the hotel after our boat ride

Late that night, a nice excursion out of our room after a 10:30 pm fire alarm...which was a false alarm. Both kids *were* sound asleep after the big day..

 This is the point at which I finally had the patience to stop and figure out why our SD cards were acting up, and I finally got one of our bigger ones to work. Of course, after most of our trip is done and I've taken far too many on my phone. Any of the ones before this from the camera were on a little 512 card...and I had to delete several duplicates to squeeze more on. I am pretty bummed that I think I deleted the best one of Drew putting on Arden's winter necklace. :(
Swimming in this absolutely lovely pool was one of our favorite things to do. 

Thayer is far too fearless. He would just come right to the edge and back in. Which is why the pink floaties.

This is what mealtimes looked like. With slightly more food on the table and floor, of course.
 Friday was another beach day! I wanted to check out the North Beach...the main beach around Pier 60 was far too crowded for us, although it was absolutely gorgeous! So after a relaxed morning, a swim before the storm, lunch and a nap, I put Arden's hair up :)
First French braid!
 and we went off to play some mini golf! This place was right by our hotel and Drew had wanted to play...so we did. We skipped a couple holes, and Arden was all over the place, but it was a good time!
"Best Daddy" award goes to.... ^^^ :)

<3 these boys rock <3

I realized after I was looking at all my pictures that it looks like I wore the same shirt the entire week. I really didn't, but the only few days Drew took pictures of me, I was wearing this shirt. I did wash it, believe me. And I did wear other clothes. :)

<3 saltwaters <3

digging in the sand with Daddy

not much cuter then children on a beautiful beach.

Stunning, she is.

He thinks he can just go out there if he feels like it. Fearless, I tell you. Cute, though.
 As we were thinking of leaving, I noticed a police vehicle down the beach a bit. We noticed a police officer running out and pulling a man out of the water. Article Link
This is as the police officer was pulling the 41 year old man (Donald) out of the water...the one that survived. The person wearing the black vest on the right is the police dragging the semi-conscious man in.

as the older man was being revived he told the police his coworker was still out there, whom he had been trying to save. (Drew found this out when he walked down there) 
*at this point I'm heartsick, and thankful for the safety of our family*

out on the water with the jet ski looking for the other guy (Ryan). This was shortly before a couple helping with the search found him straight out from us. Everyone in the water and on the beach was helping search.
 We left soon after the jet ski brought him (the young man who drowned) to the beach. None of us felt like we needed to be there, for our sake and for the privacy of those suffering.

We went to dinner at the pizza place next to our hotel. It tasted great but our hearts were heavy.

 I had wanted to watch a sunset before we left, and since it was our last night, we went back to the same beach after dinner since it was the least crowded beach we had been to, and the clouds had been less thick up north than down where we were staying.
There were still several officers and many channels out on the beach when we came back. We talked to the camera man in the foreground, and he pretty much knew the same amount we did about what happened, but he also knew it was a boss and employee that were from Georgia, staying in Tampa, who came to the beach for the day. 

My handsome guys with a gorgeous sunset!

a half-successful selfie

one more trip to Kilwin's :)

Thayer finishing off my cone

He claimed the bed as we were cleaning up to leave. What a little prince.
It was a beautiful place, a lovely, relaxing time (with the exception of the trauma on the beach and the two nights in a row that the fire alarm went off at 10 pm)...returning home has been delightful and its been great to have been rejuvenated and ready for my crazy job that is my life. These crazy kids...