Friday, May 15, 2015

Out & About in JJ Cole Style (Product Reviews)

The weather in Northern California has been warm and mild all year.  We've are in a serious drought and we need rain more then anything!  The one benefit of the drought has been the sunshine we have had for so many months in a row... especially because Andie loves to be outside, especially at the park!

Recently, we received some new items from JJ Cole Collections.  I had heard of their stuff before, but hadn't tried it.  It's sold pretty much anywhere baby things are sold (BuyBuyBaby for the diaper bag and blanket, and Babies R Us, Target & Amazon for the carrier).  We have gone through about 10 diaper bags in the last two years and I have never tried a backpack style diaper bag before, so I was excited for this one.  We also got a foldable outdoor blanket and an agility carrier.

I loved the patterns of the diaper bag and the blanket - perfect for boys and girls and not too over the top girlie, so TL doesn't mind using them.

The diaper bag works really great - it's a good size... I say that because some diaper bags are so big that we end up stuffing them full and can't carry them because they're so heavy!  It has a good amount of pockets inside and outside to keep everything organized.  I am really picky about diaper bags, so it's surprising that I actually like this one.  TL mentioned that he liked that the diaper bag could stand on it's own with nothing in it, it has shape.  My favorite thing is that I can wear it as a backpack, which I have already done.  Or, you can use it over the shoulder, or attach it to your stroller.  The only thing I would change if I were to design it myself is I would make the front pockets a little larger, so I could put more items in.  I am often throwing things in last minute to the front part and because they don't have a lot of space I can't fit pacifiers or snack packs in them.

The blanket was TL's favorite, and I really liked it too.  It is really easy to fold after use and washable.  We have already gotten a couple of uses out of it at the park because I use it to lay Nolan on while Andie is playing.  Our park visits are usually at least an hour, so he loves to get out an lounge.  It's soft and really comfortable.  If you spend anytime outside at all, I suggest this one.  

The agility carrier works really great... Nolan loves it because he fits snugly in it and he likes to be held.  I have tried out about 5 or 6 different carriers, but this is the only one I have kept that isn't a bjorn or ergo style carrier.  It is really comfortable for wearing around the house, but I don't know that I wear it for an all day thing just because it doesn't have a lot of back support (Nolan is a whopping 16 pounds and gets heavy fast!)  But I do like how natural it is to hold him in this and eventually when he can face forward in it at 6 months, I think he will really like it.

Overall, I really like everything from #JJColeStyle - the print is perfect and the blanket was way nicer than I expected.  Can't wait for our next trip to the park ;)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Andie... You're 2!!

My busy, animated, sweet, confident Andie . . .

2 years old.  I can't believe it's been 24 months since I saw your little tiny body for the first time and you made me a mommy.  Your cheeks are still chubby.  Your lips still are luscious, your hair is still platinum blond and your eyes are still sparkly blue just like the first day I saw you.  You are not tiny anymore, in fact, you're taller than average and your weight is right where it's supposed to be.  You have the sweetest little voice and my goodness, you are talking so well.  Communicating with you has gotten more and more fun because you can tell us what you need and want and you are speaking in full sentences.  You even starting using your manners "please, thank you & you're welcome" on your own at about 22 months.

It's been a big 3 months for you.  You are so full of life and a very happy kid.  You come across as serious because you don't just smile all the time, but you are bouncy, fast, and busy and love interacting with other people.  We transitioned you into your toddler bed on March 2nd because you started consistently climbing out on February 21st.  After a lot of consistency (it wasn't easy) we were able to get you sleeping through the night again in your own little bed after about 2 weeks.  We just had to keep telling you to stay in bed... sometimes it would take 7 or 8 times of putting you back in your bed... but you did it!  Daddy had the hardest time and ended up sleeping next to your bed on the floor because he wanted you to feel safe a couple nights - you have him wrapped around your finger.  You also learned how to trick him, you would cry "dada" and when he would go down to get you, you told him you had pooh-pooh so he brought you upstairs to change you, and you didn't!  You little trickster!  He also found a wonderful "Anna & Elsa" nightlight for your room that you love, it projects their picture on to your ceiling.

By about 22 months old, you knew most of the words to the Frozen movie songs and sing them and dance to them all the time.  You still love Minnie & Mickey, but Elsa & Anna are also your favorites! You love going to the little zoo by our house, mostly to see the other kids, but the animals are a nice bonus.  You know all of your animal sounds, can point out animals, characters, and items in books, and can count pretty well.  Just a couple weeks ago you saw two bottles sitting on the counter and you said "two babas".  You love other kids so much and will run up to strangers, hug them, kiss them, and hold their hands to dance with them.

You started swim lessons on March 3rd and absolutely loved them.  Your teacher told me that the majority of the kids who come through for private lessons cry when left alone in the pool for the first time... but not you.  My fearless little girl, you went right in and cried when I came to take you out.  You love the water and are thriving in your lessons.  It is so much fun to watch you in there and I am so proud of you.  I hope you know you are capable of anything you set your mind to!

You are still doing really well at napping.  Typically, we put you down around 2pm and we wake you up by 4pm.  Your bedtime at night is around 8pm and you will usually sleep until about 7am.  You are wearing size 2T and 3T clothes, size 4 diapers, and size 5 shoes.  Your favorite possession is your blanket(s) from Gramz.  They are your comfort and you need them to fall asleep.  Your favorite toys are your figurines, Frozen characters, books, stroller, and babies.  You eat pretty well, but go in phases.  You love fruit, broccoli, carrots, peas, cheese, and chicken nuggets.  Your favorite is Chick Fil A, but mostly because you love to go and see the cow.  We go almost every Tuesday and the cow in there knows you :)

Every time we take you for bedtime, you say goodbye to everyone in the room, including "No-yin" (Nolan), you love him so much.  You are such a wonderful big sister to him... it's truly amazing how sweet you are to him.  You always ask to kiss him, love holding him, and talking to him.  Sometimes you walk around singing "oh noo-yin, I looove you".  When he cries in the car, you tell him it's okay.  You share your toys and have had no issues with the transition of having a new sibling.  I am so impressed by you and cherish these sweet memories I have of you interacting with him.  It is really special to watch.  I know you two will always have a special bond.

We celebrated your 2nd Easter and you had a big weekend.  At an egg hunt on Saturday, you tripped and fell and hit your head on a concrete step and immediately had a golf ball sized black and blue bump on your head.  I cried and held you and felt so bad - but, like the tough girl you usually are, you were up and running around a few minutes later.  Easter Sunday, you had so much fun interacting with all of your extended family.  You love other kids and it is so much fun for you to be around your cousins.  You did so well with your Easter egg hunt and I was shocked at how many eggs you were able to collect in your little basket.  You looked adorable in your dress.  Holidays are so much fun watching you learn from the new experiences.

Along with you being one of the sweetest little girls I know, you also have a feisty side.  The most memorable of your tantrums in the last few months have been a particular trip to toys r us.  We went to get a little table for your playroom.  I had Nolan in the front pack and I decided to let you down to walk because you had been pretty good.  After about 15 minutes of letting you play on the doll aisle, I knew it was going to be trouble getting you out of the store.  You threw the biggest tantrum, kicking, screaming, crying... all while being over my shoulder.  I had to pin you against the check out counter with my leg and everyone was staring at me.  I was "that mom", and in the moment, I knew we were going to get through it and I just had to suck it up and do the best I could.  You didn't want to buy any toys, you just wanted to stay and play - but we were approaching your nap time and we needed to go.  You were fiery and determined and you did not want to leave.  When I finally got you buckled in and calmed down in the car, I told you I was disappointed in how you acted and you made eye contact with me and started to cry again.  I knew you understood and felt bad.  You have big tantrums, but for the most part - you are a good little girl.

You are smart, Andie.  It's amazing what you understand and can communicate to us.  You have such a loving heart.  Sometimes you will grab my cheeks and say "I love you, mama".  You randomly give us kisses and you love your cousins and family.  It is so much fun to see you interact with Gramz and Pops.  You call Gramz "Gamz" and light up when you see her.  And you and Pops have a very special relationship.  You will never deny him a kiss when he asks.  One of your favorite people in the world is your cousin, Ryan.  You hang all over him when you see him and love following him around, kissing him, and doing what he does.  You also love your Uncle Joe.  He loves you and plays with you and you two have a wonderful bond that I have loved getting to see grow!  You like pointing out all of our family in pictures in our house - it's amazing how you know who each person is and can say who they are.

One of my favorite relationships that I have loved watching blossom is with your daddy.  From day one, he has been smitten for you - but in the last few months as you've gotten old enough to really play and love on him, you two have become the best of friends.  He loves chasing you around, throwing you in the air, singing with you, playing with you, and snuggling with you.  Your love for each other radiates from both of you when you're around each other.  It is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed... and I know it will only grow stronger.  You are a very lucky girl to have him, and you look so much like him!

Last week, to celebrate your 2nd Birthday, Gramz and Pops took us to Disneyland.  My goodness... it was so much fun to see you there for the first time, especially with your love of Disney. You were in awe of all of the characters, hugging and kissing them, giving them high fives, and in total disbelief that you were meeting them.  It was heart-warming to watch and I will cherish those memories forever.  You loved watching the parades, riding the rides, and running around like a wild woman - nothing scared you.  We all had so much fun being there.  It was a very special trip!

I am in awe of you.  I look at you at least once a day - I study your compact little body, your little hands (they look just like mine), your eyes & face... I can't get enough of you.  I have hated how fast the time has passed since you were born but it is so much fun to see this little person you are becoming.  You have so much personality, a love of life, people, animals, and your family.  You are a happy girl - full of hugs for everyone you meet.  You are confident, tough, determined, adventurous, and free spirited.  You are beautiful, inside and out.  I am so proud to be your mommy.  It makes me feel so special that when you are sad or scared or hurt, it is me that can make you feel better.  Your dad and I talk about you all the time... we feel so lucky that you are our baby girl.  You are building such a strong relationship with both of us and I know you will always be one of my best friends.  I have so many special memories from the last 2 years.  I feel beyond blessed - you are so unbelievably loved.  What a privilege and thrill to get to watch you continue on this adventure through your life.  You are such a gift.

I love you forever and ever, my daughter.  Happy 2nd Birthday!

Your Mama

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nolan's Birth Story

{I wrote this about a week after he was born... I have had a few people ask me if I would share, and I love reading birth stories, so I figured I would share mine too... even if it is 4 months late :) }

My beautiful son Nolan Louis…

I never imagined I would have a son.  And from the moment your warm & soft little body was placed on my chest, I was overwhelmed with a love that took over my whole body.  You are perfect.  The sweetest little face with proportionate features.  A button nose, eyes that remind me of your pops, luscious little lips, and light brown hair.  You smell absolutely scrumptious, and no matter how many times a day I breathe in your scent, I know once it is gone, I will never smell anything like it again.  You have already mastered some of the cutest little facial expressions.  You have long fingers, long arms, and the cutest, most perfect little feet and toes.  You and I have locked eyes several times, and my goodness, you are the sweetest little guy.  Your daddy and I are both crazy about you, it’s a feeling I wasn’t certain I would feel… but meeting you for the first time changed my life forever.

The first week of your life has been a busy one.  Blessed with family and friends visiting, celebrating the start of the New Year, chasing around your busy big sister, and loving on you in every moment we possibly can.  The hardest part of being a mom… your mom… is the despair I feel over how quickly the time passes.  This newborn phase of your life, where you are so tiny and helpless is so special – and it kills me to know it will pass too fast.  I worry I won’t remember exactly how you look right now, I won’t remember the exact scent, or these sweet tiny sounds you make.  But, your daddy reminded me – every minute I spend worrying about the time passing is just a moment I could be spending loving on you.

I can’t believe it’s been just over a week since you made your grand entrance into the world.  I had a great pregnancy with you, besides being quite sick for the first 15 or 16 weeks, you remained healthy, strong, and we knew from our monthly ultrasounds that you were growing at a steady pace… measuring about 2-3 weeks big at each phase.  I even wondered if they got your due date wrong, but I was assured the very first ultrasound we had at 6 weeks was the most accurate, you are just a big boy!  You were closely watched during pregnancy because of the complications I had with your sister, but we loved getting to see you so you often!

I started feeling contractions early with you.  Nothing painful, just pressure and tightening and it went on for several weeks before your actual arrival.  I knew you were big because your movements were blunt and strong and your daddy and I were often shocked at how much you moved.  You made yourself comfortable inside the womb, and I am so glad you grew to your potential.  At our 36 week check up, I was told you were close to 7 pounds, bigger than average, and I was 75% effaced and dilated to a 1.  The contractions I was feeling were making a slight progress, but I was assured you would stay put for at least a little while longer.  I really wanted to get through Christmas, so I did my best to stay off my feet and drink lots of water.

Beginning on Christmas Eve, the contractions I was feeling, although still not very painful, were beginning to get more consistent.  I could time them out to be around 5 minutes apart and they would do that for hours at a time.  We made it through Christmas, and on December 28th, Gramz, Pops, Auntie Kelly and your cousins came over to help me take the Christmas decorations down.  I told Gramz I was in pain… I knew you were big and I was feeling a lot of pressure on my bones.  Gramz and Pops stayed the night at our house because daddy was at work and they wanted to make sure that if I happened to go into labor, I wouldn’t be alone.  Well it’s a good thing they did.  At about 12:30AM on December 29th, I felt a contraction so painful it woke me from my deep sleep.  I popped up and thought, “Ouch, wow… this is the real thing!”  I texted my mom, who was sleeping downstairs and said: mom… really painful contractions just woke me up.  I’ve had 3.  Can you come up?  She did and said the moment she saw me, she knew it was time to go to the hospital.  I texted your daddy, and he left work to drive to the hospital.

After some commotion of getting dressed having these contractions 1-2 minutes apart, I finally got into the car with Pops and he drove me to the hospital.  He was so sweet, trying to talk to me through the contractions.  The drive went relatively fast, and I was relieved when we made it at about 1:40AM.  I went into L&D triage, and the nurse checked me and was a little shocked when she realized I was already 7, almost 8 centimeters dilated and my water bag was "bulging".  My body wasn’t wasting any time – and I couldn’t wait to meet you.

The nurse who we saw in triage wasn’t exactly the friendliest nurse.  She was a little cold and wasn’t very nice to my dad or TL.  After about 10-15 minutes in the triage room, they admitted me into the hospital and rolled me into delivery room 208.  As the nurse was getting ready to start my IV, she went to sit in a chair on wheels, and missed the chair and fell onto the floor.  She started screaming and crying and when I asked her if she was okay, she said no, that she thought she had broken her wrist!  It turned out she did break it and she had to get wheeled out of our room.  It was quite chaotic, and luckily there was another nurse in the room who was extremely nice and she jumped into action and got the IV started.  I needed it right away so I could get enough fluids in so they could give me an epidural. 

The midwife who was helping with admitting me said she wasn’t sure if I would make it very long before your arrival, but they were doing what they could to slow things down slightly so I could get 2 doses of an antibiotic, 4 hours apart.  I got the epidural around 3:30AM, and was very relieved when I did.  The midwife said if I hadn’t gotten the epidural and if they decided to help break my water, you would have arrived very quickly after I arrived at the hospital.  But those antibiotics were important, and when I asked the nurse what doctors were coming on the next shift, I found out the same doctor who delivered Andie was coming on next.  I absolutely love her, and knew I wanted her to deliver you as well.  So I was willing to do whatever I could to hold off for just a couple hours.  Luckily my water never broke, so we were able to do that.

By about 6AM, Gramz, Pops, Auntie Juju and Auntie Kelly were all there.  Our neighbor Carol had come over to stay at our house with Andie.  Daddy never left my side.  I was not in pain anymore, but I could feel those contractions coming on very close together… my body was working hard to get everything ready for your arrival.  And you were taking labor like a champ.  Your heart rate stayed strong and you never showed any signs of distress. 

I could feel lots of urges to push, but held out until I saw Dr. Harrison, who came on the clock at 8am.  We were all so excited to see her, and she came into the room with a huge smile and a big hug – and I was relieved.  She checked me, and sure enough, right when she did, my water broke, and I was at a 10.  She and the nurses prepared the room for delivery… and after just 4 contractions, you made your entrance into the world.  The whole pushing time was about 5 minutes.  The doctor had to untangle you from the umbilical cord.  It was around your neck and wrapped around your chest.  You came out with an arm up, instead of your shoulder, but other than that, you came out quickly and smoothly.  Before you were even completely out, you were already screaming, which relieved us all because when my water broke they had found a little bit of meconium, which can be dangerous if you inhale it.  But sure enough, your strong little lungs were all ready to go and you came out with a scream.  Daddy, Gramz, Pops, and your aunties were all able to watch you come into the world, and it was very special.

You were placed on my chest, and I was immediately overwhelmed with an intense love.  I couldn’t believe it.  I have a son.  A beautiful son.  I feel so connected to you already, and you are the perfect little addition to our family.  Nolan, I hope you know just how much you are loved and adored.

Right now, you are lying next to me in our bed and I am looking over at you studying your face, tiny hands, and features.  I am in such awe of you.  What a privilege to be your mommy – to be able to see you grow and change everyday. 

I love you and I will unconditionally, forever and ever.

Your mama

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dear Nolan... You're 4 months old!

My mellow, smiley little guy. . . you are 4 months old!

Every morning, I wake up and the first thing I do is turn to my right to stare at you.  You always wake up with a big, happy smile and I am immediately filled with so much gratitude and joy to have you in my life.  I hope you always wake up happy and ready to start another day.

Our adventure with you has been so much fun this month.  You started giggling!!  The first time was for your pops (who affectionately calls you 'lil louie') and from there all we have to do is tickle you or tell you funny stories.  You've really started developing more of your personality traits.  You've become pretty mellow and comfortable in your own little body - you're easy to entertain and love watching your big sister play around you.  You've gotten really good at grabbing things and putting everything in your mouth!!  You seem to especially like blankets and will chew on them when you figure out you have it in your hands.

You had your first Easter this month and we went to Aunt Karen's house.  You looked adorable in your little outfit and took a picture with several of your second cousins.  We've done several play dates with a few babies your age, and it is so much fun to put you all together and take pictures.

You seem to enjoy laying on your back and batting at toys.  Your neck has gotten much stronger and you're able to hold your head up high and look forward.  You have started rolling from your tummy to your back, but you don't always remember how to do it.  This week you did it twice in a row, but sometimes you get stuck and need help.  You still have a clogged tear duct and get lots of eye boogies from it, we are hoping that clears up soon.

You are a very big boy.  I am estimating that you weigh close to 16 pounds and you are wearing size 6 month clothes and filling them out.  We are transitioning you to 9 month jammies this month because 6 month is just so tight!  We are also transitioning you into size 3 diapers this week because you are managing to potty right out of the size 2.

You haven't been the best sleeper.  We are having a little bit of trouble getting you into a good routine.  Right now you are waking up 2-3 times a night and sometimes it will take an hour to get you back to sleep.  We will find our groove soon.  The special time I have with you in the middle of the night won't last forever, so even if I am tired, I feel very blessed to be breastfeeding you.  You are still eating very well - usually every 2-3 hours during the day.  You do take a bottle of pumped milk well if I am not home.

You have the most beautiful blue eyes and lots of people comment on your light brown hair.  Occasionally it looks like it has a slight shade of red in it if you are in a certain light.  You have the cutest little booty - cottage cheese buns and rolls galore in your thighs.  I love seeing your naked little body during bath time.  You are almost growing out of our infant tub... you love to kick and splash during bath time and water typically goes everywhere.  Bath time is still one of your favorite times of the day, I think.

You are talking a lot more - babbling at us and screaming with happiness, too.  You are very vocal.  You have the most adorable gummy smile.  Sometimes while I am away from you if I think about that smile I feel immediately happy - it is just so electric and joyous.

I can't possibly put into words the depth of this love I have for you, my son.  You have really opened up a special place in my heart and I am just so grateful for you.  You make me so proud.  I am always a little sad to write these letters to you because I know time is passing at an impossible pace.  I am doing everything I can to just savor this time.  We spend a few minutes each day staring at each other and I hope you are feeling this love.

4 months old, baby boy!!  You're growing, thriving, changing, and making me happy every single day.  I love you so much.

Your mama

My handsome little man!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend

We had a fun & busy Easter weekend spent mostly with family!  It was really nice.  I am so fortunate to have the supportive family I do.  They helped me so much this weekend, especially since TL has been so busy with work he hasn't been able to spend a lot of time with us (thankfully that ends this week!)  I have so many cute pictures from this weekend - Holidays have always been special, but adding these two babies has made them even more amazing!

On Saturday, we went to an Easter celebration near my parents house with my mom, sister & nephews, Ryan and Adam.  Andie had a great time!!  After the egg hunt, she tripped and fell head first into a concrete step. :(  It absolutely broke my heart and she immediately had a huge goose egg on her forehead and it instantly turned black and blue.  I may have shed a tear over it, but after a few tears, she wanted back down to run and play!  It was pretty scary, but she is a tough girl.  She loves other kids, especially my nephews, so she ran around like crazy and had a wonderful time.  Nolan is at a very easy-going stage.  Unless he is hungry, he is a happy camper and he seemed to enjoy being out and about seeing lots of new faces and places.  He spent a lot of time with my parents and sister while I chased Andie around.
Blowing bubbles
Cole, Ryan, Adam, Andie, & Reagan
On Easter Sunday, we woke up and surprised Andie & Nolan with their baskets from the bunny.  She was so cute with her new Disney goodies!  Then we went to my Aunt Karen's house for our annual family celebration.  She has a beautiful home and is so sweet to host our very large family there every year.  My busy girl ran around like crazy with all of her cousins and had a wonderful time.  I was very surprised at how many eggs she collected during the hunt.  It's amazing how kids pick up on what to do so quickly.  It was adorable.
Their baskets from the bunny
Sweet girl giving kisses to her brother.
 Nolan "Little Louie" as my dad calls him, with Pops, and his Great Grandpa
 The Cousins { - Nolan }
We added Nolan in and the chaos erupted!
My beautiful, happy & sweet little girl.  Oh, how these babies warm my heart!
 I feel so blessed & grateful.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend!