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Category Archives: The Kids

Sick, Sick, Sick

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The flu.

I’ve been blessed up to this point when it comes to that icky virus being in my  house. We’ve never had it. Sure, we’ve had some nasty stuff, but never the real life, they-make-you-put-a-mask-on-your-child-and-walk-you-out-the-back-door-of-the-clinic kind of flu.

Apparently, it hasn’t really hit AZ yet. In fact, London is our pediatrician’s office first confirmed case this year.

Where is my prize? I don’t think I should have to pay my co-pay as a reward.

That day, I caught Brooklyn drinking out of London’s cup several times.

The next day, Brooklyn woke up with the flu. Surprise, surprise.

Daddy’s chair has been the place to be. The girls rotate sitting in it. It’s closest to the TV, which has had a steady stream of Bubble Guppies, Max and Ruby, and Peppa Pig on.

Sometimes they share.

We are on Day 4 for London, Day 2 for Brooklyn.

No end in sight for either of them.

Hopefully the rest of us are spared. I don’t have much hope for myself since I’m Mom and therefore all up in their business, but we’ve done a good job keeping Jackson away.

Keep my little loves in your thoughts and prayers.

B-bear.

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It’s pictures like this that make me want to go wake her up, right now, and squeeze her. She is just edible, really.

DIY: Wood Floor Drop (for photography)

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I’m lucky enough to have EXCELLENT lighting in my house. Like, crazy good lighting. Most of the time it annoys me, actually…no one should have to wear sunglasses in their own home. 😉 But when I want to take photos, it is pretty much perfect.
There is a spot in my front room (which is the playroom/schoolroom) that I love to take photos by. There are two huge windows right behind me and then another big window to the left, so plenty of light streams through. The wall is blank with a very neutral tone (which I rarely use…I almost always use fabric as a sort of backdrop) and I usually have pretty good luck in this spot. The only thing that has been a thorn in my side is the tile floor.

It is currently trendy to have wood floors in studio photography. I can see why; they are seamless, have no wrinkles, and just look nice! Was I going to rip out my tile and lay down wood flooring? Yeah right. If I’m gonna spend $2k for photography, its going to be on lenses, not flooring. You can buy wood floor drops, but those can run anywhere from $100-$150 dollars, before shipping. And I’m not a professional! I just like to take decent pictures! So, I got the bright idea to make my own!

If I wood (ha ha ha!) have known how easy this was, I would have done it a LONG time ago! Total project cost was around $32 dollars, and it took about 30 minutes to put together.

Supplies you will need:
Laminate tile squares with adhesive backing in your choice of finish. I found these at Home Depot in the flooring department. They were .88 a square and I used 20. You could use more or less depending on the size you want.

Foam board ( I used 6 from Walmart) OR a piece of plywood/PDF cut to size. Either will work, its just a surface to attach the tiles to.

Once you have all your supplies, just adhere your tiles to your choice of base! Could this be any easier?!?!? When I finished, I flipped it over and used packing tape on the seams of the foam board to add some extra support, but if you use a seamless piece of wood, you won’t have that issue.

So much better than the tile!!! I can’t wait to put it to good use!

Mommy Soapbox: Booster Seats

Look at her fancy new ride! 🙂

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the new recommendations for children to remain rear facing until the age of 2. So, I figured I might as well step up and talk about boosters seats, since that is also a major issue for children in car safety.

First, let me say this: Just because a booster seat says that you can put your child in it at 30 pounds does not mean that you SHOULD. Big difference. There are lots of “readiness” requirements that your child should meet before you move from a five point harness (pictured with London above) to just using the seatbelt in a high back booster.

1. It is recommended that your child be at least 4 years old before they move to a high back booster using the seatbelt instead of a five point harness, and at least 40 pounds (NOT 30).

2. You child should stay in a harnessed car seat if, when falling asleep, they lean forward against the belt or slip to the side. Basically, if your child slips out of proper position at all while sleeping (meaning that the seat belt isn’t coming across his/her chest properly), then they need to be 5 point harnessed. Jackson just recently has been able to sleep while maintaining proper position, and he is almost 6. I mean, this just makes sense. If your child has slipped out of their seat belt and you get in an accident, that seat belt won’t work. While it may still restrain them from flying out windows, it may cause serious internal damage from the force of the belt against a sensitive area, such as the neck or abdomen.

To put it simply, you should not put your child in an unharnessed booster seat until they have outgrown the harness system in their current car seat, which is when the top of their shoulders are past the top level of the harness straps. Until then, they should remain in a 5 point harness, regardless of age or weight.

For those of you who claim that your child is too big for a harness system, check out this great option: The Graco Argos. It harnesses children up to 70 pounds. This one seat will take you all the way through; it harnesses until your child has outgrown the harness, then it transitions to a high back booster, then it transitions to a normal booster. It can hold your child until they are 120 pounds and until they reach the height requirement to ride boosterless, which is 4 ft 9 inches.

One more thing to check next time you harness your child: notice where the chest clip is on London. On her chest. Right where it is supposed to be. Make sure that the chest clip is on their chest, not their abdomen. The force of that clip on their bellies in an accident can cause serious internal injuries on a young child, so make sure it is correctly place on their body.

London loves her new seat!!! It is super comfortable, and was insanely easy to install.

Let’s just remember this: these recommendations aren’t meant to make our lives harder. They aren’t meant to tell you how to parent your children, to step on your toes, to delay “milestones”, nor create “mommy wars”. They are meant to protect our children in a time when we cannot: a car accident.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, ‘motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children from ages 1 to 14.  About 50% of these deaths to children under 5 involved children that were unrestrained.  Of those that were restrained, misuse is reported in 80-95% of cases.  Injuries requiring hospitalization are even more common, and many involve the head, neck, and spine.  Some of these injuries are permanent.’

Here are some links to check out on your own:
http://www.nhtsa.gov/ChildSafety/step3

http://www.car-safety.org/faq.html#Q7

http://www.babycenter.com/404_when-should-my-child-switch-from-a-car-seat-to-a-booster-sea_1384636.bc

Happy Birthday, London!

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I can’t believe that my first baby girl turned 3! Absolutely crazy. On one hand, I think, “where did the time go?”, and then on the other hand I think about how far we’ve all come since she was born and it seems like 3 years was an eon in the past. Funny how that works.
Now, this tender lamb has been sick for every birthday she’s had. In fact, on her 2nd birthday last year she was admitted to the children’s hospital for four days. So, while we are at the point where we really only do birthday parties for big years like 1,5, etc., this girl NEEDED a party, and I was a Mama who needed to throw one for her!

Now, I didn’t get all kinds of crazy and invite everyone we know. We had a morning play date at our house with all of her little friends. Precious chaos, it was (that, of course, is easy to say now that the party is over).

I went with a Valentine’s Day theme since it is close to her birthday. Very easy to find all the decorations, and it was a lot of fun to pull off. I made her party hats, which was the one thing she requested for her party. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she replied with, “birthday hats!”, so I had to provide. They were really easy to do, and I found this amazing tutorial on Oh Happy Day. If you do party hats for a party, I highly suggest making your own! They were a huge hit! I did the ice cream cone cupcakes again, a turkey/cheese/fruit/goldfish platter for the kids, an amazing quinoa salad for the adults (I’ll post the recipe later), and mini fruit pizzas (again, recipe later).

I think her guests were pleased! All the little girls were on cloud 9 as London had received a huge trunk of dress up clothes for Christmas, and has acquired quite the collection of dolls and accessories. The boys were content with Jackson’s toys, and when they got bored they managed to find their way to our backyard sandpit or upstairs to his room where they could wrestle without the concerned eyes of their mothers upon them. In case you are wondering how we got all the children on the couch for a picture…it didn’t come without a bribe. It’s AMAZING what you can get kids to do when you are holding up ice cream cone cupcakes as a reward!
(Pausing for a moment to reflect on the fact that my 3 year old has more friends than me…)

She talked about this moment all.day.long. “Mama, do you ‘member when evwey bawdy sang me ‘Happy Birfday!” and I laufed and blew out da candles? Tha was so funneeey!!!”.

My precious London-girl,

Would you like to know something?

There isn’t a mommy on the planet who loves her little girl more than I love you. In fact, I feel a little silly saying it, because the words don’t compare to the emotion behind them. To put it simply, I treasure you.
I like lists. Let’s put your little treasures on a list…

1. I treasure your compassion. You genuinely care for all those around you. At your party, one of your friends stubbed and cut her toe. You were there in a second, comforting her with a gentle hand and kind words. Whenever your baby sister cries, you bring her books or her favorite stuffed animal and pat her, cooing words of sympathy like, “Oh, baby. Don’t cry. There, there.” When Jackson is in trouble, you sit outside the bathroom door, and are quick to make sure he is okay and happy when he exits. You are quick to say you are sorry, quick to forgive, and quick to love. I adore all this about you.
2. I treasure your song-like voice. It is sweet and high, and it’s like living with a tiny fairy of happiness. You chirp and sing all day long, and it is impossible to not smile around you.
3. I treasure the way you laugh. It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t heard it, but the best description would be like a firecracker. You explode in laughter!
4. I treasure how you run to me and Daddy when we return from being away. You’d think that we had been gone for years with the homecoming you give us, every single time.
5. I treasure how you say, “ARrrggghhhh! Imma pirate!”. A.DOR.A.BLE. Or how you try and imitate all the pigs on Peppa Pig. Or how you sing the Bubble Guppies song. Or how you would seriously let me read you 50 stories before bed.
6. I treasure your obedient heart. It makes my job 1,000 times easier.
7. I treasure how you sleep with an army of junk toys/stuffed animals/books in your bed. While it makes changing your sheets a 20 minute process, I know that one day you won’t sleep with anything and that will make you big.
8. I treasure how Jackson is your best friend. You would follow him anywhere, and your love for him in palpable.
9. I treasure how you’ve learned to ask me for the things you really desire. While sometimes this can be a bit…taxing…I love how you know that if I can give it to you, I will. Thank you for trusting me!
10. I treasure how I could think of 100 more things after all of these!

So, 3. I know this year will have its challenges, to be sure. You will desire your independence, but will still need my boundaries. You will desire your will to be done, while still needing my guidance. You will learn to express yourself in less than honorable ways, and will need me to correct you. You will be a girl who needs her mother’s unfailing love, and I will be here to give it to you.

I love you, my precious pumpkin face. With every fiber of my being.
Love,
Mama

Artistry

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I don’t take enough photos.

No, really. My obsession with photography is almost a sickness. Shooting with a DSLR can be a bit…finicky. I REFUSE to shoot in auto, but that means that I have to take the time to find just the right aperture/ISO/fstop…blah blah blah, right?

So I miss moments like this. Ones that are so tender and cute you could almost feel her squishy cheeks on your lips. This picture is far from perfect. It’s grainy because I had to have my ISO at 1600 because I don’t have an external flash (if you use flash, you have to use external so you can swivel it away from your subject and avoid the “white out” look from a direct flash hit). Its a touch out of focus because the ISO was so high and the shutter speed so slow that any movement from my hand would send things a bit fuzzy.

But you probably didn’t see any of that until I told you.

What you see is what I should see…a baby who isn’t a baby anymore practicing her craft of coloring.

So, I’m going to take more photos. And I’m going to try really really hard to not care about grain or focus or anything like that. I’m going to care about moments and time and how fast it all goes.

So be prepared for an onslaught of horrible photos.

But first, this one. ‘Cause it ain’t so bad.

Sisters

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I love having two girls.

I know there will come a day where having two teen girls running through my house will be….interesting.

But for now, its mostly fun.

They have their moments, for sure. They bicker and yell and cry at each other. Mostly because of the ages they are at; both of them have yet to learn to really communicate effectively, so you can imagine the “arguments” they have. At least twice a day, the following happens:

Brooklyn isn’t gentle as she is trying to tickle London, London takes that as a personal insult, London shoves Brooklyn in retaliation, Brooklyn grabs London’s hair, London screams, Brooklyn laughs, Mommy crawls in the corner. Repeat.

All that is balanced out by the good moments. The moments they are separated by a thick piece of glass where neither of them can love on touch each other. London made it her personal mission to make Brooklyn laugh as hard as she could, and it was a victory. They played this way for a good 10 minutes…just enough time for me to think about getting a cup of coffee but not enough time to actually follow through.

Such is our life.

Mommy Soapbox: Car Seats

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I’ve been a parent for six years. I’ve noticed a few things in this time:
1. Everyone has a different idea of how to do things and
2. That idea is always changing.

This isn’t a new paradox; I don’t think there is a mother out there whose own mother didn’t do things drastically different than we do. When our parents were raising us, they put us to sleep on our stomachs, put us to sleep with bottles, sat us in front of Sesame Street all day, let us run around and play outside from dawn until dusk, and never woke us up from a nap because you “never wake a sleeping baby”. However, I think the most drastic change from then to now is how we were strapped in motor vehicles.

I have memories of long road trips where my parents would put down the seats in the station wagon, lay down blankets, and we’d spend the entire 1,000+ mile trip hanging out in the “car fort” in the back. I simply cannot even FATHOM doing this now. In fact, none of us can, but I’m sure most of us have memories in the car that don’t include buckling up. Would you like to know how old I was when I took my first motorcycle ride? Within the first two weeks of my life. While we all now gasp and twitch at the idea of a newborn in the front seat of the car being held by its mother, that was the norm in the “good ‘ole days”.

I wonder what the uproar was like when it was first recommended that parents keep their children rear facing until 1. It really had to change a lot of things; no longer could parents buy smaller, cheaper cars because they now had to have enough room to safely buckle their children in. They couldn’t just keep baby Junior in their laps anymore. Sadly, I still hear parents whine about this. I have no sympathy. If you have a baby, you have to buy a car that fits them. It’s a part of the deal. When we decided to have 3 children, we knew that having to get a new car came along with the little bundle.

So, you can only imagine the outcry of the new laws and recommendations of keeping your babies rear facing until 2. As of April 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping your children harnessed in a rear facing carseat until the age of 2, for a variety of reasons. This change came after a series of studies where they found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing, and also finding children who are riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing. If you are looking for a great article to read on it, check out this informative one done by CNN.

Brooklyn was my first child to fall under this new recommendation. I didn’t switch London to forward facing until she was 15 months; she was a tiny sprout and took that long to get up to 20 pounds. Brooklyn, however, is a She Beast. She was 20 pounds by six months, and tall as a weed. Although she has thinned out, she is still quite tall and tops the charts for height. But, at 17 months she is still rear facing and doing just fine. Honestly, the person who has the hardest time keeping her rear facing is me! It is so much easier to hand kids things who are facing the same direction as you. Plus, turning their car seat is a milestone that is fun to hit, but now we have to wait a whole year more for it. Brooklyn doesn’t know the difference and isn’t phased. As she grows taller, she will just curl her legs up a little more, but that has been shown to still be better than forward facing. The odds of a leg break in an accident where a child is rear facing are significantly lower than a much more life-threatening injury occurring in a young child who is forward facing too early.

Sadly, most parents aren’t following the new recommendations. Perhaps some people just haven’t heard, but from my experience, most are due to a variety of excuses. I’ve yet to hear one that dims the potential gravity of what could happen. Your child cries in the car? Imagine their cries as they lay in a hospital bed in traction due to internal decapitation. You don’t have the room? There are PLENTY of car seats on the market that are compact and can rear face without taking up much more room than the infant carrier you just had. In fact, most infant carriers can safely harness children until 30 pounds, which would most likely take them to 2 (I’m not sure of the height limit…even if its as low as 35 inches, that could still get them as close as possible).

So, this is my plea to stop posting pictures of your children forward facing at 13 months on Facebook. It makes me twitch. 😉  Seriously, though, if you have questions, do some research and find the answers! Here are some great articles and blog posts done by those who have:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/21/car.seat.guidelines.parenting/index.html (posted above)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42186101/ns/us_news/t/new-advice-tots-safest-rear-facing-car-seats-until-age/

http://carseatblog.com/9452/rear-facing-until-2-years-old-why-not/

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psmUWg7QrC8

 

Bringing in the New Year, Picnic Style!

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New Years Day brought us beautiful weather. Phoenix was hit with our “winter” early this year, and it seems as though we’ve been hovering in the 50s/60s for quite awhile. Desert folk don’t do very well for very long at temperatures that low, so when the 80 degree day popped up in our forecast, we took full advantage! We picked up pizza, packed up drinks and a blanket, and headed to the park to enjoy the warm evening. It was such a gorgeous evening, and I didn’t have to do dishes!

Great fun was had by all, but we are ready for cooler weather for just a bit! We only get to wear our sweaters and coats for such a short period of time, so we like to get as much use out of them as we can. We’d like to take the kids up north for a snow day, so hopefully winter will find us again soon!

Christmas 2011

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Our children are 5.5, almost 3, and 16 months. While Brooklyn wasn’t super into it just yet, this was the first year that both Jackson and London were simply thrilled with everything the season is about! It was so much fun to countdown the “days until Jesus’ birthday”
with such gusto every morning. Jackson would change the days of our advent tree religiously and with the zeal of a child who has finally figured out that there is a day in the year where presents, food, family, and joy are
present in everything.
The festivities began for us the Friday before Christmas. Nana and Jerry came to our house for supper, and with them brought a huge box of gifts for the children. To say it was awesome would be an understatement; the gifts were fabulous and absolutely perfect for them! Jackson got a human anatomy set which he has named “Gray” after Gray’s Anatomy, London got a princess dress up box full of outfits and treasures, and Brooklyn got an elephant ball popper and musical instruments. The kids had a blast, and we all loved watching them enjoy everything so much!

On Christmas Eve, we headed to my parents house south of Tucson. We spent the day there with lots of my family, including my brother Bill and his wife Chasity. Bill had been deployed overseas and just came home a little before Thanksgiving, so it was good to see him! We had a traditional Swedish dinner, opened (more) gifts, and headed home.

Christmas morning!!!!! The kids were on cloud 9. Jackson, of course, woke up before the girls did. I anticipated this and had purchased new iPad games for him to play while he waited for his sisters to wake up. Once London woke up, they did stockings while I prepared our breakfast of pancakes and bacon (yum!). Brooklyn woke up and joined us for breakfast, and then to the tree we went!!! The children were just beside themselves with excitement, and we were blessed to be able to give them gifts that we knew they wanted. London got a singing Rapunzel doll and a doctor’s kit, which she has yet to put down. It is so fun to be able to do such wonderful things for them!
Greg and Jackson ended up with some sort of flu virus, so that put a bit of a damper on the day. 😦 Poor guys!
So, on to next year! Jackson started the countdown the day after Christmas! 🙂 We hope you enjoyed the holiday season with your family! Praise be to God for giving us cause to celebrate!