Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Camping

We spent a weekend camping at the Lake. This was the kids' first camping adventure and they loved it! It wasn't "true" camping as we stayed in a camper instead of tents, but that made it even more exciting for the girls. They loved every minute of it, from eating smores at night, playing cornhole and other lawn games, swimming in the lake and enjoying quality time with family. It was a great weekend!

Togetherness.

Campfires, messy smores and family. As you can see, Mya and her Uncle Phil are buddies ;)



Beauty by Ava

Some things are just too good not to share ;) Claire, Mya and Ava had a make over session. Ava was the makeup artist and applied the hair chalk. She has a talent ;) The girls were thrilled with their new looks and that is definitely what matters :)




A new do!

My poor hair. It goes through stylists like most people go through shampoo. I go back and forth between growing it out and cutting it off, repeatedly. I planned to go back home and cut it off, but my sister kindly called her stylist who had an available appointment. I took it and am so glad I did. I love it!



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

3 months

I am already falling behind on updates and it has only been 3 months. I am sorry Gavin.
You have had a great month. I feel like Daddy and I are finally figuring you out.

We know that you don't love being swaddled, cry the moment your diaper is wet, love to hold hands or have us touch your face and love to be held vs. riding in the stroller or carrier. Life has become much quieter and happier around our house.

You are growing well. You wear a size 2 diaper, 3-6 month clothing and eat 5-6 oz per feeding. Your eyes are still blue and your hair seems to vary between blonde and brown depending on the day ;) We are battling some ferocious cradle cap. It is a pain.

You are finally beginning to enjoy the swing again and your excersaucer thing. You really love to stand and are very strong. You have excellent head control and are interested in all that is happening. Gavin, you are a drooling little guy. I know it is a tad too early for teeth, but they are coming!

We had your 3 month pictures taken a few days before we were set to board your first airplane ride to America. Everyone is super excited to meet you. I just hope all goes well on the plane.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

A 15 year Chapter.

Today marks the last day that Chris will put on his "blues", military issued black patent shoes and dawn his cap with the old familiar Captain's bars on it. Such an exciting day for him, for us, for our family. So even though his official retirement isn't until August 1st, it feels that today is somewhat more of an end than that date will be.
The military is all he's ever known, joining at the age of 17, heading off to boot camp a month after graduating from High School. Our paths crossed a couple of years later when he was still a lowly A1C. It is hard to believe I've been along side him for almost this entire journey through the military. We've survived countless PT tests, EPR's, promotions through each stripe as an enlisted member, OPR's, ROTC, college graduation, pinning LT bars, pinning Capt. bars, 3 moves across 3 different continents, 2 deployments, completion of graduate school, and countless exercises and training hours dedicated to the protection of our country.
To say I am proud is an understatement. This road has not been an easy one. He has encountered barrier after barrier. People who doubted him, people who didn't think he could make it, people who weren't sure he had what it took. Through all of that, he kept his family in focus, his priorities in line, and did whatever it took to succeed. He is a role model. A true hero. That is why we are here today. At this milestone, wrapping up this chapter of our lives. Saying "adios" to the military and "hello" to the civilian world--for the good of our family, for the needs of our children, for the strength of our marriage, for the long term focus that is "Us."
While the unknown is not easy, retirement brings availability. Hours spent with our children, time to cheer our girls on at the pool, time to read with them, play with them, join them for lunch at school or cook dinners at night. Time to grocery shop, take care of the laundry, and tend to the children. He will no longer miss out on the "firsts" as he has so many times before. He'll see Gavin take his first steps, he'll hear his first words, he'll see the girls' first swim races, he'll watch their first practices and accompany them on field trips. We know the massive cloud of stress that hung above him will dissipate. We know more laughs will be heard, more smiles will be seen and more love will be shared as we have more time together as a family of five. And those are the simple reasons the decision to retire was an easy one, regardless of the unknowns that lie ahead. Family was his priority then and it has remained his priority throughout his service. Not everyone is able to say that, military or otherwise. I am proud of his 15 years of service, but I am even more proud of the unwavering, unchanging focus he has shown as a Dad and husband. He has earned this time and deserves this time. Congratulations, Chris. We love you and are so very proud.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Clean Bums?

This post is sponsored by Cottonelle, but my love for their fresh care flushable cleansing cloths on-the-go soft packs is all my own!


Our life is one big adventure. We are constantly on the go! From ballet, to swimming lessons, to playgrounds to weekend trips, we do it all. With three small children in tow. This summer we are embarking on our first transatlantic adventure with three little ones as we take our first TransAtlantic vacation. That's a day of airport restrooms, airplane restrooms, and much, much togetherness for 12 LONNNNGGG hours. Thankfully, I 've become a pro of sorts at surviving these outings and it all comes down to being prepared--hand sanitizer and bum wipes. Cottonelle is joining us on this adventure with their Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On the Go Soft Packs.

Fortunately, our kiddos are independent most of the time, BUT occasionally need the help of Mom or Dad to clean those hard to reach places :) Well, I am happy to say full independence has been achieved with the big help of one little wipe! Our friends at Cottenelle have come to our rescue with their Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On the Go Soft Packs.  We now have fresh, clean bums all around! And during a full day of travel, freshness is big!

Bum Wipe Convenience
Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs:

The Cottonelle® Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs feature SafeFlush Technology, so they not only offer you a confident clean but also start to break down immediately after flushing.
Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs are available in discrete and modern packs that fit in your pocket or purse.

On-the-go soft packs are small enough to conveniently take with you and keep you clean and fresh when you’re away from home.

Product Details:
• Alcohol-free for a safe clean
• Sewer and septic safe, breaks up after flushing
• Pre-moistened and gentle


Cottonelle takes care of us at home too! Clean care toilet paper is incredibly soft and gentle for the littlest of bums.
Bum Wipes

Cottonelle Clean Care Toilet Paper
• Strong and effective for a confident clean
• Tuggable, huggable softness that goes a long way
• Two-ply
• Pairs well with Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths for the ultimate in clean
Huggable Softness
What do you think about the wet+dry combo of Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-the-Go Soft packs and Clean Care Toilet Paper? Have you seen the commercials with Cherry and wondered if these products were as good as they seem? We want to hear your story. Trust Cottonelle to provide gentle care for your little bums wherever you may need!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My friend, Google.

So I called it. Dr. Kara. Plantar fascitis. After hobbling around for 3 months, plus much of my pregnancy, I finally broke down and went to the doctor. I had been doing stretches, rest, bought inserts for my shoes, but nothing seemed to do the trick for any length of time.

With a fantastic summer of fun ahead and the uncertainty of our health care in light of Chris' looming retirement, I knew I had to act quickly. Thankfully, I was seen that same day! The best part is that I was able to see my previous PCM (primary care manager, aka "my doctor") whom I really loved, but was promoted and had to cut her caseload in 1/2. Anyway, she heard my concerns, confirmed my diagnosis of plantar fascitis, prescribed me some Ibuprofen, told me to ice my foot and prescribed me a splint for the night. We discussed "next steps" being a trial of steriods either oral or injections with a "last resort" and one she is very much against--surgery. She likened the fascitis to a strut on a car. She said, "You wouldn't drive your car without a strut, so why would you cut (which is what happens during the surgery) the fascitis and walk without it for the remainder of life?" Good point.

Her plan of treatment aligned with what I researched online, so again, two points for my favorite doctor! The best part is that in conversation I shared that she was changed from being my PCM. She gave me a brief look of irritation and said there had been a few things done that she didn't know about and didn't approve, and that I could change it back. Yipppeee!! Now I just need to work my magic to make sure that our medical care doesn't change when Chris retires. Happy day for me!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Linqia

I love reading tried and true reviews. From everyday people. People in the trenches. From Mommas who know what works. That is exactly what Linqia provides. Honest reviews. Honest opinions. Thoughts on products that I use. That I need.

After reading several reviews. I liked what I saw. I signed up to be a reviewer. And now you can too! Simply click the link below and you are on your way. Sharing what you like or what you don't like. Being honest. Being real. Helping others. That's linqia!

https://app.linqia.com/r/jw6lluev

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another Little Fish

Our kids take swimming lessons year round. It is our one nonnegotiable activity. Consequently, Claire has one more level to go before she is totally finished and yes, she isn't even 7 yet. Pretty amazing. I remember taking one session of lessons each summer, which took me until 7th grade to finish all the levels. We like our kids to be fish. We want them to feel safe around the water, to look to water as a means to exercise and maintain good health and to turn to water for all the fun there is to be had. More of that to come this summer. We cannot wait! In order for all this to happen, we expose them as early as possible. Gavin's first swim was last week at 2.5 months old. He didn't cry, just kind of chilled out. Perhaps, he is a fish in the making.




Strawberry Picking 2014

One annual adventure is our trip to the strawberry patch. This tradition began in Massachusetts, was missed during our time in Korea, but resumed when we arrived in Germany in 2012. We love it. We returned to our favorite patch in Landstuhl yesterday. It was bloody hot, somewhere in the 80s. Gavin was not a fan, so Chris and I took turns tending to him while the other picked with the girls. We did well--4 quarts are frozen for shakes and 1 container is in the fridge waiting for some cake. Claire flat out asked when I was making the angel food cake, so I guess I best get that done!

Cinque de Terre, Florence and Pisa, Italy

And we are back! It was a whirlwind trip combined with hustle, bustle, and relaxation. Quite a good mix of all.

We flew into Pisa courtesy of Ryan Air. Our tickets were only about $50 per person--quite a steal. It was our first time of not reserving a seat, but still priority qued and it worked out splendidly. We arrived early, hopped in line and found seats just one row behind our usuals. We landed in Pisa around 9:30 or so, retrieved our rental car and meandered our way to our rental apartment. It was a lovely place, but not very private even though there were doors separating bedrooms, etc. The loft was actually two of the bedrooms, which adjoined the master bedroom via a large glass panel. Needless to say, every one could hear every thing. The seven of us also shared one bathroom, which was not ideal.

Day 1: We drove to Levanto and hopped on a train to Monterroso. It was about 30 Euro for a family of 4. When we arrived in Monterroso, we immediately found the beach, let the children play in the sand, get their feet wet and bask in the warm sunshine. The temperature was about 75 degrees. It was gorgeous. I, on the other hand, attempted to be wiser than most and clean off Mya's feet in the ocean. The ocean had other ideas for me. I was greeted by a huge wave, so soggy pants, socks and shoes it was for the remainder of the day. I was not a happy camper, but I guess, I got what I deserved?
We dined seaside, then wandered through the quaint little village. We found a playground, let the kids play for a bit, then walked some more. There is a train that connects to each of the five villages, but a popular activity is the hiking trails that also connect them. A lady on the flight to Pisa shared with me that there were a few that were "easy" and would take about 30 minutes, so with that information in hand, we opted to hike from Monterroso to Vernazza.
Let me just say that it brought back some painful memories of when we hiked the Great Wall of China! The steps were plentiful, uneven and steep. It was tough. When all was said and done, we hiked 3 km. in 2 hours time and enjoyed the most amazing views. It was a highlight for us all. Claire and Mya did so well. We bribed them with gelatto, which meant NO complaining. They just kept on a going. Pretty remarkable for two little ones. Many, many passers by commented on how well the girls were doing, calling them "bellas." We are fully aware of how fortunate we are. Our girls were amazing. Claire led the pack and kept me going more times than I can count. So, cross off hiking a mountain for this pregnant momma.
When we arrived in Vernazza, we found some yummy gelatto, wandered around, and enjoyed the view some more. It was nearly dinnertime, so we decided to eat some bruchetta (each topped with a combination of either tomatoes & capers, tomatoes & pesto, tomatoes & mozzarella, or tomatoes & hmm, can't remember the 4th one). Delicious.
After dinner, we headed toward the train station, stopping at a deli for some salami and fruit. The train took us back to Levanto, which then left us with an hour drive back to the apartment. It was a long day, but a very memorable one.




Day 2: We decided to drive into Florence. The train schedule was a bit funky in that there was a large break between 5:00 and 8:00 and we weren't entirely certain of our plan for the day. We wanted some flexibility to come and go as we pleased. It worked out well, until a race of some kind in the city center interrupted our plans to park near the Palazzo Vecchio. We ended up circling the area, trying to find an alternative route, but did not. To make matters worse, we were separated from our friends, so we were totally on our own. Thankfully I had a rough idea of what I wanted to see/do from my very brief research. We ended up driving near the Duomo, parking in a parking garage and walking from there. It worked out very well. We ate lunch at a great little restaurant nearby. I enjoyed the fettucini with lamb, Mya and Chris had some type of spaghetti or penne and Claire devoured her pizza. We all LOVE Italian food. After lunch, we headed to a museum, the Duomo, walked to find the famous carousel, the David, gelatto and a horse drawn carriage ride. The carriage ride was most definitely the highlight for our children. They were in heaven. Since we had accomplished everything we had set out to do, we headed back to Pisa around 4:15. Once again, we were tired, but fulfilled.


Day 3: Our agenda consisted of seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That was it. We had heard that we could see/do Pisa in about 40 minutes, so we took our time. Aaron and Erika ran to the grocery store, bought some eggs/breakfast groceries and we enjoyed a homecooked meal. It was yummy and nice to relax a bit before wrapping up our getaway. It was sprinkling off and on all morning, which was something we hadn't been missing. Those warm, sunny skies had been a welcomed relief from the cold, fall weather we left behind in Germany. Anyway, raincoats and umbrellas in tow, we were off. We saw the Tower, the Cathedral and wandered the kiosks nearby. Children under 6 are not allowed inside the tower, so climbing was not an option for us. We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant a friend recommended--Antica Trattoria de Bruno. It was a bit spendy, but very delicious. I stuck with what I knew, though with a twist--sliced steak and mushrooms with salad. Claire shared with me, and Mya shared with Chris who also had a different type of fillet. Both were very good. After lunch, we made our way back to the cars, returned to the apartment for a nap and ventured to the airport. Our flight wasn't until 10:00, which meant very tired families. We arrived home at 1:00. Getting out of bed this morning was tough for all of us, but we survived. I am guessing we'll be in bed early for the remainder of this week as we catch up or rest up from our vacation.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Weight Loss Monday

This whole weight loss thing is tough! Throw in a new baby, two other little ones, a career and plantar fascitis, and we have an uphill battle. Yeah, the plantar fascitis may be self diagnosed, but I am 99% certain I have it. I actually went for my post partum check up a couple of weeks ago where I unloaded all my aches and pains. I am sure she thinks I am a nut job, but seriously, I thought the road to losing my pregnancy pounds would bring my physical age back down from 90 to a 30 something person. I apparently was wrong. My right foot hurts so badly. In fact, there have been days were I don't even feel comfortable carrying Gavin down the stairs for fear I will drop him.

I'm on a mission to lose weight, which I hope will remove the stress on my poor feet. I am guessing the stress is there due to the shift in my weight from pregnancy to now. Who knows, but from what I've read, there is little that can be done medically. I'll give this my best shot, then go the medical route if need be.

Since I can't walk, run or really complete any  intense exercise while standing, I am focusing my efforts on riding bike. We bought a recumbant bike yesterday. The BX was having an amazing sale. We looked at them a week ago and this sweet old man gave us the inside scoop that they were going to go 1/2 price in the next few days. Chris stalked the BX last week and found them on sale through the weekend for their Fitness Sale. Woo hoo! I sold the double bike trailer (since we will only need a single now that Mya  can ride on her own--probably better than me), which paid for 1/2 of the recumbant bike. The rest is my birthday present. I am so excited! Nothing is worse than having the desire (Strange. I know, right?) to workout without being physically able. Hopefully this is the answer to my prayers.

I have lost 3 pounds since I began putting effort toward weight loss. Although that isn't much progress, I must celebrate each pound as each is SOMETHING!

So, here's what I'm doing...
1. Watching portions.
2. Focusing on healthy meal options.
3. One shake per day. I tried Shakeology, but can't stand the taste. I really love Syntha-6 (ice cream flavor), which I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have, but I can't find information linked to breastfeeding, so I am not taking the chance. Soooo, I am making my own concoction instead--2 c. spinach, 1 individual serving of vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 c. frozen unsweetened strawberries, and 1 c. FF milk. It is delicious, filling and packed with goodness. My Ninja blender chops right through it all with no chunks remaining. Pure perfection.

This weight took 9 months to put on, so I am giving myself  good year to get it off. I can do this! Little by little, it will happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2 Months

I documented most of the information on your 8 week post, so I'll only add a few things here. 

-You are beginning to enjoy baths a bit more. I found a Puji tub super cheap and it has been awesome! Wish I had had one for when Claire and Mya were babies too.
- You smile often. You have a huge smile that lights up your whole face. It truly melts my heart. 
- You are happiest right when you wake. You are all smiles regardless of the time. We start our mornings off right!
-You are better about letting us set you down. You sit in the bouncer, occasionally in the bumbo or swing. 
-You've discovered your hand and are doing your best to grab a taste whenever you can.
-For about 2 weeks, we had been giving you a bottle of formula one time per day. It was when I was grasping for anything to figure out why you were having such tummy troubles. We've since stopped and you are exclusively breast fed again. It hasn't been an easy journey in the least, but things have gotten significantly better. I changed the bottles, positions for feedings and have adjusted my diet to accommodate your tummy. We still give you reflux meds. We cut them out for a weekend as a trial and we paid dearly for it. We'll do another trial run once I am home for the summer.
-All in all, we are figuring you out. You are finding your fit in our family, which of course is smack dab in the center of it all. Claire tells me daily, "I am glad I have a baby brother. He is the best baby ever!" I think she may be on to something. 



Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Since my memory fades more and more everyday, I thought I'd post pictures of the gifts we gave teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. We started the week off with a flower/plant with a little stick that said, "Thanks for helping me GROW." The others were copied or modified from pinterest. Super cute and pretty easy too! 



8 weeks

Gavin is 8 weeks old! Time has flown by, though many moments have crept past at a snail's pace. This little guy has the biggest smiles. Each and every one melt my heart. He offers them just when we need them most. For example, after a night filled with tossing and turning, he'll throw one at us. Suddenly that smile makes everything lovely again and gives me the energy I didn't think I'd have.

We still haven't figured out if the zantac is truly helpful. He seems to have less issues with gas, and being uncomfortable, but he continues to spit up quite a lot. I guess the guessing game will continue for awhile.

I hate to say this, but Gavin is high maintenance. I thought we had already done our time with one high maintenance child, but apparently we survived her, so God decided to throw another our way. He loves to be held. We are trying everything and anything we can to buy ourselves some moments of not needing to hold him, but the crying is ear piercing. Our poor girls don't quite understand the issue and are more than happy to hold him, but they are not always who Gavin desires. Little stinker is already controlling things ;) He enjoys the bouncer for small intervals and will lay on the floor with the shower running. That seems to calm him best and has been my go-to if I desperately need to get something done.  He also loves to be in the carrier. That too, is my go to if we need to eat or do something else.

Gavin is warming up to baths. He has great head control and is quite strong. He enjoys standing up and checking out everything. He is definitely his sisters' brother. They were just the same--taking it all in. Gavin is transitioning to 3 month clothing. Newborn sleepers and onesies are just too snug, but the pants still fit well.

He has transitioned to daycare very well. He is at a home daycare in our little village, which is perfect. Miss Natalie only cares for her 2 year old son and Gavin. She has plenty of time to spoil him rotten, sends me pictures nearly each day and completes a scrapbook each week to update us on the happenings.  At this point, my prayers for quality childcare have been answered.  She's been wonderful.

News Report Siros!

I came across this while cleaning up the mounds of paperwork the kids managed to gather. I laughed so hard. It is totally adorable! We got the girls cameras when Gavin was born, so they frequently take random pictures. Finally, they are putting them to good use. Claire is often writing scripts or creating something. This time is is a newspaper, complete with pictures. I LOVE IT! So funny! On a side note, Claire's spelling words at school as of late have been "photosynthesis," "evaporation," & "science," but quite obviously, she needs to work on "serious" and "cliff," you know, the essentials ;)



#5 & #6

Claire's been waiting patiently for these teeth to fall out. They've been loose for sometime, but seemed all too comfortable where they were. Finally, the one was pulled out last night and what remained was less than beautiful, being called, Snaggletooth. Claire wiggled, wiggled and wiggled it some more until it was finally out as well. That makes two teeth in two days. Poor tooth fairy has been busy spreading her fairy dust and leaving notes with money behind. 



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting Fail?

Our neighbor across the street has an empty lot next to his house. He has graciously constructed a neighborhood garden of sorts and began growing his crop earlier this spring. The girls frequent the lot, playing soccer, spies, and attempting to climb the apple and plum trees that call the lot home.

My dear neighbor posted this on facebook, "Thanks to who ever decided to pull out my pumkin plant and break the other one. I was trying to grow some for holloween."

Spelling errors aside, I immediately asked my lovely girls if they were touching Mr. David's pumpkin plants to which Claire firmly denied. I breathed a sigh of relief, tucked them into bed and posted my response on facebook, "not your little friends here either., but it may have been me, sabotaging the contest