Monday, September 8, 2014

From 2 to 3

Everyone told me going from 2 to 3 kiddos was going to be easy, that from 1 to 2 was the challenge. Ha. These past 5 months have been hard! I could blame it on reflux, sisters constantly bugging him, our noise filled house, the chaos of our schedule, but I truly think it has to do with me being 35 or 36, whatever I am, and the fact that it has been 5 long years since I've had a baby ANNNDD the fact that I am pretty much set in my ways. Whatever the reason, I've struggled.
1. I've struggled to take care of me. I plan to start my diet, do well one day, then something comes up--exhaustion, fussy baby or a change in plans and well, that diet goes down the drain.
2. I started working out, following Jamie Eason's lifting program. I loved it. It was organized like the sessions with my personal trainer, didn't take a whole lot of time to do and I enjoyed the ease of working out at home. I did that one week. Then, excuse number 9999 came back--exhaustion.
3. We continue to search for a different home. One that fits all our needs. The house we live in is a great house in a fabulous location for our kids and family, but it is about 50 sq. meters too small. Consequently, I always feel disorganized and cramped. I am slowly working through our things--purging what I can, organizing what I must. I recently put together boxes for each child where I put their report cards, art work, baby books, etc. I think it will work.
4. I've finally come to the realization that I need to eliminate what I can. Thankfully Chris has stepped up and is cooking dinner most evenings. I still help plan or get the groceries, but he executes. He also began researching some of our travel plans. THANK YOU! Travel planning is a part time job. Seriously. It is work! I used to do it all or with the help of my BFF Erika. Anyway, we have a rough idea of where we'd like to go for the next few months, so Chris has taken one of the trips under his wing and gotten the planning ball rolling. Also along these lines, I've decided to keep my etsy shop closed for the time being. I love designing invitations and was having a steady stream of orders, but it too takes time and involves having one more ball in the air to juggle. I just can't do it right now.
5. Daily routines--I've extended Gavin's time at daycare so that I can walk with friends after school. I will begin that this week. I've also gathered all of the kids' clothes for the entire week, placed them in a laundry basket so they can simply choose an outfit each day vs. fighting with them each night only to discover the outfit they selected to wear doesn't match or meet my approval. I've also bought a breast pump to keep at work to eliminate another thing that I need to remember each day.
6. Our blog. I debated closing up the blog as well, but quickly realized that even though it is severely neglected at this point, it is an important piece of our family's story. It is what we look back at to see the milestones, experiences and share the stories. It is us. Sooo, while Gavin slept yesterday and the other girls played, I uploaded pictures, wrote out a few lines and updated. I still have many entries to do, but it does feel as though an albatross has been lifted.
Even though life is stressful right now, I do recognize that this too shall pass. It won't be too far when I will long for these days when our kiddos are dependent on us, need us and want us. And that is why I am doing my best to simplify and eliminate the things that I can so I can enjoy and focus on what is truly important.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

1st Day of Kindergarten!

Mya is officially in kindergarten! She has a fabulous teacher whom I love. She seems to have a passion for teaching little ones, combines rigorous academics with fun--a perfect fit for Mya who has already nearing the end of kindergarten expectations. Mya had a great first day, but was a bit tired on day 2. She is struggling with rest time and having to play on the "small" playground. I've learned my lesson and simply stay away from her during the day. Perhaps I'll stop by during lunch as I do/did with Claire, when the routine of school becomes more established. I can't believe she is already in kindergarten, but so excited to cheer her on as I watch her flourish!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Como, Italy--Lake Lugano

We spent the Labor Day weekend in Como, Italy on Lake Lugano with friends. It was heavenly, surrounded by mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, warm weather and loads of sunshine. We stayed at a resort which offered tons of kids activities--zipline, playground, treasure hunt, kids club, fitness area, beach, sand, paddle boats. The kids loved it. The lake was a tad chilly to swim in, but the resort also offered both indoor and outdoor pools. It was fabulous and exactly what we were looking for--total relaxation!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five Months

Gavin is officially five months old! He has grown and changed so much this past month. He is sitting for a short time unassisted. He loves to bounce in his exersaucer, drools constantly and mouths anything he can get his little hands on. Gavin smiles at the sight of his sisters and sometimes his parents. He laughs when tickled too. Gavin is looking at books when we read to him, touching the pages and according to Claire, turns the pages. He loves to snuggle, face out in the stroller so he can take in the view and hates, hates, hates the carseat. Gavin has rolled both from front to back and back to front now, wiggles/scoots backwards and still enjoys the swing.

He is eating 6 oz. of milk per bottle, wearing size 2 diapers, and growing into 6 mo. clothing.

Gavin was baptized this month at the same church I was baptized as a baby. His Godparents are his Aunties Lauren, Lisa and Uncle Phil.

Gavin completed his second international flight this month as we returned from our 5 week vacation to the States. He was once again, a trooper. Pretty much a perfect baby, sleeping, eating or sitting contently the entire trip. We couldn't have asked for more.

We transitioned Gavin into his crib. We did this out of desperation more than anything as jet lag, then his 4 month sleep regression struck and consumed both Chris & I. He typically sleeps a 5 hour leg, then wakes every hour or two until 7 when we wake up. It is rough and I will not be sad when this phase is over. We typically bring him into our bed when he wakes up around 2 am as running back and forth each hour is not conducive to functioning the next day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


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!


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

Monday, July 21, 2014

4 Months

Gavin spent his 4th month in the United States, meeting all of his cousins, Aunties, Uncles and Grammy & Papa. It was a busy, busy month, but he took it in stride. He traveled from North Dakota, to Minnesota, to Montana, taking in his first baseball game, first boat ride, first night camping, and first trip to the zoo. It was the most amazing month yet!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Dearest Claire,
You are officially seven going on sixteen. Truly. Your vocabulary is immense, your bravery is big, your willingness to leap into the unknown is huge. Daddy and I are so proud of all that you have accomplished and all that you continue to attempt. You've had a big year as you jumped 3 levels in swimming lessons. When we first moved to Germany, you began lessons. One day we watched this little guy swimming laps in the fitness pool. We were amazed as he was so little! I finally asked his mom his age and swimming level. Now, two years later, you are that little boy, swimming laps, mesmerizing onlookers with your swimming and strength.

You've been reading well above grade level since Kindergarten, so it is not a surprise that you are now at the end of 3rd grade level. You can read pretty much anything you pick up. You really enjoy reading non-fiction text, so we've tried to steer you towards books that you can later experience or see the topic first hand. You recently chose a book on Pompeii, so we'll plan a trip to check it out first hand to help tie it all together.

Claire, you've declared for the past two years that you want to play the violin and piano. We decided to take the leap into music lessons and signed you up for private violin lessons. We bought you a violin for your birthday and you have been beaming ever since you laid eyes on it. You love, love, love to put on shows, pretend to sing on stage, pose in mirrors and dress like a diva. Hopefully, these lessons are fostering an innate love for music and not a passing whim.

Rollerblading (yes, with great instruction from Uncle Nate and Daddy, you learned to rollerblade in a day or two), riding bike, singing, dancing, and swimming are some of your favorite things to do. You are still a huge fan of steak and not a lover of milk though you tolerate it. You are a great big sister to Gavin and Mya. At times, you take on more of a Mothering role, which is helpful yet frustrating for all. You have gotten the hang of how to properly change Gavin's diaper, heat up his milk to make a bottle and love to read him books and make him laugh. You are full of love.

As life became more stressful, busy and a tad chaotic with the arrival of Gavin, we have been so thankful with your willingness to help at home. You will attempt any job asked, although we sometimes have to ask a couple of times or negotiate with you. You are far too good at manipulation. Daddy and I watch with amazement as you manipulate Mya into thinking the thing she didn't want is actually that which she prefers. We frequently have to interject to make sure equality is in place. Poor Mya.

All in all, you are a loving, happy, intelligent little girl. You are good at so many things and we do our best to make sure opportunities are available to you. We do our best to foster your love for activities and simply present the options, encourage you to try them out, then let you choose. At the moment, you have a love/hate relationship with soccer. Club soccer has been great for you. Competition is a good thing and sometimes you simply cannot be the best player. That's okay. It has been a tough lesson for you as you desire to be the best. We will see how this relationship unfolds.

We love you with everything that we are. You are the light of our lives. Our family truly began with you, Claire. You make each day full. Happy, happy birthday!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Baseball Game 2014

I grew up loving baseball--the NY Yankees .  My Dad is a HUGE fan of the Yankees. He got that love from his Grandfather with whom he traveled to the games and watched/listened to many. Needless to say, it seemed only appropriate that all of our children's first games have been to the Yankees (although Chris may disagree being a Red Sox fan). Sadly, with Claire and with Mya too, we made it as far as batting practice, then left due to rain, fussiness, etc. Gavin, however, made it through the entire game. It was a great way to spend his first Fourth of July.

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!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Last day of 1st Grade

Mid June marked the last day of 1st grade for Claire. She had an exceptional year. Most of that due to her amazing teacher, Ms. Garcia, who knew how to develop her weaknesses while continuing to encourage and reinforce her strengths. She was such a positive influence in our little girl's life. We thank God for such a great year filled with beautiful friends who love to have fun and learn together. In celebration of her summer birthday, we brought breakfast for her class on the last day. Chris made the pancakes, while I put together fruit, juice, bought donuts too per Claire's request. It was a hit as our little princess finally had her chance to wear the birthday crown. She was in heaven!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

First & Last Day 2013-2014

Claire--1st Grade w/Ms. Garcia
Mya--Pre-K w/Ms. Alvarez

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


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