Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October Happenings - LLA, Exploring the Neighborhood, Playing at the Mall, and Joining Costco!

 Zoe has been loving the color science class each week at LLA.  She also has gym, book club, and an art class.  A couple weeks ago the color of the week was purple so we used purple cabbage juice to do a pH experiment.   The kids got to change the juice from purple to reddish, pink, blue, and green, then back to purple using washing soda w/ water, Sprite, vinegar, and baking soda w/ water.

Zoe brought her purple sock monkey and some purple chalk for show and tell ;)

Last week was the color orange.  So of course, the main event was an orange. They learned about buoyancy!  They measured the mass of each vegetable/fruit then they made a hypothesis of  whether or not they thought it would float, and then after they tested it they wrote down their observations (Sink or Float).

Sioux Falls now has a Costco!!  We've gone 3 times in the past couple weeks.   I grew up with Costco.  I had never set foot in a Sam's Club until we moved to Sioux Falls 7 years ago.  Costco is just all around better prices and better choices.  I will say though that they are definitely "behind the times" when it comes to their payment systems.  Only cash or check to buy food and the only credit card they accept in the whole store is American Express... :-/  I'm sure it has something to do with the cost of accepting credit cards but if all other stores can make it work then they really should too. Other than that, I am super excited that we finally have a Costco!

The beginning of the month was still pretty warm.  On the day this next picture was taken, it was 80 outside!  Lately the temps have been dropping.  Now we're having regular days in the 40's and 50's.

We took the girls to play at the new play area in the mall! They tore out the old one... it was kind of gross so it's good but still a little sad for me since I had brought Zoe there to play since she was a baby.

This was Avery's first time playing at the mall.   She is loving being able to get around and pulling herself up to stand.

This month we've been exploring our "new" neighborhood!  We've been here a year now but I didn't make time to really explore the area until a couple weeks ago.   WOW... we have trails and trails and more trails all over this area.  There are small  (and very old) parks around here too.  I actually saw a tall metal slide and seesaws made out of wood.  I hadn't seen those in ages!

Zoe's Kindergarten Portraits

I have a kid in KINDERGARTEN! I'm so amazed by that fact.  My first born baby is growing up.

Those who know me know that I have a zillion photos of Zoe.   I'm a photographer.  Photographing my kids is what I do best.  I even plan photo sessions for each of them every 6 months or so.  One thing is for sure... there will be no shortage of portraits of each of my girls by the time they reach adulthood.

But still, seeing these school photos done by Lifetouch nearly brought me to tears.

There is something about the traditional studio photos that I just love.

Of course, I would have actually taken more than one photo if I was going to offer a COLLAGE..... (Seriously, Lifetouch??), and I would have had a slightly different angle for reasons that seem obvious to me.  BUT, they are still so classic.  I love them.

Homeschooling for the past two months has been awesome.   I love to be actively involved in her education! It's so fun to watch her learn.  She's learning how to read much faster than I ever expected.  And being a part of the local homeschool co-op has been awesome.  One of her best friends, Max, goes to the same co-op and a couple of her friends from church.  She has made new friends too!  She loves all of her classes, but of course, her favorite is the one that her Grandma and Mommy teach ;-)

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Girls and Ear Piercing

June 29, 2012

The day I found out we were expecting another baby I took Zoe to the mall to find her a "Big Sister" shirt. That was our way of announcing the pregnancy to several people... just having her wear the "Best Sister Ever" shirt that we found at Children's Place and waiting until people noticed... the reactions were awesome!

On that same day Zoe decided she wanted to get her ears pierced.

Yes, for an entire year my 4 year old had been asking me if she can pierce her ears. I had always dreamed of her asking me when she was 9, 10, maybe 11 like me.  But 3?? That took me by surprise. She would look at my earrings and be so mesmerized by them.  The girl loves earrings.

So on this particular day she had found out she was going to be a big sister (we seriously never thought it would happen!).  She told me that she knew it would hurt a little and my little 4 year old Zoe assured me that she would be fine.  So we did it!

We went to Claire's and within a few minutes, her ears were pierced! She did great, didn't cry, no problems. She was very pleased with herself for being so brave.

Fast forward to July 2nd when we were on our way to St. Louis, MO to visit friends. We arrived in a hotel in Kansas City and it is midnight... long story short, one of Zoe's earrings ripped out... blood everywhere... little 4 year old screaming at the TOP of her lungs and probably waking up everyone in that hotel.

Needless to say but we had to wait for her ear to heal and by then it had obviously closed up so for the rest of the year she just had one earring.  She did not want to go back and get her ear re-pierced.

Until May of this year.  We were with Great-Grandma Murray at the mall and we walked past Icing and jokingly said, "You want to get your ear pierced today?" as we had said probably a hundred times before...

She said, "Yes!" Walked right into Icing and sat in the chair.


She was nervous, but she got to hold the Claire bear.  Oh how I love the Claire bear! I remember the Claire bear from when I got my ears pierced back on July 11, 1997 (Yeah, don't ask how I remember the date)! She got her ear pierced and this time she looked a little more nervous afterward but within a few minutes she was just fine.  Meanwhile I'm praising her over and over for doing such a great job!

A couple weeks later, on June 5th, we went to the same place in the mall and got Avery's ears pierced.


My best friend Shannon got her daughter's ears pierced last year when she was just a couple months old and I found myself wishing I had done the same with Zoe.  When Avery was about 2 months old I decided to just do it.  Get it over with.  The fact is, it only hurts for a few minutes and in Avery's case it only seemed to hurt her for about 30 seconds.  She was laughing and her normal self within a minute and she never once had a problem whenever I went to clean her ears after that!  It's done and she shouldn't ever have to worry about getting them pierced later.  Plus, they are super cute.

So, for now, we're done with ear piercing! Hopefully the earrings stay put this time.

What a difference a year makes...

 This was Avery on October 17, 2012

This was Avery on October 18, 2013 

I can't believe she is 8 months old already.   8 months! I know they say time goes faster as you get older but... 8 months! WHAT? Isn't she still a newborn?? She was just in my tummy like, yesterday. ;)

This girl has a smile that totally wrecks me every time I see it.  I seriously feel like crying (in a good way) every time I see her.  She's unbelievable.  A total, absolute miracle baby.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn brings changes for our family!

My favorite season is finally here!  There are few times where I absolutely love to go outside - Spring is often times non existent or it lasts only a week, summer is very hot and humid, and winters here are very long and very, very cold.   Autumn, however, is perfect.  It reminds me of growing up in San Diego, only here we have beautiful changing leaves

Autumn seems to be the season of change for our family.   Last year at this time we bought a new (used) car (which is a big deal for us), we were getting ready to move into our first home,  and we were about to find out the gender of our new baby.  Soon after all the excitement, Gage lost his job and my pregnancy took a turn for the worse and left me in more pain than I ever experienced before.

Things go very well for a time then things get difficult and it's just the way life is, right? Without trials we would never learn to appreciate the good times.

My pregnancy left me with some damage that I don't know can ever be fixed, but we have a beautiful baby girl as a result! She's so amazing and every single day I just stare at her in amazement.  She is my little miracle baby.  I absolutely adore her!

Gage got a new job in January, then 7 months later he lost that job due to a lack of work for him.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

One of his previous bosses from his last job helped him get a new job by not only informing Gage of this great job that was available but he also wrote a great letter of recommendation for him.  Several weeks and many interviews later, Gage got a job working for RAS in Sioux Falls! He's loving the job and for the first time ever I can say we are financially secure, which means less stress from month to month on how on earth we're going to get our bills covered.  What an enormous blessing that is!

Gage started his job last week on Monday, the 23rd.   I've resumed homeschooling Zoe four days a week, although now we do more improvising now that Gage isn't around to help with Avery when needed.   Zoe takes a lot of breaks in between her 3 subjects and that's perfectly fine.  This is Kindergarten after all!  On Fridays we attend Living Legacy Academy.  Zoe has 4 classes that she attends with her Kindergarten class.  I help my mother in law teach the Color Science class.

Other changes in addition to Gage's new job and homeschooling Zoe; I've signed up to attend a women's Bible Study for the first time in YEARS.  There is a study on Tuesday NIGHTS that is every other week! That means that I can actually pull off attending.  We're also going to be attending a new community group every other Monday night as an attempt to meet new people in our church.  I'm looking forward to this season :-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Week Without Zoe

We're half way through our week without Zoe as she is off at Disney World having a blast with her Uncle, Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents.

I still have never been to Disney World.  Now my 5 year old has... and without me.  1) I hate being away from my daughter, ever.  2) I really hate missing out on memorable life events such as this one.... but it's the way it had to be.

So what have I been doing all week? Frankly, not much.

I had all these plans to clean and organize my house while she was gone. That was all depending on Avery's teeth though.  Yep, her teeth.  She is teething, again.   She's only 7 months old and her 6th tooth is already preparing for arrival!  At least she's getting them all out of the way now so hopefully as a result she'll get several months of no pain.  The downside to this is that she's in pain so she cries and yells and screams and wants to be with Mommy or Daddy all day and all night.

Right now is a moment of peace. She's napping; undoubtedly not for long.  Rather than risk waking her up by making too much noise cleaning (because our house is far from soundproof), I'm sitting quietly on the couch while she naps.

So when she's awake, I can't clean the house....and when she's asleep I can't clean it either, haha.

Why, you ask, can't Gage help since he is not working right now?

Though he hasn't officially started his new job yet he is still a very busy guy.   He has been doing contract programming work for someone all month, pulling weeds for a new neighbor, and right now he's over at some friends' home helping them with computer problems.   Most of the time he's busy all day as he would if he was working full time.  He has had a bit of down time this week though!

This week without Zoe I have:

- Celebrated 7 years with Gage!  We went out for breakfast, browsed a thrift store and the book store, ate dinner at Carnaval Brazilian Grill, and dessert at Cold Stone.   Gage's cousin Moni was nice enough to watch Avery while we went out to dinner/dessert.  

- Organized the girls room a little more.  I have yet to figure out how to make a crib and a tall old pink hospital bed look nice in this room...  

- Worked on both of the girls' baby books!!  Finally! Those things take so much time...  I also have journals that I'm keeping for each daughter so I worked on those too.  

- Finished watching Season 2 of Revenge with Gage (I had watched both seasons on my own a couple weeks ago and told Gage he had to watch it before the new season starts next week!).  

- Cleaned my room a little bit... there is still so much work to do though.  That room tends to be the "catch all" room.

- I've eaten way too much junk food. 

- Went out to breakfast at Bagel Boy with Gage and Avery this morning.  I tried something new and delicious: French toast bagel with honey walnut cream cheese.  Yum!

- Went to the mall by myself for the first time in many years.  It was quite uneventful and dare I say, boring.  I did manage to find a Pinkie Pie shirt for Zoe for $5 though ;-) 

Next week life will be very different around here.  So far I have not homeschooled Zoe while Gage was not around to help with Avery if needed so next week while he starts his new job, me and the girls will be on our own during the day. I'll get to tackle the challenge of homeschooling and caring for an infant at the same time!

Well, as I predicted, Avery is awake again.

Resuming mommyhood now.  :-)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Best Friend FINALLY Came to Sioux Falls! ;-)

L to R: Gage, Zoe, Me, Avery, Shannon, Tori, and Mike - Taken in our backyard.
It finally happened! A few weeks ago we were blessed with a visit from my best friend and her family for the first time since we've lived here in Sioux Falls (6.5 years!).   We enjoyed showing them our town and visiting with them in our new home that we've been in for 7 months now.

Shannon, her sister Amanda, and I met in 1991 which means this is year 22 of our friendship! I can't even tell you how much stuff we have all gone through together.  So many years already and hopefully many many more to come! We really should plan something exciting for 25th year. It'll be here before we know it.

We spent time at The Butterfly House, Sertoma Park, Falls Park, The Tulip Festival in Orange City, IA, we also ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, Fuddruckers, and Johnny Carinos, we introduced them to the wonderfulness of Bagel Boy and of course Coffea.  Shannon insisted we go back there a second time before she left.  Seriously, if nothing else brings her back out here to visit it will be Coffea.  She fell in LOVE.  ;-)

Shannon and Mike have a daughter, Tori (Victoria). She turned 17 months on here visit. She is learning words now and right now her current word for anything she doesn't know a word for is, "Dya" (Pronounced: Die-ya).  Everything is Dya.  So so cute.

My little girls!

Tori, Zoe, and Avery enjoying the Tulips at the Tulip Festival!

One of the few photos we have of our family of four!

I did a little impromptu photo session with Tori one day while she was playing in the backyard.  :-) 

Sneaky Tori!

Sweet little Tori! She looks so much like her mama!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting "Settled" Into Our New Home

7 months ago we bought our first home! We had been in California the week before for my best friends' Wedding (which of course, we were all participating in - even Zoe as the flower girl!).  We closed on the same day that we found out we were expecting another little girl.  I was right in the middle of an extremely difficult pregnancy and somehow we found ourselves moving into our very own home.  That month was one of the most stressful, amazing, wonderful months of our lives!

My pregnancy prevented me from being able to really do *anything* that involved walking, standing, even sitting in certain ways... I was couch bound for many months until Avery was born in early February.

Immediately following Avery's birth I went into "operation: make my house look nice" mode where I wanted to unpack, decorate, and organize every inch of this house before my Dad got here in March...when that didn't happen I thought maybe by the time Laurel got here April, then it turned into getting everything done before Shannon got here in May! Granted, I got a LOT done in  the past few months but still, we have about half our things in boxes out in the garage.  Seriously, I just found my pre-pregnancy clothes *last week*.

Now I'm preparing for a vacation that will take me away from the house for a while... which means I likely won't be unpacking again until at least mid-Summer.  My goal now: to be MOSTLY unpacked by the time we've been here a year :-)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On the 2013 Spring Storm in Sioux Falls, SD

Spring Storm 2013

Where to begin?

It started on a Tuesday.  It was April 9th (which also happened to be our 7 year engagement anniversary and the day Avery turned 2 months!).  

In the morning I got up early and noticed the ice forming on the trees.  It was so beautiful! In previous years I've enjoyed ice storms. They are always so gorgeous! I never dreamed that this ice storm would be any different from previous ones we've had.   

We noticed a few smaller branches that had fallen before Gage left for work.  About 3-5 minutes after he left we heard a HUGE crash that shook the house.  I seriously thought our roof was caving in at that point.  I looked out the window and saw a very large branch right outside the window and laying against our house. 

At this point poor little Zoe was crying and standing there not moving despite my repeated instructions to go down into the basement.  It took a few minutes for me to get her to calm down enough to get her downstairs... meanwhile this whole time I'm holding a very hungry baby that is crying non-stop. I called Gage and he came back home and he was home for the rest of the day.   We continued to hear loud thumps / crashes throughout the day. 

Later in the day I went to get something out of my room and I noticed some weird "stuff" on the window sill. Then I saw it on my desk, on my pile of laundry, on the floor.... I looked up and I saw this.

Blogger will not let me rotate it...sorry. haha.


A branch.

In our bedroom ceiling. 

Thankfully this happened on day 1 of the storm so we were able to reach someone who could come and cover up the hole at the top temporarily so we didn't need to worry about snow/rain leaking in (or so we thought).  

Tuesday and Wednesday night we slept in the basement since we didn't know if more branches were going to fall on our house, through our windows, etc.  It was pretty scary... at night you'd hear loud crashes.  I kept hearing about structure fires so I was nervous about our power lines which had heavy branches laying on them.  

I saw online that branches were not only falling in our backyard but all over Sioux Falls.  The branches just kept falling and falling for 3 stinkin' days!  Sioux Falls was (and is still) a huge mess.  

The branches falling would have been loud by themselves but each one was coated in a thick layer of ice which meant that whenever one fell, it would *crash* and sound like glass shattering as well as the loudness from the size of the branch falling.

To make matters worse, the power was out for many thousands of people during the storm.   For many, the power outages lasted days (for us it was only 2 days thankfully), but for others it was 4-6 days!  All of our food in the fridge and our freezers did end up spoiling... so we had to throw it all away.  (Yes, home insurance will cover that but who knows when? Once this was all over I had to go grocery shopping for a second time this month which was not easy on our budget.)

Our power went off on Wednesday night and was off until sometime on Friday.  Being in the basement in the dark with no heat and hearing branches fall outside was simply not fun.

We drove over to my in-laws house on Thursday even though they didn't have power either.  They at least had a fire place! :)  That night we went back home and we decided to "move" upstairs into the living room. The ice on the tree out front had melted enough so that we weren't worried about it falling on that side anymore.  That was a cold night.   

I might also add that I was in no way prepared for power outages.  We had one tiny flash light (about 5-6 inches in length) and one touch light (thankfully!) that lit up a room pretty well... but that was it.  haha! I didn't have anything else prepared.  Gage even had to make a couple trips to the store during the storm because there were things we needed.  I felt awful not being at all prepared.  

Anyway, the next day the girls and I went to our old house (Gage's grandparents house) because they now had power!! :)   Our power came back on at some point during the day but we didn't end up going home until around 6pm.  

Here are a few photos (blogger won't let me arrange them very easily so they are not in any order).

My in-laws backyard

Gage's Grandparents house (where we lived for our first 6 years in Sioux Falls).  That one leaning against the house just barely missed the front window.  

See?  Grandpa and Mike were in there watching the Padre game at the time this happened!!

Every branch and every little bud was covered in ice, making the branches too heavy and they just snapped right off.  I think the city's lack of water from the past year also contributed to this happening.

In the end we had about 5 large branches fall along with about a few hundred smaller ones.  Zoe's play house is now in a few pieces since another large branch fell on it. We should be able to put it back together though... I don't think it's really damaged.  

My in-laws backyard

Our house is behind that tree

At Gage's grandparents house.  Zoe got to play with cousin Maxx :)

3rd night - We slept in the living room instead of the basement :) That was our 2nd night with no power (which means no heat). We used LOTS of blankets and sleeping bags!

Our deck... 

I think I may be on edge for a while still.  It has been a week and a half now and still every time I hear a loud noise I nearly jump out of my seat (that just happened about 20 seconds ago! haha).  Today Gage, Russ, and a neighbor are outside cleaning up the branches.  It's been hours now and there is still quite a bit to go.  I'll post some before and after pictures another day!  I can't wait to have a backyard again :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Avery Rose - Born February 9, 2013!

Praise God! She is finally here!

Avery Rose was born February 9, 2013 at 3:01pm, weighing 6lbs, 15oz. She was 20 inches tall! She is absolutely amazing!!  She's about 3 1/2 weeks old now... she'll be a month old in just 4 days! She's tiny - still only about 7.5 lbs now, but she's happy and healthy!

The pain is 90% GONE and my beautiful precious Avery is FINALLY here! I've been waiting for her since early 2009.   This wonderful child is a true miracle and an answer to many prayers!  Her big sister Zoe actually prayed for a baby sister last summer and it was that month that she started praying that we finally found out we were expecting and of course... it turned out to be a girl, just as Zoe said :-)

Avery looks quite a bit like Zoe did at this age! I can definitely see some differences though.  She has dimples just like her sister though!! So cute! Right now, at least at this stage she's at now, I think she looks more like Gage than me.   She is such a good baby so far - she sleeps for 3-4 hours at a time.  We usually only need to wake up 2 times a night.  I am so much more exhausted this time around though... I remember last time I had a newborn waking up wasn't a challenge but now every time I need to get up I feel like it's impossible. haha!

I feel like I've just climbed Everest or something.  This pregnancy ranked among the top 3 most difficult and challenging trials in my life so far... the top two being my parents divorce in 1995 and my Mom passing away in 2005.  The past 9 months completely changed my perspective on life. I'm so excited to see what the future holds now!

The pain stuck around for a week after Avery's birth and then one morning (after one of the worst nights I ever experienced...) I woke up feeling completely fine.  I still don't understand it! It must have been a direct answer to someone's prayer because for me to go from total agony to completely fine in a matter of hours... it's incredible!

It's amazing how fast time is flying now that I'm not in excruciating pain every moment of the day :)  I still have a pretty serious problem with my back and pelvis but I can WALK again which, to me, is an absolute miracle!  After 7 months of being in so much pain 24/7, the pain had become normal to me.  So now, almost a month later, every time  I do something that I wasn't able to do without pain for so long, I'm shocked that I can do it again! I go from sitting to standing in about 2 seconds now instead of 10-15 seconds. I actually surprised Zoe today by showing her that I can in fact jump again ;) Granted, not super well...but hey to a 4 year old it was pretty impressive.

I now have such an enormous appreciation for the ability to be mobile. I hope I can always be grateful for this. I hope I can always appreciate the ability to walk, stand up, sit in a chair, lay down, roll over in bed, get dressed, put on shoes...

I'm not sure when but as soon as I can, I'll be getting back on the treadmill and hopefully, by God's grace, I'll be able to run again sometime this summer. I seriously may cry once I'm finally able to run again.

Even through all that pain, all the challenges we all went through during the pregnancy, I am so beyond glad that I did it.  It was worth it. She is here!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

36 Weeks! Recent Belly Pics

30 Weeks

33 Weeks, 2 days

35 Weeks, 3 days

36 weeks, 4 days

Right now I am 36 weeks and 4 days! Just about 24 days to go if I go all the way to my due date.  I don't think I'll go that long though... labor-related things are already progressing faster than they did with my last pregnancy.  I'm thinking she should be here within the next two weeks.  We'll see though! 

Finding Joy in the Winter Months

For our family, this time of year is full of two things: celebrations and a slightly overwhelming sense of cabin fever. Both Gage and I cel...