Monday, June 27, 2011

Photo Shoot

If I had just a few more photography skills these pictures could have turned out amazing, but even so, i LOVE them and think they're pretty cute.  The girls were so sweet and happy to cooperate (granted, there was a bribe involved), Baby James was on his best behavior, and Reid was surprisingly pleasant and extremely helpful :) 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweet Baby James

Our little boy has a name!  After an insane amount of discussion, debate and deliberating--we've chosen James Reid.  It's gonna take some time to get used to calling him that.  He's still Baby Brother most of the time.  But i think the name fits him well.  It was, hands down, the hardest time we've ever had naming a baby.  It wasn't my first choice (and to be fair, it wasn't Reid's either--he wanted our dad's names).  But Reid really, really really loves James. And as much as I like Harrison, ultimately Reid felt a lot stronger about James.

The overall response we've gotten as we've told people his name has been so-so.  We've gotten lots of "Oh, that's a strong name" or "people will always know how to spell and pronounce it."  And I can't blame them--it's not the most knock-your-socks-off name in the world.  But the two men he's named after--his great-great-great grandpa and his dad--they happen to be two of the most knock-your-socks-off men in the world.  And he's lucky to be called after them.

I really just like James--and not many of the nicknames that derive from it.  Which is probably really stupid to name my son something that comes with a load of nicknames i don't care for.  But I'll just have to be one of those moms who corrects people that call him Jamie or Jimmy.  And that's fine. Heaven knows I don't have a hard time telling people how I feel... :)

James is doing so well--and growing a bit every day. I'm doing well, too, and shrinking a bit every day. The girls are in love with him, and love holding him--especially Grace.  Reid tries to squeeze in some James-time when he can.  But between cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, changing diapers, taking the girls swimming, to the zoo, to the park, and doing every single thing I've asked of him the past 8 days--he hasn't had nearly enough time with this little boy!   Lucky for him he's still got plenty of time before his blessed paternity leave ends (and lucky for me!!)

And, since I'm surely not the only one who wants to stare all day at his handsome little face, here are some more pics of our Sweet Baby James.

 He smiles in his sleep all the time--i cannot get enough of it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

He's here!!

After MUCH anticipation, waiting, inpatience, false labor, and watching 4 friends who were due the same week as me have babies....mine finally came :)  And he's PERFECT!!!  I could not be more in love with this little boy!  I really didn't know how I was going to love him as much as my girls--cause it turns out i like them a lot.  But he has completely won me over and I will never be the same!

Technically he was a week late, but UNtechnically, he was 2 weeks--as in, i thought for sure he'd come at least a few days early because Eliza did.  He had different plans.  And although my impatience is what's ruled my life for the past 15 days, now that he's here I barely even remember it :) 
(40 weeks pregnant)

(41 weeks pregnant!!!)

My water broke yseterday morning, around 5:30 am.  I had been saying all along how awesome it would be to have my water break before labor even begins--that way i'd be SURE to get to the hospital in time.  And lo and behold--it did!  My dear neighbor came over to be with the girls until our sitter got there, and we arrived at the hospital at 6:30am.  Labor didn't really begin until after 10am, and even so it was VERY early labor--contractions 10 mins apart, and fairly mild.  We walked the halls, bounced on the exercise ball, and tried to get things going.

By about 1pm, the Dr. convinced me to start pitocin.  I'd been hoping to avoid that stuff, since i didn't have a great history with it with Grace, but they started me on the lowest possible dosage, and within 2 minutes my contractions went from every 10 minutes to every 2-4 minutes. 

By 3pm, I was dialated to a 4.  By 4pm, I was ready for my epidural.  And by 6pm I was ready to push!!  My epidural only really took on one side, which wasn't too bad until about the last 5-6 contractions--holy moly those were INTENSE!  but soon after I started pushing, and everything was BLISS and HEAVEN and i could feel just enough to know that my son has the BIGGEST head--but it didn't hurt :)

When he came out he was blue as blue can be, and i was freaking out.  All the nurses kept saying how great he looked, but all i could see was a little blueberry and i wanted a strawberry!  Sure enough, after a minute or two he pinked up a bit, and i got to hold my son.  And I've fallen....


He was born at 6:33 p.m., and much like i'd anticipated--he is our biggest baby--8lbs 5oz.  20.5 inches long, and a 14.25 inch head (13-13.5 inches is average)

Reid left soon after he was born to go get the girls.  They could not have been any cuter with their baby brother.  Grace was protective, Abby was excited, and Eliza was curious about everything.   

They were here until about 9:30, and then Reid took them home, where our dear friend spent the night with them, so Reid could come back and be here with me and get his own turn with our little boy!

So far he's a really great baby.  Nursing is going well.  He sleeps all the time.  He likes to suck on his fingers and hands and binki. 

And he still doesn't have a name.  Logan and Asher are officially off the list, though i do still like both of them.  It's narrowed down to:

James Reid Allred (named after Reid's great-grandpa, James Allred)
James Ashworth Allred
Harrison Reid Allred (Reid's grandpa was a Harry, but I can't quite do Harry :)

I really like Harrison, Reid really likes James.  But in the midst of thinking about this last night, i was surfing through some shows and landed on PBS airing a James Taylor concert.  And of course he was singing "Rock-a-bye Sweet Baby James."  So that song has been in my head all night, and it's made me like James a whole lot more :)  Maybe it was a sign...

Whatever your name is, we LOVE you little boy!!  Thank you for finally deciding to come face the estrogen-loaded Allred home that is your new world :)  We needed a little boy!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grace's 6th Birthday

Any guess as to what "theme" Grace wanted for her Birthday?

(Reid gets all the credit for this awesome tower/hair display, btw)

My girls (and maybe their parents) are in LOVE with the new Disney movie--"Tangled".  So, it was no shocker when Grace wanted a Tangled b-day party.  She invited 22 girls.  Which was fine, since usually about half can't come.  But it turns out that if parents have the chance to dump their 5-6 year old off on a Friday night for 2.5 hours--they make it happen.  There were twenty girls there!!!

I didn't stress it too much, 'cause we had a plan:

5:30-5:45 - Girls arrive
5:45-7:15 - Girls ALL in the basement, eating popcorn, watching Tangled in its entirety
7:15 - Girls come upstairs for "Tangled" gift exchanged (a brilliant idea I stole from my neighbor--each girl brings AND goes home with exactly one gift!)
7:40 - Girls eat cake and ice cream
8:00 - Girls' parents come and take sugar-loaded children home

The first 25 minutes played out EXACTLY like we'd planned.  The girls all brought blankets/pillows and were very excited to watch the movie.  They loved (and spilled all of) the popcorn

And then.  One by one.  They started coming upstairs, saying "i've seen this movie a hundred times," "i'm bored, what else can I do," or "what else is there to eat?"  I was in the middle of getting the game ready--tying each gift to a long piece of Rapunzel's hair (yellow yarn) and all I could say was "go outside and play!"

But Super-Reid saved the day.  Seriously.  He was amazing.  He started playing Red Light/Green Light with the handful of girls that were done with the movie.  And by 6:15 all but two of the girls were in the backyard playing Mother May I with Reid. And somehow he kept them all happy for one whole hour! 

So, around 7:15 the girls came in for the "Tangled Gift Exchange."  The girls absolutely LOVED this game.  None of them knew which gift their strand of hair was attached to.  And the strands definitely got "tangled"--which was the point.  Grace was a trooper.  She really liked the gift she opened--which was an artsy-craftsy gift.  But she also started seeing all the barbies, and fairy dolls that other girls were opening, and she started to get tears in her eyes.  But she just wiped them away and kept going around to her friends.  I witnessed this and my heart just about broke!  I had purchased two gifts as "backups" in case there were any hurt feelings.  And although she didn't ever say a word or complain one bit, I went all softy and decided that it was time for a "backup" gift.  So Reid pulled her aside and let her open the little fairy doll with a glittery horse.  And she was soooooo happy--like a birthday girl should be :)   And THEN, when her friend was disappointed with the gift she'd opened, Grace offered her the art/craft gift--which her friend LOVED.  It was sweet to see these little girls working things out. 

This year, for the first (and not last!) time I actually purchased the birthday cake.  Grace wasn't a big fan of any of the "homemade" options i'd ran by her.  And truthfully--neither was I.  So, a big thanks to Target's bakery--they had the cake she'd "always wanted."  And now, when the girls and I go past any bakery section, we have 20+ minute conversations about what their next cake is gonna be.  I just might not ever make a birthday cake again! :)

Grace absolutely loved her birthday party.  Maybe we'll even let her have another one someday... :)

Grace's actual birthday was a little more low key.  Most of the morning was spent making her classroom treat:

And then, for dinner we went to a restaurant of her choosing--Tres Margaritas.  They put a big sombrero on her head and sang to her--which made her all kinds of shy.  It was cute.

After dinner we came home and opened presents.  It was like pulling teeth trying to get her to tell me what she'd like for her birthday.  Her biggest request was a booster car seat--which she got and loves.  She got some clothes and a Rapunzel beach towel.  I made her a little fleece blanket (by "made" i mean tied the edges) that she loved.  I can't tell if she is just trying to make her poor ole mom feel good, but she sleeps with it every night and tells me all the time how much she loves it.  She's sweet.
She also got some $$ from Grandma Allred.  That was probably the thing that got the best reaction from her.  Not because Grace wants money so she can buy something.  No, no.  My sweet, practical 6 year old is saving up for.....are you ready?  a bank account!  How cute is that?  she went to the bank with Reid a few weeks ago and asked when she could get her own account.  The lady told her she needed $25.  And she has taken it very seriously to start saving up for that! She's more than half way there, and loves to do her $.25 chores that get her closer to her goal. Apart from candy, there's really nothing that Grace ever wants to buy at the store, so I think she's going to reach her goal pretty soon.  And then she might reach her ULTIMATE goal--which is a check from Mom and Dad.  Everytime we pay a babysitter Grace begs for a check of her own. She's so practical--i love it :)

Grace is a rule person.  She does really well with rules.  Of course this doesn't apply to the "being bossy or mean to your sisters is against the family rules" rule.  But with other--more black and white things--like brushing her teeth, paying a tithe, washing her hands after school, taking her dishes to the sink, doing her daily chores, being honest, staying by mom in the parking lot--those kinds of things she does really, really well. 

She loves to learn.  She learns really well from her teachers.  She has done so well in Kindergarten, and has had a wonderful teacher--we're all so sad that it's soon coming to an end. 

Grace protects her sisters. For a 6 year old, she's incredibly responsible and observant.  She'll make a great babysitter someday--i'm calling it. 

She has a very active and sharp mind.  And it's always in motion. She asks questions that constantly stump Reid and me--like "who made God?"?!?!

She's naturally really athletic.  She just finished her first soccer season and caught right up with the other kids who've been playing for a couple years.  She's fast and she loves to run--she will race anyone.

She's very competitive.  She loves to win.  She tries hard to be a good sport, and succeeds much of the time.

She's so excited about Baby Brother joining our family.  She was just 3 years old last time a baby was born into this home--and she doesn't remember it at all.  This will be such a different experience for her.  I'm excited to have her helping hands around. Grace has been saying for a few days now that Baby Brother "is going to come on Wednesday, because I prayed that he would."  I love her faith.  I hope (for many reasons) that she's right.:)

We love you, Grace!  We're so glad to have you in our family!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Living Room Makeover

According to my good friend, Gina, my old front room "felt like a cave."  We don't get a lot of sunlight in here, and our lamps didn't do a whole lot.  It never bothered me much.  It's cool in the summer time, and cozy in the winters and honestly--i'm just not one whose mood is really affected by the way a room looks.

Gina, however, is.  And she finally convinced me that some light paint, and (buying some and) raising the curtains would make a huge difference. She helped me find my "style"--which was no small task.  She went with me (and our 6 children) on numerous runs to Home Goods, Tuesday Mornings, Savers, GoodWill, garage sales, etc.  And finally things started to come together!  She's amazing!

Unfortunately for her, I'm unlike normal people who are perfectly capable of buying new things to decorate with--for me "decorating" apparently means "rescuing as many old things from the dumpster/Savers and giving them new life."  Bless Gina's heart for not abandoning me mid-way through the whole thing.  She's redone MANY a room, and I'm quite sure that all of them combined didn't take the amount of time that mine did!!

I don't really have many good "before pics."  here are a few from the past 2 years to give you an idea of what the room looked like.  Most of these are during Christmas time....




My mantel--which i LOVE!  I painted/antiqued the green and blue frames and got the big white one from a garage sale. Pardon the birthday sign :)

The drum shade i made following this tutorial (the picture is crooked, not the shade)

Before and after of this sweet $8 chair I got from GoodWill.  My sister-in-law, Jana, helped reupholster this--it probably wouldn't have happened without her!

Before and after of the dresser we painted.  I decided to try to keep the same ugly drawer handles, which i actually love now!  the top left drawer now hinges down and houses our DVD player and remotes (Reid's contribution)

Still to come are pics of the reupholstered ottoman and the antique secretary desk i got. 

I do love my new living room.  I'm so glad Gina made me do it. I don't know if it's completely transformed the way I feel when I'm in it (which was Gina's biggest hope) but having a room that looks so nice motivates me to keep it clean...which makes my husband happy.  And when he's happy, i'm happy :)