Friday, March 30, 2012

King James

I've been told that my blog is due for an update on Mister James.  Thank you for the reminder.  We all need a little more James in our lives, so here are some photos for you to drool over, plus some details for me to turn to in 4 years when he says "mom, what was I like as a baby?" and my internal memory card is completely blank.

This little man is growing up too fast!  I have tried everything I can think of to keep him little.  I've stopped feeding him completely. I squirt him in the face with ice-cold water when he tries to talk.  Or move.  But none of it seems to be working!!!  He's determined to grow up--completely against my will!!!   Good thing I'm so madly in love with him, otherwise I might just trade him in for a newer model!
December, 2011

December, 2011
James started sitting independently at 5 1/2 months old--earliest of all my babies....probably  had something to do with the Michelin man rolls around his mid-line...

He really has been such a good, calm, sweet, easy-going baby.  I can't even count how many times people have commented on his good nature.   He's been a breeze....except with the whole sleeping thing.  I guess i was due for it--i've had nothing but great sleepers.  I now have so much more empathy for the sleepless mom.  

James spent the majority of January "crying it out"--poor guy.  It sounds so cruel.  And i guess it actually was.  But I thought that 100% of his needs were met.  I thought there's no way he still needs to be nursing 2-3 times in the middle of the night, and I knew he was exhausted ('cause it was always in the middle of the night!) and so i let him cry. and cry. and cry.  And i'd go in and tell him i love him, and he'd cry some more. Finally, on Feb 2, I said enough is enough!   And i went back to nursing my fat little 7 month old in the middle of the night--just once this time--and wouldn't you know that he slept way better!!  What I thought was a spoiled little baby waking up for comfort, was actually a fat little baby needing to keep up his figure! (okay, maybe it was a little of both :)  Either way, bringing back just one feeding during the night did wonders for both of us.  Go figure...

He also finally started taking a bottle before bedtime, and that helped a lot.  Although he has his "pacifiers" attached to him at all times--if he doesn't want to be calmed--he won't be. I finally learned though, that rather than letting him cry and cry, if I just go in and scoop him up for about 30 seconds--he'll lay right back down and calm down!  I wish i'd thought of that in January!  I really can't even remember much about that month.  Just that i could barely keep my eyes opened most days--as evidenced in Exhibit A
Exhibit A
He's doing much better now.  Still not perfect, and still quite unpredictable.  But he does sleep through the night 1-2 times a week, and he rarely wakes up for anything other than one nursing session--which i barely wake up for myself.  

Lucky for me, when I'm too tired to walk straight, I have some very good helpers around the house, who love to hold "the little nugget."  And so far, they've never really dropped him!

January 2012

From the moment we found out we were having a boy, I started panicking about having a picky eater.  I think that it's a near statistical fact that boys, at least little boys, are generally pickier eaters than girls.  I know of at least 15 families in which that is the case.  So, I was really freaked out about starting solids with James.  I thought I might die if he rejected avocado, or oatmeal mush, or pureed sweet potatoes.  And what do you know?  He did!!  He rejected mushy food!! I mean, he'd tolerate a few bites of it, but wouldn't really open up his mouth.  Unless i put the mush on my fingers--then he'd eat it right up.  But i saw a future of me, sitting in a school cafeteria, hand-feeding my 6 year old son his PB&J, and quickly stopped with that approach.  Instead I enlisted the help of his other moms.

Which still didn't change much, so i stopped pureed food altogether and started with foods he could pick up and feed himself.  And that's when his true Allred colors shone forth.  We soon discovered that behind all that chub was a starving boy with a speedy metabolism, and now we can't keep up with him.  He will eat basically anything he can fit in his mouth. Including mush, naughty little boy....

I've heard that it's not uncommon for kids' appetites to change, so I'm not counting my chickens, just thankful that he's doing so well right now.  His favorite food is probably mango.  His least favorite is still anything pureed. And he seems to choke on foods a little bit less than his sisters.  Though when he does, you better believe there are FOUR ladies in this house running to his side to make sure he's okay.

James used to suck on these two fingers, all the time.

But sometime around age 3-4 months, he switched hands.  And fingers.  And now he prefers these two.

And not only does he like those fingers, but he likes to hold something soft in his right hand whilst sucking the left.  Like the pink blanket in the above picture.

Or a wet wipe

 Or a tag on a blanket

or the tag on his stuffed turtle.

My wise friend, who has had a finger-sucker herself, suggested that I try to get him attached to one blanket.  That way, rather than sucking his fingers everywhere we go, he'll get used to only doing it when he's got his blankie.  And it just so happens that my sister-in-law made this AMAZING blanket that has that soft silky fabric that he loves all around the edges!  And, unlike most of the blankets he uses, it's BLUE!  It's taken zero effort to get him to fall in love with this beautiful blanket.

And I have a feeling this isn't the last photo I'll take with him and his blankie :)

This boy also loves his bath.  He is so happy in the water and would stay in there for hours if we let him.  He loves to dip his face in and take a (very chokey) drink.  He loves to kick, move around, splash--it's so unlike his sisters, and so stinkin' cute!

If I were writing this post 2 weeks ago, it would probably end here.  Maybe with some mention about how i love going to get him from his crib when he wakes up, all his limbs flailing in excitement   And how i love that he will give me a smile just about any time I want one.  He loves peek-a-boo.  He loves pat-a-cake.  He's insanely ticklish--all over.  He's got the best giggle.  He's the center of our conversations.  I probably also would've mentioned that he's still immobile, barely rolls over, and is just so easy going!

But some of that has changed.   He's decided that he does, indeed have an opinion about many things.  He's also discovered a unique squawking ability that I once believed could only be achieved by extinct flying dinosaurs.  Combine these two new-found qualities, and you've got a loud and ornery little boy!! It's still new enough that we all laugh and think it's cute.  But I have this fear, call me crazy, that enough squawking can drive even the most infatuated of moms up the wall.  At least I still get to look at this cute face while I try to drown out the awful noise coming out of his mouth.

And, coincidentally or not, he has also discovered the art of backward crawling.  I can put something 15 inches in front of him, and it's completely out of reach.  But objects on the other side of the room, or even under the table, are fair game as long as they're behind him.  Last night he even cornered himself under this chair.

He looks like such a big boy in this photo, i'm tempted to just delete it!  No more growing, little boy!  You're my baby, and you need to stay that way!!  Forever!!!  maybe if I take my role of "babying you" more seriously, you might just stay young forever!!  (oh dear, I just caught another glimpse of myself at his school cafeteria, spoon-feeding him his pureed PB&J and carrying him to his next class.  I supposed I should just let the boy be who he's gonna be.  Now there's a novel idea...)

He wins my heart daily.  He's started saying what i guess we'll call his first word--which is "uh-oh."  This morning, when he was lying in bed with us lazy parents, he let out a little toot, looked at Reid, and said "uh-oh."  We just about died.

I love this little boy more than I ever knew possible!!

And that is my James Update.  Feel free to gush.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reid turned 33 or How I won the Wife of the Year award

When Reid turned 30 I surprised him by flying his brother out here for a weekend of golf (well, it snowed, so no golf was actually played....)  I pretty much rocked his birthday that year.  But the past 2 years i haven't done so well.  I mean, i thought i had a brilliant idea a couple years ago when, rather than paying full price for a couple books about Houdini he wanted, I dragged my 3 girls to the quiet section of the library, searched a less-than-organized shelf for the right books, and wrapped them up--all for $0!!  I mean, how awesome was that???  Apparently not at all.  Just ask him about it, and you'll likely be able to pick up on how he felt about it.  

But this year, I believe I've redeemed myself.  With much help from my interior designer and good friend, Gina, I surprised Reid with an office makeover!!!  He's been in his new office space for a few months now, and has mentioned--several times-- how he'd like to get a bulletin board for the girls' art,  how he'd like to hang up some of his art, diplomas, etc.  So we got to working, which included many trips to furniture stores, Home Goods, thrift stores, and more thrift stores, until we'd found the best combo of stuff to beautify his office.

I painted the bulletin board and end table.  I gathered all sorts of art/memorabilia from around our home.  I bought a new chair (which meant resisting the urge to reupholster an old one!!), a plant, and a rug and kept this ALL a secret from Reid!!  On Tuesday or Wednesday, Reid got all complainy about how his birthday was on Saturday and all he wanted to do was golf, but because I had "secret plans" he wouldn't be able to so please, please could he please golf on Friday evening?  say around 3pm?  YES!  Perfect!!  Leave your office for a few hours!!

He left his office at 3, and at 3:15 Gina and I showed up with our vans full of stuff, lugged it up the freight elevator and got to work! The kind doorman who helped us up the elevator was waiting for us to unload our crap off of his cart, so these "before" pictures aren't that great.  But they give you an idea, at least, that there was nothing on the walls and it was a sad, lonely place to be.

Gina worked her magic with the frames (she really is amazing), threw down the rug, arranged the chair, the table, and in less than 75 minutes she had transformed that blank wall into this:

Reid's sister, Alisa, took that photo in the long frame a few years ago and gave it to us for Christmas.  It's a beautiful scene of Star Valley.  Ever since my living room makeover, it hasn't had a good home.  I'm so happy with how it looks here!! it gets the light and attention it deserves!!

And here's Reid's bulletin board--with about 2% of the art the girls have sent with him--plus this clock that he loves!

A few years ago Reid's mom gave him this sweet antique-looking copy of the Bill of Rights.  It's been needing a good home for a while, and now it's got one!  

 And when Reid's grandma moved out of her home, he only wanted one thing--her Courier and Ives paintings.  She had three of them mounted to wood, and he inherited two of them.  Gina didn't really love either of them, but once she understood just how much they meant to Reid, she allowed this one to be subtly tucked in the back of his hutch.  And of course, he loves it!

As Gina and I left the office, around 5:45, I realized that there was no way I could wait another minute for Reid to see his new space!  I was also worried that the girls (namely Eliza) would say something that would spoil the surprise, or worse--that I would blurt out something about all the attention James got at the rug store, or the furniture sales man who walked in on me nursing James (covered by a blanket) but couldn't look me in the eye 'til the transaction was complete.  So, when Reid finally called me at 6:45 I mentioned that we hadn't even eaten yet, and how I was craving Cafe Rio (which is right by his office) but that now it was probably too late, so what should we do?  Reid, right on cue, said "oh, Cafe Rio would actually be perfect, 'cause I've gotta go pick up some papers that Dave left on my desk!"  I, of course, knew he'd say that, since 45 minutes earlier I'd called his paralegal and asked her to send an email asking him to pick up the papers Dave hadn't actually left.  I know, I'm brilliant.  But i feared that Reid would suggest that we all stay in the car while he runs up and gets the papers.  So, in my cunnning ways, i said "well, should we just get the food to-go and bring it home?  I don't know if I could wait that long..."  And again, right on cue, he says "let's grab dinner and go eat it at my office!"   He was so pleased with all of his good ideas!!

I wished I'd recorded his reaction when he saw his office.  It was priceless.  He is absolutely in love with it.  I'm actually surprised at just how much he really loves it.  I mean, beyond appreciating the time and effort that went into it--he genuinely loves it.

And as if that wasn't enough (which it was!)  I also woke up early on Saturday morning after getting 4 hours of sleep (thanks to a teething James and an overly-excited-to-get-Dad's-breakfast-started Grace) and made crepes.

And if that wasn't enough, we all went out for lunch at the only Venezuelan restaurant in the Denver area.

And if that wasn't enough, i informed him at the restaurant that the "secret plans" i had for his birthday was that the rest of the day would, indeed, be spent doing his favorite pastime with his favorite person.  That's right--I took him golfing!

We went with another couple--Gina and Andy (maybe Gina should actually be the won who wins the medal, since she did just as much for Reid's birthday as I did, and she's not even married to him!) and it was so much fun.  I think it's fair to say that Andy enjoyed it the least.  Gina and I had a great time making fools of ourselves.  Any contact made with the ball we felt was reason enough to celebrate.  And driving the carts?  that was an absolute blast!!!  But it's Reid who had the best time of all.  He genuinely enjoyed teaching me how to golf, driving with me (inspite of my lack of know-how with the adult-sized bumper car), and not having to text me every time he had a sweet drive!  For him, combining the two things he loves the most was the best way to spend his birthday.  I know, cute huh!?!

Apart from his 80-year-old man hat, I loved every part of it as well :)

And now, it's time for the 33 Things I Love About This Man portion of this post.  I've been wanting to do this for a while now, but have been afraid of making every other husband in the world look bad :)  Or i've just been lazy.  Either way, it'll probably take you longer to read it than it will for me to come up with it.  Here we go....

1) He absolutely loves his kids.
2) He is honest. he can't help it really, 'cause he's a crappy liar.
3) He would rather be with his family than just about anything else in the world (golf being the exception)
4) He's organized and responsible.  He takes care of our bills, our insurance, and all the other things that are no fun to take care of--but he does it anyway.  Bless him for it.
5) He gives really great massages.
6) He's got zero self-control around sweets--it's so nice having a partner in crime. :)
7) He's humble.  This should actually be No. 1.  The man is so quick to admit when he's wrong, so eager to overcome his weaknesses, and to own up to them.  He amazes me with this quality, and if our children turn out anything less than arrogant know-it-alls, it will be because of this characteristic of his.
8) He's a neat-freak. but only about certain things.  it's cute, really.  plus, it's nice to have at least one person who cares about this sort of thing in the marriage (this could also go on a "33 things that drive me crazy about Reid" list if I ever made such a list....which I couldn't, 'cause besides this, there really ain't much)
9) He's a home-body.
10) He still, after nearly 10 years, freaks out every time i cut his hair.  He gets nervous, makes dumb jokes, flinches at the sound of the clippers--it's cute, in a I-could-kill-you-rihgt-now-if-i-wanted-to kinda way
11) He's extremely sentimental about little things from his childhood--pictures he drew, pieces of crap his friend made for him, ugly chairs he inherited.  It's cute....except when he calls me a hoarder.
12) He loves to make cookies, and his cookies are amazing!
13) He works hard in a profession that isn't necessarily his passion.  I can't imagine if I didn't particularly like the thing I do all day.  (Oh wait, yes i can.  It's called 2008-2009. But i digress...)
14) He speaks my "love language."  He knows what things matter to me, and shows love by doing those things, rather than doing the things that he would appreciate.  I believe this is somewhat uncommon in people of his gender.
15) He's not overly obsessed with sports, or I should say he doesn't allow himself to be so.  I mean, we don't even have cable.  And you know why?  because he is afraid that it would become a time-suck and he doesn't want to spend his evenings/weekends glued to the tube.  also somewhat uncommon in people of his gender.
16) He's extremely supportive of all my crazy projects--as long as they don't involve him on many (or any) levels.
17) He's a family man.  He loves our family.  He loves his family.  He loves my family.  And he makes sacrifices to be able to spend quality time with them.
18) He thinks I'm cutest without any makeup.  Or he's actually mastered the whole lying thing and has convinced me that such is the case.
19) He plays the guitar.  And he sings while he plays the guitar.  Fewer things bring back that giddy, twitterpated feeling in my insides like his guitar playing does.  And he knows it, and uses it wisely.
20) He's faithful.  Not just to me, but to everything he believes in.  He lives his faith wholly.  He tries so hard to practice what he preaches.  He's rarely hypocritical--I'd say "never," but the things he yells at drivers on the road would prove me wrong :)
21) He enjoys yard work.  I often complain about how he's not a handy-man, but really--he is.  Just the nature-kind. He enjoys fixing sprinklers, trimming trees, raking, mowing, etc.  I love that.
22) He's always on a quest to be a better dad.  always.
23) He still holds my hand every time we go anywhere.  again, twitterpated feelings in my insides...
24) He loves to play board games and card games--i love that!
25) He doesn't love to play computer games--i love that, too!
26)He eats anything I cook.  bless him for it.
27) He makes everyone feel like they're important.  He's a good listener, and really good validator.
28) He's an amazing communicator.  This was actually one of the first things that I fell in love with about him.  He has absolutely no problem putting his feelings into words.  He's not closed up, he doesn't let things build-up inside of him, if he's got a problem--he talks about it.  I absolutely love, love, love this about him.
29) He has no problem watching the kids.  He encourages me to leave the kids with him while I run to the store, the gym, or my friends' house.
30) He doesn't ever want a pet dog or cat. I'm not justmentioning this 'cause I'm nearing the end of my list and running out of things to say.  This really is something i really appreciate about him :)
31) He enjoys playing with his kids--soccer, tag, tickle monster, throw-them-up-in-the-air, board games--any kind of active play.
32)  He's smart.  And I love that.  But what I love even more is that he down-plays his smartness.  Again with the humility!
33) He loves me.  Really, truly, genuinely loves everything about me.  Dunno how, dunno why, just know it's true.  Bless him for it.

Happy Birthday, babe.  I love you!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Unblogged events/photos of 2011

You know those photos you take thinking "ooooooh, this is totally going on my blog!", or that thing that happened and you thought "I'm going to write this down tonight so i never forget it!"

My photo gallery and draft folders are full of such unfortunate moments and pictures--things that live in the land of Someday I'll Get To That....a land whose population is being multiplied and replenished daily in obscene increments by one creature--me!

Today I plan to rescue at least a few memories from that wasteland.

1) Reid travels around the world.  And a broken dishwasher

After James was born, we had 6+ glorious weeks of paternity leave.  We enjoyed every single minute of those six weeks.  Reid helped so much--i had the fastest recovery I've ever had.  Our dishwasher stopped working, but with Reid around--who needed a dishwasher?  I didn't worry too much about replacing it. Instead, we traveled to see family, we played at the zoo, the parks, the museums, and I wondered how in the world was I ever going to survive when he went back to working 9-hour days??!?!   The answer was simple--I wasn't.  So, rather than allowing us to ease back into things, Reid's (former) employer decided to send him all over the globe and leave me here to die. (okay, it was really just this hemisphere, but please allow me the theatrics--it felt quite dramatic at the time)

Reid spent his first week back at work (the day we got back to Colorado after a 3 week road trip) in the Tropical Rain forest of Ecuador.  He was there working on a big-law case, representing a big oil company for a big law suit.  Although he doesn't miss much about big firm life, he admits that this trip was a highlight of his time there.  Chances are high that he'll never again take a case that sends him to the Amazon.

The view from his "5 star" hotel in the-Middle-of-Nowhere, Ecuador. This town reminded him of the impoverished towns he served in as a missionary, and of how fortunate we are to have running water and air conditioning!  

Here's my Tarzan himself

So green and lush!  And check out those monkeys!!
Reid not only went to Ecuador right after paternity leave ended, he also spent 4 days in Boston, and took three separate trips to NYC.

Reid at his first Red Sox game.  His biggest regret when we left Boston was that we never  went to a game.   So he righted that wrong on this recruiting trip out there.

So why didn't I post my complaints about all of this when it was going on?  What did I do to stay sane?  how did I survive without a husband OR a dishwasher?  Well, that leads me to #2  

2) Karen comes out for 10 glorious days
I have no photos to prove it.  I have no evidence left of all the cleaning/organizing/dishwashing she did.  In fact, I was in such a haze, i'm not entirely sure that it was anything more than a wonderful in which my little sister-in-law flies out here to rescue my kids from a sleep deprived husbandless zombie who calls herself their mother.   She cleans my whole house, hand-washes all of our dishes for 10 straight days, organizes my cupboards, declutters my clutter areas, entertains my kids, stays up late watching shows that Reid would never watch with me--it must have been a dream 'cause it sounds too good to be true!  I can't believe I don't have any photos of her time out here!!!  It was so wonderful having her here, i'm not entirely sure how I let her leave!  And the only photo I took was of this GINORMOUS Hobo spider that Karen had the misfortune of finding in my basement.   I freaked out, Karen hyperventilated (literally) and none of us went back down there for weeks.  I would've gotten a better picture, but we were so insanely terrified of his massiveness that we vacuumed him up, dumped him in the garbage, TRIPLE bagged the garbage bag, threw him in the big garbage can and then put heavy items on the lid...just in case.

And lucky for us, she's coming back here in just a couple months!  My list of projects for her to do for with me is already growing :)

3) Teeth--lost and found
Grace lost her first 4 teeth in 2011.  One came out at a restaurant, moments after I said, "Grace, that tooth is gonna fall out any day now!"  We searched the filthy floor, all the plates of food, and finally found it resting on her collar!
When she came down the stairs the first morning after the Tooth Fairy visited, she was clearly very disappointed.  When I asked her how much $$ she got she said, "only $2!"  I spouted off something about how that was 8 times what I received as a little girl and some nonsense about inflation.  She then informed me that her friend Lilly got $20 from the Tooth Fairy!!  No wonder she was disappointed!  So was I!!

Although her 4 bottom teeth are now all but grown in, I want to post these pictures of her first toothless smiles, which I love so stinkin' much.

And on November 3rd, I found the cause of James's recent fussiness--his first two teeth!  (I remember the date because i called my sister that evening to wish her a happy birthday.  She informed me James's new teeth were surely a sign of his love for her.  And now i'll never forget the day he got them! :)

Just guess how he felt about me taking photos of his newest arrivals:)  I do love this picture...

4) Grace's 1st and 2nd seasons of soccer, Spring and Fall 2011
Grace is a very good little athlete.  She's fast, she's coordinated, she doesn't tire easily....which is why i'm investigating a potential mix-up at the hospital.  Well, I guess Reid actually brings lots of that to the table.  But i thought that my genes held enough anti-athleticism to cancel out any that his have.  I was wrong.  That girl has got skills!  It was no surprise that she caught right up with the other girls on her team who had been playing for a few seasons.

Her sisters went to nearly every game

This was the game where she learned how challenging it can be to run with a full bladder .  I was insensitive enough to take a photo of her agony.  I was also 8 months pregnant and didn't feel too sorry for her highly elastic and youthful bladder.
Her coach was awesome.  He'd bust out these fake teeth at the end of the season and make all the girls laugh and laugh.  We couldn't have asked for a better coach!
Grace is a really good soccer player, but sadly, she has no interest in playing any more.  She's currently in what she's adamantly insisting will be her last season of soccer.  It's too bad, because she is so good at it.  But Reid and I don't feel like we should insist she play.  And who knows, maybe she'll change her mind someday...though when I talk to moms with kids in "real" soccer leagues, I secretly rejoice in her decision :)

5) Crusade of the Unpaid Maid
It's no small secret that I hate cleaning my house.  I guess that most people actually hate cleaning their house, but the joy they feel over having a clean house impels them to push through that hatred.  Or, alternatively, the malaise they feel at having a messy house motivates them to do something about it.  I, unfortunately, have neither of those issues.  I neither love a clean house nor do I really mind a messy one.  Well, at least not as much as I wish I did.

Reid, however, loves a clean house.  And I love a happy Reid.  (I can't help but love a cranky Reid, too, but I prefer a happy Reid, who prefers a clean house).  So, i did what all nut-jobs like me would do--i made a project out of cleaning by creating a little friendly competition.  I did a little research, found a few websites run by people who clean their houses enough that they have blogs dedicated to it, and designed a "daily cleaning schedule".  The competition would last 6 weeks.  I assigned points to each task, came up with many names for our little competition, and enlisted as many of my friends as I could.  We each put $10 into the pot, and whoever won got the $$ for carpet cleaning!  It was a brilliant idea!  Fail proof!  Fool proof!  I was going to create a website, sell advertising space, go public and make millions!! Not to mention have a clean house!!

Alas, it was not nearly as successful as I'd imagined.  At least not for me.  My house was spotless for 6 entire days.  Baseboards, window sills, blinds, junk areas--spotless!  But my children did not fare so well. It turns out that cleaning like a mad-woman turned me into a mad-woman.  Literally.  I was always angry.  And if they even so much as looked at my sliding door I'd yell at them to "get away from the cleanliness!"   We didn't read any books, play any games (how could we? that would just make a mess!) and we certainly did NOT get out the playdough, the crayons, or really anything FUN!!  I couldn't handle it!  I couldn't figure out how to be a mom and have a clean house.  My hat is off to all of you amazing women who do this on a regular basis!

The extreme cleaning made me crazy.  And so i stopped.  And so did 12 of the 15 fellow crusaders who joined.  But the 3 who didn't?  Well, maybe they can leave a comment about how it was awesome and life changing and the best 6 weeks of their lives!  But I doubt they will.

Anyway, on the off-chance that one of my dear blog friends wants to know exactly what the competition looked like, i've attempted to imbed it here.  And if you're wondering what those oh-so-clever names were, well, here are just a few...
Sparkling Quarters for Sparkling Quarters
Immaculate Habitat for Humanity and Sanity 
Order in the Roost
Dirtless Dwellings
Spotless Abodes a la mode
Spic and Span for your Man
Lean, Mean Squeaky-Clean Machines
Crusade of the Unpaid Maid

and here's our point-tracking system...for the 0% of you interested in this...

6) Eliza's 3rd Birthday
It seems wrong to include an event as significant as my 3rd child turning 3 in this long list of random events of 2011.  But the poor girl turned three at a fairly crazy time. (Reid travelling all over the world, my sanity barely hangin' on, school just starting, etc)  We felt very pleased that a cake was made, candles were blown out, gifts were given,  and she was as happy as a clam.  Bless her heart for being so least in this one way :)

Eliza didn't necessarily want a train cake, or request a train cake.  But, when I found the mold buried in my cupboards, I excitedly asked her if she'd like a "pink and purple train cake?!?!"  She so kindly obliged :)
Here she is, thinking hard about what her wish is going to be.  It was probably something about how she'd like to have a real birthday party someday.  
I just found this picture and had to post it--mostly because it tells me how much she has changed in the 6 months since her b-day.  She never runs around without clothes now, and she's fully potty trained--night and day, and has been for months.  How has she already grown-up so much?    

7) My Garage Sale Baby Shower
Some dear friends of mine insisted on throwing a baby shower for me.  I insisted that they not.  And who won?  we ALL did!

We met up on a Saturday morning, divided into 4 cars, and hit every single garage sale in a 10 mile radius--all for my little James!  It was absolutely awesome!  I mean, most of us LOVE going to garage sales anyway.  And all of us LOVE finding amazing deals.  And we ALL agreed that it was the best twist on a baby shower ever!!  We met up at Einsteing's where I opened all of my gifts.  There were soooooooooooo many clothes there, in soooooooooo many different sizes.  I mean, the table was completely covered in gift bags that were FULL of clothes, blankets, shoes, toys, etc.  It was so fun seeing what people found and hearing their stories.  And James got an entire wardrobe of clothes--3-24months!!    Thank you ALL for the best shower ever!  Any chance we can repeat in about 8 months when I run out of clothes?  just a thought....

This picture does no justice to the magnitude of clothing there was, and does too much justice to the magnitude of baby I  was carrying...
It took 3 full loads of laundry to wash all these clothes!
8) Abby's Preschool Graduation
Abby attended preschool 2 days/week in 2010/2011.  It was such a good thing for her.  She was so cute at her little graduation, singing all the words to all of the songs and smiling for the cameras.  She loved the attention she got :)  I am so grateful for the wonderful teacher she had!!  we love Little Farmer Preschool!

9)  Cloth Diapers
For the first 4 months of James's life he was (mostly) in cloth diapers.  I really liked using them, and it was easier than I'd imagined.  But once he grew out of the size small diapers I'd bought, i decided not to buy the next size up. I realized that I wasn't quite as committed to using them as I needed to be.  But I did learn the answers to two major questions I'd always had about using cloth diapers.  1) Doesn't all the energy/water you use to clean them cancel out the environmental benefit of using cloth diapers?  2) Isn't it lots more work/effort than disposable diapers?  

The answers?  No and Yes.  

By just throwing his diapers in the wash that i was already doing, and then sun drying them, I definitely determined that i can no longer believe that cloth diapers waste energy or water, even if I'd thrown them in the dryer.  They use about as much as all my girls socks and underwear do. 

But they ARE more work.  Not a ton, but definitely more.  And I guess I got to a point where that little bit of effort that had been worth it at the beginning, no longer was.  I still think about maybe getting some G diapers and maybe i will someday.  But for now, life feels like it has me just inches away from the edge of a very tall cliff so I'll probably stick with Huggies for a while.

But i learned something so invaluable by doing cloth diapers, I have to share with all baby-having readers out there. Are you ready for it?  Baby poop stains--you know the ones that don't come out with Shout, Clorox bleach, Spray 'n Wash or anything?--those stains easily come out with 2-3 hours of direct sunshine!! You just have to rinse it out, put it in the sun, and voila!!!  When I learned this I secretly hoped it wasn't true, b/c it's so crappy that i didn't know this earlier! (get it? crappy!  so funny!) It only took having FOUR babies to learn this little trick that surely billions of moms before me have known.

And on that lovely note, i'm gonna wrap this marathon post up!  Maybe now I can blog about what's going on in 2012!!