What a Difference

I’m back!  I enjoyed the past week with my family and spending some much-needed time away from work!  It was amazing and I am sad to be returning to work today!  The week went so quickly!  We were busy with family visits starting on Christmas Eve until Saturday night!  It was craziness, but such great moments.  We loved all of the time we spent with our family and were spoiled beyond words!  We are so lucky!

One of the highlights from our time off was a get together that we had with our friends.  All of the husband’s are fellow police officers and all of the wives were pregnant together – completely unplanned.  We all became good friends during this time and now the babies are friends as well!

We’ve made it a tradition to get all of our babies together each Christmas.  We decided it would be cute to put the kids in their PJ’s and to snap photos each year.  Last year, the babes were so young – from left to right – Brooklyn – 6 months, JoJo – 9 months, Kenzie – 7 months.

Look at how big they’ve gotten!  It’s amazing the difference a year makes!  Last year, JoJo had mastered sitting up, McKenzie was just starting to on a regular basis and Brooklyn was just at the very beginning of sitting up – someone propped her up and let her go just in time for us to snap the picture!

This year, they were moving targets and impossible to get all looking in the same direction or sitting still at the same time!  I love these pictures and look forward to this tradition for years to come!

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Here’s hoping you all had a lovely Christmas!

Tinsel – Our Elf

I debated long and hard as to whether or not we wanted to start the Elf on the Shelf tradition with McKenzie this year.  To me, she seemed too young to grasp the concept of a magical elf reporting back to Santa each night.

Then Halloween came.  We don’t have many Halloween decorations, but I thought it was important to be festive and put some out.  I made a mental note to buy more decorations for next year.

Since we didn’t have that many decorations, they are stored in a bin with the other various holiday decorations – Valentine’s Day and Easter.  As we were decorating, McKenzie found the bin – along with the ceramic white bunny.  That bunny became her best friend.  She brought us each to the spare bedroom to show us the bunny and would say, “Shh..bunny sleeping.”  It was hilarious!

Being the slackers that we are, the bin never made its way back to the attic.  It remained in our spare bedroom until the end of October.  Each morning, McKenzie would run from her bedroom to see the bunny.  She loved it!  The bunny became our best friend, as well.  It became the ultimate distraction technique.  Need to sneak out of the house in the morning to leave for work? Kenzie and Dad would go on a hunt to find the bunny.  She would bring her Cheerios to bait the bunny and feed it breakfast.  So cute!  Temper tantrum that just wouldn’t end?  “Shh….the bunny’s sleeping” would stop her in her tracks every time.

That’s when Brian and I decided that the elf was well worth it this year!  Even if she doesn’t understand the full magic of the elf, she loves searching for him each day and will circle back to wave to him and offer him snacks throughout the day.   We’ve been very aware of where we place the elf, as to not tempt her too much, but she has been surprisingly good about not touching him!

So with love, we welcomed Tinsel into our lives.  He joined our family the day after we set-up our tree – November 24th.  Brian was hesitant at first to start this so early, but then he realized that I may be more excited for the Elf than McKenzie.

There were in-depth conversations over whether or not we should have a boy elf or a girl elf.  Brian laughed hysterically at me when I told him that we had to get a boy elf.  In my mind, elves are boys and (I know…this next comment is going to sound so bad….) boy elves take behaving much more serious than girl elves.  Girl elves tend to give second chances and reminders.  Boy elves are going to present the straight facts to Santa!  See why he was laughing?!  It’s just how my mind works!

Once we decided on a boy elf, then came lengthy debates over his name.  We liked Jingle and Chip (short for chocolate chip), but ultimately wanted something that we thought McKenzie would say.  We chose Tinsel.  The name also pays direct homage to the grandmother’s – one who dislikes Tinsel and never allowed it growing up (my mom!) and the other who is the sole reason that Tinsel companies are still in business (Brian’s Mom).

Needless to say, we love the name and love even more when McKenzie yells  – Tin-Sell each morning as she runs to search for him.

We’ve had some fun with this!  Below are some of Tinsel’s favorite hiding spots!  As an aside: It’s our first year, so we’re excited.  Don’t hate because we planned out a calendar full of ideas a month in advance.  There were still nights we forgot to move Tinsel, but all in all, it’s been fun!

Holly Jolly PJ Party

I’m linking up with DarciAshleyJennyJulie and Natasha for their Holly Jolly PJ Party Link-up!

I can’t even begin to tell you how many pairs of Christmas pajamas this little girl has.  Fair warning…picture overload.  I just couldn’t choose.  There’s something so innocent about a little girl in cute pajamas in front of a Christmas tree!  Some of these are my favs of the season so far!

Love how big her little belly looks in this one…although it’s really just the PJ’s

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It was even fun to decorate the dog! He’s such a good sport!

We didn’t get through all of the pajamas that she has, because I started taking pictures later than I wanted, but you get the idea!  Amazingly adorable!

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Happy Holidays and thanks for joining me for another amazing pajama party!

McKenzie | 18 Months |

Again, a little late, but better late than never!

So little McKenzie…You’re a 1 and a half!  How in the world did that happen?!  Weren’t we just planning your first birthday party?!  This past month has been so much fun with you!

What’s Happening:

The Start of Potty Training
You’ve shown interest and I’m cautiously optimistic! I know it is probably still a little way off, but you’ve told Jen at daycare and us when you need to go!

potty

Preschool
I can’t even believe that I just typed that.  How did we get here!?  I’ve been researching local preschools for the past month or two.  First, most are way more expensive than I realized that they would be.  Second, most are charging a lot of money for only 2 hours, 2 days a week.  I was shocked!  After researching a little more, we found a local preschool that we love!  I can’t even wait for you to start there in September!  You are going to learn so much and have so much fun!

Vocabulary
I’m not even sure how many words you know now.  You talk all day long!  What I love about your learning words is that you are finally able to communicate with us!  A few nights ago, you were so exhausted.  We gave you your bath and I sat down with you, just as I do each night, to hold you for a few minutes before you climb in to bed.  You lost your mind.   I wasn’t even sure why!  I assumed it was because you were overly tired.  As I listened closer,  I finally caught on to what you were saying as you were crying! Book! You were upset that we didn’t read!  My little creature of habit! I let you pick out a book, we read it, you curled right up in my arms and went to sleep without a fight.  I love that you can tell us things now!

Your newest phrase that you say each night as we end a story, is “The End!”  You are listening and learning and I love it!

Leading up to Halloween, we taught you Boo, since you were going to be a ghost.  Anytime we asked you what a ghost said, you would yell, “Boo!”

We’ve moved on and skipped over Thanksgiving, since “Gobble Gobble” is a little harder to say.  We’ve started working on Christmas.  If we ask you what Santa says, you reply, “Ho ho!” and if we ask whose birthday it is on Christmas you say, “Baby Cheezus”.  It makes me giggle every time.  There is some slight confusion though because any time you want a Cheez It cracker, you will say Cheezus.  We’ve got some clarification to do!

Favorite Thing
Singing the ABC’s.  It’s your favorite song.  As we sing it, you join in with a random E, G, I, or Z.  You bob your head as we say each letter.  After we’re done singing, you will sing it on your own.  You have the rhythm of the song down, but mumble through most of the letters until you hit your favorites – E, G, I and Z.

Eating
You eat a lot, but are still kind of picky.  You hate any form of meat.  Veggies and fruits…you’ve got it.  Put a chicken, ham, turkey, or meat loaf in front of you and you remove them from your plate.  It’s so bizarre.  We’ve been working on finding new forms of protein that you will actually eat, but haven’t been too successful.

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You have also become finicky with how your food is presented.  Some days you want things cut, so we cut them up.  Then the next meal, you refuse to eat because you wanted it whole.  Then the next meal you want things cut up.  We can’t keep up!

Sleep Habits
Your sleep habits have been less than stellar ever since daylight savings time.  I think we also had a touch of sleep regression going on at the same time, which means we haven’t been getting the greatest sleep!  For about 2 weeks, you would wake up at 2 in the morning, open your door and stand at the gate.  You would call for me and I would come get you.  As soon as you saw me, you would run back to your bed, grab your blanket, and motion to be picked up.  We’d sit in your chair and rock and you’d fall back to sleep quickly.  You would sleep until about 5:15.  Then you were up again for good!    We’ve been a little tired, but it has gotten better.  The past few nights, you’ve slept through the night again and have only been getting up a little earlier than normal!

Outings
We’ve been busy this past month!

You had you’re second Halloween.  Such a cute little ghost!

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You went to your first show – Disney on Ice. We went with your friend Ella and you loved it!

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You thought you were home, because you insisted on taking your shoes off!

Date Day with Dad – Daycare was closed, so Dad stayed home with you.  You went to a bounce house with inflatable moon bounces with your friend, Adelyn, and then out to lunch!  You had so much fun!

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This month has been one of the best!  You are for sure your own little person, with an ever emerging personality.  It’s so fun watching you grow and I’m so thankful that I’m your Mom!

I love you through and through.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow too.

Love,
Mom

The Thankful Project: Day 19 – A Book

I go in spurts where I will read a lot, and then not at all.  I normally don’t have a lot of down time to read, but when I do I normally fall asleep reading.  It’s really a lose/lose situation.  I’d venture to guess I will love reading a lot more when I have more time for it.

That’s why my favorite book isn’t one published by a well-known author.  It’s not on the New York Time’s Best Seller list.  It’s one that you’ve never heard of.  It’s called Letters of Life and Love.  It’s a book written by us, Brian and I.   I’m so thankful for this book now and I know that it will become treasured even more as the years past and the vivid memories of McKenzie’s first year fades.

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Before McKenzie was born, we each wrote her a letter.  We talked about how the pregnancy had been, how excited we were, our thoughts and our fears.  I knew from the day I was pregnant that I was going to write her letters throughout her first year.  I also knew I wanted to write one before she was born.  One day when she is pregnant and feeling unsure of the future and what it holds (because every single Mom-to-be goes through it), I wanted her to be able to have a letter from me.  To know that all of the worries, concerns, fears and excitement is normal.  When I told Brian that I was going to write her a letter, he said that he would write her one too.

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What started out as one letter, turned into letters for each month of her life from both of us.

We typed the letters each month.  Brian wouldn’t let me read his letters, until I came up with the idea for the book.  He told me that these letters for McKenzie and that if she chose to share them with me one day, that maybe I could see them then!  I’m glad he had a change of heart!  His letters are amazing and I know something that McKenzie will look on with love throughout her life.

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I decided to compile the book through Blurb.  The program was user-friendly and easy to use.  The book is made up of two chapters –Letters from Mom and Letters from Dad.  We included pictures with each month of our letters.

We had it printed shortly after her first birthday and it turned out incredible.  It has a hard cover and the pages are beautifully glossy and thick.

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We’re not sure when we’re going to give the book to her, but it something that we can’t wait to look back on over the years.  It’s already fun looking back to see how far we have come as parents and how much she has grown.

I’m so thankful for this book and that we decided to take the time to document our lives and McKenzie’s for her first year.

What’s a book that you are thankful for?

 

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I’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

The Thankful Project: Day 18 – A Choice

We make choices, day in and day out.  We make big decisions and decisions that are made without much thought and effort.

Today, the one decision that I’m thankful we made was to send McKenzie to an in-home daycare.  I’m thankful for Jen and the love that she’s shown my daughter for the past year and a half.

One of the biggest decisions that you make as a soon to be mom is whether you will return to work or stay home. For those of us who are not lucky enough to be able to stay home with their family, there’s yet another decision – what daycare? Should I choose an in-home or a center? What’s going to be best? I know this is a heated debate and there are strong opinions for both sides. That’s not what this post is about. This post is about the decision I made for my family, which has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far!

We met Jen through a referral after our original daycare plans fell through.  Our spot was given to another family, a current family who recently told the director that they were expecting their second child.  I completely understood why this was happening, but as a planner and an emotional pregnant woman, I was devastated.  I had everything planned out and now it all seemed to be falling through.

That’s when we found Jen!  It’s hard to see it at the time, but everything works out exactly as it should.  We were referred to Jen by a friend of my sister’s.   We met with Jen at her house and I instantly liked her.  The house was immaculate – you would have never known she had crazy kids running around all day – and Jen was so warm and welcoming.

I hadn’t even had McKenzie yet, but I was anxious about having to go back to work.  There was just something about Jen.  I felt confident with her.  She has four amazing little boys of her own, so I knew instantly I could feel comfortable with her.  She knew what she was doing.

Daycare Crafts

Daycare Crafts

My maternal instincts didn’t lie.  What started off as a typical daycare/parent relationship has evolved into a friendship.  McKenzie loves Jen and Jen has welcomed McKenzie into her family, as if she were one of her own.   I’ve grown to trust Jen.  Pick-up’s take longer these days, because a friendship has formed.  Jen fills me in on McKenzie’s day and then the conversation continues.  We’ve vented about things that have made us frustrated and have become each other’s sounding boards.  My words aren’t doing this justice because I adore Jen and her entire family!

Throughout the past year and a half, she has been McKenzie’s Mom away from Mom.  She has been comforting to McKenzie when necessary, has taught her so much and has even been tough when needed.  Time outs have occurred, but McKenzie has always learned her lesson.  Jen is everything that I could have hoped for!

McKenzie's first time-out

McKenzie’s first time-out

My heart hurts to know that McKenzie won’t be going to Jen’s after this summer.  McKenzie’s grandmother is retiring and going to watch her.  She’ll be spending part of her time at a preschool and part of the time with her Bibi (what McKenzie calls her).  I know this is good for McKenzie.  It will enable her to make all of the memories that I made when my grandparent’s watched me.   She will still be equally as loved and looked after (if not more…you know how grandmothers are!), but it’s a change, and change is never easy for me!  It will be a new routine, new drop off schedule, new location.  It’ll take a few weeks and we’ll find our new rhythm.  We’ll have a new normal.

We’re amazingly thankful that Bibi will be able to spend time with McKenzie, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a big part of me will miss Jen.  She’s what I know.  She’s my resource and my friend.  The day I told Jen that McKenzie wouldn’t be returning next year, I sobbed like a baby.   I am dreading McKenzie’s last day with everything in me.

I know her new beginnings are going to be just as great, but I know that a huge piece of both of our hearts will be left with Jen.  We are thankful beyond words for her and the love that she’s shown our family.

Today, take the time to thank those who take care of your children when you can’t be there.  They are so important and are often taken for granted.

Words can’t express how grateful I am.

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I’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

The Thankful Project: Day 10 – A Memory

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I’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

There are so many memories that I am thankful for.  I ultimately struggled to narrow it to one.  The one memory that is probably the most recent and ingrained in my mind for obvious reasons is the birth of McKenzie.  For those of you who know me, know that I am a planner.  Just when I thought that everything was going as planned – with a scheduled induction – McKenzie had plans of her own.

I wrote McKenzie a letter shortly after she was born.  I wanted to remember the details of her delivery.  I didn’t want to have to recall it years from now, when they memory became foggy.  I wanted her to know about it.  Not necessarily now or in the coming years, but when she is having children of her own and wants to know what my experience was like.  I wanted her to know.  Here is a part of the letter.  Here is a memory that I am thankful for.

“You decided to make your appearance on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.  Just 2 weeks prior, we thought you would be in our life.  We had a false alarm on Cinco de Mayo and were sent home, after being admitted to and spending 12 hours in the hospital.  You just wanted to tease use!

After meeting with the doctor after our hospital visit, she decided that she would induce us on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.  We were set to go to the hospital at 6 a.m. that morning to be induced and finally meet you. I had planned on working Monday, having a date night with Dad Monday night, and then having a “me” day on Tuesday – with pedicures and shopping included.  Well, after working all day Monday, I came home.   As we were about to leave to head to our favorite restaurant in Delaware for our dinner date, I started having contractions.  They were strong and uncomfortable and kept getting stronger. As we were driving, I asked Dad if we could skip dinner and head home, because I was feeling that bad.  He asked what I wanted for dinner and I said that I would just eat crackers at home and that he should get something to eat.  After ordering a sub and waiting for 10 minutes to get the sub, my contractions were even stronger.  Dad asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I responded – yes!!!!  You were set to be delivered at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) in Baltimore, MD, which is located about 45 minutes away from where we live.  At this point, it was the peak of rush hour and it was raining, so Dad advised that it was going to take us a little longer to get there.  I told him that we should go to the local hospital, because I was feeling that bad!

We headed to our local hospital.  Dad dropped Mom off at the front door of the Emergency Room while he parked the car.  I checked in and they took me right to the Labor and Delivery Triage area.  As I was changing into a hospital gown in the rest room, I heard the nurse ask your Dad if this was our first.  He said yes and she informed him that we would have had plenty of time to make it to Baltimore, because first time deliveries typically take a long time!  Boy was she wrong!

After I changed into a gown, the nurse checked my progress and I was 8 cm already!  I was almost ready to start pushing and to meet you!  I was in so much pain and wanted an epidural badly, but because I was so far along already, I was unable to have any medication of any kind!  It wasn’t what I planned (and as you know by now – I’m a planner!) and it made me very anxious.  The pain was getting so bad!

Since I was so far along, they rushed Dad and I from triage to a Labor and Delivery Room.  By the time we got to the room, it was about 7:00 p.m.  The nurses got Mom settled and put an IV in me.  Then the doctor (who Mom had never even met before!) came in to introduce himself to me.  He did an exam and I was almost 10 cm!  My water still had not broken, so he broke it for me.  It was painless, but let me tell you – as soon as that happened, I felt the need to push.  This was about 7:30 p.m. and the nurses advised that they wanted me to wait a little longer before pushing.  They said they would check in on me at 7:45 to see if it was time.  This was the longest 15 minutes of my life!  I had no medication to take the edge off!  I was loud and Dad said I screamed – but I’m okay with that!

The nurses arrived back in the room at 7:45 to check me and told me that I was ready to push.  I pushed from 7:45 to 8:17 p.m. when you made your appearance in the world.  It was not as bad as I had expected – especially since the end product was you! 

As soon as you were born, they placed you on my chest and Dad and I took you in!  You were so perfect and everything that Dad and I had hoped for!  You weighed in at 6 lbs. 9 oz. and 19.5 inches long!  Both Dad and I were 8 lbs. 9 oz., so we assumed we would have a bigger baby!  Instead, we had this perfect little peanut, whom amazed us from the second she was born!

This is the memory I am thankful for.  This was my first lesson in motherhood – that no matter how prepared you are you never know what to expect; that as a Mom, you have to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.  I am thankful for this lesson and the little person that we brought in to this world!

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