Monday, September 9, 2013

Cameron - age 2

Our second year with this little man flew even faster than the first, which I didn't think was possible. How I have adored every minute with this little boy.  He has such a tender, relaxed, go with the flow personality that makes him delightful to be with.  I feel like we understand each other's hearts and have a special little relationship.  A few things about his second year...

I nursed him until he was 15 months old, and as usual weaning was very sad.  I'll never forget the first time we walked into the room we usually nursed in and Cameron reached for the bed to nurse.  When we walked out without nursing he fussed quite a bit and my heart broke into a million pieces.  He had a milk allergy until 18 months, so after I weaned him he drank rice milk mixed with canola oil.  I also had to make sure he got enough protein. I spoke with a pediatric dietician and made sure he ate eggs, cheese, beans, peanut butter, etc to make sure his little brain got all the fat and protein he needed. He started whole milk at 18 months without a problem!

He had his first haircut when he was about 19 months old.  I didn't want to get rid of the precious curls, but it did look better afterwards:

This little guy LOVES to keep up with the big kids/people.  He runs with them, laughs at the jokes they are saying, tries to tell his own jokes,  jumps on the tramp with them and wants to be one of them.  He loves to use his vacuum we found at a garage sale that turns on while I am vacuuming. He'll vacuum with me for hours.  As soon as I get the vacuum out, he runs to the closet and hurries to turn his on and work with me.

He has spent a lot of time in the car being #4, shuttling big brothers and sisters to school, sports, music and church activities.  He travels like a champ and keeps entertained with books, jokes, watching for his beloved "horsies" out the window and videos.  His favorite for months was Winnie the Pooh, but now his two favorite are Bolt and "Mater" (Cars).

I think he fell in love with "horsies" at a class field trip for Blake's preschool class when he got a chance to sit on one.  Ever since then he's been pretty smitten.

He has a special love and relationship for his "sissy".  She would like to keep him a baby forever and cherishes any moment he will snuggle her of love her.  When he has to go to time out, he reaches for her (or Blake or Trenton) and calls "Sissy, sissy help!"  Kali stands ever ready to coddle him, and will often stand at the doorway talking him through the timeout and counting down the time for him :).

A few of his phrases are "I want it!" (Iwanit) or "I-don't-want-it" (Inowanit).  When asked a question he responds with a chipper "Sure!"  If he wants a piece of candy it goes something like this: "Caneecaneecanee peeeees!" He surprised me today by counting to 10 all by himself!  We've worked on numbers and letters, but I was pleasantly surprised.  He never says yes - he response in the affirmative is "uh."  He says no, but only "uh" for yes.  It confuses most people until they get to know him :).

He loves all things trucks, trains, and cars and we rarely see him around the house without one in his hands.  He loves to drive his cars all over anything (bumpers, chairs, people, beds).  You can be his best friend by just sitting with him and "driving" a little car all over with him.

His other love is riding his tricycle.  He sits on the seat and just pushes himself along the road by shuffling his little feet on the ground.  It is so darn cute and he'll do it for hours if we let him.  He love to ride around the block - over and over and over.  It is pretty tricky trying to get him to come back in the house.

He loves his pacifier, which he has coined the term "Fa-ho" for.  We give him quite a reaction when he pops two at a time in his mouth and grins at us - it's dang cute! We weaned the Fa-ho this past week, and he asks for it a few times a day, but then has been able to sleep without it (crossing our fingers it continues to go this smoothly).

Unfortunately he will not ride in strollers or shopping carts. Period. At all.  This makes shopping with him, well - a nightmare.  I try to avoid it at all costs.  He has fussed and climed out of strollers as long as I can remember.  We've had a few "you-will-stay-in-the-shopping-cart-and-learn" attempts and they end with him screaming and crying the entire 45 minutes.  When he makes up his mind...  Not worth the struggle. It's not pretty.  His latest thing is insisting on pushing the shopping cart.  That works about as well as you can imagine.

His birthday was so much fun to celebrate!  The kids made him breakfast in bed and delivered it all together.  Trenton insisted on turning a little pot I had into a "Honey Pot" for Cameron as he just adored Winnie the Pooh.

The honey pot was the highlight of cameron's day.  He played with it all day long and whenever he sees it months later he still points and says: "Honey Pot!"

We threw a Winnie the Pooh Birthday Party for him & found all the stuffed characters at a local thrift shop.  We were so excited to see his face as he opened each one and he did not disappoint! Man did he love his little characters.

We ended the day by taking the whole family to Chuck E Cheese - the kids thought it was a fabulous way to celebrate Cameron's birthday!

This little guy has brought so much joy and love into our home.   I thank Heavenly Father every day for his easy going, happy, delightful personality.  He is a treasure from heaven!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Christmas 2012


December is always a busy, delightful month.  This year's started off with Steve finding an incredible deal at Home Depot on a 9 foot pre-lit tree for our living room, which was simply stunning!

Our ward did a children's live nativity for the Christmas Dinner & asked if Blake would be the donkey.  I told the sister asking that Blake was a busy, rambunctious boy and I could not guarantee what would happen up on stage (imagine the worst, then double it).  She said - "Oh, we carefully considered personalities for the principal roles.  And we would LOVE for Blake to be the donkey!"  Hmmm... It was an absolutely precious performace - luckily we cleared the stage fright "I-am-not-going-up-there-to-be-the-donkey" hurdle just as he was supposed to take Mary to Bethlehem and the performance went off without a hitch.

We had our annual Christmas music & gingerbread house making night with the Walkers and Uncle Ket who moved here from Boise and we were lucky enough to have him spend time with us before his family came out to join him. We knew him and his wife, Nicole in Hawaii and love this fabulous couple.

Miss Kali also had her first performance with her little performance group. She had a solo and really, really loved being on stage.

Ket was kind enough to let us stay a night in the hotel he became the General Manager of The Country Inn & Suites by DIA.  I was a little worried we couldn't squeeze it in with our packed December, but we made time for it & it was so much fun.  Like a mini overnight family vacation.  Ket was a super uncle for us - including retrieving Kali's tooth that fell out & went down the bathroom sink.  We LOVED spending time with him.

The kids were very helpful assembling neighbor gifts :).  I think I found our annual neighbor gift.  We make this yummy smelling stovetop concoction every year & thanks to Pinterest found a way to share it.

The best part of the year was that our family came out to visit for Christmas!  We got to host!  Anna brought Kody, who was a good sport getting grilled & questioned by his future brother-in-laws.  We loved Kody from the minute we met him.

They made him feel very welcome as seen in the picture below.

I had to work on Christmas Day, so my family was gracious enough to celebrate on the 24th, making the 23rd our Christmas Eve.  It worked out well enough, but as I pulled out of the driveway waving goodbye to Trenton I vowed I would NEVER work a Christmas again, EVER.

We had a fun nativity scene the night before, a Santa sighting on Christmas Eve & a fun, spoiled-rotten by Grandma & Grandpa & Santa Christmas morning.  Trenton got a chess set and a football, Kali got an American Girl Doll, Blake got a Spider-man shooter set, and Cameron got a basketball hoop.  Steve and I continued our tradition of doing The Twelve Days of Christmas for a family in lieu of gifts to each other.  I love that man of mine SO much & that both of our favorite gifts is giving to others.

How we loved that cousin time of ours, sledding and using our membership to go to the zoo downtown.  We stayed long enough to catch the beginning of Zoo Lights & saw enough indoor exhibits that we stayed nice and warm.  What a marvelous, marvelous month!

Thanksgiving 2012

 Our holiday story of 2012 begins a couple days before the holiday.  We were getting ready to spend Thanksgiving with Great-Grandma Alley & Aunt Lynette in Laramie.  Cameron had a tummy bug the day before, but seemed on the tail end of it & ok to travel. We had packed our suitcases that Tuesday night and in the morning watched Kali take Cameron out of the crib on the video cam.  The thing that was different was he let her rock him for quite a while, which he never does.  It was a precious scene, but it got me thinking something was up.  Kali brought him into me and he fell asleep immediately on my chest which really concerned me.  This was definitely not our normal Cameron.  He wouldn't let me put him down as we got going for the day, but finally let me sit him in his high chair. I turned to get breakfast started and out of the corner of my eye saw him starting to shake.  His little fists were balled up next to his face, his eyes rolled back in his head and he was having a seizure!  It was THE LONGEST two minutes of my life.  My years of neuro nursing told my mind there was no reason he should have been seizing, that it was just a seizure, he was in a safe spot and all I needed to do was watch him.  But my mommy heart was PANICKED. Especially at the end of his seizure when his face turned blue and he was taking small gasps for air - I felt completely out of control and shocked.

The kids were all in the kitchen with me, asking "What is he doing?  What's a seizure?"  Trenton launched into an explanation about blood cells changing in the middle of the seizure (?!).  I told the kids to pray and asked Trenton to run and get my phone so I could video it & have proof for the medical world it really was a seizure. The pediatrician advised me to call 911, but he was breathing and I knew he was just post-ictal - an ambulance wouldn't help anything. I called Steve who was able to rush home from work and we dropped off the kids at our dear friends the Walkers on our way to Parker Adventist ER.  I also called Aunt Lynette in tears telling her what was going on.

They ran a number of tests (UA, EKG, blood work) which he was unresponsive to, and gave him some IV fluids.  When the words "breath holding spell" came out of the doctors mouth I whipped out my proof :).  The couldn't find an answer - everything looked normal, so after a few hours they sent us home & instructed us to follow up with a neurologist.  The ER doc said he may have acting so lethargic that morning because he had already had a seizure which breaks my heart thinking of him having one alone in his crib.  But that is speculation - we'll never know. On the way home Aunt Lynette called and said they were bring Thanksgiving to us - that day :). It meant so much to me that they would pack up all the dinner fixings and sweet Grandma (who it is so difficult to travel for) would be willing to make the trek down.  We got home & Cameron slept for hours.  Lynette & Grandma arrived that afternoon & Lynette instructed me to just hold my baby, which I was more that happy and grateful to do.

Lynette and Grandma made it a wonderful holiday.  They played with and took care of the kiddos,


Aunt Lynette made her yummy rolls with Kali happy to help,

and made it a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner


Kali made the place cards - I thought they were so darn cute:


Aunt Lynette was even a gem & took our Christmas card family pictures. Here's a shot with Grandma:


If I remember right, Aunt Lynette also cleaned out the pantry and the fridge and left the kitchen spotless - all in about 24 hours :).  She really does the work of 10 women all wrapped into one.And thank goodness, because I was pretty shaken up for a few days after the seizure.

It took us a few months to get into the neurologist and the news was fabulous!  They said Cameron's seizure was caused by a neuropathic stomach virus - the same bug that causes diarrhea caused his seizure.  How crazy is that?! As we were leaving the neurology department at Children's Hospital we saw so many children with sever brain damage/injuries.  I left SO, SO grateful for my healthy children.

I also wanted to include our thankful tree - love this tradition!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mexico 2012

For my 33 birthday, Steve took me out to Red Lobster and set up a Price is Right game (one of my favorites) on the iPad in front of me.  Showcase #1 was a $500 shopping spree and Showcase #2 was an REI credit for a timeshare anywhere in the world.  My jaw about hit the table. There was no question what I would choose - and he wasn't surprised either as I talked about traveling somewhere away with him oh, about once a day.  It was a dream come true.  He had done work for a lady who paid him with her REI timeshare points. He mentioned taking the kids to the mountains with the timeshare points, but there was no way we were using the points for that.  I started researching as the world was our travel destination.  I wanted tropical with some place to scuba dive.  After countless hours, weeks, and almost months I narrowed it down to the Caribbean and found a resort that looked amazing - The Grand Mayan.  Our final (and biggest) obstacle was finding someone to love on our little ones while we were gone.  We called Grandma up and she said she'd be able to do it!  We booked a ticket for her, made our reservations for The Grand Mayan, made our reservations on Spirit Airlines (cheap as can be), did some extra work to finance the deal (I am pretty sure Steve was not planning on me choosing somewhere international :) ), got our passports ready and counted down the days.

 Grandma arrived a day early to ease the transition.  The kids had been healthy for months - not a runny nose in the bunch; despite my prayers it would stay that way for her it was not to be :).  We took an overnight flight to FL (had a whole row each to ourselves) , then off to Cancun where we caught a bus down to the Grand Mayan.

We chose a room with a kitchen as we were planning on traveling as frugally as possible.  We got the surprise of a lifetime with a $300 room credit when we arrived.  It took the concierge stating it 3 times for me and putting it in writing before I would believe it.  It changed the trip completely.  We divided it out and had about $50 to spend each day.  We could make that work :).

After we got settled, I couldn't wait to start exploring Mexico.  I had read the cheapest way to travel was on the collectivos.  With kids this would have been tricky to say the least, but with just Steve and I it was an adventure waiting to happen!  It was a good mile from the resort to the main highway, so they golf-carted us to the highway and I looked at Steve and said "Now we cross the highway and wait."  He just stood there.  "Are you serious?"  "Let's try it, it'll be fun."  Lo and behold a collectivo stopped, we hopped on, told him where we wanted to go and thus began Steve's favorite part of the trip.  Being with the Latins :).  It was such an inexpensive way to travel ($1.50 each way) and a great way to step out of the tourist scene, which Steve and I prefer (although the resort did have it's perks I grew quite attached to throughout the week).  Safety may have been questionable, but we had heard very good things about traveling this way.

We got to Playa Del Carmen and were walking the streets avoiding every single person who was trying to sell, peddle, take our $, until we met Dolores.  She was a kick in the pants!  She promised us the moon and the stars to listen to a timeshare presentation and the adventerous side of us kicked in - why not?!  It seemed like it was part of the adventure in Mexico.  She specifically promised us a Tulum tour, a Chichenitza tour, breakfast, a spa service, and a 6 pack of Diet Coke.  We thought that all sounded too good to be true, but why not try it out?  As we were walking away - she said we needed to do one more thing - pay her $50.  What?!  I was ready to wash my hands of the whole thing, then thought - why not try it?  There was no way we would get our $50 back in my mind, but I wanted to see what would happen.  So we did it, walking away thinking we were CRAZY.  We ate at a so-so mexican place in Playa and stocked up on food at Walmart, then took a collectivo home.

Steve's Spanish knowledge was invaluable and it was a delight to see him interact with the Latin people.  He is so smart. And good with people.  And willing to get out of his comfort zone and be adventurous.  I LOVE all that about him!   It was fun watching him re-live many parts of his mission.  I think he was happy to discover there was not quite as much corruption in the police force here and we didn't have to present our 'papers' and be searched randomly :).

On Monday morning we went to the timeshare presentation, had a yummy breakfast (first promise kept) and said no to 3 people over 100 times.  The thing that finally got the big, body-builder, I-thought-he-would-beat-us-up guy off our back was when Steve asked him "Do you have debt?"  "No"  "Well, we're up to our eyeballs in debt so now isn't the time for us to add to it."  That was a "no" he finally accepted.  I then got the $40 spa service for free (second promise kept), we hopped on the collectivo down to Akumal and lived my dream.  We rented a locker and snorkeling gear & snorkeled with the turtles eating sea grass at the bottom of the ocean and the reef covered with tropical fish.  It was pure heaven out there.  We sat up on the beach, in the crystal clear, warm water and were surrounded by white fish, literally swimming thorough our fingers.  It was absolutely amazing, like nothing we had ever experienced before.  We wanted to stay on the beach the whole week, but packed up our stuff and walked back to the main highway to find the people who told us the collectivo's were on strike that far south were correct (I certainly have trust issues in that country)!  But not to fear Taxi's charging $25 were ready to take you home.  Paying $3 vs $25 is a hard pill to swallow, and luckily we found a couple on their honeymoon from Isreal who were just as ticked as we were at the price and offered to pair up with us and split the cab home. $12.50 not so bad.

Tuesday morning bright and early at 7:00 am we made the treck out to the main highway again and to our surprise there was a nice little tour bus waiting for us to take us on our tour to Tulum (third promise kept).  The first thing the tour guide did was hand us $25 (1/2 of the 4th promise kept).  On the way down to Tulum the bus stopped and they bought a 6 pack of Diet Coke with ice just for us (5th promise kept).  Steve and I were cracking up and we saw them pull the tour bus over & walk into the gas station - Steve got what he asked for!  I am so glad we did the tour to Tulum.  It was stunning, the Mayan culture was a delight to learn about and it was very nice being catered to & taught by a tour guide.  That night we ate dinner at the Gong - one of the 5 star restaraunts - and had our first taste of that resort.  Holy cow, the food was amazing, only topped by the excellent service.  I was amazed and in awe of how delightful the $300 room credit made our vacation.  Heaven.

On Wednesday we went to Xplor Park to ride the ziplines.  It was an awesome experience - one zipline must have been 6 stories up.  I was scared to death everytime I jumped off the edge, but it was breathtaking sailing over the Mayan jungle.  We also swam and paddled through the cenotes - underwater caves and went on a jeep ride.  It had an all you can eat buffet, but after being spoiled by the resort's restaurants, we weren't too impressed.  I am glad we did it, but next time I would have spent the money on another day of diving.  I love being underwater in the Carribean.

On Thursday we took a ferry over to Cozumel for our scuba diving trip.  This was the day I wish we would have planned better - we hit some bumps in the road, but all worked out in the end.  We had scheduled a dive with a Dive shop - Dive with Martin, but when we showed up they said they would double the price since they had not reached their optimal # of people to take the boat out.  I was devastated.  We couldn't afford that, but the whole point of us choosing this location was to scuba dive!  We started walking up the street amidst the vendors who were hooting and hollering and I finally marched over to one of them to tell our story thinking 'it couldn't get any worse than this.'  To my embarrassment I started crying while I was talking. 

He got on the phone as I walked away to hide my tears and Steve said he was telling our story to someone (they have an amazing underground network - tourism is their bread and butter).  A truck pulled up and we were told to get in - it was crazy, but I was so upset at that point I didn't care what happened.  A busy little lady named Carla offered to send us out on a dive for half the original price we were prepared to pay - I wiped my tears and didn't believe her (once again - trust issues), but figured why not.  She drove us all over the island getting O2 tanks and setting things up, then dropped us off at a boat with some young looking dive masters in a rickety little boat. 

 My mother would have killed us.  There were some parts of this trip she didn't need to know about. There was no paperwork to fill out, they did not check our diving cards and off we went.  We docked a bit further south on the island and there was Carla, magically waiting for us on a shore (like a drug lord in a movie) with 3 snorkel gals from Michigan, who were at a port on a cruise, who were set to go snorkeling while we dove. These girls were the highlight of my trip!  They were hilarious!

The girls were staring at us getting our scuba gear on and they kept saying how brave I was to go scuba diving.  It was cracking me up.  I finally had to tell them I was very, very nervous every time I dove and I didn't really want to go all the way up to jumping in and getting a few feet down - then I could calm down and enjoy myself. I think it's because I'd been diving so few times.  After these two dives we went on I wanted to just keep diving the rest of the week.  I got really comfortable.  If only it weren't so expensive!  Turns out our divemaster grew up diving that water, like so many people on Cozumel.  The water was his playground and he certainly knew his stuff.  It was a treat being able to go with just Steve and I and him.  We were able to take our time and see so much - lobsters, crabs, sting rays.

I am addicted to diving the Caribbean - the water is simply magical.  Warm, clear, a stunning blue.  Heavenly.  I kept looking down at the water while we were in the boat trying to wrap my mind around how there is something that beautiful on the earth.  I cannot wait to take our children and introduce them to it!

I have never laughed so hard in my life as when one of the Michigan girls hopped in the water to go snorkeling.  She was scared to death of the ocean and the water and it took everything we all had to convince her to get in and snorkel.  She finally hopped in with a float tube, put her face in the water and the capitan of the boat threw some bread in right next to her head.  You can imagine what happened next - hundreds of fish came swimming up at her to get the bread - she screamed and screamed through that snorkel gear.  Steve and I were laughing about it for days!

On the ferry on the way back I started to feel a bladder infection coming on.  I began chugging water as fast as I could as that usually clears it right up.  Not this time.  By the time we got to the resort I was miserable.  A couple of hours later I didn't know what we were going to do - I couldn't stand it.  I asked Steve to call the concierge and ask where the nearest hospital was.  They informed us there was a resort doctor and they'd be by in 5 minutes to pick us up in a golf cart and take us to him.  I have NEVER in my life been so grateful to be in a posh resort.  The visit was $80, he just asked a few questions, did not run labs (odd, but ok), and said there was a pharmacy up the road that would taxi down the prescriptions within the hour.  Better & faster treatment and for less money than in the US!  Amazing!  The ER visit at midnight here alone would have been a minimum of $250 with who knows what deductible!  I started the abx that night and we slept in until about 11 the next day.

We planned a resort day on Friday so it worked out perfectly.  Except I literally could only take a few steps on Steve's arm, I was so sick & weak.  This infection hit hard and fast. We made our way to these delightful cabanas, where I promptly fell right to sleep and Steve kind of explored the resort & tried to find places the internet would work - which he had done all week, so we could stay in touch with my mom, the kids and his work.  There was not much good news coming from the homefront - every single one of the 4 kids managed to get the stomach flu during the week!  My poor mom.  I talked to about 10 families who it had hit during fall break - dang it!  After offering to hire a babysitter, we just had to hang up the phone and go on with our trip as there was nothing we could do :(.

We decided to cancel our trip to Chichenitza on Sat (6 hour bus ride)- I was just too sick.  Which worked out great because it gave us another day at the amazing resort.  Probably the best thing that could have happened to us so we were really able to relax and enjoy just being together with no distractions.  In lieu of the trip, our dear Dolores said she would give us a free ride to the airport and return the money.  The ride did indeed show up but no $25 (promise #6 kept, but 1/2 of promise #4 broken).  Overall the timeshare presentation ABSOLUTELY paid off and we would do it again to get some perks!

One of my favorite parts of the resort was happy hour at the swim up bar.  Really?  Does it get better than that?  Pina colada's with my sweetheart & best friend in the sun and the water - guilt free with our room credit. 

At this point I remember watching a video of the kids on Steve's phone and having flashbacks of how INCREDIBLY MUCH WORK it is at home.  I started to worry that I wouldn't feel ready to go home and that I would miss our little paradise together, but decided to simply enjoy what was left of our trip.

Our last night there we took a walk on the beach and noticed a group of people standing together - we walked up to them and they said they were going to release baby sea turtles that night.  My heart started beating faster.  I adore sea turtles; I feel a special connection to them and have loved all my time spent with them in the ocean.  They are majestic, peaceful, beautiful and never cease to amaze me.  I feel so much peace when I swim with them.  And now to get to watch babies be released.  I almost couldn't stand it.  And then - they said we could hold one and release our own.  My knees literally got weak.  I got to hold a baby?!  I turned into this little school girl, giddy with excitement.  It was so precious (and Steve was shaking his head with a little smile).  They were so little with such big eyes.  I stroked it and watched it practice flapping it's little arms and marveled at the miracle of life, the miracle it would know how to get to the ocean without anyone teaching it. 

I couldn't imagine a better way to end the trip.

 Goodbye Grand Mayan.

We flew home on the very cramped (but cheap) Spirit Airlines and had an 8 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was SO, SO good to be back on American soil.  The first thing we did was eat American food!  A salad and a burger.  Ahhhh. We decided to continue the adventures and ride the $10-after-dusk Ft. Lauderdale Water Taxi up and down the waterways looking at the luxury homes and yachts.  It is a complex world I know very little about - I am still in awe that someone (many someones) would pay $10 million dollars for some of these ships!  It was one of my favorite days of our trip.

 The $10 million yacht.  There was a yacht show in town that weekend and there were some amazing yachts lining up. $$$$$
We heard the stories of some of the owners of these mansions, along with the greed, corruption and politics (and politicians serving prison sentences).  It is amazing how money can destroy a person.

We arrived home late that night to find my poor mom with a temp of 103, but the kids happy and the house standing and in great shape with the laundry caught up.  They survived - barely!  It will probably take her 5 years or so to recover and be ready to do it again ;).

I am happy to say the best part of the trip for me was coming home - I was so happy to be home.  I love the life Steve and I have created.  I love our children, our jobs, our home, our friends, neighbors and church and each other.  And I must say that is the mark of a great vacation!