Thursday, October 13, 2016

Family Update

 So much to cover! We went to the Alamogordo Fire Station last week to drop off baked goods, say Thank you for your service, and get a tour.  It was a lot of fun.  Helena got a nasty reaction to some mosquito bites on her face (in this picture you can see a red spot on the tip of her nose, the worst of it a few pictures down).
Have I mentioned that Helena is a rock star?!  My daughter has completely potty trained herself!  It started about a month ago now?!  Well let me back up.  We started putting her on the potty around her 2nd birthday (back in May) before her bath just to familiarize herself with it and would always congratulate her for just sitting on it.  Then more recently she would tell Chris in the middle of her bath (Chris does bath time) that she needs to go potty.  So Chris would always get her out and put her on the potty, ...but nothing.  Then about a month ago she went!  We were all excited!  After that she went potty in the middle of her bath almost nightly.  Then one day while I was doing laundry and Bennett was just waking up from his nap; Helena was playing in Bennett room entertaining him while he stayed in his crib and I folded laundry in the bedroom. Helena comes running into the bedroom naked from the waist down exclaiming that she went potty.  I immediately thought Oh Dear!  Where's the mess?!  So I ask Helena to show me where she went potty and she brings me into Bennett's room and she had brought out her Minnie Mouse potty that was put away in Bennett's closet!  ...we got the Minnie Mouse potty a few months ago, but she just played with it so we put it away.  Anyways, she peed in the Minnie Mouse potty!  From that moment on we said good-bye to diapers, and now only use diapers at bedtime (we eliminated the nap time diaper a couple of days ago).  She's amazing at telling us when she needs to go and has even pooped in the potty!, which happened completely unsolicited.  After she peed in the Minnie potty we brought it out into the living room for easy access and one evening she sat on the potty then stood up happily announced "mommy there's rocks in my potty?"  Again I thought Rocks?!  But it was poop!  She struggles the most in the mornings, so if there is an accident it's in the morning (but has never had a poop accident!).  Even driving back to Alamogordo on Tuesday she let us know she needed to go potty (even though she had a diaper on).  She takes advantage of the fact that we drop everything when she announces she needs to go potty, especially when we are out to dinner, and this makes it tough to eat, but she's just a rock star and I'm so proud of her!  Now the Minnie Mouse potty is put back away (who wants to clean that up?!) and we got a little seat for her toilet in her bathroom with ducks on it so she calls it her ducky potty.
In other Helena news, I miss her listening to me.  I swear we repeat ourselves all day long.  She'll ask a question, and I'll give an answer, and she just asks the same question and I give the same answer.  There used to be a time when she would easily eat her dinner and would do what I asked.  But that short phase is over.  She now doesn't want to eat unless you beg and she no longer thinks cleaning up her toys is fun.  She's so independent.
She sometimes wakes up crying and it's so sad because she can't fully communicate what's going on.  She had a super rough time going to bed about 3 weeks ago.  It was brutal.  She wouldn't sleep.  It lasted 3 nights and I'm so happy that it ended just as fast as it started.  But she'll still sometimes wake up crying.  I'll go into her room and hold her and ask her if she's ok.  She'll respond and say I'm ok.  I'll ask her what's wrong or what happened, and she says nothing.  Then I'll ask if she's ready to go back to bed.  And she goes ok, back to bed.  It's always short lived, I just wish she could tell me what's wrong.

 I am currently at the end of the Hair Lose Phase of post pardom (thank goodness), I seriously thought I was going to lose all of my hair.  I was losing hair for probably 6 weeks straight.  I'm thinking about becoming a doula.  During my pregnancy with Bennett I had thought about becoming a ultrasound tech, but now I think a doula might be a better fit.  Since Bennett is most likely our last baby, I've decided I need something to keep me around babies!
I'm so happy that MOPs is back and enjoy going to the meetings every other week, along with all the playdates.  One of the nice things about living her, is everyone has a different story.  Because Alamogordo is a military town everyone is from someplace else, and love hearing where people have come from and where they are going.
 Bennett has a clean bill of health!  We traveled to Albuquerque last week, and Bennett had an MRI on Tuesday (at 6:15am!) and his brain looks completely normal.  He was a rock star during the MRI (he didn't get put under) and the pediatric neurosurgeon repeated herself numerous times in saying Bennett is 100% healthy, and that he just has a big head.  Praise God!!!  Thank you all for your prayers!
He's sorta working on sitting up, and crawls like crazy on is back...he pushes himself all over the place, he really can't be left alone.  I call him a rolly poly because he also rolls and rolls all over the place!  He is still not a fan of tummy time.  He loves his big sister!  He hasn't shown any real interest in food so he hasn't had any food yet, he continues to love his bottle!
He laughs and laughs and is SO ticklish.  You tickle his belly or legs and he just giggles, it's so much fun!  He also loves the water and enjoys his nightly bath!
He's in 9 month clothing and overall sleeps really good.  I'm up with him maybe two or three times a week.

 Chris is currently looking for another job.  Back in August he was notified that the hospital is ending the Aramark (the company he works for) contract 120 early (which is mid-December).  He's working with Aramark recruiters to place him in another job, and they've said they'll continue to keep him on payroll until he does find another job.  So our family life is back up in the air.  I of course haven't handled this news well, in fact I'm scared out of my mind, but I'm working on praying and trusting God, and that He'll place us where we are suppose to be.  But I hate not knowing.  I really really really want to be back in Colorado.
Helena's swollen eye (we went to the doctor and got medicine and it is now almost healed completely)

Tuesday morning after Bennett's MRI
We're coming upon one year in Alamogordo (I have a whole post in mind for that).  I desperately want the weather to cool's been in the 80's all week.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bennett at 5 months

he enjoys tummy time for about 2 seconds

20 weeks
Isn't he just so cute?!  It's crazy to me how Helena and Bennett look nothing like siblings, but how they are both just so cute!  Bennett has changed so much!  His laugh is crazy, and Helena makes him laugh like no other.  There relationship is so special and it just warms my heart, and I look forward to seeing there relationship grow and blossom as time goes on.

I've thought about this post for some time now.  About how to write it out.  Ideally I wanted to do a separate post on it, but time works against me.  So I'll just start from the beginning.

At the beginning of the month Bennett had his 4 month appointment and the pediatrician was immediately concerned with the fast growth of his head.  The growth was off of the charts.  He had a RN with a neuro background come take a look.  Both thought he was fine because he's meeting all his baby milestones and shows no symptoms of having an overly big head, but they wanted to be safe rather than sorry, and suggested a CT scan.  We thankfully were able to get a CT scan right away.  On the drive home the doctor called me and asked me to pull over.  I immediately knew something was wrong.  He advised that Bennett has fluid both in and on his brain and that we need to plan to be in Albuquerque early next week because he was going to send a referral to a pediatric neurosurgeon.  There was more conversation, but I was numb during most of the conversation.  The next day we got a phone call from the doctors office in ABQ and got an appointment scheduled for the following week.  I immediately started sending out prayers request because I'm so scared.  My mom was amazing and dropped everything to come be with me (Chris was out of town at the end of the week) since I was an emotional wreck.  The next day I had to go pick up the records from his doctors appointment along with a CD of the CT scan.  Looking at the paper work I read that his pediatrician diagnosed him with hydrocephalus.  That's when I Googled "hydrocephalus".  Bad idea.  It was so scary.  I immediately started over-analyzing all of Bennett's actions.  I prayed and prayed, and prayed some more.  I prayed for this to be a nightmare and that I would be told my baby boy is fine.  After a long few days we drove to ABQ and met with the pediatric neurosurgeon.  The doctor said almost immediately that she doesn't think Bennett has hydrocephalus!  She is concerned about the fluid in his brain and the growth of his brain, and we'll be back in ABQ for an MRI on October 11th.  An MRI will give her the clearest picture of his brain, but we hope to rule out anything else.  For now she just wants us to keep an eye on him and make sure he meets all his first year baby milestones.  She seems confident that our relationship with her will be short.  The journey isn't over, but I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.
I immediately put blame on myself for Bennett having this issue.  I thought having a vaginal birth was the "trama" to cause this.  I've been told that's not what caused it, but as a Mom I think you just immediately find a way to put the cause on you.
It's been beyond scary and I know it's cliche to say but hug your healthy kids.  And if you have resources available to you within driving distance be thankful for them!  Having to drive to ABQ is not ideal, yes we have family there and it could be so much worse, but overall it's just inconvenient.
I truly believe in the power of prayer, so please pray for baby Bennett.  That he is healthy and continues to meet his milestones.  

Chendra's Visit

You know those people that you meet and you wonder what type of impression they will have your life?  You automatically think a person will only be in your life for a short amount of time, but then you are super surprised because before you know this person ends up being part of your family?  For me that person is Chendra.  I met Chendra in the unlikeliness of places, on a local Thornton Facebook group back when I was on maternity leave for Helena and searching for a caregiver, because at that time we only needed someone a few hours on Mondays and Tuesdays.
I still remember Chendra coming over to the house, I was so skeptical.  As a first time mom I didn't trust my daughter with just anyone, and I surely wasn't about to just let anyone from Facebook come by and watch Helena.  I immediately was comforted by her approach and how she carried herself.  I loved that was she more mature (in her 20's) and was previously a lifeguard (so CPR certified).  She had references for me and was just calm.  After meeting her and when Chris came home, and I told him about her he was not interested whatsoever.  Not too say he didn't trust my judgement, but he also was thinking: what type of person would I find on Facebook?  I'm not too sure how long it took, but before long he was so happy that Chendra had entered our life.
She was the first non-family member to watch Helena starting at 16 weeks when I went back to work, and she soon became our go-to nanny when Chris and I wanted a date night.  I trusted her to watch my daughter which speaks volumes.  Helena soon fell in love with her too.  Not only does she watch our children she treats them so good.  She came to Helena's first birthday party, sent Helena gifts for her 2nd birthday and got homecoming gifts for Bennett.  When we were in Denver in February, I made sure Helena saw Chendra.  Saying good bye to her when we left Colorado was so hard, because I knew we were so lucky, and I knew that trying to find someone to watch my kids in another city would be hard, and honestly is something I haven't even tackled since living in Alamogordo.
When she voiced wanting to come visit, I was thrilled!  Not only because I knew it would give me the opportunity to spend time with her to get to know her better, but also because I knew she would be a great help with the kids, and I'll take all the help I can take!  And her amazing visit to us was last weekend!  We had such a great time.  She arrived last Friday at dinner time, and Helena was so excited to see her.  It was amazing to see Helena get so excited and remember Chendra!
Saturday morning we got up super early and headed out to the Balloon Festival at White Sands.  It was beautiful!  And truly so much fun and relaxed.  We brought a big blanket and just watched all the balloons.  The weather was perfect and I'm so glad we got to show Chendra such a beautiful sight!  That afternoon/evening I planned a date night for Chris and I!  How cool is it that the first non-family member to watch Bennett was the same as Helena?!  On Sunday we went and had a nice brunch in Cloudcroft, then came home at watched the Bronco game!  Monday we went to go see the largest pistacio and did the pistacio tour!  It was fun to do the tourist stuff.  Tuesday morning we said our good-byes.
I'm so thankful that she took the super long 550 mile drive to come visit us.  Chendra has truly become a member of our family.  All of us love her.  Spending good quality one on one time was such a pleasure.  I enjoyed getting to know her better, and I feel confident we will always keep in touch regardless of where we end up.  We've been so blessed since knowing her.  Helena loves her and now Bennett loves her.  She's starting nursing school soon, and I know she's going to be an amazing nurse!
Chendra, thank you thank you thank you!  Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule and life to come hang out with us in Southern New Mexico.  We appreciate and love you so much!!!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Helena 2yr, 4 mo

My darling daughter is growing up way too fast.
I feel like she's changing daily.  At her two year doctor appointment the doctor was a little concerned with her lack of growth, both height and weight, so we went at the beginning of the month to check on her.  And she is thriving!
She's 2 feet 11 inches, and 25 pounds.
She's such a little girl.  Lately she has been testing my patience like no other and many times I have to just walk away, but God I love her.
We transitioned her into a "big girl" bed last month and it went super simple.  I'm always so surprised at how easy each transition is.  Naptime is sometimes a little rough, but bedtime is easy.  One of the things I love most about her being in a full bed is it has given me an excuse to check on her at night.  Once we moved here we stopped checking on her at night because she is such a light sleeper and her crib was right by the wall with the door.  And she would wake up just by opening the door.  I like to check on her just to see how's she sleeping, and there have been a few times where she opens her eyes, but I look forward to that part of the evening every night.  She usually gets herself up anytime between 7 and 8 and she'll come into our bed.  Depending on how tired I am I'll usually get up with her, or she'll come up in bed with me and watch TV.
She's talking.  Oh boy is she a talker.  And she gets so frustrated when she can't communicate fully what's going on.  She's just start crying, I image it is frustrating.  A few nights ago she woke up at 10:30 crying and I went into her room and held her and asked her if she was ok, she responded: I'm ok.  I would ask what's wrong or what happened and she doesn't say anything.  Then I ask her if she's ready to go to bed, and she says No.  Then I just tell her it's time to go to bed and put her back in bed.  The biggest news is she's pretty much in the process of potty training herself!  It's insane.  Chris is the one to give her, her nighttime bath and she'll usually say she needs to go potty so Chris will put her on the potty.  Well last week for the first time she actually went potty, and has gone potty two more times.  Then just today I was working on putting away laundry in our bedroom and Helena was entertaining Bennett who was in his crib after waking up from his morning nap and she comes into our bedroom naked from the waist down telling me she went potty.  I immediately think she went on to floor somewhere, but in Bennett's closet is a Minnie Mouse potty I got awhile ago to help with potty training.  She pulled it out and went potty!  And since then she's used it one other time.  I'm so impressed.
Yesterday while driving I telling Helena my laundry list of things going on in my head in hopes that getting it off of my chest would help me sleep (I haven't been sleeping very good) she says to me "Mom don't talk to me in the car!"  It made me laugh.  She'll randomly tell me she loves me and that I'm "bootiful".  In fact if she sees me with makeup on or actual clothes she'll automatically ask "Mommy and Daddy go on date night?"  She gets so excited when Bennett roles over.  And her interaction with Bennett is amazing, she makes him laugh like no one else does.
I have to say that this stage is the most difficult (plus having a baby in the house) but also extremely rewarding.  She goes unphased by my freakouts and when she sees me crying she'll come up to me, hug me and say "it's ok mommy".  She wants me and only me to put her lotion on after her bath.  Not too sure how I got into this habit but once I put her down I take my finger and stroke the front of her head...down her forehead to the tip of her nose, and Helena calls it "hush".  So now when I read any nighttime book she'll do "hush" on all of the characters and it's so precious.  She also will cuddle and take care of her baby dolls just how I take care of Bennett.  Or if Bennett is super upset I'll hold him and say "calm down" and sometimes when Helena is upset she'll tell me "calm me down Mommy".  She rarely shows signs of jealously from Bennett which is nice and in a weird way tells me I'm doing something right.  There are a few times when she tells me to put him on the floor but not a lot.  Or sometimes she'll get frustrated at Bennett if she's crying and he starts to cry.  She tells him "hey baby Bennett I'm crying".  But overall she really is an amazing big sister.
She can count to fourteen and still does the same ABC's: "abcd hij lmnop wxy and z".  She loves to sing twinkle twinkle, and rock a by baby.  She can list colors but you ask her what color something is and everything is "blue".  She's asks every morning "where's daddy?" and "are we going to a friends house?"  If the doorbell rings she immediately says "my friends are here!".  She loves to be outside and  I can't wait for the weather to cool down to spend more time outside.  We've been going to a music class all month and she really enjoys it.  She sees ultrasound pictures from either when I was pregnant with her or Bennett and she says "we go to doctors office".  I could just go on and on.  She has a crazy good memory.  She loves to look at pictures on every bodies phone and in July when my friend Michelle was here she saw pictures from my baby shower in February at Bobbie's (Michelle's mom) house, and Helena immediately said "Bobbie's house".
She's just so much fun.  I wish I could record her.
I love her and am so blessed to be her mom.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bennett at 4 months

 I'm a couple of weeks behind on posting Bennett's 4 months stats because his appointment wasn't until last week.  At his sister's 2 year visit back in May the doctor was concerned with her growth and wanted her to come back 4 months later, so we just had back to back appointments for both kiddos.

Here are some highlights from Bennett's last month.
He's 16 pounds 7 oz (62%) and 26 inches (73%).  Last weekend while we were in Carlsbad I was asked if he was 8 months old.  I think he looks bigger than what he actually is.
He's rolling over, but still hates to be on his tummy.  He rolled from back to tummy on 8/23, and rolled from tummy to back on Thursday 9/8.
He loves his big sister, and she makes him laugh like no other.  The other night at dinner she had him cracking it up, and I'm absolutely loving seeing this sibling relationship grow.
Bennett has pretty much put himself on a schedule, much to my surprise.  His nap times and length changes day to day, but he definitely has a morning nap and an afternoon nap.  The morning nap is usually short- around 30 to 45 minutes, and the afternoon one usually a couple of hours.  And thankfully as of right now, the afternoon one is around the same time as Helena's.  It definitely fluctuates, but that is the average.  On a good night he'll sleep from about 8:30pm - 8am.  But lately he's been getting up between 4am and 5am for a bottle, then he's usually up again for the day in the 7 o'clock hour.
Overall he's such a happy baby.  Just like Helena he'll play, talk, and hang out by himself in his crib in the mornings, just waiting for me.  Once he sees me peak over his crib he gets the biggest smile.  Not too sure how I got to be lucky enough to have both my kids be such happy babies, but I feel truly blessed because of it.
The only time he gets really really upset and just cries and cries is when he is tired.  There are times when he just fights sleep like no other.  And it's just gut-wrenching.  There will be days that go by when he doesn't do this, but then there will be back to back to back days where he just screams before nap time or bed time or both.  I'm just thankful it isn't every single time, and I'm thankful that this really is the only time he cries.
He's in 6 month clothes, and size 2 diapers.  He has some horrible dry spots on his legs and he loves his bath.  He is showing no interest in food, so he just on his milk diet.
I love him so much and I'm so incredibly happy to be his mom.

photo courtesy of Blanca's  Photos
I wanted to highlight this picture.  At the beginning of August we drove to El Paso to get some mommy and me pictures that a photographer was doing for free.  I wanted to do this just to have some pictures of my kids and I.  Since I'm usually the one taking the pictures I'm hardly in them.  It was a fun experience.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Labor Day Weekend 2016

Great Grandpa Lenny's dress
 Things here have just been crazy.  I have lots to write about, so let's start with Labor Day.  After going back and forth we decided to take a trip to Carlsbad Caverns over Labor Day.  Chris's Aunt Mary was in Albuquerque visiting a friend and was kind enough to make the 3-hour drive to stay with us for a night and meet baby Bennett.  She brought this beautiful dress that was originally worn by her father 100 years ago!  It's a beautiful dress and looked gorgeous on Helena.

Chris, Aunt Mary, Helena, and Bennett
 Saturday morning we packed up and left for Carlsbad.  We stopped in Cloudcroft, a mountain town about 30 minutes away and on the way to Carlsbad for breakfast at Rebecca's at The Lodge.  Helena enjoyed it and it's so much cooler up there!

 Roadtrippin'!  Helena is now constantly asking to go on a trip.
 My parents met us there and they are always such a big help with Helena and Bennett.
 That night we had a nice dinner out and Helena had a blast with the chocolate dessert!
she loves her chocolate

 The first night was interesting.  Helena was so super excited to be in a different big girl bed.  She laughed and giggled and didn't fall asleep until after 10pm!
 The hike down the caverns was ...interesting.  My dad immediately went ahead of us which was frustrating because I really wanted us to stay together as a family.  Chris wore Helena in the beco carrier on his back and I work Bennett in my ring sling.  About half way down Bennett had a meltdown which resulted in me also having a meltdown.  It wasn't fun.  He was tired and just wouldn't give in to sleep.  Eventually Helena was moved to my dad's back, and Chris just carried Bennett until he finally fell asleep.  It was nerve-wracking and I didn't really get to enjoy the view, but it was an experience.  

 We had to wait almost an hour to catch the elevator back up and I got Bennett to fall back asleep in the ring sling.
Everyone sleep much better the second night, and Helena crashed at around 9 (I think?).  We left the next day (Monday) back for Alamogordo.