Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back At 2013

With the new year with new beginnings starting in 16 hours, I wanted to look back at 2013. We had an amazing year, a blessed year, and it was so much fun to look back at all the fun that our little family had over the last 12 months.
Here is a look back over the last year...click on the blue links to go to the older, referenced blog post.

January:
We found out we were expecting another little Conway and we started planning Amelia's first birthday party.
February:
We celebrated Amelia's first birthday with our friends and family and we got to hear Barrett's heartbeat for the first time.
March:
Amelia celebrated her second Easter but her first Easter egg hunt.
April:
We went on our first trip to Washington DC as a family and the belly continued to grow bigger and bigger
May:
We found out we were expecting a baby boy and we had our first California vacation with Amelia (complete with a trip to Disneyland)
June:
We celebrated Father's Day, and we made it to the double digit countdown to our baby boy's birth.
July:
Nannie moved in, I had a surprise baby shower and the belly continued to grow.
August:
We went to Amelia's first baseball game of 2013, we got our maternity pictures and we started getting the house ready for a new baby.
September:
We went to York Fair and we welcomed Barrett Albert into our family.
October:
We went to the National Apple Festival (yearly tradition) and we celebrated Halloween with the cutest skeleton and zebra.
November:
Barrett got diagnosed with acid reflux and was prescribed his first medicine, we went to Missouri and we celebrated Barrett's first Thanksgiving.
December:
Amelia had her first haircut (non-professional), we started some great Christmas traditions, we had a wonderful Christmas.

God has been so great to our family and we're grateful for all His blessing!
I'm excited to see what the next 12 months hold for our family...
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

This Christmas was hands down the best Christmas that we've had and I'm hopeful that the fun and excitement builds with each coming year.
We stayed home this Christmas because of Jason's work schedule and the weather. We have family about 4 hours away but this time of year the weather can be pretty iffy and so can Jason's schedule so we played it safe and didn't make any plans to travel. Jason had been scheduled off Christmas day and then at the last minute he got an email that said he got an academic day on Thursday, which is a day off to "study", and then they were giving him Friday off too so he had a lot of time off with the family!! 
Before bed on Christmas Eve, we made reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard and cookies for Santa. I don't think Amelia really understood why we were making cookies or sprinkling glittered oatmeal in the yard but she had fun doing all the preparations for Santa's big arrival.
Once we put the kids to bed, we had to make sure that the main present was correctly assembled and in working order. Sometimes Santa needs to be double checked. My goodness the number of parts and sticker decals.... slightly overwhelming.

On a side note:
We've always said that we didn't want our kids to get too much or to lose focus of the real meaning of Christmas so we agreed that we'll get them three presents. Three presents were given to Jesus from the wise men (gold, frankincense and myrrh) so we think that three is wonderful number for our kids. We also don't set a price range on the three presents (obviously...look at the monster car) but we really try to get them things that are practical, yet entertaining and exciting!

Anyway...back to our Christmas post!
Here was our view before heading to bed on Christmas Eve. I love how the picture says so much about our family and this stage that we are in.
--No ornaments (especially breakable ones) where little hands can grab them
--Fun, kid-friendly wrapping paper (who needs fancy schmancy paper?!)
--A powerized car for Amelia to take on our walks and to her friends' house.
All the adults were up, showered and ready for the day LONG before the kids decided to wake up. Waiting for them to get up was brutal...I even contemplated an accidental wake up call through the monitor system. Don't worry, I didn't! 
Once the kids woke up, the fun and excitement was contagious. Amelia came running down the hallway to see all of her presents and immediately searched for Barrett so she could tell him Good Morning. I have the sweetest video of her running and squealing down the hall but before tearing into her presents, she runs to see her brother. Priceless!
We also told a shortened version of Jesus' birth and we put baby Jesus in his manger before we started sorting presents and opening all of them.

On a side note:
We like the nativity scenes that have a baby Jesus that can be taken out of his manger. Baby Jesus doesn't go in his manger until Christmas morning...he's in a safe hiding place until then. Christmas morning is when we put Jesus in the manger.

Amelia loved opening all of her (and Barrett's) presents. I loved to watch her start opening each package slow and with caution until she saw a glimpse of the gift inside and then she went into hyperactive mode until there wasn't one piece of wrapping paper on her present.
We had to direct her a couple of times because she wanted to open and play with the present as soon as she opened it...I can't really say I blame her!  She got some fun presents!
Her most favorite present was her beep beep but I'm not really sure what Santa was thinking.
Amelia (and Cho) were really great at pushing the gas pedal but steering, watching the road, paying attention and all the other things needed to safely drive weren't so great.
We eventually just turned the wheel all the way to the right so when she hit the gas pedal, she would go in a big circle. It worked and she thought she was big stuff. Hopefully this summer, she figures how to steer and push the gas so we can take walks to the park in her cool ride.
We ended the day with naps with Daddy, a yummy Christmas dinner and lots of time playing with new toys.
As low key as our Christmas was, it's just what our little family needed. I love that we had a day full of fun and laughter with the kids as we celebrated the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Days Leading Up To Christmas In Pictures

Just some snapshots of the kids on the days before Christmas....I'm so glad that I was able to have so much time off with them!

Barrett is really starting to smile a lot...he's such a happy little man! He also scratched the skin above his eye--dang kid!
Amelia got a bean box from Auntie E and she loved it. She isn't suppose to be sitting in it but it kept her quiet and entertained for awhile so...
Even though the bean box was a hit, the box that it came in was even more entertaining for her. She loved that box and those packing peanuts.
Bath time is so much fun...both of the kids love their bath time. We still bathe Barrett on the kitchen countertop because he likes to straighten his legs and try to stand up in the bath and being at his level helps hold him in a little bit better.
We took the dogs for a walk and the fresh air, even though it was cold, was definitely needed and appreciated.
I took a picture of these two before church and I think that it shows the perfect interaction between Amelia and her little brother. She loves on him and he has really started to coo and smile back at her.
Please ignore the background mess...the rooms in our house seem to be getting smaller and smaller.
Daily naps were taken (mostly in her Dora pajamas) while holding Cho. She also decided to take a nap with a picture of Brock. She has a picture book of her friends and family and she's been fascinated with the pictures and carrying them around. She misses her cousins more than they know.
The birdfeeder needs filled a lot and Amelia loves to help her Daddy. If you look closely you can see that we shared our gingerbread house with the birds, the tiny chipmunk and the rabbit that lives on our hill.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Party, Party, Party

On the Friday before Christmas, Amelia had a Christmas party at school. The days leading up to the party were filled with practicing tons of Christmas songs and food sign-up sheets. I wasn't sure how the day would go at work for Jason and myself but we were hopeful that we would all get to attend the Christmas party.
At 3:00pm, we were both off work and headed to Ms. Bs to share in the Christmas festivities. It was so much fun to see Amelia interact with all her friends.
Barrett even got to sing and shake his bells for the Jingle Bell song. How adorable does he look?!  Such a big boy at the Christmas party!
Amelia's favorite song was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Each of the kids painted a reindeer mask and danced and sang...she was so adorable going through all the motions.
I'm so thankful that we (Mommy, Daddy, Nannie and Barrett) got to go to Amelia's Christmas party. She loved showing us around her school and introducing us to all of her friends. I'm so glad we got to start our Christmas break off with such a fun party.

Painting With Santa...The End Results

I went and picked up the plate and the ornament from our painting with Santa fun that we had last weekend. I love them...they are so adorable!
I can't wait to put some fresh cookies on Santa's plate and hang the reindeer ornament on the tree.

My little girl and boy are so crafty...I want to just squeal at the cuteness!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Growing Too Fast

I wanted to document the words that Amelia is saying right now...it's crazy how her vocabulary has grown over the last couple of months.
Lay Back
Honey (when she's making tea at her kitchen set, she'll ask you if you want honey)
Ready
Jesus (pronounced Jess)
Hide (she loves to hide and then have someone yell her name and 'search' for her)
Beau (her neighbor friend)
Shoes
I'll do (anytime she wants to do something by herself)
Mine
Bear Bear (her name for her brother)
Bite
Juice
Milk
Chocolate Milk (pronounced Choc Milk)
Butter (pronounced Burr)
Ho Ho (her name for Santa)
Water (pronounced Wa Wa)
Hold Please (pronounced Hold Peas and she says it anytime she wants picked up)
Draw (when she wants to write with an ink pen on a piece of paper)
Bee
Ms. B, Bobby, Yaya (Elijah), Jack, A (Ava)
Nannie (what she calls my mom)
Paw Paw
Bazzle
Muzzy (pronounced Muz)
Sorry  (pronounced Sowey)
Trash
Choo Choo
Cow  (pronounced Jow)
Car (pronounced Jar)
Potty
Wipe
High (usually referring to airplanes/helicopters)
Harold (what she calls all airplanes/helicopters--the helicopter on Thomas the Train is named Harold)
Pink (her favorite color)
Blue
It's Okay (pronounced It's K)
Cheese  (her word for mac-n-cheese, cottage cheese, regular sliced or shredded cheese)
Work
People (pronounced Peo--we all say that Daddy's at work to help people and she nods her head and says people)
Hat
Remote (pronounced mote)


I know there are a lot of words that I missing right now but I'm drawing a blank. Amelia is repeating just about anything she hears so she's really learning a lot of words!
Not only is she talking a lot but she's also learning and comprehending so, so much!
She knows her body parts: hair, eyes, nose, ears, lips, teeth, tongue, elbow, arm, fingers, nails, belly, belly button, legs, knees, toes, feet, bottom

She comprehends what she hears and most times she will act out the directions that she has been given.
:::For example, she'll hear us talk about giving Barrett a bath and she will come into the living room with a wash cloth; she'll hear us talk about feeling sick to our stomach and she will come over and give a sad face and try to look at our stomachs; We'll be in the kitchen complaining about the TV volume and she will go in the living room to get the remote; When the phone rings and she sees Daddy, she runs to the gate because she knows he's coming home; I can make a comment about needing to pump and she will run to get the pump bottles and sit down on the couch by my pump and act like she needs to pump her boo boos; the list goes on and on

It's so hard to believe that our little lady is just two months away from being TWO YEARS OLD. She never ceases to amaze me!

Fun Friday Photos

--Last day of work for TWO WEEKS is today! So excited for Christmas break...I'm in need of some serious snuggles with the kids!
--Amelia will often go to the refrigerator and say, "hide". She stands in the refrigerator and hides...her giggles are so contagious.
--Cho, Amelia's baby, gets her nails painted all the time. She's currently sporting light pink glitter and it's the perfect shade to match her outfit.
--Barrett has been on Amoxicillin for his ear infection since Saturday morning and Wednesday morning we noticed a bit of a rash developing on his ears, his neck and the top of his shoulders. We took him to the doctor on Wednesday and determined that it wasn't an allergic reaction, which we originally thought, but it was his cradle cap spreading. OH JOY!
--Amelia loves to snow...it makes our girl so dang happy! She also learned how to make snow angels!

--Plans have been made to watch The Hobbit while I am on break and when Jason can sneak away from the hospital. He's dying to see the movie and I'm dying to get my hands on some popcorn...it's a win-win for the both of us.
--We made some cookies for Amelia's Christmas party last night. She loved adding sprinkles to the sugar cookies. I had intentions to make rolled out sugar cookies but after work, it didn't happen. Thank goodness I grabbed some premade dough.
--Barrett has been so fussy the last couple of days...dang ear infection! Maybe he's fussy because he wants to open his Christmas presents and he has to wait 5 more days?! 
--I'm reading this book and praying I can take some things and apply it! Our natural born leader is giving us a run for our money.
--I've been up since 1:30am with the kids. Barrett woke up screaming in pain so after some medicine and consoling, he went back to sleep around 3:00am. Amelia then woke up screaming for her Daddy and struggled to go back to sleep because she was scared that he was going to sneak out. Needless to say....I'm dragging today!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

LOVE

Watching the love that these two have for each other, makes my heart swell. I love seeing their relationship get stronger and stronger with each passing day.
Barrett is totally smitten with his older sister and watches her every move so intently. One day he will be following in her footsteps...or not too far behind!
Amelia loves showing off for her little brother and playing 'mommy' to him. When he grabs her finger or touches her, she lights up. She is always keeping a close eye on him.

I love watching their LOVE grow...so amazing!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monthly Updates: Month Three

Barrett Albert,
You are one of the most loveable and happy little boys. Your smile lights up the room and draws so much attention from everyone that is around you. Amelia showers you with love, hugs and kisses on a daily basis and you are in awe of her anytime she is nearby.
The last month has been a little more manageable...your acid reflux is SO much better and I think we're slowly getting used to having two kids and how much fun the chaos can be! 
You're such an amazing little boy and we love you to the moon and back!
XO
Mommy

Here are some special highlights for your THIRD month:

Weight: 14 pounds 6 ounces (79%)
Height: 23.7 inches (48%)
Clothing Size: You're in mostly 3-6 month clothes but we've started putting you in 6 month clothes and they seem to fit you just fine. You're hot-natured so the fleece pajamas and the super warm outfits don't really get worn that much because you get upset when you get too warm.
Diapers: You are in Huggies size 2 diapers but we recently just discovered that the Target brand fit you so much better and they are so much cheaper so we will be switching.
Feeding: You eat a 5 ounce bottle when we wake up and before bed. The rest of the time you are eating every 2.5-3 hours and you are eating 4 ounce bottles. I still nurse you a little bit, especially if I'm home, you're hungry and it's time to pump! I enjoy nursing you but sometimes you don't want to nurse to eat..you want to nurse for comfort. You get so upset when you just want to suck and not eat...Mommy's boo boo's don't work like that.
Hair/Eyes: Your eyes are still the prettiest shade of blue. I hope that they stay blue like your Daddy's eyes. Your hair is more like peach fuzz but the little amount you have is light brown. You have cradle cap right now so we're working hard to get it under control.
Sleep: We started sleep training on November 30, 2013 and the first couple of nights were rough but each consecutive night got better and better. You now go to sleep around 7:15/7:30p and you sleep all night! Some nights you will fuss around 3am but you quickly settle down and fall back asleep. Most days you are up for the day around 6:30am. Not only is the night time getting better but you are so much happier and content during the day.

Highlights:
-You celebrated your first Thanksgiving and you enjoyed watching the Thanksgiving parade.
-You started sleep training on Saturday, November 30,2013
-You are constantly smiling and cooing.
-You have the cutest little dimples by the corner of your mouth, which can be seen when you smile and while you eat.
-You love your sister. You can be crying and you'll immediately stop if Amelia starts dancing or talking to you.
-You've started scooting around in your crib. You're a back sleeper but you somehow manage to kick off and get turned sideways in your crib at night...silly boy!
-You are a water baby...the bath tub is your happy place.
-You experienced your first snow on December 8, 2013--you enjoyed it from inside the house.
-You rolled over from belly to back on December 10, 2013 and you had an audience that was cheering for you!
-You have definitely found your hands! They are always in your mouth, accompanied by a lot of drool.
-You've had your first ear infection and your first round of antibiotics.
-You can find the TV from anywhere in the room. The noise and the lights really mesmerize you!
-Our night time routine is still going really well but the last 45 minutes leading up to your bath and your bottle can be a little brutal.
-You love to have someone pull you from laying down to the sitting up position and you'll occasionally straighten your legs to try and stand.
 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekend Recap

Saturday morning we had a fun activity planned for the kids...painting with Santa. Crafts, especially painting, are something that we do a lot in our house and I thought that Amelia would love to paint and Barrett would love to watch all the action.
When we got to the painting studio, there were plates with Santa's handprint and a reindeer ornament at each seat. Amelia could hardly contain her excitement. She kept touching the plate and patting it with her fingers...so sweet!
Santa came out and read The 12 Days of Christmas to the kids and then we sang the song to go along with the story. Amelia immediately said "Hold, please" as soon as Santa came out. She still isn't a fan but there weren't any tears so we had a little bit of an improvement from the last time we saw Santa.
Our Santa was pretty pitiful...he definitely should have went to Santa school before coming and talking to the kids. Once Santa finished his story and we finished the song, it was time to start our painting projects. One of Santa's helpers came around and painted each of the kids' hands to be added to the plate. Amelia did so good...she definitely knows how to make some awesome handprint art!

We added Barrett's footprint instead of his handprint because he still keeps his hands pretty tightly closed. He loved how the paint felt on his feet...he kept wiggling his toes around.
Here is our plate before it had all the finishing touches added on it and before it went into the kiln. It will be finished on Friday so I'll be sure to post the finished product but I have a feeling it's going to be super cute!!
Once the Santa plate was done, it was time for Amelia to pick her paint colors and for her to paint her reindeer ornament. She requested pink when asked what paint color she would like so she got pink, brown, red and green. She loved painting her ornament...her reindeer will have a pink nose!!
She had a great morning painting with Santa and decorating some sugar cookies. She loves crafting but I think the highlight of the morning was watching all the other kids. She was amazed by them and their energy! 
When we came home, we had a relaxing rest of the day planned. The storm Electra was scheduled to hit around 2pm on Saturday afternoon so we knew that we wanted to get home and get settled in before things got too bad.
Amelia did a little reading with her baby in Barrett's room. Barrett's books are filled with boy things--trucks, tractors, diggers and most of them are touch-n-feel. Amelia LOVES to read them. She was reading the books to Cho and having her feel the different areas of the books when I snuck in to get a picture.
Not really sure where Amelia got the name Cho for her baby...we thought she was trying to say something else but she seems pretty certain that her name is Cho.
I had a work event later on Saturday evening which Jason accompanied me to because of the snowy weather. Before we left for the event, we set Amelia up with some snow so her and Cho could play.
We stayed at my work event for about 3 hours and then decided that we should get home so we left the event early. Here was our drive home...the roads hadn't been plowed and it was pretty nasty out!
We ended up getting about 4 inches of snow with about 1/8 inch of ice on top. The next morning the roads were clear but they were pretty slick during the actual storm.
Sunday is usually our day to be lazy and to get ready for the work week. We had a great morning and afternoon (nap included) and then we got ready for our first Christmas party.
Amelia wanted to nap with Cho...isn't she the sweetest?!
The Christmas party was at a friend's house and the whole family was invited. We were hesitant, at first, to take both the kids but I'm so glad that we did. They both were so good!  Amelia had a lot of little friends to play with and Barrett enjoyed watching all the older kids play.
I wish that I would have gotten some pictures at the party...opps! 

NINE more days until Christmas!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Appearance Of Perfection

Perfection.
Perfection, or the appearance of perfection, is something that we have all strived for at some point.
We've all been there in some stage of our life.
Social media has made perfection, or at least of the appearance of perfection, look so easy.
Family traditions, pictures, weight loss, clothing, decorations, homes, cars, hair styles, and the list goes on and on. These things are documented on a daily basis and sometimes they are not always an accurate portrayal.
The holiday season exposes a lot of these things...a lot of 'picture perfect' daily documentations.
I'm guilty.
Do I post the 100 outtakes on Facebook where the kids are crying? where they are making messes, picking their nose, drooling everywhere and getting dry skin all over their face as a result? where I have a double chin? where Jason's eyes are closed? where my hair is sticking up? where Amelia is running in the opposite direction of where we want her to go? where my thighs look big? where the house looks like a disaster? where dinner accidentally got burnt?
NO!
I post the one picture (out of 100s) that turned out adorable and the one picture that gives off the appearance of having it all together.

Case in point:
About an hour before our family pictures were taken things were crazy...three adults were frantically packing diaper bags, dressing kids, getting juice cups, packing milk in the freezer bags, remembering to get coats, hats and gloves and when we finally made ourselves presentable and thought we had all the 'necessities' packed for the kids, we squished into a mid-sized car and made the 40 minute drive to the tree farm.
By the time we had made it to the location shoes were kicked off, diapers needed changed, mud puddles needed to be crossed and list goes on and on. We were so exhausted and defeated before we even started that pictures were really not something that we were looking forward to.
Looking at the picture above, you would have never have known of our crazy and frantic morning. I love that we can come together, as a family, and look so adorable! The two kids definitely make this picture adorable, by the way!

Are we perfect?
Not even close.
I truly don't think anyone expects us to be perfect... so why do we put so much pressure on trying to fit into the perfect mold?
Can I give you a visual??
Picture me squeezing into a pair of jeans that are obviously too small.
I'm sucking in my stomach, realizing they still won't button, I lay down on the floor in hopes that gravity will work in my favor, barely getting them to button, and stand up afraid to breath in too deep or the button might pop off and shoot across the room.
No one asked me to squeeze into a pair of jeans that were too small for my body type so why don't I just buy the next size up?
We each have our perfect size...we just have to go out and find it!

With Christmas right around the corner, I have found myself getting more and more frantic and losing focus. I'm hard on myself because I think I should be able to juggle it all with a smile on my face and make it look so easy.
IT'S. NOT. EASY.
but just because it's not easy doesn't mean that I can't smile through the hard times like I smile through the good times.
Life is wonderful...and it's important to remember that I only have this one life and I need to make sure that I'm living my life for the glory of God and so that others can see His light shining in my life.

I'm really making an effort to focus on living my life to the best of my ability and ensuring that our home is filled with love instead of focusing on what others are doing and how perfect they seem to appear.


 

Snow Day

Tuesday I got to enjoy my first, and probably my last, snow day of 2013. Fingers crossed that 2014 brings a few more our way!
We got two work delay emails yesterday, which ultimately resulted in a two-hour work day from the warmth of my living room.
As soon as I got the first email that said we were delayed until noon, I immediately talked Amelia into bundling up with me and going to go outside in the snow. She didn't require too much persuasion, she loves being outside.
 
After some sled riding and a few strolls up and down the sidewalk in her car, she decided that she wanted to help shovel the sidewalk and the driveway. A 20 minute job turned into a 45 minute job with an extra set of hands helping but I love her eager spirit and desire to help out.

The rest of the day was spent inside....playing, crafting, eating and exploring the Advent train. She has learned that each door opens and behind each door is a piece of candy. We had to empty all the drawers because she was eating too much candy (she wasn't very good at only opening the door that corresponded with the date) so this was her face when she opened one of the doors to find a piece of candy.
Nap time is something that I'm not home a lot for so I took full advantage and slept with my little man in my arms. So snuggly and warm...perfect napping conditions.
Amelia and Jason napped in her room...HA!  They napped in her room because Barrett didn't act like he was going to take a nap so they needed to be in a quiet room.
We ended the day with another trip outside to play in the snow and a nice warm meal that had been cooking in the Crock-Pot all day. The snow had pretty much melted by the time that we woke up on Wednesday morning so I'm glad that we had a full day to enjoy it as much as possible.
Snow days are just as much as an adult as they were when I was a little girl!