Wednesday, April 9, 2014

March 2014

It seems the laws of physics in relation to time do not apply to two areas of life: pregnancy and the baby's first year of life. First of all the nine months of pregnancy feels like it will never end. I'm pretty sure I was pregnant with her for at least 3 years. That is what it felt like, even with her early arrival. But then the first year of her life passed by in what felt like a mere 3 months. I wish it were the other way around. 
 The following pictures are to prove that in order to be a good photographer all you need is a good camera. 5 year old Brynlee took all these pictures of me and Alyssa. I tell myself that I allowed her to do it in order for her to build photography skills, and not because I was being egocentric. But truth be told, I feel that a baby's first birthday should be as much a celebration of the mother surviving the first year, as the baby. Not only to celebrate the anniversary of the hours of labor and pain the mother endured, both in delivery and in recovery, but also to celebrate all the milestones that the first year of life brings. From first learning to nurse, and then learning to eat. Learning to crawl, and then learning to stand. And for the mother the amazing transformation her body goes through as it fights to return to some semblance of her pre-pregnancy shape, with a few extra stretch marks and varicose veins. Yes, Alyssa, we made it. Congratulations on not dying of SIDS and congrats to me for successfully preventing you from rolling off the bed for the entire first year of life.

Also, I wish I had more pictures of myself as a baby with just my mom. I cherish the one existing picture of my mom and I as a baby. It's of us sharing a root beer. Yes, apparently, back then not only did babies not need car-seats but it was also okay for them to drink soda pop. 

Alyssa has been an absolute joy and delight to our family. She has met all her developmental milestones right on track, (adjusted for her gestational age). She has a very calm disposition. I do have to say she has been the hardest of all my babies to nurse as she insists on putting her hand on my chest and pulling back as if she's taking it "to go". She sleeps awesome at night, but she is a terrible napper. I take that back. She naps great if I'm holding her. She just doesn't like to be laid down during the day. That's right, after 4 kids I still haven't figured out how to not spoil my babies. And she is probably my most attached child. She doesn't like strangers like Cami did as a baby. She's a "mamma's girl". This is probably due to the month of one-on-one attention she received at birth. Her older brother and sisters adore her and do a great job of playing with her and protecting her. We love you little Lyssa.
 Alyssa "takes the cake" for being my best 1st-birthday-cake-destroyer. She had no problem digging right in. My other babies were far more tentative about it, especially Kennan who was too afraid of getting his hands dirty. Maybe its just because I've gotten better at making cake.
 As soon as I gave the go-ahead, all the other kids joined in. We may or may not have eaten the entire cake with our fingers.
A couple weeks before her birthday I spotted this toy on the side of the road. In San Antonio, that is the universal sign for "free-take me" but I didn't want my kids to think I was stealing. So in an attempt to set a good example I knocked on the door of the home it was in front of and they confirmed that they were getting rid of it.
 So I brought it home and scrubbed it down, and wha-la.....a perfect gift for Alyssa.
Then I told the kids to each go find a toy they could give to Alyssa and wrap it up for her. They loved watching her open all of  her "new" gifts.  I literally didn't spend a penny, and she didn't know the difference.

Derrick planned his vacation week this year to coincide with the children's spring break. It turned out to be a horrible idea since everything was so crowded. Everywhere we went was insanely busy!!! Then we went camping at Landa Park campground and were shocked to find it not busy at all. When night came we soon discovered why. There were train trax that ran straight through the campsite. The train would come through every 20-30 minutes blaring it's horn. Derrick and I lay in our tent marveling at how our kids could possibly sleep through such a racket.  Around midnight we had finally had enough so we packed up our campsite and our sleeping children and went home. The children didn't even arouse during this process. When we got home Derrick and I were both too revved up to sleep so we cleaning out the Yukon, unpacked, started some laundry, and showered. Around 2 am snuggled into our comfy bed wondering why we ever go camping when our bed is so cozy. The next morning we remembered why we do it when our kids awoke in confused tears, wondering why our camping trip was cut short.
To make up for our failed camping trip we took the our raft out to Boerne Lake to go fishing. It was slightly windy and the baby was super fussy because she didn't like the life jacket, and both of our fishing poles broke within 30 mins. So we cut this trip short too. We went home, vowing to not leave the house again.
 Well that vow lasted about an hour. Above is us going on a walk down by our community pool. If you look closely you can see about 12 deer right behind us. A nice lady came out with corn and was feeding them, to attract more for our viewing pleasure.
 The kids at the San Antonio Temple.
 Getting a baby sitter so we can go to the temple is a pain, and expensive. So Derrick and I like to go take turns. One of us plays on the temple grounds with the kids while the other goes in. The kids loved playing in the outdoor elevator, and surprisingly were mad when we had to leave because they were having such a good time. I like that our kids can come with us and see us making temple attendance a priority.
Alyssa enjoyed splashing in the fountain at the temple.

This is Alyssa at her One-year well child check. She is only 18.6 lbs, which puts her in the 10 percentile for weight. But she is in the 70 percentile for height.

Jodi is teaching Page's, Jan's, and my kids tennis lessons at our community tennis courts. First she gives the four 6-7 year olds a lesson. Then she teaches the four 4-5 year olds. Its so nice that all our kids are the same age. Jan is usually teaching piano during this time so it leaves Page and I to watch all the 11 the other kids. They sure have fun digging for Crystals and playing on the playground.

Brynlee told me she looks like a rock-star in this jacket. Obviously it made it act like a rock-star too while waiting for her eye exam.

 We sure had fun watching the hit movie Frozen at Kim's house. She has a projector so the movie is as big as the entire wall. And her surround sound is awesome.
Here we are at the annual Scobee carnival. We ate so much popcorn and cotton candy that I thought I would puke. But I couldn't resist because it was so cheap, and I felt like I had to support the school.

Firefighters taught us about fire safety at the ward Provident Living activity. 
 Jodi and I do babysitting swaps once a week. Above is what happens when I watch her kid (yes, that's peanut butter on Katelyn's face). And below is what happens when she watches my kid (Jodi helped Cami overcome her fear of dogs). Maybe after she teaches my kids tennis lessons she can give me babysitting lessons.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

February 2014

Derrick's 32nd birthday
This is Derrick's first official doctor picture. He actually hates it, as he does all pictures of himself. He was forced to get his picture taken because he has been writing a textbook chapter that is going to be published and it was needed for the bibliography. Also this month, he was appointed Administrative Chief Resident of the PM&R program. This will mean an increase in his work load as he is in charge of making schedules and heading up many administrative tasks for the 32 residents in his residency program. I wasn't really excited about him accepting this position because I was worried about the extra time away from the family it would require. And the small pay increase didn't seem worth the extra hours and sleep deprivation. But he assures me that it will be worth the extra effort and is a great resume builder, especially since it is one of the largest rehab programs in the country and the hospital he works at has been ranked in the top 3% in the nation. He has really excelled in his program and has received many accolades concerning his work ethic and fabulous bedside manner. I am so proud of him. P.S. we must be moving up in the world because Dr. Allred just received his first box of business cards from the University.

For Derrick's birthday his generous parents sent him a gift card to the Sunglass Hut. Derrick's eyes are very sensitive to the sun so he really needed a good pair of sunglasses. Side note: his sweet Aunts Mo and Steph bought him an awesome pair of glasses when we were first married 10 years ago from the Sunglass Hut. They have sense gone by the wayside and Derrick was long over due for a new pair.
Since Derrick's birthday was on a Sunday this year we went out to celebrate and buy him his glasses on Saturday. Above is us eating at Willie's and below is Derrick sporting his new glasses at La Cantera Mall.

 When I was little one of my favorite things about my birthday was that it was the one day a year that I was exempt form doing chores. Apparently that rule doesn't apply in our household because here is Derrick doing dishes on his birthday. I didn't ask him to, in fact I told him not to do them, but he insisted on helping me out, and reminded me that I didn't get a break on my birthday. Not that I believe in keeping things fair in our marriage, but it's true, so I let him do them.
In church on Sunday, Brynlee told the family sitting behind us that "Daddy doesn't have any friends so we have to invite mommy's friends over for Daddy's birthday party." That's right- I invited Amber Martin and her family over for dinner and to make strawberry jam with us on Derrick's birthday. It was actually a lot of fun, can't you tell how much fun Derrick is having in the background? :)

Cambria's birthday/ Sea World
We started Cambria's birthday off with her making her own birthday cake. Daddy and Kennan were camping with the boy scouts up Government Canyon, so Kim picked us up and we took the girls to Sea World. They are having an awesome deal this year where they are offering a free annual "preschool pass" for kids ages 3-5. So all my girls get in free to Sea World all year long.
I love my jogging stroller. It can easily fit 4, with two kids riding on the front, or with the seats laid back. I got quite the workout pushing 4 kids around the park. It would have been tough getting around without it with all the walking that is required.

Baby Alyssa and baby Faith. Can you guess who is older? Alyssa has Faith beat by a couple months, but you wouldn't guess it to hold them or to see how stable Faith is on her feet.
Seasame Place has an awesome kids play place. Its also an awesome place for kids to get lost.
Elmo's world just doesn't look as cool if you don't buy the overly priced digitally enhanced picture so they can add a background to the green screen. Sorry kids, no colorful picture with Elmo. But at least we will still have money to send you to college.

This is like "Where's Waldo". I think the red hair from the twins gives it away. They love this Sesame street live show.

We felt like we were getting VIP treatment with employees coming out and giving us an up-close and personal animal encounter with rare and endangered animals. This is what you get when you happen to be at the right place at the right time with the most adorable kids on the planet.
This was the most perfect thing to do to celebrate Cami's 3rd birthday. Libby and Laney are Cami's bestest best friends. They had so much fun running around Sea World together.
This was an awesome day to go to Sea World. It was perfect weather and it wasn't busy at all. We didn't have to wait in line for any of the rides.

Faith just wanted to grab Shamoo's nose. Alyssa wasn't so sure about the whole thing. She seemed a little scared.

What a perfect day at Sea World. Now lets get home so we can open presents and eat cake....
Cami got a Radio Flyer Roller coaster bike and trax set. My mom bought one of these 16 years ago and still has it and her grandkids now use it. 
We took it outside and set it up on our slanted driveway and let her ride it down the drive into the cul-de-sac. It makes her go super fast. It was so fun.....until Brynlee rode her bike in front of Cami and Cami flipped off and crashed. :( But even after the crash she has still been attached to it and insists on playing with it every time we are outside.
Finally...it's time for cake!

Yes, that's my 3 year old holding a very sharp knife, which I didn't realize until I saw this picture.
Cambria has been such a joy and delight to our family. She is pure sunshine. Her smile and laughter light up the room. She has a very easy going disposition and gets along great with her siblings. She is by far my most polite child. She is always quick to say "Thank you" and show gratitude.  She is extremely easy to discipline and has an obedient heart. We love you Cami Mae!!!
In other Birthday news, we were able to celebrate Faye's birthday with the Otto's. Page made an awesome cake for her. Maybe I shouldn't post this picture next to Cami's cake picture because one day she may look at it and realize she was gypped.
Free Donut Decorating at Krispy Kreme. That's pretty much the only time I love Krispy Kreme is when they are hot and taste like a warm fluffy surgery cloud.
 This is a poem I wrote for Derrick and made a collage of pictures around it and gave it to him for valentines day. It's hanging in our bedroom.
 Alyssa is such a happy helper. The problem is sometimes she unloads fast than I can load the dishwasher.
This is Brynlee getting a vision exam. There was some concern about her needing some vision therapy due to the high prescription and fear of her over-compensation with one eye and thus causing lazy eye. But after a very thorough 2 hour examination, in which she was very patient with, it was determined that she doesn't need vision therapy. They think her vision will only improve as she grows. She loves wearing her glasses and is very responsible with them.
 This is Brynlee with her dance teacher.
I crawled out of bed one morning to find Kennan had showered, gotten all ready for school himself and set the table for breakfast. He is an early bird and is always happy and helpful in the mornings. I love that he showers every morning without help and without me even asking him to do it. He likes to be clean and look his best, which is sometimes problematic when he flips out about his hair not looking perfect. 
 He even wrote me a note that says, "Der mom you are the best."
Happy Valentines Day
Can you find Kennan. The first grade was doing a performance at Launch Pad. 
 As were leaving the cafeteria, Cami saw Brynlee sitting on the front row and run in front of the entire school to give her a hug. I love that Brynlee wasn't embarrassed and was excited to hug her sister in front of everyone. Please children, don't grow up and lose this age of innocence.
I left the girls alone playing while I was on the phone with Grandma Cahill. When I went to check on them I found all three girls, including the BABY and all the toys on the bed. Bryn said she had built a baby play center and she was reading the girls a book.
She loves thick chapter books with no pictures, even though she can't read. She carries them around with her everywhere.

 For the 100th day of school Kennan made a book called "If I had 100...." on the page that said "If I had 100 animals I would..." he wrote "Sell them." That's my boy!
 Brynlee getting another eye exam. She ended up getting four eye exams before they finalized her prescription. She was very patient with the whole process.

 I found this contraption at a garage sale and Alyssa loves it. I used to sit her in the Bumbo on the counter so she could help me cook, but she became too mobile. This allows her to be up next to me without the risk of falling.
This is how we study scriptures: on the ipad.

This month they made shed banks at the kids workshop at Home Depot.
 I asked the Dr. for an audiology test because Cami is slightly behind with her speech. I wasn't sure if she was really behind or if I was just comparing her to Brynlee at that age who has always been very advanced with her language skills. It was fun watching her during this testing. She was so sweet and cooperative. It was determined that her hearing is just fine, but that she may benefit from some speech therapy because she doesn't articulate everything perfectly. She doesn't have a history of ear infections. They think this delay was due to fluid in her middle ear during her vital developmental stages, or could just be due to something like lots of ear wax in her teeny-tiny ear canals which made words sound muffled..
 Brynlee has such an imagination. She found two bamboo skewers and a ball of yarn and told me she was knitting a blanket. I have no idea where she gets these ideas from. She has certainly never seen me knit.
...see...I told you she likes it....

She loves to swing.
When she is being so smiley and cute I can't help  but keep snapping pictures of her adorableness.