Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Camel Snot & Bat Guano

We took a little family vacay this past weekend and had SO MUCH FUN!

First we went to the Virginia Safari Park. It's a 180 acre drive-thru zoo and it was GREAT! The kids were able to be out of their seat belts and feed lamas, deer, camels, and other cool animals right from our car. The furry beasts would just stick their heads right in our car window and eat from the food bucket. Jayda wasn't too sure how she felt about the invasion of her personal space by such large creatures. Bella was 100% sure how she felt...and she hated it! She screamed and cried every time a lama would creep up and look at her through the window. I can't even begin to describe how hilarious it was! There's also a little petting zoo (don't go by the black baby pig with white on its nose. It bites...just ask my left hand) and some monkeys, tigers, and reptiles to look at. We highly recommend going if you're ever in that area!

We spent the rest of the day at The Natural Bridge. There's nothing to do there other than see the bridge (that takes about 60 seconds), visit their "Indian village" which totally sucked, walk through the wax museum which was intensely creepy and completely bothersome, and then watch the evening light "show" which wasn't as much of a show as it was a guide with a flashlight. It sounds like I'm being a bit negative, but we actually had an absolutely fabulous time. I think I was a bit disappointed because The Natural Bridge is listed as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. I think it's a wonder it was even nominated. HOWEVER, it was a great experience and we had a fantastic time. We recommend going...just make it a day trip or a stop over and not your final destination like we did. We also went to the caverns and saw some bats. Good times.

I think one of my favorite parts was driving through and stopping at the tiny little towns along the way. It was very interesting, and extremely humbling, to see how much of "middle America" lives. Those little places, far from city lights, make me think of what America is really built on and about the hard working farmers that really support this country. Oh, and I also think of creepy little toothless kids playing banjos.

Viva la vacations!

This is Jayda watching the animals come up to the window at the Safari Park. The one time she didn't have to be stuck in her car seat and she made a fort between the two seats and had a blanket ready to put over her head if she got too scared. Why do I find it so hilarious that my child was terrified? Not a nice mommy.

The Natural Bridge.

This poor guy. He had Bella on his back and then Jayda would want to be carried. She did pretty well, but it was a lot of walking and a TON of stairs. The most embarrassing part of the entire weekend? The fact that I only saw the back of this guy as he was charging it full speed and I was stuck eating his dust. In my defense my cute Puma tennis shoes were not slip resistant so I couldn't go too fast...plus, I was enjoying the view!

This is down in the cave. About 36 stories down! The guide took this picture and said she had no idea what that smoke/fog thing is. We couldn't see anything like that in person, but it showed up in our picture. She'd never had that happen before. oooohhhhhh (that's my ghost noise).

I know my sweet babies don't look their finest in this picture. Bella actually looks like she should be wearing a helmet and riding the short bus. But I just had to put it in so I could remember how sweet these two were on our trip. I'd look back to check on the girls to find them holding hands. Not looking at each other. Not playing. Not talking. Each in their own little world, but holding onto each others tiny fingers. This will forever be one of my favorite memories engraved in my mind.

So, where should we go next weekend?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweet Sierra Bella

You're one!! I can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday I was rushed to the hospital where you joined our little family nearly 2 months early. I remember being so scared that you would not be healthy being so premature. I remember that the doctors were afraid for me and my life, but I was just afraid for yours. I remember crying telling the doctor "no, please don't take her. It's not time." But the Lord provided. You came out, took a breath, and started crying. Powerful lungs. Especially for someone a bit under-developed. You have continued to put those lungs to good use!

You came out wrinkly and red. With soft hair all over your 5lbs body. You had no eyelashes. You had jaundice. You would forget to breathe or your heart would murmmer those first few weeks. Other than a quick kiss on the cheek when you were first born, I didn't get to meet you for nearly 3 days. I was too sick. C-suctions suck. You couldn't be moved from your incubator. Your dad stayed by me as much as he could. One time when he did have to go home to see your sister, he returned to the hospital to find me sneaking out of my room to go see you. I was on bed rest and wasn't supposed to walk. He found me in the hallway trying to walk to the elevator to go down 4 floors to see your sweet face. He scolded me briefly and then realized how sad I was and quickly put me in a wheelchair and helped me sneak to go see you. I couldn't stay away.
You slept in an incubator all hooked up to cords and wires. Alarms would sound every time you stopped breathing or your heart did a funky beat and it would send me into a mental tailspin. I hated those alarms. I hated not being able to snuggle on you without asking a nurse first. I hated trying to undress in front of strangers so that I could try to snuggle with you skin-to-skin or nurse you. I hated having to call a nurse and ask for an update on how my baby was doing. I hated leaving you when I was discharged from the hospital and you had to stay.

You were so tiny and seemed so frail. You had us fooled. You were strong in body and spirit and after dropping down into the 4lbs range you quickly started putting on the weight and getting stronger by the day. You never needed breathing treatment and you only had to stay in the NICU for 10 days. You were born at 33 weeks and you came home 10 days later on March 26, 2009.

Now one year later, your stats are impressive!

You weigh 21.6lbs (55%percentile)
You are 39 inches long (75%percentile)
Your head is 18 3/4 inches (97% percentile!!) MASSIVE...of course it has to be to hold that sweet, smart brain of yours.

You love cuddles with mom and dad, but your favorite person in the world may be your sister (moms a close second). You started crawling on Sunday, February 28th in the church foyer. You were determined to get to that cute little Liam Flynt and that motivation helped you take your first crawls forward. You crawled backwards for about 5 weeks before you were ready to go forward, but now that you started...there is no slowing you down. You crawl about 10 - 12 steps and them frog jump a few leaps, and then crawl some more. It's quite cute!

Your favorite game is peek-a-boo and you put anything you can get your hands on over your head to "hide" so we can play the game. You wave, clap, blow kisses (ie. slobber all over your hand), and dance on que. You carry pillows and blankets around with you so you can lounge around when ever your heart so desires. You love real food and are totally over baby food. You're still working at mastering the sippy cup and you still love your bottles. Although you stopped nursing about 4 months ago, you often try to have another helping by grabbing my shirt and searching for the promised land. Sorry kid---that ain't happening.

You are an absolute joy. You have what we call "happy hands." They spin in circles with your fingers spread every time you are excited or happy. You smile and wave your arms like you're trying to fly every time you get excited. It is simply delightful to watch. Your smile lights up the room. You have a killer dimple. I simply love it. You poop every change you get. Like every diaper change you crap your pants. That I don't love. You like to dance and love dancing with your sis during her afternoon dance parties. You love Riley. Unfortunately for Riley your favorite thing to do to her is try to rip her ears off. She's a good dog and doesn't do anything other than whine and run away. In fact, you often try to destruct everything in your path (including the faces of other little babies) which is why your nickname is Destructo.

Your dad is pretty much mush around you. You have him wrapped around your tiny, dirty, lint-filled fingers. You are so sweet. i LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are mine.

Happy Birthday Sweet Bella!

***below are some pics from your first b-day. We had your favorite for dinner...Spaghetti! Then we opened presents and had some cake. It was super fun! You were afraid of the bounc-back penguin toy and freaked out over the Zhu Zhu pet hamster. It was quite hillarious. When the hamster would scamper around the room you'd freak out and crawl as fast as lightening to your daddy.***

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Friends and Photos

Aren't friends great?

Mine are.

I have such talented friends. I am so lucky to know them. I'm so lucky to be able to soak up their goodness and talents just by hanging out with them. My friends listen to me whine, cry, and laugh. My friends help me talk through my stresses. My friends watch my kids so the hubs and I can have a few minutes alone. My friends come over and let me leave the house when I'm stressed...and when I return my kids are fed and bathed. Friends are truly the flowers in the garden of life (cheesy, but true!)

A few days ago my friend Elizabeth took some splendid shots of my girls. She's recently started her own photography business (she's super good...for those of you that got my Christmas card in the mail she took that great shot of the girls). To see her work or snag her talents for yourself, visit her website: http://www.elizabethmoonphotography.com/

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tough Times, Scary Times, Exciting Times

It's been a while since my last post. Truth be told it's been a really rough 6 weeks.

Working from home has been one of the greatest blessing in my entire life. I feel beyond blessed to have been able to help put my hubby through school and help with our finances WHILE being at home with my sweet babies. I make about 60% less than I would if I worked outside of the home and yet I guarantee I work 60% harder. However, it's been a sacrifice I've been willing to make because I've been the one to kiss my babies boo-boo's, put them down for their naps, and play peek a boo during lunch.

HOWEVER...I feel like I'm drowning. I'm spread so thin with being a wife, mom, AND full-time executive working from home that I often feel like I can't do anything really well. I can't excel at being a wife. I can't be the kind of mom I truly want to be. I can't really give all that I should to work because I am trying to draft memos, create policies, and speak with lawyers on the phone while wiping butts and making snacks at the same time. Difficult does not begin to describe what working from home has been the last 4+ years.

I'm just done. I'm pooped. I'm drained. I'm depressed. I'm done quieting my kids for work calls. I'm done telling my sweet girls to wait for a snack, or to talk to me, or to even pee because I'm in the middle of a work task. I'm done kissing my hubby hello when he gets home from work and then not seeing him again for the rest of the night because I'm working till 11pm or later. I want to have 4 appendages. Not 5. That means that the blackberry that has become my 5th limb needs to be cut off!

There's no work-life balance.

It's got to stop.

And so it will.

Today, after 6 years as Director of Human Resources for Staff Pro, I resigned my position. I resigned my position to be a full-time stay-at-home mom and full-time wife.

I am more excited than words can express. I am more terrified than tongue can tell. It's gonna be tough cutting our income by 40%. It's gonna be scary relinquishing that part of me that has become so much a part of who I am. But it's gonna be exciting. Exciting to give my all to Russ, Jayda, and Bella. And maybe, just maybe, even give a little bit of me back to me.