Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A quote for the day...

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." - Angela Schwindt

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Silent Thank-You's

Alli is now old enough to say thank you. She knows what it means, she realizes when she's supposed to say it, and (for the most part) she says it right on cue. We have to remind her a lot, but when she says it unprompted, it truly warms my heart, even for the smallest things. I hand her her shoes to put on before heading out the door, and she says thank you! When I give her her favorite stuffed animal and lay her down for nap or bedtime, she says thank you! I help her down from the toilet, she says, thank you! Oh, and you can bet that giving her a Popsicle will almost always get an unprompted THANK YOU!! 

But what about the times where you really wish you could hear a thank you, and it never comes? I'm talking about the baby years, the time Aiden is currently going through and the not too distant time Alli just went through. The hours and hours you spent walking around the nursery to help get them to sleep. No thank you there. The many times you change the stinkiest, messiest diapers in the world, all so they will have a clean butt and feel so much better. You better believe when they are this little, there is no true "thank you" muttered for that. What about the time you put eye drops in two unbelievably strong eyes while holding flailing arms and kicking body, all to help with goopy eyes and prevent infection? He seems like he thinks I'm the worst person in the world for doing that, but someday, I'd like to think he would thank me if he could. 

Someday, I hope that Alli and Aiden realize all that Eric and I went through to ensure their health and happiness. I'm not expecting them to worship the ground we walk on, I know from my own experience that I hated my mom long before she became my best friend. But I would like to know that they appreciated us and all we tried to do for them. All those little things. Many of them are expected as parents, but many of them, I can honestly tell you that Dad-E and I did out of our strong love for them. Dad-E is the most patient, kind-hearted man I know... and trust me when I say there are things he has done for the A Team that most parents would never waste their time doing. But he always wants the best for them. I hope that someday they appreciate us as much as we now realize and appreciate all our parents/families have done for us. 

So, if nothing else, thank your mom or dad today! Thank them for changing your diapers or feeding you or walking you around the room at all hours of the night. It's likely that most parents have gone through the same things we as new generation parents are going through, but it's so nice to hear a "thank you" every once in awhile, even if what you are doing is just one of those expected things that come with parenthood.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eleven Month Stats (what??!!)

How did time fly by so quickly? Our little man is almost one. This is his last "month" birthday until the big one. The big 1-2 months, one whole year. We are so in awe of the things he has accomplished from last month to now... it's incredible. Just as Dad-E mentioned in his previous post, Aiden has been on the fast track to figuring things out this month. Just when we thought he would never crawl, instead, he starts walking. Oh, and he'll crawl too, and fast, but it's only when he wants to. He has quite the personality, the ladies at Chesterbrook call him Mr. Drama. So, in true big sister fashion, Alli will mock that too and we've heard her on several occasions say, "Stop crying, Mr. Drama, stop crying!" He still knows how to turn the waterworks on, still knows how to whine with the best of 'em, and still loves being held most of all. Now that he's almost a year old, I'm not complaining about that so much anymore. The fact that he still falls asleep on me is just incredible, and I'm going to hold on tight to those moments... Alli's were gone in an instant. I know Aiden's won't be far behind.

He loves playing with doors or anything that swings open... cabinets, doors to the playhouse, window to the box playhouse we made, etc. Being anywhere near his big sister is still an all-time favorite, he just wants to be near her and do whatever she's doing. He likes to bang around in the play kitchen, and another favorite is taking the microphone from our little boombox my mom got Alli for Christmas and talk/babble/yell into it. He laughs and laughs at himself, and continues to rub his mouth all over it. It's adorable. He loves to say "uh oh", with huge emphasis on the "uh" part... and he can wave bye-bye and clap like a champ.

He had his first true "sick visit" to the doctor's office on Tuesday... and got diagnosed with his first ever ear infection. They also gave us some eye drops because his eyes had some gross green gunk coming out of them, but thankfully, he takes medicine like a champ and the Amoxicillin is no big deal. We had a rough night last night and he has been coughing a bunch, but hopefully he's on the upswing. Several kids at Chesterbrook were diagnosed with RSV, but thankfully, his swab for that came back negative. So, we're hoping it's just a little bug on top of the ear infection, and he'll be on his way to health again soon. He's still super smiley, but, we definitely want him feeling 100% by his birthday!

The Stats:
Weight: 20 lbs at the sick visit, that was with clothes on though too
Length: Not sure, he's gaining on Ms. Ru though!
Diaper size: 3's
Clothing size: 9-12 month, mostly 12 month sleepers but can still fit in 9 month shirts and 9 month pants as long as they aren't one piece outfits
Shoe size: 4-4&1/2 or so, finally wearing them more often!
Food: One bottle in the AM, one at bedtime, 3 cups throughout the day of milk or water, 3 full meals and a snack... basically whatever Alli eats, he eats too
Naps: One 2 hour nap at school, sometimes he still takes two at home on the weekends with us
Sleep: Bed by 6:45-7ish, up around 6:15ish
Teeth: 6! He has the 4 across the top and 2 on the bottom
Sounds: Lots of babbling still, dadada is still the favorite, baba, "uh oh"
Play: Free standing, walking (a lot of zombie walking, hands out... it's funny), "organizing" the DVD's in the entertainment center, playing in the kitchen, rocking the mic on the boombox, blocks, cars, playing in Alli's room before bed is always his favorite... he can't wait to be done with his bottle in his room so we can head down there and see Alli & Dad-E
New buddies: A couple new friends at school, got to see and play with Tyler and Lily down the street a little more often now that it is getting nicer outside!

The countdown is on for his first birthday... and the ensuing party. He already had a good first taste of what chocolate cupcakes taste like thanks to Dad-E's work friends bringing some to him that he brought home to share. He was in love... can't wait to see what his experience with his birthday cake will be like, and what the next year has in store for him too. We love lil A so much, and we're so proud of how far he's come!

Messy face, thanks for the cupcake dad!

Sweet, sweet baby <3

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Best birthday present… ever

As Mommy B stated in her last post, we’re finally the same age again. That’s right Followers, last Monday (March 11th) I celebrated my first annual 29th birthday. I’m hanging strong to my twenties – because after this, it’s all downhill… just kidding (kind of). Once you hit 30, there are just certain things you shouldn’t do anymore. No more late night partying, no more mid-week happy hours, no more wasting the weekend away lying on the beach soaking up rays. Oh wait – I haven’t done that stuff in years anyway. I guess it’s true that age is just a number and even though I’m still in my twenties, I’ve probably acted like I’ve been in my thirties for a long time.

Anyway, my birthday started off the same way every weekday does – a 5am alarm and getting both kids up, dressed and off to school by myself. Work was work, although at my new job they celebrate every team member’s birthday with cake a six-pack of the birthday person’s favorite beer. So I came home with a sixer of New Belgium’s spring seasonal “Dig” and a couple leftover cupcakes – which was a nice way to end the workday. It’s not my all-time favorite beer, but I figured it’d be a rather tall order to send my boss searching for Great Lakes’ Christmas Ale this time of year (and in this part of the country).

When I got home that afternoon, I received the best birthday present I can recall in a very long time. Aiden decided that my birthday was a good day to start walking on his own. And I’m not talking about taking a couple steps here and there then falling down… I’m talking walk-across-the-room-without-help walking. He’d been taking a few steps and steadying himself then taking a few more in the past few days but today the training wheels came off. The minute I saw him do it, I flashed back to the week before Alli’s first birthday when she did the same thing. And just like that day, I stood in the kitchen in awe of the arms-out-front-zombie-walk that Aiden was doing right in front of me. And just like when Alli did it for the first time, his smile could have lit up New York City for a week.

In the weeks previous, I had told Mommy B that once he started walking he’d be so happy. He’s already Mr. Smiles (most of the time), but I knew that once he was able to walk after his big sister we would see a brand new kid. Much like his father, he has an older sibling that he looks up to and wants to play with. Also much like his father, he pretty much skipped crawling and went right to walking to keep up with said older sibling. To be honest, he actually started crawling on all fours a couple weeks ago but didn’t enjoy it as much as being up furniture surfing.

Aiden has basically gone from hurdler-scooting to full-blown walking in a matter of a few weeks. That’s what has surprised Mommy B and I so much – he’s learned and developed so much in such a short period of time that I’m sure he’s having a heck of a time keeping up with it all. Here’s a comparison – Alli started crawling on all fours at about 6 months old, but didn’t start really walking on her own until a week before her first birthday; Aiden on the other hand didn’t start crawling until he was about 9 months old, but is walking on his own before turning 11 months old. He’s gone from pseudo-blob to being completely mobile in about 2 months – holy. crap. And to think we were starting to worry that he wasn’t developing fast enough… looks like he had other plans. We just thought that Aiden was going to be on his own schedule (which boys typically are) and was going to get there on his own time – and here he is, beating his big sister to the biggest milestone a child reaches.

I guess we both got a little older that day. And I couldn’t be happier for my big boy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Proud Dad moment

My apologies again, Followers. Mommy B and I have been rather busy lately with a whole smorgasbord of things going on, and it’s been rather difficult to get back to our blogging. In addition to my parents moving to Charleston within the last month, Mommy B has decided to go “back to school” in an effort to earn her Master’s degree in Nursing. She’s taking all online classes for the next 15 months which means even less time available for posting. On top of all that, I’m studying hard to obtain my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by this summer. Because raising two kids under the age of three just wasn’t enough of a challenge for us…

In all seriousness, this is something that Mommy B has wanted to accomplish since she graduated from college and she feels that it will exponentially open more doors in her career path of choice down the road. So right now was probably the best option for her to obtain this additional degree before the kids get involved in after-school activities. And while my place of employment is not mandating that I obtain my PMP certification, it has been something I’ve been eyeing since I started working in the project management field a few years ago. My company looks very favorably on this certification and I, too, feel that it will provide more opportunities for my career in the near future.

Now then…

Last week, one of my best friends I’ve had since moving to Charleston accepted a two-year position as a consultant in London. Needless to say, our mutual friends had to throw him a going-away party to wish him the best in his endeavors across the pond. Unfortunately for me it was on a school night, but I helped Mommy B tuck the kids into bed and went out to a local watering hole to meet up with the group. Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion.

The majority of the party-goers were former colleagues of mine, so we had a great time reminiscing of past times when we all worked together – sometimes on the same team with the same manager! I hadn’t seen most of these folks since I left in August, but thanks to the power of Facebook they know all about what we as a family have been up to. One conversation in particular tugged at my heart strings.

One former colleague asked me how things were going with the family, and I replied with the obligatory “hectic”. Duh, I have two kids under the age of three – and a little hobby on the side called a full-time job… how do you think it’s going? We chuckled a little, and while this particular person was single and didn’t have any kids, she said something to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “I’m sure things are crazy for you, but I can tell you guys genuinely love being parents. I can see it in the pictures on Facebook.”

It kind of caught me up for a second while I pondered her statement. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew she was right. I do love being a dad. Granted, there are still times when I want to pull my hair out – but there is nothing I want to see more at the end of the day than my kids’ smiling faces. They get so excited to see me when I walk in the door after Mommy B has brought them home and I’m not there yet. I know this is just a phase, and it won’t last… so I’m trying to soak it up as much as possible. No matter how long and tiring my day has been, I do my best every day I walk in the door to match their excitement to see me with my own excitement to see them.  My smiling face and big hugs shows them that they are loved just as much by me to them as them to me, even if they don’t understand it yet. When they see me excited and ready to play with them once I’m home, it makes our bond that much stronger. And Mommy B is never shy about capturing many of those moments on camera.

That statement really made me realize that a picture really is worth a thousand words. It would take me hours to try to explain the parent-child relationship to a non-parent, but the pictures Mommy B puts online capture it all effortlessly (maybe with the help of a witty caption every once in a while). After a million images of my kids’ smiling faces flashed through my head in a matter of milliseconds, I looked my friend in the eye and replied, “You’re right. I do love it. And there’s nothing else in the world like it.”

I don’t recall if I intentionally puffed my chest out a little bit after I replied or if it was subconscious, but I certainly held my head a little higher the rest of the night. I told Mommy B this story the next day and she blushed a little at the thought of it all. I told her that the entire evening had really reinforced what I’ve known all along and try not to take for granted – that I’m extremely lucky to have what I have. While I’m a firm believer that for the most part people make their own luck with a combination of opportunity, knowledge and execution – I know there are countless families out there that have it much worse than I do. I’m blessed to have a magnificent family, and hearing the same thing from someone who isn’t around to see it all was very gratifying. I posted once long ago that no one is an expert parent, and it was wonderful to hear that I’m at least doing something right.

It was a Proud Dad moment indeed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eric's catching up...

Finally, Eric is my age again. :)

Happy 29th birthday to Dad-E... the most amazing father and husband I could ever ask for. Our two kids adore him more than I have ever seen a child adore their father. He is so involved, entertaining, and loving toward them... I can't even begin to describe it to you. Those of you that have seen him in action know exactly what I mean.

I look forward to many more birthdays together as a family... Aiden and Alli really enjoyed sharing his cupcakes... that's for sure! :)

Always involved and patient, always letting her try to help, she looks up to him so much 

Forever his playmate and jungle gym (hers too!)

I love you E, thanks for being you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Star(s) of the Week

What a start to the week, and it's only Wednesday! The past two days of picking up Alli and Aiden from school have been nothing short of wonderful and "proud parent moment" for me. Not to mention, I started school on Monday and things are going well. I'm in a pretty happy place at the moment, and hoping it stays that way! Anyway, on to why the kids are so great...

Monday, I started my normal routine of going to Alli's room to get her first. Outside of their room, their teachers write about what they did that day, what type of activities, etc. I always like to read it so I can talk to her about what she did at school, and I was in awe when I read it:

My lil peanut was teaching the class! She does this at home with her books, she'll read them to you by holding it up and showing you the pictures... it's adorable. But just to imagine her doing it with her classmates, somehow gathering all of them to sit around and listen to her read to them, I was so proud.

Then, I walk into her actual room and see this hanging on the wall:
Now I know each kid in the class will eventually be the "Star of the Week", but she was first :) And, she looks so happy and grown up in this picture! I can't believe how much she knows, learns, and grows each and every day.

Next, Tuesday come around and I have picked up my lil star and we're heading down to "baby room" as Alli calls it to pick up "A-Man!!!" (I guess we have called him that enough that now Alli calls him that, too.) It's cute. Anyway, we are walking down the hall and Ms. Savannah, Aiden's first teacher stopped us and said, "Um, do you guys know that Aiden is walking??" I looked at her somewhat surprised, although I did know this time would come. He has been walking with our help for a good month or so now, walks with the walker almost anywhere, cruises furniture a lot lately, and has even gotten brave and taken steps from me to Eric and back. Ms. Savannah went on to say he took 6 or 7 steps to get from her to Ms. Patricia today. What?! So, we hurried down to Aiden's room and walked in, where Mr. Smiles was just playing away with Henry, one of his BFF's. As soon as Ms. Patricia saw me, she said the same exact thing Ms. Savannah had just said. She said, "You know Aiden is walking, right?" What?! Not when he's Mr. Whiney-Butt around me. All he wants is to be held. But, it's coming.

We couldn't be more proud of our little stars... and amazed at how fast they grow and learn new things... next thing I know, they'll be in college...

Embarking on a new journey...

While I was gone on my mom's weekend away in Mexico, I had a lot of uninterrupted time to reflect on my life, my goals, and my future. Of course, a lot of those goals and future plans have changed along the way, but I wouldn't change the way I got here for anything. Eric and I have seemed to be on the "fast-track" so to speak...

2006 - graduate from college and move to Charleston
2008 - get married
2010 - baby #1, precious Alli Ru
2012 - baby #2, sweet boy Aiden

... now what? How about take a breather and just relax? Nah. That's for the weak. I've decided that now is a better time than any to go back to school and further my education. I have always thought that going back to get my master's degree was something I'd want to do someday, but I just wasn't sure what it was I wanted to do. After being a nurse for over six years now, I know that teaching is what I want to do. So, after some searching, talking with my current nurse educator of my department, and applying, I quickly got all my paperwork and transcripts together, got some admission work accomplished, and wouldn't you know... I started this past Monday. It's a 15 month, all online, rigorous program, but I can honestly say I'm excited and it's going to make a huge impact on my career. I thought now would be a better time to do this than when the kids are older and have after school activities, play dates, etc... and I'm already glad I started. I am hoping to someday work as a nurse educator on one of the pediatric areas in the hospital, and/or teach nursing clinicals at local colleges.

So, mark it down...

2014 - master's degree.

I just hope Aiden and Alli understand that right now, mommy may be busy, but I'm doing it to better our futures together.