Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More From Our Family Photo Session

Since I've had a few people ask to see the proofs from our photo session last month, I threw a bunch of them into a slide show. Our session fee included printing/publishing rights to these pictures, so why not? I have to say one more time how great Tiffany with Follow Your Art Photography was to work with. She was really laid back and fun & she was fantastic with the kids (not to mention that I think that she's a ridiculously talented photographer)! I hope you like these and, as always, if you have any favorites I always love to hear about them (we haven't decided which ones to enlarge yet)!

A few little things that I'm grateful for...

...that Noah loves cold leftover pizza (it sure made dinner easy tonight).

...that this rotation that Mark is on is almost finished. This is Mark's last 30-hour shift (I know he's grateful for that too)! I take my hat off to you residents (and spouses) that have this schedule your entire residency (or worse - to those who do it their whole lives). Yuck.

...that I'm not where I was physically last time this year (recovering from my c-section, learning to nurse, and getting no sleep)!

Well, those are the things that I had on my mind at 2 am. Maybe now that I got that out I can sleep (I never sleep as well when Mark isn't here). I think that I may continue this list of things that I'm thankful for later though. Tis the season...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Little Bug Turned One!

Last Thursday (the 13th) Lincoln turned one year old! I can hardly believe that it's been an entire year since this sweet little guy joined our family. He is such a fun, happy baby and we are so grateful to have him in our lives. We thoroughly enjoyed celebrating his birthday - but before we give a re-cap on his birthday celebrations, let me document a few of his current milestones...

Lincoln took his first few steps on November 3rd, and every day since then he's gotten a little better. He went from doing the Frankenstein walk (arms out in front, waiting to catch himself from falling)...to doing the hands-up walk (huge grin on his face, arms straight up, as if cheering for himself & his new accomplishment - right before he biffs it after a few steps)...to now walking clear across the room while taking short little steps. I'll have to include a video clip soon. I love this stage. (P.S. thanks to Tiffany for Lincoln's adorable 1 year pictures!)

As for other new stuff:
  • He said his first word last week - "Bye". He says it softly & sweetly, and it's accompanied by a cute little wave. Melts my heart.
  • He likes to pretend to talk on the phone.
  • He adores growling and chasing around anyone that will play with him.
  • He's got a sweet tooth like his papa (unlike Noah who caps out on sweets like I do).
  • After a long dry spell from teething (he got his front four teeth at 5 months), he now has two molars!
  • He still loves his binky.
  • He likes to gag himself, especially if he's trying to get my attention. He just sticks his fingers right down his throat and makes that horrible sound. It drives me nuts!
  • He loves looking at books.
  • He really likes to bite things, including Noah on several occasions (sorry, Noah). This is one reason that I was glad to be done nursing a couple of months ago!
  • He eats a sliced up banana every morning with his breakfast - and loves it!
  • Bath time is still his favorite time of the day.
As you can see from the picture below, we went in for Lincoln's one year check up (and he got several shots). Here are his current stats, and although he's still big...he has hit that plateau that we've been waiting for! He's only gained one ounce since last month:
  • Weight: 26 pounds, 9 ounces (91st percentile)
  • Height: 31.5 inches (92nd percentile)
  • Head circumference: 20.08 inches (still off the charts big)

So, on to the birthday celebrations! The morning of his birthday I made pancakes with syrup...and bananas of course. We adopted the tradition of using a red "you are special plate" on birthdays from Mark's family. Since we were having his party on Saturday, we didn't do much else right on his birthday-day, but I did think a lot about what the day/night of his birth was like and how happy I was to have our not-so-tiny baby arrive safely into the world.

Now...on to the party. Here's a picture of the invitations that I made. A big thanks to the two helpful ladies at Paper Creations who helped me find all of the supplies that I needed to make these. I'm not one of those crafty people who has a lot of this stuff on hand (or even knew exactly what to look for), but I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted. They were a great help!

And, since I'm on the topic of thanking/spreading the word about helpful local businesses...I was in a bind the day before the party since I hadn't been able to find mylar bug balloons that weren't pastel or girlie. I found some darling balloons through a company online that ships nationwide, but that is based in Salt Lake City. The owner was really helpful and let me come pick up my order at her house that night! So, if you're looking for cute mylar balloons - check out this website. Oh, and she says that she's fine with local people doing pick-ups to avoid shipping costs, but that it helps if she has a day's notice or more :)

So! Party time arrived and I had the cupcakes all made, assembled, and with little their little gumdrop heads & licorice antenna on...but I hadn't frosted their little bug wings yet! So, my mom & friend Allison were so kind as to jump in and take that over for me - thanks, guys!

By the way, since I'm talking about these bug cupcakes, I have to mention that I spent hours trying to find black shoe string licorice (and I had enlisted several other people to help me with my search also). I swear that the stuff is not sold in regular stores anywhere! I found plenty of red, but no black. Anyhow, if I had known this a couple of weeks earlier then I could have ordered some online. So! I don't know who I could possibly help with this bit of knowledge, but the next time that I know I'm going to need the stuff I plan on ordering it online way ahead of time! For the cupcakes for this party I ended up having to hand cut strips of regular black licorice twists. It took a couple of hours just to cut these silly little antenna, but at least the poor bugs didn't have to have red antenna!

Here's a photo of our bee pinata and our "bug juice"...
...complete with flies in the ice.

As kids arrived they were given a bag to color and decorate with bug stickers. Then we gave out these cute bug catcher jars, complete with forceps, to do a bug hunt in the house (with fake bugs of course). These little containers should be cool for later too though. They have a little grid on the bottom so that you can look at your little bug and measure it without having to handle it much, the lid is a magnifying glass, and there are air holes in the jar so the bug can breathe until you are ready to release it. I found these very reasonably priced on a home science tools website.

Me with the birthday boy (who is munching on a Keebler Bug Bite Graham cracker, one of his new favorite snacks).

Here's a picture of Mark with Lincoln...and as you can tell from these pictures, everyone was given a pair of bug antenna, in place of the traditional party hat, when they arrived. I made several different colors, and it was fun to look around the room and see everybody sitting there with their bug headbands on.

My brother Josh asked me to take a picture of him with both sets of his grandparents. I thought that was sweet. It's pretty cool that we were able to have a birthday party for Lincoln with several of his cousins, aunt & uncles, and both sets of grandparents there...but also with two sets of his great-grandparents too! Lots of people love you, little guy!

Uncle Matt (my brother).

Lincoln with Mark's parents.

A couple of our friends were even so thoughtful as to bring a little gift for the big brother too! thanks Morgans & Donnellys! Here's a shot of Noah in the bug glasses that the Donnellys gave to him, he loves them.

Here's Lincoln just cruisin' around at the party. I love this little expression on his face. Oooh, I just wanna smooch him! Notice the cute little stinger on the back of this jacket too (another sweet, cheap ksl.com classifieds find - wahoo)!

Cousin Ava, Aunt Janelle & Uncle Matt (yes, there are 2 uncle Matts - this one is Mark's brother)

Lincon's first birthday cake - the lady bug, and its accompanying bug cupcakes.

Like most babies, Lincoln was pretty interested in that open flame...

Dig in kiddos!

Each guest got their own bug cupcake & some ice cream, while the birthday boy dug into his own cake without hesitation!
Lovin' it!
Mmmm. I think he liked it!

And, after a quick bath, we did the pull-string pinata! Here's Lincoln grabbing one of the strings.

And here is the candy emptying out of the pinata. I wish I had gotten a good shot of what happened next. The candy was falling out right onto Noah's head...so he bent over to the ground and put his hands over his head to take cover until the candy stopped falling. It was pretty cute.

Present opening time. Lincoln got several very thoughtful gifts - from cute clothes, to cute toys, to adorable books. Thanks, everybody - he's been enjoying all of them these last few days!

And, of course, kids are amused by the most simple things. Lincoln was particularly pleased with the cards!

And, he was less than pleased to humor us and model some of his new clothes.

My mom with Lincoln.

Lincoln with his great-grandpa (my dad's father) and great-grandma Dorothy.

Lincoln with more great-grandparents (my mom's parents).

Lincoln being silly with one of the bug headbands. The picture is a bit blurry, but I had to include it.

We hope that you had a special day, Lincoln. We love you so much.

Thanks to everybody that celebrated with us, both those at the party and those who sent their wishes from various places across the country! We're so blessed to have so many friends and family that love and support us and our boys.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Talents

This post is going to be an all-video-clips post, and probably will only be interesting to those people who are particularly interested in all of our boys' nuances and new "tricks". I think that they're pretty cute clips though, so I hope that you enjoy them!

First I'll start with Noah's singing. Like most kids, Noah loves singing. He's recently begun to not only remember the words to sections of his favorite songs, but to alter them to his liking :) For example..."Mary had a Little Lamb" usually evolves into "Mary had a Bi-ig lamb" - or, in this case "Pi-ig had a Little Lamb" (in reference to the pig book he'd just been reading). He seems to get quite a kick out of his own witty alteration of the song, and in this instance, when I ask him who exactly it was that had a little lamb, he answers "Mary"...followed up with "Grandma!" (whose name is Mary). I thought it was quite clever for him to remember her name, and to draw a connection to a song with her name in it. Anyhow, enjoy the short clip:

On to another popular song alteration of his. Ever since he found out about the abominable snow man (from Monster's Inc.) he thinks that any snowman is an abominable snowman. However he pronounces abominable as "probly"... So, he has permanently altered "Once there was a snowman" to now say..."There was a probly snowman". And, since bubbles look like snow, a bubble bath was a perfect time for him to decide to belt out that one (note the sweet dance moves):

And, for the last Noah-singing clip (for now anyway) I'll leave you with "Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star". I love how he continues to sing while climbing in and out of his chair, and how he gets a tiny bit embarrassed at the end of the clip and starts shooting/lasering me (which is what he does if I'm telling him something that he doesn't want to hear, or if he is embarrased). Nice.

Lincoln also knows how to use his voice (and likes to hear it), but it's not exactly singing. I liked this quick clip of him trying out his vocal chords while in the bath...and especially love the bottom lip thing he was doing each time. Funny guy:

Last week for a play group we went to the Children's Museum. I was watching Lincoln crawl around in one of the play areas when he headed for some stairs. I was surprised when he started climbing up them, so I grabbed my camera. So, this one's for you, Mark...since you're always bummed to miss little firsts of the boys. Here is Lincoln's very first time climbing up some stairs!

Then, even more fun than watching Lincoln climb the stairs was what he did next! He crawled over to a small slide and without hesitating went right down it! I got such a kick out of it, and so did he. He proceeded to crawl right back over to the stairs, up the stairs, and back down the slide several times. So here are two really short clips of his first time attacking a slide!

And, the very last clip is just a short one of Lincoln playing a quick game of peek-a-boo. That is his all time favorite game right now (other than the game of growl and chase each other, of course). Gotta love his smile:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Adoption Awareness

This post actually has nothing to do with National Adoption Month, although I find the coincidental timing kind of fun :) While we don't define Noah as our "adopted son", we are certainly very open with him & others about his being adopted - and we're very proud of the wonderful birthmother that he has, and that she chose us to be Noah's parents.

We have talked openly around Noah (and with Noah) about his adoption, and about Nicole (his birthmother). Of course we've known that he has comprehended little, if any, of what we've talked about on that topic...but we want him to grow up familiar with the story of how he joined our family - and proud of it!

One example of this is that Noah has become familiar with identifying LDS temples and is always excited to point one out when he sees it. Anytime that he does so, I try to mention that when he was a baby that mom & dad got to go into the temple with Noah, and that we were sealed together as a forever family. I usually describe some of what the day was like, and one day I pointed out that this picture in our family room was from the day we went to the temple:
Noah was really excited about this, and now likes to point out the picture and talk about our "special day" that we went to the temple. Obviously, he doesn't really conceptualize what going to the temple means, but it's still really cute. For example, a couple of weeks ago we drove past the Timpanogas temple and Noah excitedly announced that it was a temple...and then said, "After dinner, I wanna go there okay?"

Anyhow, back to adoption awareness...another thing that we discuss with Noah now and then is that just like Lincoln grew in mommy's tummy, Noah grew in his birthmom's tummy (both circumstances must seem strange to a 2 1/2 year old). The other day we drove past the hospital that Lincoln was born at and I asked if he remembered coming to visit mommy, daddy and baby Lincoln there after Lincoln was born (since we were there for a few days). He thought about it for a minute and asked..."and Lincoln slept in the little crib?" So, he must have been remembering something like this:

I was pretty impressed that Noah seemed to remember something about that special time in our lives...and then out of the blue Noah asked his first question about "his story". He intently asked, "Mom, was I born there?" I told him no, but that he was born in a hospital in Nevada. Then he went on to ask, "Did I get to sleep in a little crib?" I told him that I was sure that he did, but that I wasn't there...that he was with his birthmom for a while after he came out of her tummy (I know, not exactly an anatomically correct description of the birthing process, but cut me a little slack - he's not even 3 yet).

He was still very interested in our conversation, which surprised me a little, so I continued on by reminding him that his birthmom's name was Nicole, that she loved him very much too, and that we're so happy that she chose us to be Noah's parents. He thought about that for a minute and then reaffirmed, "My birthmom's name is Nicole?". I told him good job for remembering & that yes, her name is Nicole.

And then that was that! And he moved on to talking about how he wants a Buzz Lightyear cake for his birthday, and could he get a Zurg toy for Christmas...

However, while Noah was talking to my mom on the phone that night, he out of the blue started telling my mom that he grew in his birthmom's tummy, and that her name is Nicole. I was so proud of him, and so happy for him to begin to understand another aspect of his identity.

I figured that it would probably be some time until he brought something like that up again, but then this morning Noah looked at me and said, "You're my mommy." I said yup, that I was and gave him a hug. Then he pointed to both Mark and I and said, "And you're my parents?"...half as a question, half as a statement. Then I realized where he was going with things. So, we talked about his birthmom again, and then talked about the first time that we saw him and how happy we were, and what a beautiful baby he was. He wanted to look at pictures, so I pulled up pictures from his placement day. He was really intrigued to look at pictures of Nicole, and at pictures of himself as a newborn. He kind of smiled a little shy-smile when I talked about how cute he was - it was adorable.

He continued to be captivated by hearing his story, so I told him all about how we were so excited to see him, and that when it was time for us to meet him that Nicole had wrapped him up in a cute little yellow blanket and dressed him in a little yellow outfit with bumblebees on it. And that we all took turns holding and kissing him.

At that point he pointed to the little bee on his homecoming outfit and started to sing part of the 'Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee' song - humming the first part. "Mmmmmm....I hope my mommy be so proud of me. I hope my mommy be so proud of me. I hope my mommy be so proud of me!!!" I know it was just a song, but somehow, the emotion of the topic combined with the pure innocence of the moment was too much for me and I teared up all over the place and just hugged him. I told him that I was sooo proud of him, and that I knew that his birthmom was too.

I just had to write down that moment, and those leading up to it, for myself...so I hope that some of you enjoyed reading it too. And although the focus of National Adoption Month is the adoption of those children waiting in the foster care system, I do think that this month (particularly since it shares the season of Thanksgiving) is an appropriate time to reflect on the blessing that adoption has been in our lives - and to help pass on that positive perception of the adoption process itself.

We will forever be grateful for the miracle of adoption in our lives, and we truly see it as nothing less than a miracle. We love you, Noah. We're so blessed to be your parents, and we ARE "so proud of you"!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween Night

Scary, don't ya' think? I thought so, that's why it surprised me that Noah insisted on putting it on!

My parents came to visit on Halloween night & wore skeleton & witch masks. Once they took them off and Noah realized it was pretend, he loved it! He kept wanting them to put them back on, or to try them on himself. And, as I mentioned in a prior post, Noah has REALLY been wanting a witch hat...so he was delighted that they brought him his very own witch hat too!

This short clip is really worth taking a look at. Not only did Noah look pretty funny in my dad's skeleton mask, but he really put on a show for us. Let me give you a little translation before you listen to it: He starts out with "Ladies & Gentlemen! For the first time..." Then there's the skeleton laugh, which is pretty awesome (and don't forget to listen for Lincoln in the background trying to mimic the "scary laugh"). And lastly, right before the end of the clip he says, "This is like a helmet." *random*

We had a great time trick-or-treating on our block. Noah made quite a haul (we only let Lincoln get a little bit of candy), and he's been surprisingly great about rationing it (as opposed to gorging himself). Mark and I decided (alright, I admit it - I decided) at the last minute to pull some old costumes out of our costume trunk for ourselves too. It was fun to get dressed up and go out with the boys. When I came upstairs Noah asked if I was a princess or a chicken. Nice.

OK, I can't help but point this out. Being the Halloween fanatic that I am, I bought the boys' costumes way ahead of time (I know some of you that are chuckling...stop it!). I knew just what I was looking for, and when I find a good deal on a used item (that I'm actually looking for) I've learned better than to not snatch it up. Besides, it's only a short time that I get to dress my boys up all cutsie for Halloween, right?

So, when Lincoln was a new baby I ran across his costume on ksl.com classifieds and had to have it...I didn't think for a minute that when Lincoln would be 11 months old that he could possibly get too big for an 18 month sized costume. Well, we squeezed him into it, but had to pin it shut under his chin & put gray socks on to cover the skin that showed between his pants and the elephant feet (which we didn't take trick-or-treating with us since they fall off easily). I still think that it looked super cute, but you could tell that the poor guy was really not comfortable. Sorry, Linc.

Lastly, I got a tiny bit sentimental at the end of the evening before everybody changed out of their costumes. For me it's kind of like the blues that you get after Christmas is over...all the anticipation, and now it's done. On top of that though...I realized that we were just finishing my baby's last "first holiday". It was a great first Halloween for him though.

I can hardly believe that he turns one next week. I know that there are still plenty of firsts to look forward to for both of my boys, but this was just one little milestone that reminded me of how quickly that they're already growing up. I love you, Lincoln & Noah! And, of course, I love you too, Mark!...you ol' devil, you.