Christmas 2015

This Christmas we celebrated in Washington with my family!! Christmas in Seattle is pretty much never snowy, but it was actually a really beautiful out. Nana flew all the way up from Arizona so it was wonderful to see her and have her meet Braden. We did a south-western themed Christmas Eve dinner :) Mom asked me to help set the table so I got to put stuff together on the fly for the table settings! I think it turned out pretty nice if I do say so myself haha. I especially love the Christmas cactus with its makeshift ornaments.

We kept up our tradition giving Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve, and everyone slept well even though 6/8 of us had head colds! Connor LOVED opening his presents - especially his life-sized Olaf from Uncle Jon, which brings our tally of Olafs up to FOUR (all different sizes too). He is sleeping with this one right now though so I think we have a winner. We feel so spoiled by my family and so blessed to have them living so close. If only the Retterath side lived closer! Guess we'll just have to visit next Christmas!! Merry Christmas

xoxo

Braden | 3 Months

I can't believe it's almost Christmas and Braden is already well into his third month of life. How did time pass so quickly? It's amazing how crazy the holidays are and how busy we feel now that there are two little boys in our family. We just had the last of our guests leave Monday morning after a sprinkling of Retterath visits throughout the last couple months (which were all wonderful of course!). Lindsey used one of her weeks off during her residency to visit, then Bruce and Linda spent a week with us to finally get some well-deserved grandbaby time, and finally Luke and Greta took a long weekend to come see us. We're so lucky that we have family that is able to travel to see us - we know between paying for flight tickets and finding the time off it can be hard to make trips happen!

So far Braden's first three months of life are so different than Connor's. Connor didn't get a real headcold until after his first birthday - Braden is just getting over his. Connor didn't go through sleep training until at least 6 months old, Braden has been sleep trained since basically week two. Connor was our stoic, sweet, cuddly guy who always wanted to be held, while Braden is full of giggles and gurlges, and always wants to be held...so he can look around (don't try to cuddle him, he'll push away! He's got things to do it seems...)

I took these photos because I have these moments where I think "they are so crazy similar" and in the same moment see all the differences. I wanted to compare these photos to the ones I took of Connor close to his 4 month birthday. I figured I should take advantage of the fact that the boys were tag-teaming naps and Braden was in such a good mood while Connor was sleeping. So although I still dream of a day when they both nap at the same time - I did get some super sweet photos of our little boy out of it! Looking forward to our first Christmas as a family of four!! Our hearts are so full.

xoxo

Glitter Party Hats

I made these little party hats for my son's second birthday back in December. Connor has always been our shy guy so this birthday party ended up being just the 7 of us (my parents and brother, and the four of us). Also Connor's birthday kicks off the world of holiday parties and trying to coordinate schedules was just way too complicated this time around! He didn't mind. I think he preferred the small party :)

I love how these little hats turned out! They're super fun and simple but they take a little bit of patience. You can print the template (every number 1-9 is available in this template). Simply feed your choice of construction paper into your printer and you're off to the races!

Supplies:

Steps:

Gather your supplies! I remembered part way through demoing this that I actually used my elmers glue straight out of the nozzle rather than a paint brush and glitter glue. If you tighten the cap down quite a bit the flow is easy to control and you can almost paint with it.

Print your party hat templates out on different colored construction paper (template linked above)

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Cut out your party hats.

Cut along the slits on either side of the tab and INSIDE along the slit. Cutting the slit is a little tricky if you don't have really sharp scissors. You can also use an exact knife.

Prepare to find gold glitter all over your house for the rest of eternity.

Paint generously inside your number going as close to the edges as you can get. You will see the cardboard buckle a little bit from the wetness of the paint, but it's okay - once you glue the hat together the rounded paper will stretch and you won't notice the buckling anymore.

That was a chore. Definitely use the elmers glue trick instead. Much easier/faster.

I absolutely love this glitter.

Dump the glitter out on top of your glue (it pours really fast - I only had one opening open). 

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Make sure the glue is completely covered with a very thick layer of glitter

Gently pat your glitter on top of the glue - DO NOT twist your fingers or you'll smudge your glue outside of your lines. If the glitter layer is thick enough you won't get any glue on your hands.

Dump your glitter onto a spare piece of paper.

Fold your paper and funnel back all excess glitter into your glitter container. This stuff is expensive yo.

Let your glue dry (work on your other hats while you wait). 

Pull the tab through the slit you cut earlier in the hat to secure it in place. The photo I took of me doing that turned out really overexposed for some weird reason. MAKE SURE TO TAPE THE INSIDE. If these hats are going to be worn by children they will not last if you only rely on the tab.

Use your mini hole punch to punch a hole on opposite sides of the hat for you to string your elastic through (I was out of elastic when I took these photos, but I'm sure you get the idea).

Dab hot glue onto your pom pom.

Stick pom pom on top of hat.

TAH DAH!

Two & A Quarter

I still can't believe what just happened. This morning (while still full of optimism from my morning coffee) I decided to pack the boys up and head to the little park behind the Safeway to take birthday photos of Connor. Of course as most people with common sense could guess, my children did not care that the mid-morning light in the shade was gorgeous and that this may be our last day this week that doesn't rain..they didn't really want to have their photos taken. Braden cried hysterically the whole ride there and only calmed down to take some photos as soon as I had given up and was getting ready to put him in the wrap and Connor had a coughing fit which confirmed that the runny nose he had earlier this week was indeed the start of a winter cold.

I miraculously managed to snap a couple photos of the boys together and was putting everything away in the stroller when a pair of grandparents with their little grandbabies (close to mine in age) came walking down the path (with their triple-wide stroller). Grandma stopped to try to get her little grandson to talk with Connor - however both of them seemed equally gifted in being incredibly shy around strangers. Grandpa finally caught up and in heavily accented English Grandma tells me that Grandpa is a professional photographer and gestured/asked if I wanted him to take some photos.

I have to tell you, I was pretty terrified to hand over my expensive camera to complete strangers. If I were in Seattle and not Sammamish I probably wouldn't have even considered it. They have their grandbabies with them and a huge stroller, there's no way they're just gonna jack my camera...honestly it made me sad that I thought that to myself. He barely spoke English. He simply gestured how I should pose (while I tried to console my now hyperventilating two year old because he's so nervous of strangers). I probably didn't fully relax until the camera was back in my hands. The whole time I was wondering, is he really a professional like she said...or is this guy much more spry than he looks and gonna bolt?

He smiled and walked off towards his wife and grandbabies after handing over the camera and I thanked him. I got the boys situated in the stroller and stole a peak at the pictures. Honestly, considering both boys were basically crying the whole time and I was slightly uncomfortable, the photos are beautiful. So beautiful that I wish Connor hadn't been so nervous so I could have re-posed the boys on the blanket for him to take a couple of them together. I don't have many photos of myself with the boys. The photographer is me, so having photos of us together are so precious. What a gift from a complete stranger. I wish I could thank him again. When we crossed paths again in the park and I thanked him again and told him how beautiful they were and that I loved them, I realized how very little English he might even know. He just sort of nodded and Grandma gave a heavily delayed thank you.

So to the strangers at the park: thank you for the sweet photos. And thank you for reminding me that not all strangers are scary, and the vast majority of people really are kind and are just looking for an opportunity to be generous to one another. Merry Christmas!

Also happy three months of life to my little bubba Braden (tomorrow) and two wonderful years of life to my sweet toddler boy Connor. Momma & Dada love you so much!

xoxo

Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

There are so many things we are thankful for this year that it's hard to write it all down. This year was my first hosting Thanksgiving, in fact it was my first hosted family holiday! Pretty exciting. We were lucky enough to have not only my family join us for Thanksgiving, but also Dave's parents. Bruce and Linda flew out for a WHOLE WEEK to spend time with us and the boys (mostly the boys of course haha). Connor loves his new best friends "dampa" and "damma" (apparently Connor can't say his gs), and we are not looking forward to our goodbyes in the morning. Pretty sure he will be heartbroken. Of course Braden also was quite smitten with them and gave us some of his best smiles yet during his early morning chats with grandpa. We spent our week playing with the boys, and checking Honey-Do-List items off (yay Bruce and Dave!!!)

Also Dave let me put the Christmas decorations up because Bruce was around to help him get everything out of the attic. To say I was super excited would be a massive understatement. Although I had to decorate the tree three feet off the ground and above only - everything looks amazing. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! Also I finally got to put up my Aunt Paige's Christmas village that she gave me last year. I have been looking forward to this all year. Also Connor is completely obsessed with it. He loves trying to find the snowmen figurines in each scene (we're a little obsessed with Olaf from Frozen right now haha). Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

xoxo

Halloween Party 2015

We threw our Halloween party again this year! Oh it was such a blast. We're so glad we have such good friends to share this super fun holiday with. Also, who doesn't love a good excuse to get dressed up?! We went as characters from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood this year since it's one of Connor's favorites :) If you don't know who Daniel Tiger is, you're missing out :D

xoxox

Autumn 2015

It's the start of the holiday season which means MOAR BLOG POSTS! Two in a row? Wow I must be getting the hang of this mother-of-two thing. No not really, it's just a weekend and both boys happened to take their nap at the same time today. #WINNING.

Today we celebrated sweet Thatcher's second birthday! Whaaaat? I seriously can't believe these little ones are turning two so soon. Weren't we just sitting around the Cole's living room joking about how Thatcher was going to be that kid at Community Group running circles around the coffee table during bible study?! (Context: Julia, Ilea, and I were all pregnant and Ilea was telling us about how this kiddo was definitely going to keep her busy just based off how much he kicked her). Now these three littles - our first borns - are saying words like tractor and throwing tantrums over not being allowed to stomp around in the puddles at the pumpkin patch (sorry Connor, your rain boots don't arrive until tomorrow! #momfail).

I have to say I am incredibly thankful for these ladies, their husbands, and their little ones. I don't know how I would have made it through all the struggles and learning experiences of the first year of parenting if I didn't have these sweet families going through it with us. Having people who you can share the victories (and the mistakes!!) of first time parenting has been so good for my heart. Kennedy, Thatcher, and Connor are each so beautifully unique in their own ways, and it's been so fun to watch them all grow into these tiny little toddlers together. Now they get to experience the joys of life as an older sibling together too. I'm sure Harvey & Braden can't wait to meet Julia & Jordan's little boy! Three little boys! How crazy.

Two years have flown by, I can't wait to see what the next two years have to hold for these sweet little ones.

xoxo

Braden Infant Photoshoot

The title of this post pretty much says it all. I am officially outnumbered for the majority of my days. It's two v. one from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday from now on. It's tough...even though technically my "opponents" are under 3 feet, in diapers, and only one is capable of walking/talking. Yet, while it's easily the hardest job I've ever had, I'm having a lot of fun.

I honestly was preparing myself for the apocalypse: screaming babies, spit-up everywhere, a complete disaster of a house...and while all of those things had definitely happened in the last month and a half, it's been pretty okay. It feels weird knowing that at one point it was just the three of us, Braden's entrance into our little family has really been so seamless. Yes it's harder to give Connor what he needs right away while trying to keep a reflux-y one month old upright for 30 minutes after every feeding, but we're making it work!

So many moms told me that the things that seemed so impossible with Connor will go so much easier with Braden...and of course they were right. We've learned a lot from our sweet little first born that are really freeing us from so much of trial-by-error frustrations with our second. I'm sure Braden will throw us his own little curve balls because we fully expect him to have his own unique personality from his big brother. However, it's just not as intimidating as it was the first time around. Of course Connor is constantly forcing us into new and unexplored territories in parenting...so there's always that :)

My sweet friend Leslie took some beautiful photos of Braden on his one week birthday. Check 'em out! You can contact her at her website if you're looking for some beautiful family photos :)

Braden 1 Month

Honestly the last four weeks have flown by. I can't believe Braden is already a month old. I'm pretty convinced that time speeds up the older you get...Anyways, life as a family of four has been pretty great so far. Having Dave home for a whole month has been wonderful. We've had a ton of fun together and it's made the transition so much easier. He goes back to work on Monday and then reality will really set in I'm sure! I still can't believe we missed the Microsoft paternity leave extension by 2 weeks!! Dave would have three whole months of paternity leave! What do you even do with three whole months off??

Braden has been a real peach. He sleeps at night, just waking up to eat every 2-3 hours and takes his naps during the day! The second time around is easier that way. We aren't nearly as anxious and paranoid. With Connor we could hardly handle letting him cry and with Braden we are so much more confident that he is okay and that sometimes babies just cry. This time around we're starting our sleep training right away - preemptively, rather than in 6 months because we can't handle rocking/nursing/helping him to fall asleep for every nap/bedtime like with Connor. He's already responding well to it and puts himself to sleep within a few minutes for nap times. We'll see if it sticks!!

Connor is doing really well adjusting to being a big brother. We really had no idea how he was going to take it...he's a sweet boy, but he's also very not used to sharing mom and dad! He was a bit skeptical at first and would cry whenever Braden cried...but he quickly got over that. Now he thinks "baby" is pretty hilarious and wants to play with him...sort of like a very interactive toy. Which inevitably leads to a lot of conversations about being gentle and careful...he doesn't quite get it yet :)

In other news, I had my first ever kidney stone! When people say it's worse pain than childbirth, it's an understatement. I was sitting at the computer editing some photos of Braden when I suddenly felt a weird pain in my side. At first I thought I had tweaked my back. I laid down on the floor with a heat pad and tried to stretch...but it only got worse. Worse to the point where I couldn't hardly get up off the floor. I knew we were in trouble when I started throwing up from the pain. At that point Dave called the emergency room to describe my symptoms and the front desk told us to come in since it could be appendicitis(right side). By the time we made the 15 minute drive to Swedish I was in agony. They had to wheel chair me into emergency because I couldn't even walk. I laid in the hospital bed for what felt like years before they finally hooked me up to morphine drip. Instant relief. Also, the staff were super nice to Connor and gave him a special beanie baby bear for keeps. He watched PBS kids quietly on Dave's phone while Braden slept through the entire 4 hours we were there...it was a miracle.

After testing me for pregnancy (hah!!) they gave me a CT scan which revealed a 7mm stone sitting at the entry to my bladder...it had made the entire painful trip from my kidney down my ureter and was just sitting there. They told me I'd probably pass it in the next few days, gave me some pain meds and sent us home. That sucker didn't move for an entire week. Every day for around 4 hours a day randomly that pain would come back as the stone tried to move. We finally ran out of pain meds and had to go back to the hospital to pick up more...which unfortunately coincided with another round of severe pain. We hadn't bought our double stroller yet so poor Dave had to flag down a patient (who happened to be headed to her oncology appointment...) and a nurse in the parking lot to help push me in the wheel chair and Braden in the stroller.

The nurse who helped us is seriously a saint. I pretty much cried the whole way home because of how kind she was to us. We got hooked up with a urologist for the next day - and at that appointment we scheduled my surgery to have the stone removed two days later. But of course, that same night the stone passed all on it's own. If you've never seen a kidney stone, look it up...they are literally little spiky rocks. So weird.

The whole experience was really insane. I typically have a very high tolerance for pain, so to be so debilitated was extremely frustrating. However, it really showed us how many people around us are there for us and really care and want to help. So many friends and family offered to watch the boys and help out. It was so humbling and brought us a lot of peace, especially since my parents were still on their trip abroad in Europe.

Unfortunately with kidney stones, if you have one, you're likely to have more. In fact, the CT scans revealed that I have 4 still sitting in my kidneys like little ticking time bombs. They may never pass - apparently people go their whole life with kidney stones that never move. Drinking lots of water, avoiding sugary foods, drinks, and soda can help prevent kidney stones. But ultimately, if you are predisposed to produce stones, there is no infallible way to prevent future stones from developing. Which honestly really sucks. However, I have never been more motivated to watch what I eat in my entire life. So I've got that going for me, which is nice ;)

Anyways, the new normal starts on Monday. Wish me luck!! Hopefully these boys decide to play nice :)

xoxo