Monday, February 21, 2011

I Heart Faces - Phone Pics

This week's theme at I Heart Faces is Cell Phone pictures. I immediately thought of this picture of Aiden that I snapped outside the day of the Sugar Bowl. We were all in Razorback apparel and I just couldn't resist taking a picture of our littlest Razorback fan!
In the spirit of using cell phones for the picture, I am even uploading this message from my iPhone! I did have to edit the post a little since I didn't know how to grab the button for the post, but the picture was uploaded directly from my phone...hence the hugeness of it! ;-)

Head on over to I Heart Faces for more cell phone pics...I'm sure there will be some awesome ones!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Month Down

It's been a month since these pictures were taken.

Far from picture-perfect, but I'm ok with that!
Last kisses...looks as if Aiden is saying, "I don't like this good-bye stuff one bit!"
Reminds me of our last deployment when Austin was just a year old...he had Daddy's hat on while getting his picture taken as well. He's grown up so much! We are so lucky that it's been so long since we've had to do this again.
Naptime in Daddy's arms.
Checking out Daddy's weapon.
Saying goodbye during naptime is hard, but Colten did really well. He just looks exhausted at this point though!
Saying goodbye in public is hard. We've done it both ways...the first time was just a drop-off and the second time was a full out ceremony with the Soldiers in formation and everything. This was a little in between. It's not fun, but I feel that going to them gives us a little more understanding. My kids SEE Daddy leave from a place they don't normally see him leave from. It's not like he's going to work and will be back home that night. I feel that if it is at all possible to go to something like this, it's easier for them to see a difference between just going to work and actually being deployed. It's harder though...and a LOT more public. That's the trade-off. Some people have a different opinion, but this is what works for us.
It's been a month since we've said goodbye. It's a little easier to look at the pictures, but not much. Our kids are resilient, though. We've had rough days here and there. Austin wants to talk about him whenever he goes to bed, which is hard because he REALLY needs to go to bed, but I don't want to just dismiss his need to talk about it either. It's a balancing act. That is for sure!
This time around, for me, has been way more emotional than the other times. All I have to do is think of all that they are missing with their Daddy and all that he is missing with them and it gets me teary eyed. Of course I miss him, but I'm a big girl; it's the boys that get me everytime! Sure, I get stressed and when things would be a LOT easier with two people, the absence hits me hard. Nights and weekends are also hard since he's supposed to be home at those times.
Tonight, a friend was over and she said something about the boys' Daddy. Colten pointed to the door. We weren't entirely sure why, so I said, "bye, bye?" He shook his head yes, then I realized he meant Daddy went bye bye. I said, do you mean Daddy went bye bye? He shook his head yes again. He completely understands. Time isn't the same for him, but he knows his Daddy is gone. He loves talking to him on Skype and sleeps with his Daddy Doll every night. About 2/3 of the time, when I go in to check on him before I go to bed, that Daddy Doll is in his arms as he sleeps.
Overall, we are thriving. The boys are doing well and growing. Life keeps moving forward here in North Carolina as well as Iraq. Brian says the days are going by quickly for him (although they are pretty long days because of the hours they are working). We are counting down the days we get to have fun during R & R. Camping, baseball games, and all sorts of various activities are already being talked about. If I think of it as blocks of time, it doesn't seem so bad. March brings gymnastics, baseball signups and the first month of Speech Therapy. April brings Easter and baseball practices and games, May is the last full month of school and then June has us visiting family for a few weeks. Then, July brings Daddy home.
So, one month down...11 to go. We can do this...we ARE doing this.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Combined Party

Since Austin and Colten's birthday are so close together (10 days; Colten was actually born on Austin's due date...sure wish he would have been born on HIS due date!), we figured we would do a combined party. Last year, Austin asked to do a combined party and this year he still thought it would be cool, so we went ahead and did it. I guess we'll stop doing them at the same time when one or both of them don't want to anymore.
The problem with having a birthday in the dead of winter is that you always have to have it indoors. You end up having a ton of kids at the house, or you pay money to have it somewhere else. The exception to that was when we lived in Hawaii and could have it outdoors...which was REALLY nice. :-)
I looked around at different places and it was either too expensive, too much stress with 3 kids and no husband (Chuck E Cheese) or the place had suspended their parties until Spring. Finally, I found a place that wasn't too expensive and was something that BOTH kids would have fun at. We booked their party at the Fascinate-U Children's Museum in Fayetteville, NC. It turned out to be a great location and all the kids had a blast!
The cakes...yes, we had two because I wanted each boy to have their own.
Colten playing with a friend, "delivering" newspapers.
Austin shopping...if only I could send him to the commissary for me so I woudn't have to do it!
They had all kinds of areas the kids could play in...not sure where the catchers mask was, but Austin thought it was pretty fun to wear.
Colten with his cake. Mickey Mouse is a big hit in our house right now (along with a few other characters from Disney).
Austin's cake featured Iron Man. He was really happy with it.
Time to eat and drink! The room was pretty much already decorated, but we added a few of our own touches. I liked how it all looked and I think the kids did too.
Give a kid some cake and they'll always be happy!
Opening presents went well. Austin invited a few friends from school, so he had a couple more gifts to open. Good thing Colten's 2 and doesn't notice stuff like that. :-) He had a great time and was so excited over everything...even the cards! He got a $20 bill and just had to go around and show everyone!
Checking out big brother's gift.
Yay! Mommy made it in some pictures! :-)
We all had a blast and I know the kids had fun. Daddy was very missed, but it was good to celebrate with him before he left. We still can't believe we have a 6 year old and a 2 year old! It will be fun to see what this next year brings!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

5 Months

5 Months is so much fun...big enough to babble, play a bit with toys, smile and laugh, but not quite big enough to get into things. It's perfect!
In just a couple of weeks, Aiden will be the same age that Colten was when he started pulling up and then cruising. I am thinking that Aiden won't be quite that mobile yet...and I am happy about that! I like the fact that when I lay him on a blanket, he's still pretty much on it, or at least only half-way off of it.
As far as size goes, Aiden isn't off the charts or anything. He's in 6-9 month clothes right now because the 3-6 month clothes was getting small, especially his pajamas. When he IS in a disposable, it's a size 2. His cloth diapers are going to need to be re-sized soon as well.
Here's the monthly comparison picture:
Aiden still doesn't enjoy tummy time as much as Colten and Austin did at this age. He gets pretty frustrated after just a little bit on his tummy. Of course, you can't tell by this picture!
Propping him up on the Boppy Pillow helps a bit, but he still starts grunting, then fussing, then screaming soon after he is put on it.
Aiden's favorite place to be is in his Mommy's arms, followed by the fun exersaucer that he has. He has also just started sitting in the doorway jumper while I am upstairs. Oh, and the car is becoming less of a problem with Aiden. He still cries some, especially at night when he can't see anything, but it is becoming less everyday. HUGE sigh of relief!
Aiden is doing much of the same things as he was last month. He is babbling quite a bit and loves his older brothers. He laughs at them and watches them as much as he can.
Aiden is such a smiley, laid back baby. He still isn't sleeping any better since being moved into his own room. It got so bad after Brian left, that I pulled him back into our room in the pack n play until he starts sleeping better. I wasn't enjoying walking back and forth between the bedrooms every hour and a half to two hours. Seriously, it was that bad. I hadn't even been up that often when he was brand new! It's moved back to about every 2-3 hours now, sometimes 4. I'm hoping that when he starts solid foods, it will get even better than that!

Speaking of solid foods, I had tried to give this little boy some cereal and he just was not getting it. He still has some major tongue thrust and was starting to get really angry when I tried feeding him. So, I am waiting another week or two before trying again. He just wasn't ready.
Aiden is going to be left with someone other than family for the first time on Valentine's Day. A friend and I are going to get pedicures and Colten and Aiden are both going to the Child Development Center on post for hourly care. I'm nervous. I know I shouldn't be, but I am. It has more to do with worrying about him taking a bottle than anything else. You just never know when he's going to refuse a bottle and then give them a hard time.
Aiden is so fun and makes us all smile. He's growing up and really enjoying the world around him.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl Baby

I was going to dig out several pictures from "way back when" Austin was first born. I decided against it though because it would have taken me all year to figure out what pictures I wanted to include in this post! I mean, I'm already late in making this post seeing as how it's almost 10pm on the 8th! I knew that if I started looking back at old picture discs, I would be lost forever in the memories! 6 Years is a LOT of pictures.
Austin is a BIG 6 years old now. He was born on Super Bowl Sunday back at Fort Campbell, KY and this year, the Super Bowl fell on his birthday again. It's always special to think about watching the game with our newborn. Well, watching as much of it as we could...the TV reception was horrible and I was exhausted!
Austin spent half of his life in Hawaii. The boy definitely looked the part of beach bum with his long blonde hair.
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Here he is "posing" on the Big Island.
Austin was almost 4 years old when he became a big brother. He was excited to have a little brother and was always SO careful when holding Colten. In fact, when we came home, he didn't want to hold Colten for a few days because he "didn't want to drop and break him."
Of course, now, he's a big brother to TWO little rascals! Aiden came into this world and Austin was just as excited with this newest baby.
Austin makes me smile. I look back at these pictures and it is just so surreal to think that he was this little less than a year ago! He has always been pretty adventurous, but with a carefulness about him that makes him think a second before he jumps.
Austin is very athletic already. He has played 2 years of t-ball so far and is excited about his 3rd year. He listens so well to his coaches as well as his Dad when they are trying to show him how to do things out on the field. He is eager to learn and get better and just loves to play!
This summer, Austin was so proud to take his training wheels off his bike. He worked hard at trying to balance with uneven training wheels, then when the time came to go without them...well, I think you can see the excitement in the picture.
This year, Austin was also diagnosed with epilepsy. It was not an easy thing to hear about the first time (as he was spending the night with friends down the street), but it was even harder to watch the 2nd one he had and not be able to do a thing to help him. He has been so good about it all though and with the help of medication, has not had a seizure since!
Kindergarten was another milestone this year! I can't believe we have a kid in school! It's been nice to see him accel in something that he didn't want to have anything to do with just a few years ago! The boy refused to do anything that had to do with learning and picked up pretty quickly when you were trying to slip some learning into a game! He would just stop whatever he was doing and tell you he was done. He's learning so much now and doesn't seem to want to stop. Well, except when there's homework to do!IMG_3382
Just a couple of years ago, I don't think we would have been able to get him to walk down the aisle in a wedding. This year, however, he was excited to do it! We thought he looked so handsome and he did a SUPER job. Our little boy is growing up!
This year, he prepared for his Daddy's deployment for the 2nd time. The first time was tough. He wasn't sure what was going on, but had a really hard time with accepting Daddy back. Now, he knows exactly what's going on and is just SO close to his Daddy. This is going to be a long year for him. The year and a half that we had together as a family in Arkansas was key. I am just SO glad we had that time.
This little boy two years ago has just grown...
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into a super, cool, awesome, and very, VERY loved big 6 year old!
Austin, your Daddy, Mommy and brothers love you so much! Keep up the awesome attitude and don't ever forget to be yourself!!! Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Pre-Birthday Party

Since Brian would be gone before their birthdays, Austin decided that he wanted to celebrate before Daddy left. He wanted Uncle Matt, Aunt Paula and cousins, Nate and Anna to be there too.
I decorated the house with streamers, balloons and the traditional "Happy Birthday" banner. I made a cheesecake (because our boys go NUTS for cheesecake!) and put Toy Story edible pictures on it, and we bought gifts for the boys to open from Daddy and Mommy.


The boys liked their gifts, the decorations and the cake, but I think they enjoyed us all being together and playing even more!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Big Boy

Colten has had some big changes go on here lately. First, we switched rooms around about a month ago. Now, he's the big brother in the room since he's sharing with Aiden (although, at the moment, Aiden decided he didn't want to sleep so much at night, so he's back in my room in the pack n play until he sleeps better).
Right before Daddy left, he started wanting to sit on the potty more and more. A couple of days before D-Day, he actually peed a couple of times in the potty. A few days later, he came up to me and motioned that he wanted to use the potty. I went and got it and he sat down and went to the bathroom. Since then, he's been using the potty while we are home and when he's been diaperless. It hasn't clicked yet that he isn't supposed to go in his diaper and even when we put underwear on him, he goes in those as well. I think of it as learning accidents though and just clean it up. He is usually in the process of getting to the potty, but just hasn't figured out the best timing when he has something on. So, he spends a lot of time diaperless...which is a boy's dream, right? :-) The other day, he did his "duty" on the potty as well. This whole potty business is all his doing and nothing that I have done at all. He is truly one of those kids that just decided that he wants to do it and does it. The one downside...he HATES it when I put diapers on him now. I am in the process of deciding what cloth trainers I want to buy and use for when we are out. Hopefully, he'll figure out that he can't "go" in his underwear soon! This whole 2 year old on the potty thing is completely different than a 3 1/2 year old! :-) Different, but good!

After Brian left, Colten also got a big boy bed! I had been looking online for a decently priced one for a while and finally found one. In fact, it wasnt' only decently-priced, but it was a race car bed as well!
Going to bed the first night...
Here he is sleeping in it the first night. It worked out really well. I do have a door knob cover on his door so he can't just come out whenever he wants before he goes to sleep. That helps on some nights when he really just doesn't want to go to bed or take a nap during the day.
It's kind of funny because he is a child that needs about 30 minutes to wind down. In his crib, he would talk to himself, cry, make noises, screech, etc until he was ready to sleep. It wouldn't matter what time I put him down, he would need this "wind down time." Now that he's in a toddler bed, he gets up and pulls all kinds of toys in his bed with him and plays with them for about 30 minutes and then falls asleep.
Every night before I go to bed, I go in there and pull all the toys out of his bed. It's always a surprise as to what toys he has pulled in there. Half of them are the "regulars" like Buzz Lightyear (we have two), the Woody and Buzz shake and go cars, and an electronic kids book. Sometimes, I feel like I'm pulling things out of a bottomless bag. I'm not quite sure how he falls asleep with all that junk in there, but he does!
Our boy just keeps getting bigger and bigger. He is such a funny little guy and is SO smart! Soon, he'll be going to Speech Therapy twice a week and once he starts talking, he is just never going to stop!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Monkey Joes With Daddy

I'm still trying to catch up on my photos from before Brian deployed. Ok, ok, I am actually still behind on the photos from Christmas, but I will eventually get them up. It's so late though, that I might actually just back-date them and if you want to see the pictures, you'll have to just find them. :-)
Anyway, the day before Brian left, we kept Austin out of school so we could have a family day. We took the kids to Monkey Joes and ate out afterwards at Chili's. It was a good day...and I know the kids loved showing Daddy all the cool things at Monkey Joes.
Colten has no fear. Seriously, no fear. This was his second time at MJ's and both times he didn't hesitate for a second! He just runs around that place like he's so big and goes down all of the slides by himself (unless Big Brother wants to go down with him). He's not afraid of any of the slides at all. He only needs help to get onto a few of the he's a tad short and it's hard to pull yourself up in them when they are moving from other kids jumping on them.
Daddy went down a slide or two at the beginning with Colten. Adults aren't really allowed to jump in them, but they can assist the kids in there.
Austin was an AWESOME big brother this day. He helped Colten get up the ladders, slid down the slides with him at times, and just overall kept an eye on his little brother in case he needed any help. I don't think they argued or fought at all at MJ's.
Austin waiting for Colten...
Aiden hung out with me some of the time, but hung out with Daddy too. I love this picture.
The boys miss their Daddy. I see the evidence of that everyday. Even little Aiden can sense that he's missing. They're doing alright, though. Kids are so resilient and they know that their Daddy loves and misses them. Brian is so good at making sure they know that he loves them. He snuggles and kisses them and tells them all the time he loves them.