Monday, June 9, 2014

A Quick Catch Up!

It seems like every post that I've written lately starts out with an apology that it has been FOREVER since my last post.  Well, today I'm not going to apologize.  I'm just going to tell myself that I'm doing the best I can and that something has to give.  Lately, that something is the blog.  With all the constant work I have to do around the house, working part time Online, taking care of the kids (and trying to keep them entertained) all day, and lots of outdoor work/projects that we are trying to take care of this summer I just haven't had any time leftover for much of anything- much less blogging.  But this morning I found a few minutes and thought I would share a couple of recent things that have happened.

Our biggest and probably most exciting happening is our new addition- our cat, Rocky.  We decided that the kids were ready for a pet, and after a pretty extensive search, meeting a few different cats (most of which didn't really like kids:/) we finally found a little kitten that seemed like he would be a good match for us.  Kittens seem much more adaptable to kids and changes than a full grown cat would be.  Rocky was at our local humane society, and thought I kind of wanted to change his name, Brennan wouldn't allow it.  Rocky is the name of a member of the Paw Patrol, so his name stuck.  He has been working out well with our family and I'm glad we've been able to give him a good home.

Rocky is now a little over 5 months old and much bigger than in these first pictures!  Here is a more recent one.

Brennan is happy to announce that has moved up to 4-year old preschool for next year.  He will be going two half days per week and he is very excited!  His summer rec Tot Lot class begins this morning, too.  More excitement for him!

The kids are doing a better job of playing with each other lately, too.  Yes- they do still fight like cats and dogs sometimes, but quite often I can hear them playing and imagining together and I love to just quietly listen to them.

We have a lot of outdoor improvements planned for the summer- mainly getting our grass growing better, doing a little more landscaping in front of the house, building a fire pit in the edge of our woods, and doing lots of cleaning up of the dead trees and brush in our area of the woods, as well.  The kids are ready to help!

We are coming up on our 9th anniversary already on June 17th.  I can't believe where the time has gone!  Ryan will also be celebrating his 30th/Golden birthday this year.  If he thinks the old man jokes are bad now, he has no idea what he has in store! :)

I know this summer is going to be very busy, but I'm hoping I can find some time to write a few posts at least!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Round of Birthdays!

 Well, I can barely believe it, but the kids both just gained a year.  Brennan is now a handsome, clever 4 year old and Bryleigh is a pretty 16 year old stuck in a 2 year old's body.  Time has sure flown. 

We had some nice, but low-key birthday parties for them and I just wanted to share a few pictures.

Brennan had a 'Paw Patrol' themed birthday, and honestly, we could have done a joint birthday party since they both LOVE Paw Patrol.  But it is fun to have a day that is all centered around you!  The Grandmas pitched in to help with Grandma Mary embroidering him a Paw Patrol shirt and Gigi (my mom, Grandma Sue) making the 'Marshall' cake.

And since we celebrated his birthday the day before his actual birthday, we decided to try to make his 'real birthday' supper a little more fun.  He had his favorite, peanut butter and chocolate (Nutella) and Mama surprised him with some candles in it. :)

For Bryleigh, we just did a hot pink and zebra theme.  Her Grandma Mary made the shirt and the bloomers and Mama made the hair clips. I also made her cake (a successful first with marshmallow fondant), which I'm quite proud of!



Monday, March 3, 2014

Our Reptile and Amphibian adventure

Last Saturday, one of our local libraries held a special event where they brought in lot of different reptiles and amphibians.  I'd been to a show like this before a long time ago when my niece and nephew were little, but never with my own kids.  When I heard about it, I knew Brennan would love it!
Brennan did really enjoy it.  The zookeeper brought 3 different kinds of an alligator, turtles, some crawly things like a toad, salmander, and legless lizard, and of course, the highlight of the event, the snakes.  During the show, Brennan had answered a snake question about an Anaconda (with a little help from Mom), so when it came time to find volunteers to hold a Boa Constrictor, the zookeeper was looking for Brennan!  He was VERY happy to help.  Ryan's really NOT a snake person, so it's funny that Brennan was so excited to do it.  Bryleigh even got pretty mad that she couldn't go hold the snake, too, and got to pet it later.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ella Bella Photography Backgrounds Review and Giveaway!

I've been using cloth backdrops for my indoor photography since before I even had a backdrop stand or 'real' backdrops.  They work fine- some better than others.  But still, I've been very interested in trying a paper backdrop.  I love how they look in pictures- so smooth, crisp, and clean.

To my delight, I was given the opportunity to do a product review of Pacon's Ella Bella Photography Backgrounds.  Ella Bella is an up and coming photo backdrop product that offers nice, affordable backdrops suitable for both amateur and professional photographers.  You can find out more about it, giveaways being offered, and get awesome photo tips by liking their Facebook page: Ella Bella's Facebook Page.

I received four different designs to try: Vintage Wood, Classic Damask, Dots- Soft Pink, and Dots- Soft Blue.  I really like them all.  Each would work wonderfully for different applications.  Pacon encourages the backdrops to be used for infant, child, and product photography or even video backdrops, etc.  They would also be great for any sort of close up photo or head shot, as well.  The Classic Damask would would be stunning for a young lady's senior pictures!

Set up was quite easy.  I just slid the tube onto my backdrop stand and used a clamp to hold the paper against the top bar so that it couldn't unroll. I laid another one of the backdrops on the floor, going under the other vertical one.  Then I set a piece of white baseboard that I had along the bottom to hide where the backdrops met.  I used another clamp on each end of the baseboard to hold the paper nice and tight against it.  All set up it looked beautiful!  I took a picture to show you how simple the set up really is.  You don't even need a backdrop stand to use this paper.  Just tape it up to a wall and shoot away.

My almost 4 year old son was anxious to help me try out the new set up.  He isn't always a huge fan of getting pictures taken, but the newness really helped.  Plus, he was pretty sure his dinosaurs wanted their pictures taken, too.

Here's what we got!

My daughter was up next.  She was wiggly and not real cooperative, but I got a few good shots of her, too.  One is frame-worthy.  I just need to decide where to put it!

The paper is pretty durable.  Of course, it is paper, so it can tear and wrinkle, but it seems like it takes a lot to make it do so.  I got a couple little tears on the bottom of the hanging background where I had the clamps on the baseboard, but only because my daughter dove into it before I could grab her!  But even with that dive, it made no creases in the paper.

Besides the gorgeous prints, the thing that impressed me the very most about this backdrop paper is how non-see-through it is!  That is one of the things that frustrates me most about using my fabric backdrops.  You can always see light through them.  I could see NOTHING through the paper. It was wonderful.  Actually there was a window behind part of the backdrop and you couldn't make it out at all!

The price of the paper is also great!  You can pick up a roll of backdrop paper at Hobby Lobby for only $11.99.  Use one of their 40% off coupons and pick that same roll up for only $7.19!  Yeah!  This product is definitely a winner!  For that price, everyone should keep a roll around.  What an easy way to improve the look of the snapshot you take of your kids, pets, products you are selling on eBay, etc!

Pacon has generously offered to give away another 4 rolls of backdrop paper to one lucky winner!  Good luck!

*I was given this product for review purposes.  All of my opinions about this product are solely my own.  Your opinions may differ.  I was not compensated to write this post in any way.*

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bryleigh's Night Weaning Saga: Night 3 and Night 4

Night 3 wasn't as good as night 2, but I was kind of expecting that.  It seems like day/night 3 in any child developmental change is sort of the set-back day.  It still wasn't that bad, though.

Bryleigh woke up for the first time around 10:30.  I went into her and she was acting awfully weird.  It's like she wasn't 100% awake.  She asked me for milk and cried/whined for a minute when I told her no.  She kind of flopped around and kicked at the covers for a couple minutes before she rolled over and relaxed.  It only took another couple minutes for her to go all the way back to sleep.  That was a 2 1/2 song ordeal.

Then she was up again just a little after her normal time... about 1:30.  She again asked for milk and when I told her no, she asked for water.  She drank a bunch and then we snuggled.  Again, the entire comforting time until she was back asleep was only 2 1/2 songs.

She got up again towards morning.  I'm guessing that it was about 4:00... I was kind of out of it by then. I got her back to sleep in about 8 songs and went back to bed.  I got to stay there for a few minutes before she woke back up again.  After that, I resided just to stay in her room until morning.

Night 4 was ok.  She got up at normal time... about 1:15 or so.  This time she was mad for about a minute when I told her no milk.  I am guessing it probably only took 8 songs or so to get her back to sleep, but I fell asleep, so I don't know!  I woke up after the music was over and went back to bed.

She got up again at 4:15 or so.  I took 11 songs to get her back to sleep and then she made it until morning.

Hopefully she cuts the night wakings back to once again pretty soon.  That was nice!  This has still been worth the change just for my comfort level alone.  I can actually get into a comfortable position cuddling with her... very different than having to lay one of two ways when nursing her in bed.  I don't mind a night time cuddle so much.  Way better than waking up sore from falling asleep and having her shift to a bad latch sometime after. So, this is still a welcome change.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bryleigh's Night Weaning Saga: Night 2

Can it really be this easy?  Impossible... I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, but it is hard!

Last night, Bryleigh woke up at about 1:20.  She walked into our room, so I took her back to her own.  I started her music and crawled into her bed.  She had already got back in and pulled up the covers.  She asked me for her water and drank some quickly.  Then I cuddled up next to her and waited for the dreaded question.... It never came!!! She didn't even ask for milk!  She squished her face against mine and just cuddled.  It was so sweet and I absolutely loved it.  It is really nice to see/feel her be comforted by me even if milk isn't involved.

It only took 8 1/2 songs (half an hour) and she was back to snoring away.  I slipped out and went back to bed.  The next time I heard her was at about 5:45, after her Minnie light had already come on.  I went in to greet her 'good morning' and offer her some morning milk.  She was happy to accept.

I'm so unbelievably shocked and surprised by how well this is going!  Let's hope it keeps up!  One of these nights she'll sleep through!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bryleigh's Night Weaning Saga: Night 1

Well, I've finally had it.  The multiple night time feedings need to come to an end.  Bryleigh is only a few days short of being 22 months old and she has been getting up 2-3 times per night, on average.  She's after comfort nursing.  She doesn't need the milk because she is hungry. 

I don't need or want to give up nursing completely, just the night time feedings.  I really feel like she will quit waking me up so much once she realizes she won't be getting milk.

This is a whole new thing for me.  Brennan completely weaned himself at about 13 months old with no prodding from me in the least.  I was shocked and almost not even ready to quit with him yet!  Bryleigh is so different. She is nowhere near ready to quit.  She loves the comfort.

So last night was the first night of night weaning.  We went cold turkey.  She woke up at a little after midnight, and came strolling into our room as normal.  I took her back to her room and she immediately asked for milk.  I reminded her again that she couldn't have any milk until morning, until her Minnie light came on.  I told her that we all need sleep and that she can have milk again in the day time.  Needless to say, she was quite forlorn. She went through a range of emotions, mad, sad, frustrated, etc... I just cuddled and patted her, assuring her that I was there, staying with her.  In stubborn Anderson fashion, she carried on for an impressive 21 lullaby songs... about an hour and 20 minutes before finally drifting off to sleep. 

And then the shocker... she didn't wake me up again until 5:45.  It has become kind of rare to get that long of a stretch of sleep at that time of night/morning.  Maybe she realized that I wasn't fooling and that she was not getting any milk until morning?  Maybe that's wishful thinking... Anyway, I consider that close enough to morning to feed her, so we went back into her room, turned on her Minnie light to signal morning time, and had a nice morning feed.  She was so content and sweet.

Hoping night 2 goes as smoothly, or even smoother than night 1!  I really believe this is one of those things that will stink for a week or two, and then I'll be kicking myself for not having done it months ago.  Let's hope so!