Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Russell's First Haircut

Little Mr. Russ got his locks trimmed for the very first time on the 29th at the age of 2 years 3.5 months!  He was not blessed with very luscious locks, and what little he has is pretty blond, making it look even more sparse.  But this is how it was starting to look on a daily basis:
It's got some curl to it, which I love, but it was always just so silly-looking.
 I did love that little curled mullet, though.
 But it had to go!  Some day when he can grow more hair he'll have curls again, just like his brother.
 I couldn't bring myself to pay $20 to have such a tiny amount of hair cut from that little half-bald head, so I cut it myself.  I've been cutting Caleb's hair for a while now (his soft curls are thankfully very forgiving of little imperfections!).  I distinctly remember the main reason why we brought Caleb to a kids' salon for his first two haircuts--it's because there was absolutely no way we could trust him to sit still enough to do a proper cutting!  But Russ is such an angel.  I had no worries about him.  He just sat there patiently.  I love that kid.
 Although, it didn't take long to cut such a small amount of hair.  I didn't even touch the top since there isn't even enough hair to spike.
We're pretty happy with the results.  His hair looks a little bit thicker now that it's lacking those wisps, but you'd never guess that he ever had enough hair to cut.  One thing's for sure, it's very low-maintenance, which is great.
And this sweet little kid is handsome no matter what.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quality of Life: It's the Little Things.

I have chronic dry eyes.  I've needed prescription steroid drops twice because of dry, scratched corneas.  I have had dry eyes for as long as I remember, and I remember thinking there was nothing I could do about it other than avoid wearing my contacts whenever possible and using eye drops.  But when I was pregnant with Russell my eyes got so much worse.  They were always red and painful.  At times they were even inflamed (it looks weird when your eyeballs swell!).  It was literally impacting my quality of life.  When you're stressed taking care of a medically fragile 2-year-old who pukes daily and a newborn baby with colic and undiagnosed food intolerances who won't sleep unless he's at the breast, sometimes little things like painfully dry eyes is enough to push you over the edge.  Same with needing a root canal (I've had four root canals on two teeth...yeah, that was miserable).  It's hard to be a good mom when you're in pain, even if it's minor.  Just the fact that there's always something gnawing at you.  Ugh.  I had to have it taken care of!

So my optometrist said that I was a good candidate for tear duct plugs.  I think most people think that those tear ducts on the inside of your eye, closest to your nose, on the bottom, are where tears are produced.  But that's not so!  It's where tears are absorbed.  So if you insert a little plug in them, you'll have more tears on your eyes.  I was concerned that my eyes would always be watery if my ducts were plugged (Russ had a plugged duct when he was born, and his eye was super goopy for a few months), but since everyone has coordinating tear ducts on the tops of their eyelids, you can still absorb some tears.

So last summer my doctor inserted temporary collagen plugs (they last about a week) to see if the permanent ones would be worth it.  Oh my gosh, the difference was amazing!!  So he inserted permanent ones a week later.  The procedure can be done in the office and only takes about five minutes.  It's pretty painless, except that your ducts will itch for the first few days and you have to resist the urge to rub them so that the plugs don't get dislodged.  But the itching goes away, and even though I'm more aware of when I rub my eyes, I haven't had any problems with them becoming dislodged.  

It has made such a difference in my quality of life that when my glasses broke a few weeks ago, I was actually able to wear my contacts all day every day for about three weeks, until my new glasses came in!  And when evening comes, thinking about taking my contacts out is no longer the first thing on my mind.  It may seem so simple, but it has literally changed my life.  And since something so simple was able to make my life so much better, I thought it would be worthwhile to share it with you.  If you're suffering from dry eyes, know that there is a solution that is much more simple than using over-the-counter eye drops multiple times a day for the rest of your life.  

Here is some more information about it (it's technically called punctal occlusion), including pictures.

Do you have dry eyes?  Have you ever heard of tear duct plugs?  Do you think it's for you?  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The things they say (plus random photos)

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Caleb asked about something I was eating, and it had wheat in it so I told him it wasn't Caleb-safe or Russell-safe.  A few minutes later, Nate took a piece of it off of my plate.  Russell looks up and asks, "Daddy-safe?"

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The boys were reading an alphabet book with Auntie Jenna.  She asked, "What words start with f?"  Russell answered, "Futterfie!" (that means butterfly in Russell Language).

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Both boys like to open my scriptures and "read" things like, "Oh, no!  A dragon!  A monster!  Ahh!"

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We went to a BYU men's basketball game and the circus in the same week.  About a week later, Caleb told me that boys play basketball and girls dance.  He sounded kind of sad to have made that connection.  I told him that girls and boys can do all of the same things, except that only boys can be daddies and only girls can be mommies.  I gave him lots of examples of girls who play basketball and boys who dance and told him that if he wanted to dance then he could.

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Nate took Caleb to the church with him for a little one-on-one time while he did some paperwork.  Caleb kept pestering Nate to let him get some toys from the nursery.  Finally, Caleb said, "Dad, how many is one?  It's not very many, is it?  Can I just get one car from the nursery?"  He's a tricky one!

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Caleb asked Russell to share a toy with him, which Russell gladly did.  Caleb excitedly thanked him and said, "You put a smile on my face!"

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play date with our triplet friends--just pretend that that little sweetie doesn't have her finger up her nose ;)
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Caleb gets a lot of chances to say he's sorry.  We taught him what it means to repent, and one night after squirming around while I was tube feeding him, causing me to squirt oil all over my hands, he said, "I'm sorry, Mom.  I'm going to repent every day.  Every day except for Christmas.  Then I won't repent.  Hehehehe!"

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Russell tripped on the sidewalk and skinned his knee.  He came crying to me, I picked him up, and he said, "Kiss it!  QUICK!"

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Russell found a pine cone on our walk home from church one day.  He's very attached to his pine cone and must take it in the car with him every time we go anywhere.  He calls it a "pokey-pine."

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bffs
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Caleb heard Pink's song "Try" on the radio one day (the one that goes gotta get up and try, try, try).  He asked me, "What is she trying to do?"  So I taught him the phrase if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Now he recites it to himself when he's trying something that's difficult.

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Russell often says something silly and follows it up with "Just kidding!" (it sounds like "dus tiddin'!")

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Caleb just said to me, "I feel like I wanna hug you and not let you go!!"

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Change

Life is changing, right on schedule.

We put our house on the market and we're moving to Minnesota to be closer to my family and live the farm life!  This was the plan from the beginning, and it's actually happening!  I never expect life to work out the way I had planned!  Don't worry, there is still plenty of time for things to go awry.  ;)

Our house has been on the market for two weeks now and we've received one offer.  We countered, and they're still deciding what to do.  We're not holding our breath for them to accept our counter, but since we don't have a new house lined up to buy yet, we're not in much of a rush.

I was really worried about how I could possibly keep our house clean enough to show day after day, and I must say, it's actually pretty great!  Yes, I spend a large chunk of my time cleaning and organizing, but it's not so bad.  I have never been a bed-maker, but now that I am I hope to keep the habit up even after we move.  It's so freeing to be in a clean house!

We've made a whole lot of improvements lately to our house that I'm excited to show you.  The main one is our floors:
before:
after:
I was really concerned about what floors would go well with these light, oak-colored, hickory kitchen cabinets.  After spending way too much time on pinterest, bringing home lots of samples from Home Depot, and reading countless reviews online, I decided on TrafficMASTER Handscraped Saratoga Hickory.  It was the least expensive option out there, and even if it had cost twice as much I still would have picked it because it's beautiful and had great reviews!  It turns out that it scratches extremely easily, but the scratches are easily hidden with a floor marker.
These were the old, original, '70s parquet floors we had in the dining room.  They were so worn that they were impossible to clean.  The finish was mostly gone, so the water would soak right in.  I have hated them all this time, but it wasn't worth it to have them refinished since they're so out of date anyway.  So when our real estate agent suggested putting in new floors, I was more than willing!  We still have these floors in the upstairs bedrooms, but they're not half as bad there since it's not such a high-traffic area.
after:

 Playroom:
 before:
after:

We replaced the floors in the kitchen, dining room, play room, and upstairs bathroom and all together, including floor planks, underlayment, and trim, it cost less than $800!  We're hoping that it will add $20,000 to our home's value!  Even though they were a lot of work to install (I did them mostly by myself--Nate was super helpful by taking care of the kids, and I had help with the dining room from my sister and brother-in-law), it was so worth it!

I also gave the front of the house a little face-life by replacing old, faded, warped, green shutters with some classy black board and batten style shutters.
before:
 after:
I made the shutters myself.  :)  I must say, my favorite houses are all white with black shutters and trim.  It's just so classy!  Maybe some time I'll tell you how I made them.

For now, we just keep our house clean, wait, and try to find a new house to move into.  We already took our horses to Minnesota, where my mom will be taking care of them, and we did a little house hunting.  We didn't find anything that we're ready to make an offer on, so either we will have to rent for a while or we'll have to travel back to house hunt again.  We'll just have to see!  I'm nervous and excited and scared all at the same time!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Circus!

We scored a couple of tickets for free kids' admission to the circus, so we decided to go!  I've never been (neither have our kids), so we were so excited!  I had NO idea that they had elephant and camel rides beforehand!  :o  Riding an elephant was on my bucket list!  Whoa!  Check that one off!!!!!!

It was amazing!  I was surprised how hard the elephant's back was (not a lot of padding to sit on).  I'm very into horseback riding, which requires you to move your hips with each step the horse takes.  It was interesting to try to adjust to the huge stride of the elephant.  Her name was Ellie, and she was beautiful!

We all took a ride (except Nate...he wasn't keen on being that high up, and besides, someone needed to take pictures!).

Then Caleb got a chance to ride a camel.  Their camel was pretty small, so they wouldn't allow adults on.  Darn.  And Russell wouldn't go unless I was holding him, so Caleb rode alone:
He later said, "It was pretty boring riding the camel."

And in case that wasn't enough of a splurge, we let the boys get their faces painted!  After all, we were using the money Nana sent for Christmas presents.  Caleb chose spiderman:
And Russ chose a very fierce tiger:

While we were waiting in line, someone behind us looked at Russ and said, "Oh my!  A very scary tiger!"  So Russ said, "Rawr!" in a quiet yet fierce voice.  It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.  He also pointed at the tigers' cages and said, "Tigers get out, uh-uh!"  (As in, 'those tigers had better not get out!')  Then, about a week later, Russell woke up screaming hysterically in the middle of his nap saying, "Scared.  Spiderman.  In my bed."  He had had a nightmare that Spiderman was in his bed, and it scared him.  Aww!  Sweet little boy was having nightmares of his brother's face.  ;)

As for the actual show, Caleb was slightly obsessed with the ladies doing tricks on the silks hanging from the rafters.  He had a major meltdown when we wouldn't let him climb up them, too.  He was in awe.  I think Russell's favorite part was the motorcycle going off of the ramp.

We went with our BFFs, too, which made it all the more fun.  I think it'll rank up there as one of the best days of my boys' lives (for now).  It was pretty magical.  They're still talking about it two weeks later.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Potty Training Russ

For a few months now we've been letting Russell sit on the potty when he wants.  Seeing Big Brother do it makes it exciting for him.  He has often had successes on the potty, and when he does we give him a skittle.  Well, yesterday we ran out of skittles, so the boys and I went to the store and bought some more.  As soon as we got home, Russ was so very excited to sit on the potty and earn a skittle.  He had three successful potty encounters (all three with #2, too!) between noon and nap time at 3PM, and he kept his diaper dry that whole time!  But then we didn't bother to encourage too much potty time that evening.

Today, the boys had a bath right as soon as they woke up.  I let them play in the water (they play so well together!) for a long time while I cleaned the bathroom.  They were in there for almost an hour when Russell said, "Mommy, poo-poo!" with his little legs squeezed together as tight as could be.  I couldn't get him out until I was done cleaning the toilet, so he just sat there in mild distress while he held it.  Of course, when he was able to get on the potty, he had another potty success.  So I decided that today was as good as any to put him in underwear.  I really just asked him if he needed to go potty at any of the transitional times of the day (after finishing lunch, before going outside to play, after coming back inside, and before nap time), and he didn't have a single accident!  We even played outside for about an hour and he did great!  He's napping now, and tonight we'll be out and about, so I'm not sure how the rest of the day will go, but I'm pretty excited that it was such a successful and stress-free morning and afternoon!

I know that every child is different, but I always think of age 3 as being the magical potty training age for boys.  Just before Caleb's 3rd birthday is when we realized that he could pee on command, so we started potty training at that point and man.  It was stressful.  So many accidents and such a power struggle.  I remember it being so hard because he insisted on turning the bathroom light on by himself, but he couldn't reach it, so he had to get a stool (and wouldn't accept my help in getting a stool).  Then he was adamant about taking his shoes and pants all of the way off (not just putting them down around his ankles), and of course he wasn't able to put his pants back on by himself, but he always wanted to try.  Most of the time, he had already had an accident on the bathroom floor by this point.  Once we got him on the potty (he wouldn't sit on a big potty because he has awful balance and fell in once, so from then on he was terrified of big potties...and let's not even mention the fear he had for public potties, all because of how loud they are)...so once we got him on the potty, his attention span wouldn't allow for him to stay there long enough to let his pee-pee out.  So I had to sit there and sing "The Pee-Pee Song" for him (I made up a stupid song), and he wasn't allowed to get up until the song was over.  By then he absolutely did not want to wash his hands, because the whole process of going potty was already too long and drawn-out and he was tired of it.  And let's not forget, I couldn't motivate him with treats because a) he was on a diet of about 10 foods at the time and none of them made up anything remotely candy-like, and b) even if he could have had candy, he didn't enjoy eating at all and certainly wasn't motivated by anything that he could eat.  So we used a sticker chart and got him potty trained after a few weeks.  He was potty trained for a month or more when he suddenly started regressing.  I'm pretty sure it was to gain power again.  So we gave him a few months off (during the holidays and while I had my tonsils out) before trying it again.  When we tried potty training him the second time, everything clicked.  He could do everything by himself, never needed reminders to go potty, didn't need any stickers as motivation, and it all took less than two days.  He was about 3 years and 3 months old, and I thought that was a pretty good age for being potty trained!  However, using the potty for poo-poo was a different story.  He would hold it until he was in a diaper for nap time or bed time, and then go.  He was terrified of going poo on the potty.  He wasn't poo-potty trained until he was 3 years and 8 months old and we went on vacation and we were so busy being out and about that he didn't have any naps.  Boy was I glad when that finally happened!

Russell, though, is as different as could be.  He's excited to sit on the potty, could sit there all day, and can actually balance without a little potty seat insert.  There's nothing traumatizing about using the potty for him, and no power struggles.  But I wouldn't be surprised if he hit an independence stage (he's been saying "MY JOB!" a lot lately) and it turned into a power struggle.  If that happens, we'll just give it a break and revisit it later.  The only problem that I'm seeing now is that he's too small to get onto the potty by himself (I'm trying to avoid using the baby potty).  So even if he does get potty trained before long, he'll still be "high maintenance" potty trained.  And today is just day 1, so who really knows!  But I'm feeling optimistic.  :)

Also, in case you were wondering, the smallest size that you can get underwear in is 2T/3T.  Russell is 25 months old (a whole year younger than when Caleb potty trained), weighs 21 lbs, and wears size 12 months clothes, but the 2T/3T underwear still fits him alright.  It's loose, but it's not falling off.  And it's seriously cute to see him running around in his little super hero underwear and a t-shirt.  :)

So, wish us luck!  Maybe before long I won't have any kids in diapers!!  (knock on wood...)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vegas!

For Christmas, my handsome husband surprised me with a little trip to Vegas!  I was not expecting it!  It was the perfect idea, because it was close enough to drive (about six hours) and since we hope to move across the country in the next few months, it was sort of our last chance to visit a place that I've never been to before.  It was amazing to spend some time together without the kids (my awesome sister watched them).  We could eat whatever sounded good without having to consider allergens, we could go places without having to consider nap and feeding schedules, we could talk like adults without being interrupted...it was weird.  And awesome.  Ever since becoming parents four years ago, we have only spent one night away from our kids (not including hospital stays).  This time it was two nights!

We got to see Cirque Du Soleil, which was incredible.  My favorite part of that was probably this amazing juggler.  Seriously, she was amazing.

We got to see the water display at the Bellagio:



It was pretty cool!

We saw a Christmas display with a giant Christmas tree:

And a couple of life-sized polar bears made out of carnations:


We ate some really yummy food.  And that's about it.  Ha!  But seriously, I've always heard that there are endless cheap buffets in Vegas, but apparently they all raise their prices during the holidays, so there was nothing worth our money.  The rest of the time was just spent walking around, trying to navigate crowds and avoid people who try to hand you cards with naked "escorts" on them (they're on every corner...it's awful).  At one point Nate asked why on earth they call them "gentlemen's clubs" since the people who go there are not gentlemen.  We decided that they should be renamed "creeper clubs."  It also drove me crazy to see every restaurant advertise their food with a girl trying to seduce a guy.  Seriously?  The Strip just felt like one big place for people to get together and demean women.  Blah.  Not my favorite.

Why we thought it would be fun to go to a place that thrives on drinking and gambling when we ourselves neither drink nor gamble is beyond me.

We decided that our next getaway will be to a cabin in the woods with not another soul in sight.  That's more my cuppa tea.

But we did get to see this gem on our way outta town:

That thing is famous!


I'd say the highlight of our trip was getting to see my best friend (and roommate from my freshman year of college) and have lunch with her cute little family.  She drove many hours to see us!  I love that girl.  I miss her.

On the way out of Nevada, I snapped a picture of the scenery:
 And 20 minutes later I took another one:
 Then 20 minutes later...:
 And another 20 minutes went by...:

Let's just say, I'm not a desert person.  I need some trees and some greenery.  Although, there was a lovely canyon that I enjoyed driving through.

All in all, I'm glad we went, but I have no desire to go back.  It was just nice to spend some time with my hubby.