Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homemade Christmas

Because Ian and I are taking the girls to Europe in June, we need to save as much money as possible. For that reason we decided to do as many homemade gifts as possible. I was a little stressed about getting everything done in time, but in the end this Christmas was one of the best I can ever remember. As someone with an affinity for the arts I very much enjoyed the creative process that went along with each of the gifts that I made and I am already looking forward to doing homemade Christmas again next year. Now that I know how much I enjoy it and want to do it again I can start much earlier and not be so stressed about getting everything done in time. I did an oil painting for Ian. Aven made pinch pots for everyone, I made scrapbook style collages and framed them for all of our parents, Ian made me delicious cupcakes, and I made our Christmas cards with materials I already had. I am in no way trying to be braggy, I just wanted to share how much I enjoyed removing myself from the consumer craze. It really did bring much more fulfillment, joy, and happiness to the season.

Making snow angels on Christmas Eve

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Winter Program

Last night Aven and Etta had their Winter program. The theme was "snow", so all of the songs were related to snow, ice, and all of magical things that happen when snow and ice abound. Etta's class kicked off the program by "dancing" to "Ice, Ice, Baby" while wearing bling onesies that were custom screen printed by her teacher, Ireland. Aven's class performed "The Winter Pokey", "5 Little Snowmen", and combined with the four year old class for "Let it Snow". Aven did better than she ever has before, singing a little bit and remembering a few dance moves. I just really appreciate all the work these wonderful teachers do to put on a show.

Etta, getting in touch with her inner gangsta'.

Aven kind of performing "5 Little Snowmen".

She was a little too entranced by the artificial flame she was holding during "Let it Snow" to get much singing done.

Aven and her AWESOME teacher, Heidi.
And now, enjoy the wonderful craziness of a preschool performance:

video

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Festivities

Visiting with Santa. Aven asked for a dollhouse. I'm pretty sure Etta would be happy with a fist-full of beard.
Baking cookies with Lucy Grandma. Aven really got into it, especially the part where you sprinkle flour on the dough.
Zoolights with Auntie Em and Lucy Grandma.

More Zoolights


Riding a praying mantis at the zoo.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Dresses

I found some super-cute Christmas dresses for the girls at Kid to Kid for eight dollars each. I love that store. Now enjoy some super-cute Pictures of them by the Christmas tree:






Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dear Santa

This is Aven's first letter to Santa. She dictated, I wrote.
Me: Aven, what are you going to do with eyeballs? Aven: Put them on my forehead.
Me: What are you going to do with faces? Aven: Put them on my nose.

I guess being around all those boys at daycare is affecting her.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

4 Months!

When did this happen!? Her babyhood is passing by at warp speed.
She's already big enough to play in her saucer. WTF!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day

Happy Election Day from the Uncle Sams of West Jordan Middle School! Now go vote.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin guts!
Sometimes Etta likes to hang out in pumpkins.
Our pumpkin family.
Hope your Halloween is great!
Love, Etta Ballerina . . .
. . . and Princess Aven a.k.a. The Princess Who Rescues Herself


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Turtleneck and Chain

This turtleneck is like one of my best . . .





I just couldn't resist.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Octobery Fun

After two grueling weeks of work I was ready for a break. Luckily it was U.E.A. I had a pretty long to-do list in my head, so I took the girls to daycare Thursday and Friday, even though I felt VERY guilty about it. I went to the conference for awhile, ran some errands, cleaned my house, started a painting that I had planned out, and made myself a new cuddle blanket to replace the shreds that remained of the one my aunt made me for Christmas when I was twelve. It's hard to take Aven and Etta to daycare on my off days but it allowed me to get so much done that we were able to devote Saturday to fun fall activities.

First came the Pumpkin Regatta at Sugarhouse park. People grew enormous pumpkins, carved out the insides, and then got inside of them and raced them across Sugarhouse pond. One guy even took his dog aboard. It was pretty fun.
I was kinda disappointed that none of the pumpkins tipped over.

There was another category where people raced boats that were built with pumpkins and other materials.



After a late lunch and a brief nap we dragged a still-groggy Aven out of her bed, got her costumed up and went to Garden After Dark at Red Butte Gardens. This was our third year and it was once again a really fun event. We had thirteen people in our group. It was challenging to keep everyone together, but we all had a great time.


We started by painting pumpkins in the Orangerie. 

Our attempt to get all the kids in one photo. Back row: Payton, Zachary, Jaxon, Gwen, Aven, Me, Etta. Front row: Jacey and Haddie.

After decorating werewolf masks they all sat on the wall and howled.  I wish I had a video, it was super cute.

A headless, glowing Aven in the black-lit spook alley.
Aven was so tired when we got home that she didn't try to engage us in her usual bedtime-avoiding tactics. She was asleep within five minutes of climbing into bed. I call that a successful day!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Going Back

For weeks I have been anticipating my return to work with a mixture of fear, dread, and excitement. I have had all sorts of scenarios playing out in my head about how hard it would be to balance everything, how exhausted I would be, and how I would be irritable with my students and my family. I just finished my first five days of work and so far it has been a breeze compared to my worst imaginings. My sub did an amazing job getting the year started. I walked into my classroom on the 7th week of school to students who knew the routines and rules and to a well organized and clean environment. I'm so lucky that she was willing to sub for me even though her only art class experience was a negative one way back in her own middle school years. The more knowledgeable kids stepped up and helped her demonstrate concepts that she wasn't comfortable with such as color mixing and painting techniques. I think I may ask her to start out every school year for me.

Family life has also not been as stressful as I had anticipated even though my sweet little Etta came down with a cold and fever the night before my first day back. Luckily Ian had the day off and was able to keep her home and take her to the doctor. I guess after having one baby and going through all the tough stuff the first few years I have learned a lot and am able to be way more efficient and less stressed than I was when Aven was a baby.

Aven and Etta have started daycare. Etta is doing well. She sleeps 4-6 hours a day at daycare and then is awake most of the evening, which is really nice. I feel like I get lots of quality time with her. Those are some pretty expensive naps though. Aven is now in the daycare's preschool program and she loves it. She's starting to recognize letters and numbers everywhere we go. Sometimes she's right, sometimes not. I love how enthusiastic she is about learning her letters and numbers. She is also taking tap and ballet lessons, which are offered through daycare. She loves coming home on dance day, putting on her tap shoes and showing us her new dance moves. Her awesome dance moves actually earned Etta's first belly laughs last weekend. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I think after so many years of teaching middle school I crave that crazy-off-the-wall-silly energy that middle school students are so skilled at providing.  I miss my beautiful girls like crazy but I am glad to be back.

Aven on her very first day of preschool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nap Time

Recently Aven's nap time has become more of a "quiet time". She rarely falls asleep anymore but I still need some time during the afternoon to regain my sanity, so she usually plays quietly in her room for a couple hours so I can get things done around the house. Occasionally she actually falls asleep, sometimes right in the middle of playing:

She's so sweet.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sisterhood

The first couple months of sisterhood have been full of ups and downs for Aven. She is clearly in love with this little baby but that doesn't mean she's always ready to share Mom and Dad's attention. If I ask her to be patient for a minute sometimes she's patient for a minute, sometimes she slumps her whole body and whines and cries. I never know what I'm going to get, it's a surprise every time. Luckily these fits are usually short-lived. As soon as she recovers she's ready to shower Etta in hugs and kisses. When Etta was born our pediatrician told us "the problem with older siblings usually isn't that they don't love the baby enough, it's that they love them too much." As I watch Aven mob Etta, get in her face, and overwhelm her with affection I now know the full meaning of that statement. I spend a fair amount of my time trying to protect Etta from Aven's overenthusiastic love.

Aven has been suffering from a few regressions which is totally normal and totally frustrating. She all of the sudden wants help with things she's known how to do by herself for a long time. Sometimes she'll snap right out of regression mode if I ask her to show Etta how great she is at doing whatever it is she's claiming she can't do. Etta is super interested in watching Aven give herself a bite at dinner, seeing how good Aven is at putting on her own pants, and watching Aven wash her hands at the sink- or so Aven thinks, anyway.

On the baby front Etta has reached the point in her development where she is aware of all the cool things that are going on around her. This can make it very difficult to feed her as she gets VERY distracted. So, in order to get Etta fed I need to be alone with her in a quiet room. This is making it hard to do things like be gone from the house at a time I know she's going to be hungry. I call this "living my life 2-3 hours at a time". It's lots of fun. I really can't complain, though, I have been enjoying my time with my sweet girls very much and am sad that I have to go back to work in only two weeks. Hopefully we'll have a few more fun adventures before going back to the grind.

Sweet sisters!

Monday, September 10, 2012

2 Months

I seriously can't believe this little one is already TWO MONTHS OLD!
Check out that adorable dimple on her right cheek- isn't that the cutest?!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Most Exciting Blog Post Ever!

 Okay, so I lied. This is a lame blog post about a closet. This is what you do when you are deprived of contact with other adults. You organize closets in between feedings and making lunch and dealing with a certain whiny three-year-old and then blog about it.
We have been blessed with ample closet space in our  new house. Closets galore!  We have so many closets that when we moved in we just piled stuff in them without even a thought about organization. This summer I have begun tackling the organization problem so that we can more effectively use our space.
Our office closet now has pretty shelves and  is nice and organized. Yay me!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Aven Visits a "Castle"

Lately Aven has been very interested in buildings that have castle-like characteristics such as steeply pitched roofs, towers, spires, and large windows. She even refers to rather small churches as castles as long as they have the right physical characteristics.

We drove past the Cathedral of the Madeline last week and she was very taken with it and has been wanting to visit ever since, so this afternoon we drove downtown and she got to visit her very first "castle".

She was very good at being quiet inside and loved the stained glass windows, the arches, the frescoes, and the candles. She also enjoyed sitting in the pews and kneeling on the kneelers. I have to say that I'm really glad there weren't any homeless people passed out in there since that really would have killed the whole magical-castle vibe we had going. For the record I have seen more than a few down-and-out people sleeping one off on the pews before.

Aven loved visiting a "castle", now we need to take her to visit some real castles in Europe. I'm sure we'll be on the next plane out.


Standing on the front steps.
Aven with the organ, rose window, and arches behind her.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Here We Go Again

So, you may remember that when Aven was a baby she had an allergy to dairy protein called Allergic Colitis. We saw blood in her diaper when she was about 6 weeks old, took her to the doctor, and I was told to go dairy free. Over the next couple months I also discovered that she was sensitive to corn protein and removed that from my diet as well.

The day after Etta was born our pediatrician came to the hospital to check on her and I asked him what the likelihood of Etta developing the Allergic Colitis was. He said that her chance was much greater since Aven had it- it's probably a genetic thing. So I started watching for symptoms right from the start. A month ago, when Etta was three weeks old, I saw blood in her diaper. We took her to the doctor to rule out other potential causes and I jumped right on the diet I was on with Aven. After a week and a half she was symptom free- yay!!!

I was pretty upset at first because it was such a traumatic experience with Aven. Her symptoms were greatly reduced by the diet but they persisted until she was about six months old. Because the symptoms persisted we had to do blood work, stool samples, and a scan at Primary Children's plus two trials of hypoallergenic formula- those just ended in tears (mine and Aven's).

So, here we are again, but this time I already know exactly what I can eat and which restaurants have things that are friendly to this very restricted diet. It might not sound like a big deal, but just try to find basic things like crackers, cereal, and bread that are free of both dairy AND corn ingredients. The upside is that I am just about the healthiest eater I know. About 90% of my food is prepared at home from fresh ingredients with little or no preservatives. Another upside is that babies tend to grow out of this allergy by the time they are about 9 months old. To be safe I'll stay on the diet until she turns one. So here's to another year of reading labels and losing ridiculous amounts of weight!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fuzz

I love baby fuzz. So precious.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

One Month

Etta is one month old. I have to say that this month went by faster than Aven's first month. We're holding up okay so far. I'm not gonna lie, it's definitely much more stressful with two kids. Aven has much more screen time than I'd prefer, but putting a movie on for her has saved my sanity more than once. Etta is very alert at certain times of the day and loves looking around. She's developing lots of cute facial expressions. Here are some recent pictures:
For some reason I have a lot of pictures of Etta yawning.
Super cute baby toes.
Aven painting some rocks she found on a nature walk.
Call the fashion police, Aven's playing dress-up again!


Friday, August 3, 2012

New Name

Now that we have more than just Aven our blog title needed an update. The name was inspired by the 10,000 Maniacs song "These Are Days". I've always loved the song, especially the lyrics, since they cast such a positive outlook on life. As a chronic worrier I need that. I also love how the words match up so well with what it's like to have kids- on the good days, anyway.


These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It's true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Same and Different

I've been thinking a lot about what is the same and what is different with Etta versus Aven. I figured that I would have the baby thing down pat since I'd done it before and my main challenge would be helping Aven adapt. It turns out that in many respects I feel just as helpless and unknowing about Etta as I did with Aven- it's amazing the amount of stuff I've forgotten. As I asked questions at Etta's two week appointment I found that as our pediatrician answered bells were ringing like crazy. I realized that I had asked the same exact questions about Aven and he was giving me the exact same answers. As far as Aven goes, she has had her moments over the last few weeks, but she has adapted like a champ and I'm really proud of her.

Here are a few things that stand out:

Same:

  • The newborn stage, while very cute and cuddly, is extremely nerve wracking and stressful.
  • I worry about something to do with the baby constantly. The minute I stop worrying about one thing my mind finds another thing to latch on to- blerg.
  • It's hard to get ready to go anywhere. Just leaving the house feels like a monumental accomplishment.
Different:
  • That whole "sleep when the baby sleeps" logic goes out the window completely when you've got an energetic three-year-old bouncing around the house.
  • Having to divide my attention between two kids is hard and tiring. It's physically tiring, but also mentally tiring.
  • I just want to be busy. With Aven I took any down time I could get, with this one I'm always looking for something to do- I'm not sure why.

A lovely picture of my girls:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aven's First Fireworks

Aven got to see and enjoy her very first fireworks last night. It might seem weird since she's three, but I'm a pretty big stickler about bedtime and keeping to a schedule. So, for our slightly early Pioneer Day celebration we did sparklers, smoke bombs, ground blooms, and a handful of fountains. Aven had a super fun time, especially since we were joined by Auntie Em.

First sparkler! 

Old Ian-No-Arms works some sparkler magic.

I wish those skinny legs belonged to me, but alas they are my sister's.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1 Week

Our little Etta is officially one week old. She's doing typical baby stuff- eating, pooping, sleeping , and being cute . Big sister Aven is adjusting pretty well- just a little more whiny and prone to melt-downs than usual. Overall we're doing well and enjoying our new addition. Hopefully a new blog name will be coming soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Etta May

We are so excited to announce the arrival of our new little girl. Etta May Bailey was born July 10th at 3:03 p.m. after a grueling two hour labor and about five minutes of pushing. Not that I'm bragging or anything. She didn't want to start breathing and her heart rate dropped right after birth which prompted a call to the NICU. It was scary to watch ten people rush into the room to attend to her as I sat helplessly in the bed. It was even scarier when they took her away from me to the NICU for observation. Luckily Ian was able to go with her and they only kept her for about an hour since she recovered so quickly. When she was weighed in the NICU she weighed in at 6 lbs. 3 oz. Later, in the nursery, her weight was 6 lbs. 11 oz. Since babies don't usually gain 8 oz. within a few hours of birth this discrepancy prompted and intense investigation into which scale was wrong. Etta was wheeled around in her bassinet and weighed on different scales until they were satisfied that she was indeed 6 lbs. 11 oz. The rest of our hospital stay was pretty uneventful, just lots of great visitors. Here's more than a few photos of our hospital stay:

Etta under observation in the NICU
Ian holding Etta for the first time.
My mom and Etta.
Oh, how I "love" those hospital gowns.
Aven and her new baby doll and baby doll blanket. She was quite stunned the first time she saw Etta.
Etta has one dimple on the right side of her face that matches my sister's one right side dimple. Pretty dang cute!
Mt wonderful doctor, Sam Ponder, with our beautiful girl.
My grandparents.
My dad.
My friend Nique. I was hoping some of that lovely dark complexion would rub off, but so far Etta is just as pale as the rest of us.
Amber holding Etta, Natalie in the background.

Get me out of this place!
Ready to go home. I just can't get over how tiny she is.


*Edit: Dear Christine and Dennis, There are no pictures of you in this post because your son, who was in charge of taking pictures, didn't take any of you. Sorry- I think he was just a little overwhelmed with everything