Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caylee's First Birthday and Other Awesomeness!

I know, I know.  I said I was going to be better about updating this blog.  In my defense, the past two months have been awesomely busy.  Or busily awesome.  I'm not sure which, but both seem to fit.  Let's review the highlights!

August 16 was Caylee's first birthday.  That's right, I am now the mother of a one-year-old!  Since her birthday fell on a Friday, we planned her first birthday party for the next day: Saturday, August 17.  The party theme was sock monkeys and the colors were red and pink.  Caylee's Aunt Julie made her a red and pink tutu to go with her special birthday onesie.  

In my family, the tradition is to invite everybody to the first birthday party.  So that's what we did.  We invited great-grandparents, great uncles and aunts, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins driving there from.  And of course we invited our friends that we consider family as well.  When was said and done, the best guess count was that we had 60 people at my house the same time.  Fortunately, the weather was beautiful, so we got to make use of our back porch and pergola.  It was barely controlled chaos, but a complete blast!  That said, I'm glad we only do that for first birthdays lol. 
All in all, the party was a complete success.

The next weekend, Caylee got to spend time with her Ganma and Grandpa while Bryan and I headed for San Antonio!  It was our first "just us" get away since before I was pregnant.  We took advantage of a LivingSocial deal and stayed at a wonderful bed-and-breakfast called the OgĂ© house.  

We ate from food trucks, went to the zoo and the Riverwalk, had dinner, drinks AND dessert with Gina and Stephen, and took part in San Antonio's Culinaria restaurant week.  It was an amazing weekend, and Bryan and I really enjoyed the chance to be just us for a while.  We love Caylee more than anything, but it was really nice to not be "mama" and "dada" for a couple of days and to, instead, focus on enjoying time as best friends and spouses!

Kaylee had her 12 month check-up the week we got back. According to her doctor, she's the picture of health!  

In September, Bryan's Papa invited us to go to the A&M-Alabama game on the 14th.  Whoop!  We excitedly accepted.  Normally, Caylee would have stayed with my parents; however, they were on their celebratory "We're retired!" trip to Colorado.  Fortunately for us, Caylee's Aunt Alicia offered to watch her for the day.  It was Caylee's first time staying with someone other than my parents for a 12 hour+ period, and I was slightly nervous as to how she would behave. However, my concern was completely unfounded! According to Alicia, Caylee behaved wonderfully and had a wonderful time to boot.

  Bryan and I also had a wonderful time at the game!  Even though the Aggies came up one touchdown short, it was still a very exciting football game and they played very well.  I tend to get very excited during football games, so I was pretty hoarse for the next couple of days!  We were so grateful to Papa for inviting us!  It was definitely the can't-miss game of the season!

At the beginning of September, Bryan also started his first graduate course.  This is definitely required some adjustments to the family schedule, but it is more than worth it!  I am so very proud of him!  That pretty much catches us up on the highlights of the past two months.  

In between the highlights has been our normal day-to-day living. I can't believe I'm the mother of a thirteen month old!  This past year has gone by way too quickly.  That said, I love watching her grow each and every day and love the excitement and proud look in her eye when she makes a new discovery, learns new word, or gains another ability. The newest ability is using the handles on our family desk as handholds to scale the cabinet in order to see the computer.  Her rock-climbing Uncle Austin and Aunt Fanny will be so proud!  

I'll end with a video of her next-to-newest word.  I'm so proud of my munchkin!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Writing Again

As I'm sure most of you have noticed, I have been doing an extremely poor job of keeping up with this blog.  In part, it's because I have a very active 11-month-old.

However, the major reason is that my hands have not been doing well.  Dr. C and I are still trying to get my rheumatoid arthritis in line, which means, of course, that my hands have good and bad days. I try to save my good days for playing with the baby, and so this blog gets neglected.  Fortunately for me, I have an awesome husband! Bryan figured out how to set up the voice dictation software on my computer and bought me a nifty headset that allows me to speak what I want to write!  This saves me a lot of time, effort, and especially saves me a lot of pain in my hands.  Hopefully, this means I will do a better job keeping this blog updated!

Beyond the updating of this blog, I am very excited about another specific opportunity this setup presents.  You see, I have been a writer my entire life.  I have spiral notebooks, folders, computer folders, and even a Trapper Keeper full of story ideas, dating as far back as elementary school.  However, for years, this blog has been my only outlet for that passion.  Why?  The answer is simple: my rheumatoid arthritis has taken away my ability to write or type for any length of time. This blog, with it's short, simple format, is pretty much all I've been able to manage since college. There have been several posts in recent years that have taken me multiple days to complete.  This means that all those half-formed, partially started stories have languished unattended and unfinished for the better part of a decade.  Heck, there are even a few completed stories somewhere in there that need to be edited and fine tuned!  Now, I am not saying that all of these ideas are necessarily good ones; however, amongst the notes, outlines, and half-started stories, there are one or two ideas that I feel truly have potential.  I'm excited that this setup will allow me to revisit these ideas and perhaps turn them into something, even if that "something" is never read by anyone other than myself.  At the very least, it will be a chance to actually finish all of the half-stories floating around inside of my head. It's getting kind of crowded up there lol!

Because it has been years since I last wrote regularly, I'm sure these first few attempts are going to be pretty atrocious.  In the past, the very fact that I might write something horrible would have deterred me from starting to write again; however, at this point in my life I'm excited even about the bad stories I'm going to produce!  Part of that excitement comes from my husband's enthusiastic support and encouragement. He is almost as excited about my starting to write again as I am!  More than that though, by taking my hands out of the equation, I will be able to reconnect with a part of myself that I had feared lost, and re-employ a skill set that I thought my rheumatoid arthritis had rendered inaccessible.  It is yet another way to refuse to allow my chronic illness to define, limit, and control my life.  And who knows? Perhaps someday I will craft a story worthy of actually being read by someone else!

And if not, at the very least, this setup will allow me to both write and save my hands for making wonderful memories with my daughter, and, of course, for knitting!

(JIP: Jackalope In Progress!)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Where I Stand: Marriage Equality

As I'm sure everyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows, the United States Supreme Court struck down Section 2 of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) this week.  Section 2 prevented same-sex couples whose marriages are legally recognized by the state in which they live from receiving the same federal protections and benefits as heterosexual married couples.  Unfortunately, Section 3--the section that allows state governments to make same-sex marriage illegal AND to not legally recognize such marriages performed in states that have legalized same-sex marriage--still stands.

Unfortunately? you may ask.  Yes, unfortunately.  I am completely, whole-heartedly, and enthusiastically in favor of gay marriage, or as I feel is the more accurate term, marriage equality.  After discussing this topic extensively with friends and family, I've compiled a list of the more common objections I have heard, along with my responses to those objections.  I'll start with what I deem the most common objections, give my response, and move on from there.

OBJECTION 1:  The Bible declares homosexuality to be a sin and immoral; therefore, homosexuals shouldn't be legally allowed to marry.

Yes, Leviticus 20:13 condemns homosexuality.  That said, the Bible condemns a lot of things regarding marriage and sexual behavior that are legal and accepted today. To flesh out one example, Jesus condemns divorce--"that which God has joined together let noone put asunder" (MARK 10:8) and goes on to say that remarriage is the equivalent of adultery (MARK 10:11-12). The Old Testament condemns adultery and the punishment is death (LEVITICUS 20:10). Heck, even if you leave the New Testament definitions that Jesus himself gave out of it, regular old adultery is still punishable by death. So, going by Biblical definitions and principles, anyone who has had/participated in an affair, or who has divorced and remarried, should be executed.  However, in our society, adultery, divorce and remarriage are perfectly legal. Why? Because our legal system was not created to be a religious legal system. It's purpose is to maintain the functionality of our society, create equality between all of our citizens and protect our rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." You have every right to disagree with the lifestyles and choices of others based on your religious morality, and to live according to your religious beliefs; however, no one has the right to force others to live by their personal religious code. That's the problem I see with the current moral arguments against legalizing homosexual marriage--the arguments against it are ALL based on the religious belief that being gay is wrong. Laws should not uphold the religious beliefs of one group at the expense of the rights of another.

Another point that bothers me about this objection is that it is primarily Christians bringing up Leviticus to condemn homosexuality.  As far as the Bible goes, the verses that specifically condemn homosexuality are found in the Old Testament as part of the Levitical Law under the covenant between God and the people of Israel.  As I've mentioned, this same law condemned many practices that are legal today--divorce, adultery, men cutting their hair, eating pork, etc.  The problem with employing Old Testament law as a Christian is that the old covenant was theologically done away with by the establishment of the New Covenant, which was salvation through grace rather than adherence to the law.  Furthermore, the only commandments given by Jesus in the New Testament are to 1) Love your God with all your heart and soul, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.  If someone claims to be a Christian, then there is a fundamental theological and logical flaw in trying to deny their fellow man/woman the same rights that he or she expects to receive themselves.  

OBJECTION 2:  Across religions and cultures, the historical definition of marriage has always been between a man and a woman, and we should keep it that way.

Ummm....no.  Lol.  Our current definition of marriage is, historically and anthropologically, extremely new.  The definition in the U.S. is one man, one woman who both consent to enter into the union willingly.  It hasn't even been 200 years since polygamy was outlawed in the United States.  Also, it wasn't that long ago that a father could marry his daughter off to whomever he pleased...and this still goes on in other cultures, India for example. And the fact that polygamy is outlawed really only applies to western cultures! In many muslim countries, polygamy still legally exists today. Buddhism, Islam and Judaism are some current religions that allow polygamy. The only reason Judaism no long practices is because of the Western cultures in which most adherents live. Heck, even in Hong Kong...which is about as "western" as China gets...didn't ban polygamy until the 1970s. The general polygamy ban in most countries had nothing to do with religious or ethical definitions, and everything to do with 1) sucking up to western powers and, most importantly, 2) allowing the governments to not have to financially support families with multiple wives and the resulting kiddos.  The definition of marriage changes with the era and situation in society, and always has.

OBJECTION 3:  Homosexuality is either a 1) a choice or 2) a choice that is similar to profession--genetic tendencies brought out by environmental factors (i.e., upbringing), and because it's a choice, it shouldn't get legal recognition or protection.

  In response to the claim that homosexuality is a choice, I offer this:  if individuals choose to be homosexual, then being heterosexual must also be a choice.  In other words, Bob made the choice to be sexually attracted to his wife Sally, as opposed to his friend Bill.  If this is true, and Bob receives legal protection and rights for choosing to be attracted to Sally, why shouldn't those same protections and rights be applied had he chosen Bill?  This smacks of legal favoritism, not legal equality.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the latest research and studies show that homosexuality (and sexuality in general) is indeed genetically influenced.  That said, the genetic argument is a dangerous one to employ, mostly because we know so very, very little about genetic predisposition and it's interaction with nurture. For example, I was genetically predisposed to RA. We have no idea why it manifested in me, only that it did.  So, should my employer or insurance carrier be able to deny me benefits because something in my environment that was beyond my control triggered my genetic predisposition? That's basically what the second argument states--that something happened in the lives of homosexuals that they had no control over, and because this something triggered their genetic predisposition, we should deny them the same rights and privileges under the law as a heterosexual person, who, by the way, had just as little control over their orientation.  Again, this is playing legal favoritism, not pursing legal equality. 
 (Disclaimer: I'm not equating homosexuality to a disease, merely extending the genetic predisposition-trigger argument).

On a side note, the comparison between having genetic predisposition to a talent and then choosing a career based on that talent, and the genetic predisposition towards sexuality is categorically flawed.  Having a predisposition to a talent does not, in fact, mean you'll be at all good at it. That relies on nurturing that talent. For example, my mom is great at math and I suck lol. Am I genetically predisposed? Absolutely. But I didn't nurture the talent. And no one knows where my language abilities came from, but because I nurtured that talent, I pick up languages fairly easily with time and studying. Speaking of time and studying, to enter a profession, you have to be systematically educated and develop specific skills over a period of years to become an engineer. Or a musician. Or a teacher. All things left equal, you would not enter any profession at all, but sexual desire and attraction is not a voluntary response that is the product of years of study and education--it is an complex, mostly unconscious response when the change of puberty starts.

OBJECTION 4:  We already have legal definitions for marriage and changing them for "special interest" groups is a slippery slope.  We have to draw a line somewhere--if we legalize gay marriage, what's next?  Animals? Machines?

We've already changed the definition of marriage to include groups that were previously excluded, specifically interracial couples. And while there are some civic protections that come along with marriage, the majority of the legality surrounding marriage actually deals with legal benefits and advantages that the government allows married people. Also, we've already changed laws to apply to special interest groups--like disabled individuals--and adapted laws for others--the opt out of the birth control mandate for religious organizations--so why is this different? Not to mention all of the legal changes made in favor of civil rights!  If we didn't allow the law to change when we find it lacking, we would stagnate and rot as a society, and I would still be unable to vote, drive, or get a college education.

The second part of this objection always makes me chuckle in disbelief. "If we allow the gays to marry what next? People marrying their pets?"  I guess people are just oblivious to the fact that they are comparing an consensual relationship between two committed, rational human beings to a man/woman screwing a non-rational critter, right? Marrying animals and inanimate objects is illegal for the same reason as child brides in this country. There has to be a level of rational and informed consent when entering into the legal state of marriage. Animals and toasters are neither rational nor capable of being informed, nor capable of giving consent, so this argument is just a silly attempt at fear-mongering.

OBJECTION 5:  Legalizing same-sex marriage opens us up to all sorts of fraud, and will bankrupt the country.

The risk for fraud already exists in our current system. This objection assumes that a male and female who are friends/coworkers/etc. wouldn't get married just for the benefits. Or, heck, that there aren't homosexual men marrying homosexual women strictly for the legal benefits now. Any governmental institution is going to be at risk for fraud. Allowing homosexual marriage allows for an honest union between two committed adults of the same sex, and allows them access to the legal protections and benefits that such a committed union deserves. And I don't for a minute buy that homosexuals receiving marriage benefits would bankrupt the country--they pay into pensions, healthcare, social security, medicare, insurance, and everything else just like heterosexuals do. At this point, they are paying in but then being denied access to the very institutions their money funds. It's one thing for people who choose to remain single to not reap the legal benefits of marriage; it's another thing entirely to deny people who want to get married the benefits that their money supports that come along with marriage.

So, that's pretty much where I stand on marriage equality and a good bit of why.  The rest of the why involves my friends from high school and college who are homosexual.  They want the same thing I wanted from a relationship--to find the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, get married, and possibly start a family.  Because I am heterosexual, I was able to fulfill that desire and marry the love of my life with whom I am raising a wonderful little girl.  My friends deserve no less than the legal opportunity to do the same.  I have high hopes that the day is quickly approaching that we recognize that we cannot continue to claim to be a country based on principles of justice and equality while denying legal rights to a portion of our population.  It's way past time for equality under the law.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh The Month of May

This month has been insanely busy.  I'm glad that I posted our April update earlier in the month; otherwise, it might never have been written!  That said, it's been a month filled with fun, family and friends, and I sure can't complain about that!

The beginning of the month saw me frantically menu planning.  Yes, I've finally gotten back into the habit I started with my Menu Planning Monday posts!  However, now it's more like Menu Planning for the Month.  Thanks to Pinterest and Weight Watchers, I've found tons of really good recipes that I can prepare ahead of time, freeze, and finish cooking later!  What this translates into is two or three days of intense food prep at the beginning of each month, followed by weeks of thaw, cook, eat, repeat!  While labor-intensive at the beginning, it sure does pay off in time saved every evening, giving me more time to spend with the hubby and Caylee!

On May 7th, Julie and I took our girls on their first zoo trip!  I know they saw the animals--the monkeys and the anteater in particular caught their attention--but Caylee at least seemed more interested in watching the people watching the animals.  Julie and I had an absolute blast, and we're definitely going to make a return trip with the girls...though we might wait a few months.  Why?  Because summer has officially returned to the Texas coast, and we're in no hurry to sweat through our clothes and have our babies overheat lol.

May 11th we threw a beginning of summer/Lindsay's bday/successful thesis defense grill out here at the house.  It was a blast!  Ben and Lindsay came, of course, as did Julie, Ethan and Lucy.  Jake and Alicia also came, with baby James!  He's such a cutie, and getting so big!  He was just short of a month old, and a day short of his original due date--Mother's Day!  We had an absolute blast hanging out, catching up, and watching Caylee and Lucy play!  

The next day was Mother's day.  That morning we Skyped with Bryan's mom and Granny Jo.  Caylee enjoyed seeing them on the TV screen too.  That afternoon, we had a houseful of people again!  My parents, Austin and Fanny (who are engaged!  YAY!) and Fanny's mom, my Nannie and Papa, and our cousins Chris and Melissa and their twins Corbin and Eliana all came down.  We grilled, again, and had a wonderful time together.  We all exchanged Mother's Day gifts and watched the kids play together.  I must say, Bryan did an amazing job for my first Mother's Day...I only hope he loves his Father's Day gift as much!

May 16th was Bryan and my 5th wedding anniversary!  I can't believe we've been married 5 years!  We ordered in Mexican food from Chuy's, drank his homebrew beer (a delicious chocolate boch and a grand cru), and he made some wonderful after-dinner margaritas!  We also watched our wedding video and reminisced about our incredible wedding day.  Caylee watched the video with us, and it was hilarious to see how excited she got when my mom and dad appeared on the screen during the interview segment!  And he got me the coolest gifts ever!

The next day was my mom's retirement party in Spring, and we headed up to celebrate with her!  They kept Caylee for us that night, and we went out dancing with Ethan and Julie!  And realized how rusty at dancing we actually are lol.  Might need to work on that!  The next morning we headed back up to Spring to get Caylee-bear, and hung out with my Gan Gan, Aunts Amy and Candy, Eleanor, and Jenna Kay!  My cousin Brooke had left for Ireland that morning, but she's going to come stay with us when she gets back!

The 16th was also Caylee's 9 month mark!  She now babbles and says bababa, mamama, and esss.  She's doing amazingly with finger foods--her favorites are peas and macaroni and cheese!  I find the peas part funny because she used to try to spit out pureed peas so hard she would gag herself!  Apparently it was a texture issue!  She is practicing free standing more and more, and will walk holding onto someone's fingers.  She occasionally dances to music, and is absolutely fearless!  She climbs on anything and everything--including couches, tables, chairs, stairs AND baby gates lol.  We have to keep an eye on her, that's for sure!  She's also very tough though, and bumps and bruises don't phase her a bit!  Her 9 month check up was yesterday, and the doc says she looks great!  She weighed in at 20 pounds 10 ounces (90th percentile) and was 28.5 inches tall (95th percentile)!

This past Monday, Julie and I also took the girls to a baby time at a local library.  We sang songs--which Caylee didn't care about--and the librarian read a story--which she did--and played with rattles and scarves and a big ball!  Caylee was the only one to hit the ball back to the librarian, but Lucy did a great job of catching the ball when it rolled to her!  They also had free play time at the end.  Lucy stayed closer to Julie, but Caylee basically said "Bye Mom!" and took off to play with the other kiddos!   Of course, she came back several times to check in and play with her bestie Lucy!

We are so proud of our baby girl!  Today we had another mini session at Kat's Photography and this weekend she's staying with her Grandpa and Ganma!  Bryan and I are going to celebrate our anniversary without little bit!  We're going out to a surprise (to me) dinner location tonight, and then seeing a play at the Alley theater downtown!  This weekend, we're also planning on seeing Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness, as well as any other new releases that catch our fancy!  We want to go to a new beer spot, and work on some projects around the house, and generally enjoy some us time.  I'm very excited!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Caylee's Catch Up

Well, I completely missed posting in April didn't I?  Whoops!  Here's the summary:  

Caylee had a wonderful first Easter, getting to see a lot of her family and got to go on scooter rides with her Papa!

She also got to spend some wonderful quality time with her Gan Gan when she came down for a visit!

Ganma took pictures of her in the bluebonnets!

Caylee got to experience her first NASA Chili Cook-Off, even if we adults enjoyed it more than she did lol.

She helped me decorate her Aunt Alicia and Uncle Jake's house in celebration of baby James' arrival, though she didn't get to meet him until May.

She had her first play date with her yarn shop friend, Miss Juliana, who is 4 days older than Caylee!  They had a blast!

Her cousin Max celebrated his 4th birthday, and Caylee loved getting to play with him and Grandpa in the bouncy house!  She also got to meet Casey and be down in the grass for the first time--my cousins don't have dogs, ergo no dog poop!  She wasn't so sure about grass lol.

And, of course, she celebrated her 8 month birthday!  I can't believe she's getting so big!

All in all, April was another wonderful month for our Caylee-bear!  We sure love her more than anything, and I sure do feel blessed and love being her mama!

Monday, March 25, 2013

10 Year Reunion

This past Saturday was my 10 year high school reunion.  I'm still trying to figure out how the hell ten years went by so quickly!  That said, it was still a ton of fun!  While Facebook has allowed me to keep in internet touch with many of my classmates, the two I've stayed closest with in real life are Kim and Victoria.  The three of us made plans 6 months ago for them to come into town for the reunion--and of course, we were taking our hubbies too!  Even if they weren't as excited as the three of us lol.

In the days before the reunion, as I was playing with Caylee and cleaning house, I was thinking about the Kristen of ten years ago.  It's safe to say that quite a bit has changed!  I've been told I'm still as upbeat and smiley as ever, and I'd like to think that's true.  I'd like to think that I still try to treat people with the same friendliness and acceptance as I did ten years ago.  That said, I'm much more comfortable in my own skin now, even than I was as a high school senior.  My beliefs have changed quite a bit, through an interesting and sometimes mentally exhausting journey.  Dealing with chronic illness has changed many of my assumptions of the way my life would go, but I've learned a new appreciation for every experience I've had and for every ability I still possess.  My tolerance for manipulative and catty people is so much lower than it was--or maybe it's just that I'm better at recognizing that behavior in others and avoiding including them in my life.  It was an interesting internal reflection, and it was entertaining, retracing my steps during the last ten years and seeing how they've led me to today.

Anyway, on Saturday the six of us loaded up and headed to Live!@BayouPlace and had an absolute blast!  It was a great venue--lots of space and good music from our high school days and today--and the food was catered by Chuy's!  Our tickets got us two free drinks a piece (^_^)  and there was also a photo booth AND a green screen photo room!

It was wonderful, and yet surreal, seeing everyone again.  With a few exceptions, we all look pretty much the same, with only slight differences.  I saw Danielle, a friend whom I've known since kindergarten, but haven't actually seen in ten years.  We had a blast together for most of the night.  She is still such a sweet, bubbly person--it's good to know that some things never change.

I got to catch up with friends who meant so much to me during my high school tenure, and heck, some that I've known since the elementary years.  It was even fun seeing folks with whom I  wasn't particularly close.  I learned so much from all of them: lessons about friendship, accepting people for who they are, and how to weather less than ideal social interactions.  From a couple in particular, I learned lessons about relationships and caring for someone else.  Those lessons enabled me to recognize how unique my relationship was with Bryan when we started dating, and to realize that he was the man I wanted to marry.  Most of all, though, though all of those relationships and interactions, I learned to accept myself for who I am.  It was good to see and hear that all of them are doing well and seem to be very happy in their lives!  I just wish that I'd have had a little more time to catch up with some of them...hopefully it won't take us another 10 years to find another opportunity!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caylee is 7 Months Old!

March 16, 2013 our little girl turned 7 months old!

I can't believe it's been seven months already since her arrival.  Even more than that, I can't believe how fast she's growing and how much she's learning and developing each and every day!

As a six month old, Caylee:
Continues to play pee-pie-boo...she started this about a week before her six month mark.
Continued taking practice baby steps while we held her hands to keep her up and help her balance.
Mastered her sippy cup.
Cut her two bottom front teeth--at the same time.
Started sitting up all on her own.
Went from scooting backward, to scooting forward, to full out crawling.
Started crawling over obstacles--like mommy's legs--and chasing her Annabelle puppy around the living room and under the coffee table.
Started pulling herself into standing position without assistance, the same week she started crawling.

On her 7 month birthday, she pulled herself up using her hippo walker and let go and balanced for a few seconds.  Also, she took several steps holding on to/pushing her hippo walker...and promptly fell down lol.  I have a feeling she's going to be walking on her own before we know it!

Today, she pulled herself up into standing position in her crib!  Thankfully, when she came home from her Spring Break visit to my parents' house (where she started full out crawling and pulling up), my dad lowered her mattress.  Otherwise, she probably would have taken a nose dive.  Her other favorite pull up spot is the breakfast table chair.  Today she finally stood all the way straight up using the chair for balance.  

This month, Caylee also had her first Easter photo shoot with Carina and celebrated her first St. Patrick's Day by "helping" daddy brew beer!

We are so proud of our Caylee-bear and are having a ball watching her learn and grow and experience the world around her!

Spring Break!

OK, so technically, since I no longer teach or attend school, I no longer have a Spring Break.  Now that I'm a full time mom, I look at it as every week is Spring Break!  Which, ironically, means none of them are lol.  But this year, I actually did get a break that coincided with Spring Break!

To start off with, we were all in various stages of sick around here.  A few weeks ago, my parents kept Caylee.  Unfortunately, without knowing it, mom had a really bad cold during this time--she just thought it was her normal seasonal allergies.  Well, no such luck.  Thankfully, Caylee's version wasn't as severe as my mom's, but she decided to share with us too.  Bryan was actually pretty sick, and I didn't feel well at all.

Originally, the plan for Spring Break was for Bryan to go with Ethan on their motorcycle trip to North Carolina, and for little bit and I to load up with my mom and head to Fredericksburg to see my Gan Gan.  Bryan, of course, still went on his trip lol.  With the baby and mom still getting over being sick, and me smack dab in the middle, we decided to cancel our hill country run.  However, mom and dad offered to keep Caylee until Wednesday anyway because 1) I was still sick and 2) they pretty much adore their granddaughter :-).  Bryan headed out Saturday morning and mom and dad came and got Caylee Saturday afternoon/evening.  All of which meant...


It was absolutely wonderful!  I got to just be sick for a few days, which, as any mom knows, is just not feasible when the hubby and the kiddo are sick at the same time as you.  When everyone is sick, mama can't be...even when she is.

Once I was feeling better, I ran some errands and worked on some projects that I hadn't had a chance to accomplish with Caylee-bear in tow.  I went to Hobby Lobby and made progress on decorating our bedroom.  I watched a LOT of anime--52 episodes to be precise--and got a lot of knitting done at the same time!  I didn't go to bed until at least midnight every night.  I also didn't get up before 9 at all :-).  One particular night, I was so engrossed in the anime that I was watching, and so determined to finish the hat I was knitting, that by the time the end to both came, I realized it was 5 AM!  Needless to say, I wasn't up before noon the following morning.  That type of schedule has always been my preference, but obviously Caylee's schedule takes priority now.

Of course, I did miss my munchkin and my hubby.  I FaceTimed with Bryan a couple of times, and with Caylee and my parents every day.  Good thing too, because during one of our FaceTime chats, Caylee crawled for the first time!  She crawled right over to me (well, my face on the phone)!  She also showed off her pulling up skills, using Grandpa for a ladder.

That said, it was pretty wonderful to only have to take care of myself for a few days.  I did an amazing job staying on plan for Weight Watchers, and ate their frozen dinners instead of cooking.  I decided I wanted to run an errand, and left the house in under two minutes.  I was able to get all of my chores done and still have time to read, watch TV and knit.  It was a true break.

That said, I was really glad to have Caylee-bear back Wednesday night.  I had missed her sweet smiles and snuggles.  Bryan made it home late Thursday night, which was wonderful.  We put Caylee to bed together and then I got to hear all about his trip.  Friday we just relaxed around the house.

Saturday, Bryanne-Michelle came down and she and I went out to a girls' lunch while Bryan and Caylee had some daddy-daughter time.  Then we all hung out at the house that evening, eating Dominoes pizza, drinking margaritas, and watching TV.  Yep, we're a wild bunch lol.
Sunday was Bryan's yard work day, while Caylee and I relaxed in the house.

All in all, it was a wonderful Spring Break that combined good friends, family time, and a true BREAK for this mama!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Life Catch Up!

Well, the Caylee Catch Up post tells much of what I've been up to the past couple of months. :-)  It's been an absolute blast!  Fortunately for my sanity, however, I do have other things going on in my life other than the many joys of motherhood!

For example, I am definitely still knitting!  I haven't gotten to knit as much as I would like, but believe it or not, that has little to do with the munchkin.  My RA is tending to get the best of me when it comes to my hands.  We--and by we I mean my doctor:-)--are still trying to get my meds back in alignment.  Dr. C warned me that it would take time after my pregnancy to get everything straightened back out--I just naively assumed that "time" meant a couple of months after starting my meds back up.  Turns out, not the case lol.  It gets frustrating some days, having to choose what I'm going to spend my spoons on--but since most of those tend to go to cuddling and playing with my little girl, it's not as frustrating it could be!  Eventually, we'll get the RA under control.  The question is whether my current combination of drugs will be the answer.  If not, we have a plan of action, but I'd really rather the Remicade get it's act together and get to work!

Other than that, the 20 mg of daily prednisone I was on during my pregnancy seems to have had the unfortunate side effects of throwing me into Cushing's Syndrome and insulin resistance.  I'm shopping for a good endocrinologist at the moment, but have made an appointment with a Dr. C that a friend highly recommends.  I've had excellent luck with my current Dr. C, so I'm hoping the letter is lucky!  Both Cushing's and insulin resistance are treatable, and I'm currently taking metformin for the latter.  I hate metformin almost as much as I hate methotrexate--possibly more--but if it controls the situation enough to keep me from developing full-out diabetes, I'll deal with it.  In the meantime, I get to check my blood sugar and try to avoid bottoming it out...which has happened a couple of times.  Not fun, not fun at all, just in case you're curious.  Here's hoping the next endo I see can help me understand what's going on and get it under control.

I've also read some good books lately--City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte being the most recent.  Reading helps keep my mind active, as opposed to saying "Yes!  That's a red block!" and agreeing with Caylee's latest cooing sounds.  While fun and adorable, not exactly mentally stimulating lol.  I'm also trying to speak Spanish to Caylee for at least one hour a week, just to keep in practice, and I'm learning Japanese!  Why Japanese?  Well, I've always wanted to learn it, and I have access to plenty of anime to practice listening to native speakers.  Also, we were planning a trip to Japan this fall, which we ended up having to cancel in order to replace our truck when it cratered.  That was pretty disappointing, but at least now, by the time we do go, I'll hopefully be fairly proficient!  I have a friend who speaks Japanese, and so does her mom, so I'm hoping to practice conversational skills with them, once I've learned enough to have conversations.  Right now, I can greet and comment on general weather conditions--I think I need a bit more lol.

Bryan, Caylee and I have gotten to hang out with Ethan and Julie and Lucy.  The adults played cards and the girls just played.  We also got together with Jake and Alicia--who are expecting a little boy in April!  We went with Lindsay and Ben to the paint pub, and Lindsay and I also had a girls' night at a local sushi place!  Julie, Alicia and I had a girls' lunch with Caylee and Lucy!  Bryan and I  have also enjoyed a few child-free weekends just the two of us, while Caylee visited her Ganma and Grandpa (my parents).  It was great to spend quality adult time together as well as with our friends, going out, having some drinks, watching movies, going to a paint pub and getting projects done around the house.  It's always fun getting to spend time with your best friend!

In the next few weeks, Bryanne-Michelle is coming in, as are Victoria and Philip!  We and Vic and Philip are going to Vic and my 10 year high school reunion, where we'll meet up with Kim and Clay!  That same weekend I'm also hosting Alicia's baby shower!  Lots of fun stuff coming up!  And that pretty much brings us up to date on what's up with me!  

Caylee is waking up, so that' my cue to fix her dinner!  Hopefully I'll do a better job of keeping up with this now that I've gotten started again!

Caylee's Catch Up!

Boy oh boy do I have some catching up to do!  First, I'll catch up on our Caylee-bear!  When last I blogged, we had just finished up Caylee's first Thanksgiving, and December saw many other big moments as well!

During the first half of the month, we celebrated Daddy's birthday with a bunch of Caylee's honorary Aunts and Uncles.

On December 17th, one day after she turned 4 months old, we got Caylee's ears pierced at her doctor's office.

Later that week, we loaded up and headed out to the nearest Bass Pro Shop for Caylee's first pictures with Santa!  She loved Bass Pro, and especially enjoyed watching the fish in their large tank.  She didn't give Santa a big smile, but was very comfortable with him.  After all, he had a beard like Daddy!

We had a whole slew of family Christmases this year.  Caylee's first family Christmas was at her Grandpa and Ganma's house with Uncle Austin and Aunt Fanny, Grandma Robin, Grandpa and Grandma Pior, and Uncle Mike and Aunt Jess, and Nannie and Papa!

The next family Christmas was Christmas Eve at Nannie and Papa's house.  Caylee got to meet lots of family she hadn't seen yet, and got some wonderful presents that she continues to enjoy every day!

Christmas morning, we had family Christmas at our house.  Uncle Austin and Aunt Fanny were in France, and Grammy Lynn came a little later, but Grandpa and Ganma, Paw Paw, Aunt Kelyn and Uncle Clint all celebrated with us!  Caylee wore her My First Christmas booties from Aunt Fanny, and got many wonderful presents, including a birthstone earring set from Mommy and Daddy!

For New Year's Eve, we went over to Uncle Ethan and Aunt Julie's house, and Caylee got to play with  Lucy!  The two of them were thick as thieves! 

December also saw Caylee start on "solid" foods!  Her first food was rice cereal, which she felt was "meh".  Her favorite food so far is sweet potatoes, which she ate for the first time on her first New Year's Day! (Rice is on the left, sweet potatoes on the right.)

Caylee's final first Family Christmas was the Cardwell Christmas and Reunion in January!  She got to meet several cousins for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with all of the cousins she already knew!

 January 16th saw Caylee turn 5 months old!  

February saw Caylee's first Super Bowl, which we celebrated with the SOT family!

February 14th was Caylee's first Valentine's Day!  Before V-day, Carina with Kat's Photography had taken some wonderful Valentine's pictures, and on the day itself, Caylee received her first Valentine's Day flowers from her first and forever Valentine: her Daddy!

And, of course, our baby girl turned 6 months old on February 16th.
And yes, that 7 pounds is a typo.  She was actually 17 pounds and 7 ounces!

And now we're in the month of March!  I still cannot believe how quickly she is growing, and how much she is changing and learning every single day.  She now drinks four bottles a day, and has two meals of pureed foods--one at lunch and one at dinner.  She eats anywhere from five to eight ice cubes of food at each meal!  I make her food and freeze it in ice trays...thus the unit of measurement lol.  She can use her sippy cup, and she sits up on her own.  Just this week has figured out how to get into a sitting position from laying down.  She isn't quite crawling, but she's definitely mobile, and now goes forward with the same ease as backwards!  She wants so badly to stand up, and if you give her your fingers, she will pull herself from a laying down position into a sitting position and from there she stands up with only a little assistance.  Her balance on her feet is getting better by the day, and she will actually baby step along while you hold her hands--especially if she wants to go after one of her puppies!  To cap it all off, just this morning I felt the edge of her first tooth making it's way through her bottom gum!  She still sleeps through the night and now take two naps a day.  She is still one of the smiliest babies I've ever seen and has a happy, sweet, even temperament to match.  I love her more each day, and more than I ever thought possible--and it constantly amazes me that, each time I utter those words, I feel the sentiment more keenly and deeply than the time before.

We are so proud of our Caylee-bear!


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