My Dad took this picture of Addison while we were out in PLud this past weekend.  We all had such a great time, and beautiful beyond beautiful weather both days.  DJ and Jason (and three eager to help kids) helped my Dad lay two large piles of bark while Kahly, my Mom and I took care of all domestic needs.  We celebrated Jason’s birthday with a Mexican pulled pork taco bar, with all kinds of delicious side dishes.  SUCH good food.  And I made Jason a vanilla and strawberry cheesecake filled cake for dessert.  It was a totally unique creation, but turned out pretty dang tasty. 

My Dad had one small project he did for me in his shop on Sunday and Addison was his shadow the whole time.  She helped him sweep up the sawdust and organize all his tools and got to wear the big earmuff protectors when the loud saw was running.  She loved it and I think my Dad loved it just as much as she did. Smile

 

It was a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

 

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This year we celebrated Makayla’s 5th birthday a little late since they were all in France when her real birthday took place.  She wanted a Fancy Nancy birthday party, and I told her I’d love to make her a Fancy Nancy cake for the party.  I love to make cake for any and all occasions! Smile  I decided that this cake would be my first two-tiered cake.  It was an ambitious design (I don’t like to do anything easy), but I was determined to make the vision I had in my mind a reality.  It took me the good part of a week to prepare all the gumpaste and fondant add-on pieces.

 

I also used this opportunity to make my first gumpaste roses. I bought some of the tools I needed online and it turns out they were the wrong size for what I wanted to do so I had to improvise.  They weren’t perfect by any stretch, but I made them cute enough to put onto the cake. I’m excited to try them again when I have the right tools.

 

I decided not to cover the cake in fondant since it was such a big cake (fondant ain’t cheap!) and there were already so many fondant accessories.  It was a good choice.  I did try a new buttercream icing recipe which turned out just OK in my book. It was a bit difficult to work with, but did hold it’s shape once it was on the cake so I’m grateful for that.  I think I’m going to stick with my Swiss meringue buttercream from here on out.  Can’t be the texture or the taste!

 

Makayla loved the cake and it fit right in with all the super fancy decorations Tara made.  It was such a cute girly party, I loved everything about it!  It was all the little details Tara put into that made it so special.  Made me excited to do more girly stuff for Addison in the future. 

 

Of course Addison was right beside me during the whole cake design phase and she contributed some ideas that were actually keepers.  She came up with the idea to add the Christmas lights to the cake. Very fancy!  And she would use my cake sketches to color her own fancy cake drawings. We had about 20 cake pictures floating around the house that week from our resident artist Addison.  And she is determined that I will be making her a Fancy Nancy cake for her next birthday. We’ll see…

 

Pictures of all the fun decorations.

 

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Everyone at the party dressed up VERY fancy. Smile

 

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The birthday girl looks especially beautiful that night! And so did her super cute baby sister.

 

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The Cake. Everything on the cake is edible except for the crown and the wire that the little butterflies are floating on. 

 

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It’ definitely wasn’t a perfect finished product. I see every flaw when I look back at these pictures, but Makayla loved it which was the most important part.  Oh, that and that it tasted DELICIOUS.  Ooh La La!

I received a book from my friend Gina this Christmas that is a 100 lesson program to teach your kids to read.  So last week we started the program and so far it’s going pretty well.  The book is titled “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” by Siegfried Engelmann.  The concepts are fairly straight forward and I like how it starts off with very basic phonics and takes it nice and slow. The lessons only take about 15-20 minutes.  I give Ethan and Addison their lessons separately so it take around 45 minutes each day.  We don’t quite make it every single day, but I figure doing it 4-5 times per week is better than nothing at all. 

As with anything I’ve done with the twins, it’s always amazing to see the differences in their strengths and weaknesses.  Addison has a brilliant memory when it comes to social events, but her academic memorization is a lot harder for her, so she struggles to remember those things she learned the day (or hour) before.  Ethan has no issues with academic memorization, but his attention span is very short and he gets bored with these simple lessons within minutes.  I think this exercise will test my patience too, but I’m willing to give it a go if it means they can be that much closer to reading come this fall when they start Kindergarten.

And on a side note, Austin always feels left out so I give him a 2 minute “reading lesson” from the book too.  He is definitely too young to understand all the concepts, but he does actually do surprisingly well on memorizing the sounds of the letters. Smile It’s very very cute.

I think the overwhelming guilt of not posting for months and months finally got the best of me and here I am writing again. I just no I can’t go back and capture everything, which is depressing, so I never want to blog.  I have to just move forward from here and try to do better from now on I guess.

 

Some small and big things that have taken place over the past six months.

 

1. In February I went with my Mom up to Anchorage to help move my Grandma and Grandpa Yates out of their house of 40+ years.  It was such a great trip.  Exhausting, but very rewarding and fun to be able to say goodbye to the house that held so many memories for me as a child.  And it was a great visit with family and friends as well.  I’m so grateful I was able to be apart of that big change in their lives and help them happily settle into their new apartment, which is just perfect for them.

 

2. The night of March 4th we finally got an offer on our house.  I was on my way down to Portland with Kahly and my Mom to do some tax free shopping, and the call came in from our agent saying we had an offer.  It was quite a bit lower than our listed price, so we countered back almost at full price and they accepted.  We then waited for two weeks while the inspection and appraisal took place, knowing full well that our window to actually pack, find a new place and move would be very small.  Everything went through without a hitch and we ended up closing on the house sale on April 8th. 

It was a whirlwind to get the house packed, cleaned and find a new house in literally 2 weeks.  We found a short term lease on a rental house in Redmond.  We were able to sign up for a 3 month lease with the option to go month to month after that, up until 6 total months.  The place is a dump and DJ and I spent over 12 hours in the rental cleaning it before I felt it was at least livable.  It was tough though.  At many points in the moving process I kept looking at DJ and asking “we wanted this to happen, right???”. Smile 

The end of this month will mark 3 months that we’ve been in the rental.  It hasn’t been a picnic, but it’s definitely an adventure!  The kids don’t seem to mind though.  Kids are so adaptable and resilient.  Ethan did struggle a little bit during the chaos of the actual move, but after we got back to “life as usual” he was his happy self again.  The search for our new home has been a roller coaster ride.  We’ve had several offers in on places, only to have them rejected or fall through.  I remember after we moved into the rental my Dad made a comment that was so spot on true.  He said… “and you thought SELLING your house was tough.”  He couldn’t be more right.  BUYING a house, especially one that you want to be in for 15-20 years, is a huge task, especially in this market where the inventory of homes is less than scarce. 

But I’m trying to change my attitude as of late and remember how fortunate we are to be in this position.  So here’s to waiting and lots of good old fashioned patience!

 

3. The kids finished up preschool early in June and we went to their “graduation” ceremony.  It was the cutest thing on the planet.  They all had home made caps (complete with a tassel made out of yarn) they wore on their heads and these white little cloaks that acted as their gowns. The marched out to the traditional graduation music and each waited as their teacher called them up to get their diploma.  Then we got to watch a video presentation that the high school students put together of all the preschoolers. 

During the video they went around and asked all the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Addison responded that she wanted to be a Mommy and Ethan said he wanted to be a Daddy.  I was the proudest Mommy in the world at that moment.  And the video caught them at candid moments, so it wasn’t like they were copying each others answers…

They also got a really neat scrapbook of pictures from their year of school.  The high schoolers made each child their own unique scrapbook, which is awesome.  They made such good friends with high school students.  There were a couple in particular that couldn’t get enough of our kids.  They took about 20 pictures with them after the ceremony and kept giving them hugs and didn’t want to say good bye.  It was neat to talk with them about how Ethan and Addison interacted with each other at school.  I never got a chance to see them at school, so I didn’t know if they stuck together the whole time or if they did their own separate thing.  One of the student teachers said that they always were looking out for each other.  They would play with other kids or on their own, but were always conscience of each other and made sure they got their turn with something or didn’t get left out. And when Addison fell down and scrapped her knee one day, Ethan was right there beside her giving her hugs and telling her it would be okay.  SO SWEET.  Another proud Mommy moment.

I can’t believe their first year of school is over.  It went by way too fast.  BUT… I do have to admit that I am loving summer break.  We can be lazy in the mornings and I don’t feel like I’m such a taxi driver.  It’s great!

 

4. We’ve taken LOTS of trips out to my parents place while in the rental.  They have plenty of room and beds for us to sleep there now, and it’s such a nice house, that most of the time I don’t want to ever leave.  We usually crash their place every other weekend.  I figure we’d wear out our welcome if we tried to go there every weekend. Smile 

 

5. In January I finally made the big commitment to lose weight.  Through healthy eating and eventually walking on the treadmill, I have lost 32 pounds thus far.  I still would like to lose another 8-10 pounds, so the adventure is not over yet.  It’s been wonderful to finally get my body in shape after a 5 year child rearing hiatus.  I will never look like I did pre-pregnancy, but at least I am more healthy now and don’t have quite as much excess weight to carry around.

And because I dropped so much weight, I had no clothes to speak of for the summer so I decided a shopping spree was in order.  After all, the only clothes I had bought in 5 years were maternity and frumpy Target clearance items.  Blah.  My Mom, Kahly, Kyra and I headed to San Diego for 4 days of sun, shopping and relaxation.  It was a PERECT trip.  I loved every second of it.  My Mom and sisters were so patient with me while I tried about a thousand different pieces of clothing, but it was wonderful to have them there to help me get over insecurities and find clothes that fit me great.  I took a nearly empty giant suitcase with me and filled it to capacity for the return trip home. Between the four of us a small fortune was spent in San Diego, but man, was it worth it.  Like I said, PERFECT trip.

 

6. A few fun family changes took place over the past 6 months too.  Josh got engaged to Kensie, and they are set to married in Arizona on August 20th.  Tara and Jess are expecting a baby girl in mid July.  The family is growing!!! YEAH!  And Matt and D and kids have been up here for a visit since the end of May.  The kids have LOVED having their cousins here to play with.  We will be very sad when they have to go back to NM. 

 

That’s enough for now.  There is still much to report on, and literally thousands of pictures to go through, but at least I’ve made the initial leap.

I finally compiled all of November.  Click on the links below to travel back in time a few months. 

 

Trip to Portland

 

First Snow

 

Thanksgiving at the Wheeler House

 

Thanksgiving with the Ulmer Family

 

Bounce House

 

Cutting Down a Christmas Tree

 

Grandma Ulmer’s Birthday

 

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Last night was not one of the best nights of my life, nor was it one of Austin’s.  Austin got a regular cold on Sunday night and had a stuffy nose and cough Monday and Tuesday.  Then at about 4 pm on Tuesday he got a low grade fever.  Then at 5 pm he started to wheeze a little while breathing.  And then his breathing started escalate.  By 7:30 pm he was breathing so fast and wheezing so bad that I called into the nurse hotline to get some advice on what to do.  I timed his breathing at about 55 breaths per minute.  I knew it was too high.  And the nurse got back to me and told me to take him to the new Seattle Children’s Urgent Care in Bellevue.

 

Marc and Julia came over to be at the house with the twins so that DJ and I could both take Austin.  As soon as we got there they did a quick listen to his chest out in the lobby and then hurried to get him a room.  Everyone was so helpful and considerate and that goes such a long way in those situations.  He had about 3 doctors and nurses around him in the room and they were hooking him up to monitors and listening and relistening to his chest.  They said he was working super hard just to get the little bit of oxygen he was getting.  So they gave him a breathing device that had some meds in it that he had to have on his face for an hour.  During that time he stretched out and dozed for about 20 minutes, all the while breathing so fast and hard that I couldn’t believe what I was watching.  You could literally see his body fighting to take a breath.  And the wheezing was so loud and intense that I laid my hand on his chest and felt the vibrations from within.  It was awful.  I felt so helpless.  But at least I knew he was in the best hands possible. 

 

After an hour on the breathing meds, he still hadn’t improved enough for the doctors liking.  So she recommended us admitting him to the Seattle Children’s hospital in Seattle.  And because he needed constant oxygen, we had to go in an ambulance.  So we strapped his car seat to their stretcher and Austin and I went in the ambulance while DJ went back home to get some overnight things for us in case we had to stay the whole night at the hospital. 

 

While in the ambulance Austin started to throw up.  EVERYTHING came up and it was so sad.  He was covered and got it all over his “blue blankie”, which is his favorite and a major comfort to him.  I felt so bad for him.  It was 10:30 at this point and he hadn’t slept hardly at all, felt miserable, had puke all over him and no blankie to keep him comforted. Sad smile

 

At the hospital they got him all cleaned up and hooked back up to monitors.  The wheezing in his chest had subsided quite a bit, but he was still working hard to breath.  The doc listened to his chest and said that since the wheezing was gone she could now here something else going on in there.  A type of crackling sound.  So off we went to get a chest x-ray. 

 

He was such a trooper.  Didn’t even fuss one bit about sitting in an awkward chair and having his arms pinned up.  The nurses couldn’t believe how well he did.  They all raved about how he won the “best patient of the night” award.  He really was an angel boy through everything, especially considering how horrible he must have felt.

The chest x-ray confirmed what the doctors were thinking.  He has pneumonia.  And the rate at which it developed and set in on him was of concern.  It happened so fast.  They were very glad we brought him in when we did.  So was I.

 

Thankfully, his breathing started to slow and he became stable enough for us to go home at about 1:30 am.  We got a prescription for amoxicillin and an inhaler with some medicine that he could orally breath in for the wheezing.   DJ came back to the hospital (Ethan and Addison in tow) to pick us up and we finally were home at about 2 am.  Austin fell asleep right away, but unfortunately did not sleep well last night. I think he woke up about 6 times from 2-7 am.  He has been dead on his feet all day because of the exhaustion and the sickness.  We’ve had to administer the wheezing meds twice so far because his breathing has been too fast.  But they said that was to be expected.

 

I’m hopeful that he’ll get a decent nights sleep tonight and that will make a huge difference for him.  We have a follow up appointment in the morning with his regular doc to recheck his lungs.  Despite being super cranky  and still breathing irregularly, he is stable and in good spirits.  He’s played most of the day, but not without lots of meltdowns and snuggles in between. 

 

It was such a scary night and I’m so glad it’s over and he’s going to be ok.  You just can’t mess around with pneumonia in little kids.  Especially when it’s such a rapid developing one.  It’s an experience I hope we never have to repeat!!!  I never want to see any of my kids that sick again. No thank you!

 

I love you Austin!  You are my sweetest boy.

DJ had a little too much time on his hands last night and doctored up this photo of Addison.  Black and white with the blue eyes.  But the blue eyes don’t stand out enough in my opinion, sorry DJ. Smile Cutest girl ever though.

 

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3 days and 2 nights later, Austin is potty trained! Wahoo!  Actually, he was trained that first day within about an hour.  Since those first two accidents on the morning of the first day he has not had any day time accident since.  Nights are a different story though.  But we KNEW going into this that night times would be a tough thing for him.  I remember it took Ethan quite some time before it finally clicked for him at night.

So, we’ll just keep working with him at night.  Our routine now is to wake him up a couple hours after going down to go potty and then just keeping an ear out in the morning hours for when he normally does his peep and poop.  Last night was a definite improvement over the first night, so we’ll just hope for improvement each night.  He was wet at about 11 pm, but then was dry at 6 and 7 am and didn’t have a poopy accident in the morning hours like the first night. 

I’m so proud of him!  He caught on instantly and hasn’t looked back since.  He even stays dry during his naps, so I know it’s just a matter of time for the nights.  He’s a potty training rock star!!!

 

Actually, as I am typing this, he just got himself up and went potty (he’s been in bed for 30 minutes).  YEAH!  Baby steps! Smile

 

Here he is on Day 1, in his big boy underwear.  I thought the shirt was quite appropriate for the days event.  It such a cute shirt to begin with, and it fit right in perfectly.

 

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I decided to “catch up” a little differently this go around.  Since I was so far behind and had so much to post, I went ahead and posted everything back on the date it actually took place.  So I just finished October.  Here are links to all the recent new posts for October 2010.  One month down, two more to go…

 

The Kids Birthday Party

 

Pumpkin Patch

 

Carving Pumpkins

 

While I Was Out of Town

 

Kids Halloween School Party

 

Our Halloween Party

 

Other Halloween Events

Today was a big day in our little world.  It was the first day of a 3 day “boot camp” to potty train Austin.  I had originally wanted to do it last weekend, but I got really sick so I had to postpone a week. 

Austin and I began this morning by changing his last diaper and then throwing away all remaining diapers in the house.  He then picked out a pair of big boy underwear from the stack of clean pairs that had been waiting for him the past couple of weeks.  Then we went downstairs and taped the sticker chart up to the window and got out all the stickers in preparation for a successful day.

So how did he do?

 

AMAZING!

 

While eating breakfast he had two small peep accidents.  We hurried and changed into dry pairs and talked about keeping his underwear dry.  The two accidents happened within 10 minutes of each other and they were both really small so I’m thinking he was just testing out the whole “underwear thing” at first.  After those two accidents he has had a spotless record the rest of the day.  NO ACCIDENTS!  Can you believe it?  I still can’t.  He even took a nap for two hours and was totally dry when he woke up, something that has never happened before.

 

He pooped on the potty two times and did about 15 peeps.  His sticker chart for today is FULL.  He earned two toys for the poops and had a blast picking out a sticker each time he did a peep.  I am amazed at how quickly it clicked for him.  This lady whose book I use for potty training does say that it’s easier when they are a little younger, like from 2 to 2 1/2 yrs old.  The older they get the more resistant they can become.  He was obviously very ready!  He probably could have done it pre holiday time, but I just wasn’t ready to tackle it at that time.

 

I’m trying not to get too excited because there is a very good chance he will regress over the next two days, but for now I’m a happy Mommy.  Day ONE, CHECK! 

 

Tonight could get interesting…