Sunday, February 28, 2010

In church last week . . .

Jesus? Pretty dress?

Mom Jeans

The decision to have a child is a big one.  Several questions need to be addressed.

Am I ready to be a parent? 

Am I able to financially support a child?

Am I ok with my body never being the same ever again?  Maybe I should adopt so I can keep my smoking hot body.

Are parents really serious when they say newborns make you sleep deprived?  If so, am I ready for that?  I like sleep!

What if there is something medically wrong with my child?

And the list could go on.  Once all these questions are answered in the affirmative the next question a woman needs to ask herself is

Am I ready to give all my attention to a self centered and demanding little person? 

Am I ok with “mom furniture?”  (This is furniture that has been antiqued with love by one’s own offspring.)

The most important question of all is:

Am I ready for mom jeans?

I know what you’re thinking.  Mom jeans are not part of the baby package.  Oh yes they are.  Every mom has something equivalent to mom jeans. 

My mom jeans started out as ponytails.  I had long hair after my first was born.  Long hair only looks good when it is styled in some way.  There are only a select few women who can wash and go with long hair and have it look sensational.  I am not one of those women. 

I swore I would never be the mom who had a baby and then got a haircut.  Despite my best efforts not to I resorted to ponytails on the days when I had nowhere to go.  I thought it was ok because I put myself together most of the time I went out.  I held onto my long hair for three months.  Then I had it cut into a stylishly short bob.  The bob forced me to do my hair every day.  Mom jean danger averted.

My long hair has come back several times since then.  I have it chopped off every time I go back to daily ponytails.  Mom jean danger still averted.

What I didn’t realize was that I was still holding onto mom jeans.

After conquering ponytails, glasses became my mom jeans.  It was too much effort to put in my gas permeable (hard) contact lenses every day.  I had a baby.  Who was I trying to impress by sticking a thick piece of uncomfortable plastic into my eyes every day? 

My glasses were cute and stylish.  About nine years ago.  Three kids later the anti glare film has nearly scratched off completely.  The wire frames have been adjusted and bent back into some semblance of normalcy countless times from Costco, where I purchased the glasses. 

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There is a small crack in the top of one lens.  The purple paint has worn off on the temple pieces.  The nose guards are full of green gunk I cannot clean out.  The prescription isn’t even accurate.  I don’t remember how this happened but the prescription for my glasses and contacts are slightly different. 

Somehow I could not give up the ease and convenience of slipping on a pair of glasses every morning rather than taking an extra five minutes to put in contacts.  Every time I thought I needed to quit wearing my glasses like a security blanket I would pull out the contacts.  The second they were in my eyes were screaming like I had just inserted a piece of sandpaper rather than a contact lens. 

I complained to my ophthalmologist.  He suggested I have them polished.  This was done but I still couldn’t keep them in my eyes for more than an uncomfortable hour. 

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This is one of my favorite pictures of me with my husband.  Luckily it’s not obvious that my eyes were bloodshot and watery with offensively irritating contacts in.  I put the lenses in five minutes before leaving the house for the portrait appointment.  An hour or so later we were finished.  I beelined for the bathroom to relieve my war ravished eyes that I’m surprised weren’t bleeding they hurt so badly.  I could barely keep my eyes opened enough to blink out the lenses which felt like they were glued to my eyeballs at that point.  The sigh of relief from my eyes was audible. 

There was never a defining moment when I knew I was ready to peel off the mom jean glasses.  Last weekend my husband told me he wanted me to have soft contacts and before I could come up with a lame excuse about being afraid to stick my finger in my eye (GP lenses jump on the eye to get in and easily blink out.  The finger doesn’t really even come close to being in the eye.) he had made an appointment for me with an optometrist since ophthalmologists don’t do anything as mundane as fitting patients for soft contacts. 

I have been loving the soft lenses ever since. 

I had no trouble getting the lenses in my eyes like Nia Vardalos’ character did in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  But I sure thought of that scene every night when I couldn’t get the stupid things out.  Try shoving your fingers in your eye to pinch off a soft contact lens without blinking in self defense! 

The glasses have been ditched.  Ok, I still wear them at night but it’s difficult to see out of scratched glasses when I have been able to see clearly all day.  New glasses will be purchased soon.  Every night is a Flowers for Algernon feeling. 

My eyes are visible again.  The bags under my eyes have disappeared simply by taking off beat up glasses that gave the appearance of sleep deprivation.  My wedding ring has been repaired after a prong bent and I lost a baguette.  The ring sparkles on my finger announcing that I am off the market and I look good.  Geek to chic has never looked better!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Noah?

This morning we actually played at the playground with our friends. We haven't done that in months because of the rain. It was fairly warm but pretty breezy. Then the sky turned scary gray and the wind really picked up. Large branches were falling off of trees. I'm not making this up! We all decided it was time to go home.

I know I posted this picture before. I'm posting it again because this is basically what our little corner of the world looks like as of a couple hours ago.

Wally Weatherman said to expect 40 mph wind and enough rain to have to turn the wipers all the way on. Too much rain for the delay feature. He wasn't kidding!

We were pretty wet by the time we got up to the school. And drenched before we made it back to the van.

It's hard to tell they are all wet because you can't see any dry spots. But we were all completely soaked. The peel clothes off inside out because they won't come off any other way sort of soaked. Wring clothes, shoes and socks out sort of soaked.
Gwen grabbed her Noah's Ark cloth boat for her nap! Good idea. Noah?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Say What

G:  What happens when your dad, or your grandpa, or your brother dies?
M:  That would be sad.
G:  But who would be your dad, or your grandpa, or your brother?

G:  Why does it say the goal is to read 15 minutes a night?  It’s not always night you know!

The last two mornings I have heard the sounds of three distinct giggles as I step out of the shower.  Yesterday the giggles were coming from behind Gwen’s closed door.  I opened it to see all three kids on the floor playing with toys.  The light was off. 

This morning I heard Gwen’s little voice just outside my room. 
M:  Parker, do you remember when you used to ask if you could open Gwen’s door?  Why don’t you ask anymore?
P:  When I just hear her in the morning I just open her door.
It could be worse.  She could still be a baby and I could worry about her falling down the stairs.  It’s simply a lack of respect that her brothers have for her right to sleep. 

P:  Gwen is sharing Jessie with me.
He thinks if Jessie is sitting there Gwen must be sharing!

P:  You know the lights were not working?
M:  What lights aren’t working?
P:  The lights and the lectricity wasn’t working.
M:  What are you talking about? 
P:  I was just disappointed and at night I just heared Dad come up the stairs and he gived us flashlights.
M:  That happened last summer.  Maybe the summer before! 

Gwen:  Wait a me!  Wait a me!  (Wait for me)

At the playground with her head in a tunnel slide
Gwen:  Parker, I yuh you! 

On a toy cell phone
Gwen:  Parker, I yuh you.  Gahin, I yuh you.  Ok, bye.

Gwen:  Wook at that!  Train fall down.
M:  Did your train fall off the track?
Gwen:  Yes.

Gwen thinks every large truck is a firefighter truck.  We see a lot of delivery type trucks as we drive.  The kids were thrilled when we saw firefighters at the grocery store.  Gavin couldn’t believe they were shopping.  I told him they need to eat too.  When we were leaving the firefighters noticed Gwen getting all excited about the truck so they stopped for her to get a good look and they waved to her so she waved back.

Gwen:  Comb a hair!
M:  No, it’s my turn then it can be your turn.
Gwen:  Mommy’s turn?  Comb a hair? 

Yesterday Parker cried for 40 minutes straight because I let Gwen hold her Jessie doll when we went to get Gavin from school. 

Gavin had a homework assignment about the Olympics.  He was supposed to pick a sport he would like to do in the Olympics and write about it and draw a picture.  He wrote, “I want to carry the torch because I’m too scared to ski.”  He pointed to a stick figure with a frowny face falling down a mountain and said, “That’s me skiing and I don’t look good.”  Then he pointed at a smiling stick figure holding the torch and said, “That’s me carrying the torch and I look good.” 

G:  That’s not a good movie.  It will give you nightmares.  Parker, do you know what nightmares are?  It’s a bad dream.

P:  This is not a good movie for kids! 
M:  Why?
P:  Because the rabbit is just mean to that turtle.  (Disney’s Tortoise and the Hare)

Gwen says naughty nose for snotty nose.

G:  Mommy!  Everyone can just see you!  Nobody wants to stare at you!
This is because I wouldn’t let him turn off my light so he could make a theater.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What we’ve been up to

The birthday festivities are finally over.  Thank goodness!  Yesterday the UPS man delivered the last birthday package right as we were getting home from the library.  The kids thought they would die before Heath got home to watch Gwen open the last of her gifts. 

Heath and I congratulate ourselves for nailing it on the perfect gifts for Gwen but Parker is having trouble dealing.  Parker and Gwen play with toys in the same way.  They also like similar types of toys.  He can barely contain his excitement and impulse to play with her toys. 

We saw that we could buy Jessie from Toy Story 2.  We decided it would solve a lot of sibling rivalry since Gwen is always stealing Woody from Parker.  Now Parker is stealing Jessie from Gwen!  He says he wants a Jessie doll for his birthday.  He also cannot wait for his birthday.  It’s going to be a long 5 months I can tell.  Hopefully a trip to Disneyland will take the edge off.  Hopefully. 

Jessie-and-Princess-dress-003 Jessie-and-Princess-dress-011 Jessie-and-Princess-dress-008 Jessie-and-Princess-dress-018 Jessie-and-Princess-dress-019 Jessie-and-Princess-dress-025

Santa gave Gwen a doll for Christmas.  We thought it was the best gift ever for a girl so in love with “babies.”  The doll has never held any magic for her.  Gwen just loves to chew the doll’s hair out of her head while she sleeps.  I have a friend with a thing for biting.  Maybe I need to have a chat with her about Gwen’s obsessive biting and chewing of things like doll hair or stuffed animal sheep fur. 

Even though Gwen couldn’t care less about her Christmas doll she is so in love with her Jessie doll.  She recognized right away that it was Jessie.  She hugs Jessie and even made me kiss Jessie goodnight too.  The trick is getting Parker to let Gwen play with Jessie.  I thought they would play together.  Parker could play with Woody and Buzz and Gwen could have Jessie.  If only dreams could come true . . .

The princess dress, something we thought Gwen would lose her mind over, took backseat to Jessie.  Gwen likes the dress and in a few days I’m sure she will be begging me to help her put on her “pretty dress.”   Until then it’s all about Jessie. 

Yesterday Gwen visited the doctor.  I love this pediatrician as much as I loved the pediatrician we left in Utah.  It’s fun that her youngest is only a couple months younger than Gwen.  I was sad when the doctor said that I don’t need to make another appointment for Gwen for another year.  How did the time fly?  No more sweet doctor telling me over and over how cute and smart my kids are for a year.  Ok, I will see her again in July for the boys.  Phew!

Gwen’s stats:

height 36.5” (98%)
weight 29 lbs (78%)
head 19” (71%)

The nurse had me lay Gwen on the table to measure her height.  I was trying to straighten out her head while he was trying to push her up higher so her legs would fit.  We realized about the same time what was happening.  He said, “She’s too tall for this.  We’ll have to measure her outside.”  So Gwen stood against the wall like the big kids. 

The doctor says that Gwen is right on target developmentally.  She also kept commenting on how tall Gwen is.  She must belong to me and Heath.  All our kids are tall and thin. 

What else has been going on? 

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Hugs.  Oh so many hugs for no reason.  Hugs and I yuh you’s.  This is extra special to me since I grew up in a family where our only physical contact was to hit each other.  I can count on one hand the times I have hugged my brother.  I can count on one hand with a couple fingers missing the times I hugged my sister.  And I love you’s?  I’m not sure I have ever said those words to my siblings even though I do love them a lot.  These pictures of Gwen hugging her brothers mean a lot to me. 

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These were taken on Gwen’s birthday.  Not a new bike.  Parker got it for his second birthday and Gwen took over possession of it at least a year ago.  I just thought I should get a picture of her riding it on her birthday. 

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Creativity.  Oh so much creativity.  Gavin covered our back patio in chalk drawn games.  They were all washed away in the rain yesterday.  The other day he made himself a paper parrot which he expertly taped to his shoulder.  Then he made a paper sword.  He put on his pirate hat and dragged in a large box from the garage.  He sat in his “pirate ship” and imagined the afternoon away. 

We have played with friends and each other, gone to the library once a week and run errands.  My kids are so great.  By the end of each day I’m ready to lose my mind, if I haven’t already but those kids really are pretty great.

Educational Accountability

Overparenting and underthinking can be a deadly combination.  Yet these philosophies have been plaguing the school system for years. 

As a former educator I am outraged by all the cuts to education across the nation.  I am even more outraged by the prospect of more cuts.  It makes me think of the Teacher’s Creed

We, the willing, led by the unqualified, have been doing the unbelievable for so long with so little, we now attempt the impossible with nothing.

All parents are upset by these budget cuts.  But what really gets me is the parents who can’t think for themselves.  The parents who blindly donate every time the schools ask for it.  The parents who participate in every fund raiser.  Bill Engvall nailed it when he said that schools “turn kids into little Amway people.” 

There is nothing wrong with fundraisers per se but I want to know where that money is going to.  My son’s school boasts raising tens of thousands of dollars on one fundraiser alone.  There are many others that are also quite successful.  The school congratulates themselves on the thousands of dollars they have saved by making the school newsletter a blog.  I see no accountability for this money.  What I do see is parents losing their minds trying to pressure every parent to fill out an anonymous survey concerning “possible” budget cuts in addition to the millions of dollars already cut. 

I filled out the survey because a friend of mine, whose children attend a different school within the same district, said the survey has space for comments.  The survey was ridiculous.  How will cutting different programs affect my one student who attends the school.  He’s in first grade and is not old enough to even qualify for many of the programs they were considering cutting.  How can I answer?  My other son will enter kindergarten next year.  How do I know how these cuts may or may not affect him?  It felt like I was being tricked.  That the district had set up the survey in such a way to get the responses they wanted. 

Some of the proposed cuts were difficult for me only because I taught Elementary school in Utah.  Utah is one of the lowest states in the nation when it comes to funding.  As a product of Utah public education myself, I remember when PE teachers were cut.  I don’t remember school nurses, music teachers or science teachers etc.  When I taught these resources of course were not in place.  The year before I started my teaching career we lost librarians, the last resource not expected to be handled by regular classroom teachers.  Survey questions asking about the severity of impact cutting these resources has on my student makes me want to scream It can be done!  I’ve done it!  With no less than 30 students in my classroom too.  Classroom ratios in my son’s school rose from 1:20 to 1:25.  They want to increase more because they want to pink slip more teachers to save money. 

But in reality, why are these educators being cut at all?  Couldn’t we possibly cut administrators instead?  Last year we had a difficult year with a teacher who was well past her prime.  The principal was amazing in dealing with the situation.  I am saddened to see him burned out and retiring a good 10-15 years early at the end of this school year.  Dynamic principals like him are few and far between.  Trust me, I started working in schools when I was in high school.  The situation last year was hell to put it mildly.  While the principal was an incredible advocate for our son, my husband made the point that we never saw anyone from the district.  The district administrators should be making the principals’ jobs easier so they have the time to do what he did for us last year. 

The survey question regarding cutting reading specialists was also a difficult one to answer.  My son is not in need of a reading specialist.  Since my 4 year old is already starting to read, I doubt he will need this resource either.  What made it hard was I also have a mild/moderate Special Education degree.  The year I taught Resource I was so grateful for the reading specialist who was able to take a few of my students and teach them more than I was capable of given my time constraints.  I had to pull small groups of children out of class all day.  These students saw me for 30 minutes at a time.  There was no other way to do it.  I was teaching K-4th grade and the IEP’s (individual education plans) for these students were such that I could not group any other way or have the time to teach a class for longer than 30 minutes.  So I had to comment on possibly cutting essential educators like reading specialists. 

I have heard that my son’s school is the site for students with severe disabilities.  These students come, not only from this school district, but also surrounding cities.  There are no buses in this district.  Parent volunteers drive for field trips.  But when I heard that the students with severe disabilities are not bused in I was shocked.  That is illegal.  At least in Utah it is.  Those students have the right to transportation provided by the school district.  Special Education law was put into place to ensure every student, regardless of ability, has the right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.  But parents carpool these students to school.  Most likely they were told the district had to make more devastating budget cuts and they agreed to carpooling. 

A friend of mine has a daughter with Type 1 diabetes.  Her school district is going through similar budget cuts.  School nurses are on the chopping block.  My friend is overwhelmed dealing with two children recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  She said she would be willing to go into the school three times a day to test her 5 year old daughter’s blood sugar.  Another one of her friends suggested that she work with other mothers of diabetics in the school and they could all take turns checking the kids’ blood sugar.  No!  I told her to put her foot down and demand that the district provide someone for her daughter.  They are legally obligated to do so.  I haven’t heard back about what is happening. 

Parents have got to stop doing the school’s job.  Parents have also got to stop accepting the garbage the district is feeding us regarding budget cuts.  I heard a teacher on the news this morning from another city in California, say that the administrators need to show accountability for funds.  He said they need to show everywhere they have cut back that has nothing to do with the classroom and then he would be willing to “talk turkey” as he put it.  I was shaking my fist and yelling Yes!  I filled out this survey last night and all these emotions have been boiling up ever since.  Finally a news story on education that involves some actual thinking!  

One of the last questions on the survey asked about donating money.  List the five programs you would be willing to donate money to support.  How much would you be willing to donate?  In other I wrote No accountability for funds.  At the end of the survey I commented that administrators should be cut before teachers.  Administrators have virtually no impact on my child’s educational experience compared to the significant impact teachers have.  I also suggested that if administrators could not pare down to what is feasible they should consider taking a pay cut before cutting teachers.  What I should have also said was that teachers shouldn’t have to take pay cuts by cutting hours and school days before the administration makes some sacrifices.  I also said that I knew many parents would be interested in some accountability for funds raised and money saved. 

A friend of mine in the district said that her school is constantly soliciting money from parents.  Yet they throw these lavishly expensive luncheons to celebrate teachers.  Where is the accountability? 

My husband and I agree that schools would be more effective if they were run like a business.  We blame schools for not teaching this! 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Let the festivities last forever!

Gwen’s happy birthday is today.  At 8:03 am she officially became a two year old. 

Saturday night we decided we couldn’t handle the anticipation any longer.  I suggested we let her open her gift from Grandma and Grandpa.  I knew that Grandma had made her a “pretty dress” and I didn’t want to make Gwen wait another week to wear it to church.  She was pretty excited to see a “pretty dress” and even more excited when her daddy put it on over her pajamas to see if it fit. 

Gwen understood when I told her that she could wear it the next day at church.  No surprise that as soon as the boys opened her door Sunday morning, she ran to get me and pointed at her closet saying over and over, “Pretty dress!  Pretty dress!”  I was hoping she could eat her breakfast in her pajamas.  Good thing we have some awesome towel bibs so her dress was spared a cereal/milk bath.

Heath said that Gwen saw her friend, Rebekah, and twirled in front of her!  Heath and I had to laugh over that one.  Yes, I foster her vanity but I never taught her to twirl in a dress.  Proof that vanity is innate in some girls!

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The dress is adorable.  It has butterflies all over it.  Gwen loves butterflies.  As you can see, it also has three twirly ruffles.  So feminine and perfect for Gwen.  She looked so cute with white tights and her shiny, black patent leather shoes.

Heath wanted to party it up on Sunday because he had to work today even though Gavin got the day off.  Didn’t we just celebrate President’s Day?  I don’t know why he got Washington’s birthday off too.  That’s weird.  We almost never celebrate anything on the actual day so I was fine with that.  The decision to celebrate yesterday was the silver lining to ultimate child meltdown!  At least there was no school today. 

Anyway . . .

Here are some pictures.

hugs-and-Gwen's-2-bday-016 I think Gavin was more excited than Gwen was!  He has been planning and anticipating her birthday for over a month. 

hugs-and-Gwen's-2-bday-018 Heath did his home teaching yesterday and came home with this hat, given to us by a sister he teaches.  Perfect timing right?

hugs-and-Gwen's-2-bday-020 Gavin is a sweetheart.  He wanted to buy something for Gwen.  He sacrificed from his allowance he is saving to spend at Disneyland and bought Gwen some M&M’s.  He wanted to get her some Disney Princess Band-Aids but they were $5.  We tried to talk Parker out of buying some Scooby Doo Band-Aids for himself.  Gavin got more out of the speech than Parker did.  Parker bought the Band-Aids and Gavin decided to buy Gwen something cheaper since she still has all her Barbie Band-Aids from Christmas.  She was thrilled with the peanut butter M&M’s.

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hugs-and-Gwen's-2-bday-028 I made a little important information book for Gwen.  I used the Cricut to illustrate Gwen and her brothers and other things so she can learn her address, phone number, birth date, etc.  I put the pages in a 4x6 photo album so I can change out the address and phone number if we move.  This picture is Gwen recognizing herself in Cricut cartoon form!

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Parker’s turn sitting next to the birthday girl.

hugs-and-Gwen's-2-bday-045 Uncontainable joy over the Little People fairy tree house.

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Don’t you just love watching your children play?  It is too sweet.

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I told Gwen I wanted to take a picture of her face and she gave me this cheesecake pose!  Silly girl.

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I had to get some cake shots.  No, I did not get any pictures or video of her blowing out the princess candles on her train cake.  I also did not get any pictures of the train cake because Heath said it was a train wreck.  The idea was great.  It was super creative and would have looked fabulous except the cake was too soft and crumbly making it difficult to smooth out the frosting.  It tasted good though. 

The kids were all overtired and wired for bedtime.  The boys wanted to play with Gwen’s toys.  Gwen wanted to play with her toys.  I made the mistake of setting up her train track and all three kids went nuts.  We finally got kids into bed.  Only Gwen refused to get into bed.  So I turned off her light and shut the door.  She has a nightlight.  It wasn’t like she was going to be playing in the dark.  She lost it.  I got her into bed kicking and screaming.

Ten minutes later it sounded like we were torturing her.  She would not stop hysterically screaming.  Heath went up to deal with her and gave into her by letting her have her entire train in bed with her.  That was not good enough.  She wanted the track too.  We may be pushover parents sometimes but that was where Heath drew the line!  No train track in bed.  Obviously we got her some great gifts.  Too bad the rest of them won’t show up until tomorrow.  She gets a princess dress and Jessie from Toy Story so she’ll stop stealing Woody from Parker! 

We figure July is birthday month for the boys and we basically celebrate all month.  So it’s ok that Gwen has been celebrating her birthday for days now. 

Happy birthday Gwen.  We sure love you.

She's Mine!

For the last hour I have been cropping Gwen's happy birthday photos in Photoshop to share. We took several pictures and video last night of her birthday party. I'll get into all of that and why we celebrated her birthday early in another post.

I made sure to get some cute pictures this morning of Gwen in the new outfit my mom sent. I have been near tears ever since! This adorable little girl is mine. I can't get over it. She is my baby, who really isn't much of a baby anymore.

First of all, the outfit is so cute I can't stand it! My mom was so worried it wouldn't fit because Gwen has been in size 3T for about 6 months now. It fits perfectly and will be fun for her to wear when it warms up. For now she is wearing it inside.

Funny side note about weather . . . I talked to my sister last week. She was cooped up in her house with her baby girl. I was outside while Parker and Gwen played. She was so jealous that my kids can play outside in February! I jokingly told her that she needs to move. Apparently she talked to my mom later and said, "That's it. We're moving to California!" If only she could! Well Candi if it makes you feel any better today is the nicest day for the next week with a high of 61. The rest of the week should be rainy and cold again.

As I was taking these pictures I could not believe how grown up Gwen looks. She looks every bit the two years old she is.



When I was pregnant with Gwen I would try to make out her face in ultrasound pictures. She was very uncooperative when it came to fetal photos. If the rare occurance came when she would allow her face to show the picture came out so fuzzy.

There was no way I could imagine what she would look like. The boys have always looked the way they do now. Even in ultrasound pictures they look the same. But black and white ultrasound pictures make it hard to imagine what one's child will look like once they are born.

I assumed Gwen was going to be blonde. Gavin and Parker were so why not go for broke and have a blonde girl too. It shouldn't matter but it thrills me to no end that she has been brunette all along. Her hair is my hair. Except she has been blessed with curls while I paid $80 a year to achieve the same look. She is my only child with brown eyes too. My brown eyed girl.

I stared at all my babies faces wondering what they would look like when they got older. They look the same but somehow when they're little it's hard to imagine them looking more mature. I never would have guessed that baby girl I held in my arms two years ago would ever look like the Little Miss I am in awe of every day.

Still pretty attached to those fingers.

She is too cute.


And she's all mine!