Monday, April 30, 2012

A short visit with family


This weekend we had eight (8!!!) of Mark’s family members drive down from southern IL to visit us here in Montgomery.  Ben was a tad bit overwhelmed when they all got here and he started to cry, which kind of surprised me.  He’s never done it before and I didn’t think he was old enough at 4.5 months old to really be that aware/affected by what’s going on around him.  He was not a happy boy when I passed him off the first time.  He adjusted pretty quickly to having everyone around though.


Everyone, with the exception of Mark’s mom, was meeting Ben for the first time.  And some of them were meeting Abbie for the first time.  We hadn’t seen some of his family since the year we got married (almost 6 years ago).  Gotta love the military lifestyle.



Abbie had loads of fun in the pool at their hotel.  She had lots of fun with Mark’s cousin, Paige.  When someone was quizzing Abbie on everyone’s names, Abbie said, “She’s Paige, like in a book!”.  And Abbie always has fun with her grandma Donna.  They played in the pool quite a bit!



We got some 4 generation pictures also.  Mark’s mom’s dad is 93 year old, so we were especially excited that he was able to make the 8+ hour trip down to meet his great grandson for the first time.  And Abbie really her great-grandpa “Papa” too.  She would randomly crawl into his lap and snuggle up to him.  It was really sweet.  Mark’s dad’s parents also came down too.


They had fun feeding Ben and passing him around so everyone got a chance to hold him and he did pretty well with all the attention.  He’s a funny boy because he doesn’t at all like to be held when he wants to go to sleep.  He gets really fussy and wiggly and starts throwing his head around, and that’s our cue to put him down somewhere – bed, car seat, stroller – anywhere but your arms.  Silly boy.  But he definitely likes to eat!


We’ll be seeing Mark’s parents again in less than a month, but hopefully it won’t be another 5 years until we see everyone else!  We all had a good time visiting.  Goodbyes are never easy, especially when you don’t know when you’ll see them again.




Friday, April 27, 2012


1. Do you make your kids finish all the food on their plates?  Sometimes, not always.  Abbie takes about 4 years to eat one meal and she’s very quick to say she’s done and then 10 minutes later want a snack, which drives me batty.  I make her at least try everything and I make her eat enough of what she likes so she’s not hungry again in an hour.  But I don’t make her finish everything all the time.
2. Do you give an allowance?  Ha!  No.  But my oldest isn’t yet 3, so I have a while to think about giving allowances.
3. Do you actually park your car in the garage?  Well one of the many wonderful things {sarcasm} about living in Italy is their TINY garages (that don’t have electric garage door openers).  So we park our new car in the garage and our old car in the driveway.
4. What is one food you will NEVER cook?  Lima Beans.  Yuck.
5. Do you have anything exciting planned for the summer?  The BEST thing about living overseas is all the travel opportunities we have.  We didn’t travel at all last summer due to my husband being deployed, so we’re making up for it this year.  We have plans to go to Croatia, The Greek Isles and Turkey on a cruise, Belgium, Pompeii and Ireland.  And maybe Budapest or Vienna if we have any time money left.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ben’s 4 month stats


Today we finally had Ben’s 4 month well baby appointment.  We had to go to family practice for some reason, which was a little bit annoying.  I would have liked him to see a pediatrician for his well baby check, not a family practice doctor, but oh well.  We’ll be back in Italy for his 6 month appointment so I’ll get him with his normal pediatrician then.


I got him his Rotavirus oral vaccine and his PCV shot.  He was all smiles for the oral part but obviously didn’t like the shot too much.  He got over it quickly though.  After his shots, we went back downstairs to the family practice department.  We got checked in, and then they sent us back upstairs to see the doctor because apparently he works in a different department.  ??  The nurse called us back and didn’t even know we were there for a well baby check, so then we had to go back downstairs to get his measurements because they only have infant scales in the peds department.  After we got his measurements we had to go back upstairs to see the doctor, but not before they put us in a room with a treadmill.  ???  It was rather strange to say the least, but whatever.


So now Ben is 14lbs 8oz (naked) and he’s 25.75” long and his head circumference was 17”.  The nurse tried to tell me that he was 27.5” long and I was like, uh… I’m fairly positive that’s not right…  He’s a long baby, but not that long.  The doctor looked him over quickly and said everything looks good.  Looking over Ben’s weight stats from birth, he started off in the 80th % the day he was born.  (I just have big babies.)  At 2 months and 1 week, he’d dropped to the 5%.  (Yikes!!!)  We figured out we needed to put him on formula and by 2 months, 3 weeks he was up to the 10th %.  At 3 months, 2 weeks he was up to the 25% and a month later at 4.5 months he’s in the 37%.  So he’s slowly back on track.  I don’t ever expect him to be in the 80th % again because that’s not his build, but I hope that he’ll continue to gain and get up to the 50th % at least.  In the past 2 months he’s gained 5lbs 6oz’s and considering he’d gained 3 ounces in his first 2 months of life, I’m pretty happy about that almost 5.5lbs!  He’s also in the 75% for length now and he was over the 97% at birth.


Ben has also seemed to turn a corner with his sleep (THANK GOD!!!).  I have no doubt that we’d all be sleeping better if we weren’t sharing a room right now, but we don’t really have any other choice.  We’ve started putting him to bed at 8:30pm and sometimes he’ll wake up and need his paci once or twice during the night.  He’s usually needing a bottle between 4-5am and then I can usually get him to go back to sleep until 8-9am.  So not too bad.  Much better than him waking up every 2 hours or more like he was when we first got here.  He takes a nap sometime late morning from 30min-1hr and then he usually naps for at least 2 hours in the afternoon and then takes a short nap in the evening.  We’re definitely getting his schedule down, and he’s getting more predictable, which is another reason that this is one of my favorite ages.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Montgomery Zoo


Last weekend we took the kids to the Montgomery Zoo.  I wasn’t expecting much since Montgomery is no San Diego or Chicago, but the zoo was pretty decent for a town of this size.


I think my favorite part was the parakeet cage.  There were LOTS of colorful birds in this cage and you could buy these sticks with bird seed stuck on it and the parakeets would come right up and sit on your hand to eat the food.  Abbie was brave at first until the birds landed on her hand… twice… and then she wanted nothing to do with them.  I love her face in this photo.  When she gets nervous or unsure, her hands immediately go in front of her mouth.  ADORABLE!!


My second favorite part was feeding the giraffes.  Abbie fed the giraffes for the first time at the Phoenix Zoo.  She was more brave then.  She was pretty nervous about the giraffes biting her, but they were friendly.  We fed the baby one the most.  I love their tongues!


I used to go to the zoo to take pictures of the animals.  Now I go to the zoo to take pictures of my kids.  I have about 3 pictures of the animals and about 40 of my kids.  Funny how that works.


Mr. Bright EyesIMG_3866

LOVE this picture of Abbie!  Ben was squirmy.IMG_3877

This is how Abbie spent most of her day at the zoo.  Too funny!IMG_3880

I did manage to take one picture of this cat because I loved how he was lounging there.  He was watching an emu in a cage across the way.


PS:  I forgot to put the memory card back in my dSLR so all of these photos were taken with my little Canon.  I was so annoyed that I forgot my other memory card.  Oh well.  Better luck next time.

Friday, April 20, 2012




1. Groceries are high right now what is easiest way you have found to cut back?  I’m terrible at cutting back on groceries, especially right now.  We’re only in the States for 2 months, but I have a place to cook.  It’s amazing how much small stuff you need (spices, sauces, oils, etc) just to make the meals I’m used to making.  I know I’m never going to use them all up, but I’m afraid the food will be pretty bland without them.  I’m interested to see other’s answers though!

2. What are the top 3 things on your "bucket list"?  My top three would be to go on a cruise, to go to Ireland and to buy a house.  We’re doing a Mediterranean Cruise in July and going to Ireland in October, so completely 2 out of the 3 in the next 6 months isn’t too bad!

3. Would you rather give up AC or heat?  Heat.  I feel like I can pack on the layers and use blankets and snuggle with my husband, kiddos and weina dogs to warm up, but there’s not much you can do to cool off quickly.  Our house in Italy has one tiny wall unit for the entire house and we moved our bedroom to the top level of our house, which has very pretty views, but it’s also the highest (hottest) room in the house.  I’m a little nervous about sleeping up there this summer…  I can’t sleep when I’m hot.

4. What's your favorite cocktail??  I can count the number of drinks I’ve had in the past 4 years on one hand.  I’m really not much of a drinker at all, but in college I used to like Captain and Coke’s and I still like strawberry daiquiri’s with whipped cream.

5. What was your first job & how old were you?  My first job was babysitting 2 sets of twins when I was 14/15 years old.  (Same family had 3.5 y.o boy/girl twins and 8 month old boy/girl twins.)  I also worked for my dad as a secretary/receptionist/payroll on and off from 15 – 21.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 2 year itch

No, I’m not referring to my marriage; I am referring to my urge to move.

Mark and I have been together for 7 years, and in that 7 years, we’ve moved 5 times.  Sometimes I think I was made for the military lifestyle because I seriously love moving.  I love the thrill of looking at houses, touring them, imagining how we’re going to put all our stuff into them.  I love exploring new areas and having easy access to new day-trips.  I love meeting new people and making new friends, and the fact that I’m pretty darn good at keeping in touch with my old friends makes it a little bit easier to leave them when we move, although goodbyes are never fun.  I love all the new opportunities that moving to a new place opens up.  All that being said, we’ve been in Italy for 2 years now, the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere, and I’m feeling antsy.

This isn’t helped at ALL by the fact that we’re back in the States now for a short time, and I have been glued to HGTV full time (with a little Food Network sprinkled in).  I dream about owning our own home someday, and I’m hoping at our next base, we will be able to buy a house, instead of rent.  I would say the majority of people my age and in my phase of life spend lots of time browsing Pinterest.  I spend most of my spare time looking at houses for sale in places we could possibly be stationed next, figuring out our budget and what we could get for the money we want to spend.  I absolutely love dreaming about it.  When I was younger I would buy those floor plan magazines that were at the check outs of the home warehouse stores and spend HOURS looking at all the floor plans and deciding what was my favorite and trying to imagine what it would be like if I lived in that house.  I wouldn’t be too surprised if some day I got involved in real estate somehow, because I truly do love it.

I will say, it would be a lot easier to dream if I had any clue of where we’d be stationed next, but I don’t.  I’m fairly certain that we’ll end up back in the States (I hope), but as to where we’ll be, I don’t know, and probably won’t for at least 9 months, if not more.  Asking people to extend seems to be a pretty popular thing to do in Italy right now, so there’s the possibility that we’ll get asked to stay in Italy a little longer.  That might be a little disappointing since I’m excited to move, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing because it would give us longer to save up for more of a down payment on a house, and it would also give Mark more time to get things done for the career path he wants to take with the Air Force.

So our next move is at least a year away.  In the meantime I’ll just continue my dreaming.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Ben’s first encounter with cereal


Our pediatrician told me there are two main signs you look for as far as when to introduce babies to solids.  1.  They have fairly good head control, which Ben does.  2.  That they show an interest in food.

Ben had started watching us pretty carefully when we were eating.  He would watch each bite as we put it in our mouths, so we took that as a sign that he was pretty interested in food.  We gave him his first taste of solid food on his 4 month birthday.  He wasn’t a big fan at first.  He didn’t really know how to keep it in his mouth and wasn’t too sure he liked it much, but it’s rice cereal, so you can’t really blame him.




He’s been eating solids for about a week now.  It took him 2-3 days to decide that he liked it (aka – not get fussy when we tried to feed him), but he’s got it down now and he gets excited when he sees us bringing him food.  He starts to make his “excited” noises and starts swinging his arms around and kicking his legs and then immediately opens his mouth when he sees the spoon.  It’s pretty cute.  I tried peas with him yesterday and he ate half a jar with no hesitations at all and finished the rest today.  Every time I feed Ben anything, Abbie is always under foot saying that she wants some.

I just can’t get enough of my cute little guy!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A day in Destin

While my parents were here, we headed down to Destin, FL for one night.  They’re part of a travel club and the hotel only had one night available, so we stayed Friday night and went to the beach on Saturday and then headed home Saturday night.  It was about a 3 hour drive.

When we got there at Friday we headed straight to the Crab Trap on Okaloosa Island to eat some crab.  They don’t have crab like that in Italy, unless you make it yourself, so we try to get our crab fix while we’re in the States.

(Ben with my mom)IMG_3741

(My grinny boy)IMG_3748

(Ben and my parents – they met him for the first time while they were here)IMG_3751

The next day we headed to one of the Destin beaches.  My husband could easily live at the beach and Abbie definitely takes after him.  She didn’t want to leave even after we’d been there for 5 hours.



It was a beautiful day for the beach – in the low 70’s with a nice breeze and very sunny.  I tried to keep Ben out of the sun as much as possible but it was hard considering we only had a rain umbrella with us.  He didn’t mind chilling out under there for a while, but then he got tired of it.


Mark and Abbie had fun building sand castles and Ben and I watched for a while, until I got tired of holding him with nothing to lean back on.  Luckily there were 2 chairs and an umbrella to rent right next to where we were sitting so we went and sat in those.  It got Ben out of the sun and it’s much easier to hold him when you have a back rest.




We got somewhat cleaned up in the beach bathroom and then headed to Fudpucker’s for dinner before we went home.

(I can’t decide which of these two pictures I like better so I’m putting them both up)IMG_3798IMG_3800

(It’s funny how you can find your husband even more attractive when he’s surrounded by your kids.  I love this picture of them.)