Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A visit from Grammy and Grampy


My parents came to visit us for a few days at the end of August.  They just left yesterday.  It’s always nice having them visit.  My mom stayed here for 9 days and my dad left for a few days to go to a conference in San Diego.


Abbie is never more than a few feet from my mom when she visits.  Abbie is absolutely crazy about my mom.  I’m not exactly sure what it is with those two, but they are very similar in their personalities and my mom can act a little nuts at time, and I think Abbie just relates to her really well.  My mom is also good at letting Abbie help with everything while she’s here and Abbie loves to be involved.  But when Grammy is here, Abbie wants her to do EVERYTHING for her.  Grammy takes her to school, Grammy gives her a bath, Grammy reads her books, Grammy helps her with everything.  It’s cute to see.


Last night Emily and I took the kids for a little bike ride around the neighborhood.  (Mark was at work.)  In the middle of the bike ride I heard Abbie crying so I asked her what was wrong.  She told me she was really sad that Grammy and Grampy left and that she missed them a lot.  =(  Throughout the evening, she asked me MANY times why they have to live so far away and why they had to leave and why can’t they just stay with us.  It breaks my heart to see her so sad.  We also got a pretty bad storm last night and Abbie said that she hoped that Grammy and Grampy were okay driving in the storm.  I told her that it wasn’t storming where they were and she didn’t exactly believe me, but I thought it was sweet of her to be concerned.


The other night Mark was saying goodnight to Abbie and she asked him when he was going to be a grandpa.  He told her he wouldn’t be a grandpa for a long time.  She said, “Dad, I don’t want you to be a grandpa.  I want you to be a daddy.”  He told her that he’d always be her daddy and she said that she didn’t want him to get old and be a grandpa.  She is very aware right now of getting old and dying and she seems very worried about that.  Is that normal behavior of a 4 year old?


Luckily we’ll see my parents in 6-7 weeks in Vegas and I know Abbie will be thrilled to see them, and then Uncle Alex and Aunt Sarah are coming in November.  Hopefully Grandma and Grandpa Browning can come out sometime to visit too.  I love that she’s so close to everyone, but I hate seeing her have a hard time with it when people leave.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Picking up Emily


We picked Emily up from the airport the first weekend in August.  I can honestly say I really wasn’t nervous about it at all.  Excited and anxious, yes, but I wasn’t nervous.


Abbie was a little bit shy at first, but she did walk right up to Emily and give her the sign she made for her.  Ben ran around like a lunatic, as usual.


Emily only brought one little suitcase and one big one with her to live here for almost a year.  As someone who packs one large suitcase per person for a weeks vacation, I was rather impressed.


And this is what happens when you hand your dSLR to someone else, all set up and ready to go, and ask them to take your picture….  Ugh.  Our first shot with all 5 of us, just a TAD bit blurry.  Oh well.  Hopefully the hundreds following this one will be better.  =)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ben’s 2nd cardiologist visit


Today Ben had his 2nd cardiologist visit.  His first was here.  We were told then that he had 2 tiny holes in his heart, but that they shouldn’t cause complications.  The Italian cardiologist wanted us to come back for a re-check around 9 months old, but our pediatrician in Italy said that he didn’t hear the murmur anymore so he said we didn’t need to go back to the cardiologist.  So we never went back.


Fast forward to his 18 month well baby check up here:  his new pediatrician here said that she heard a murmur and she just wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything to be concerned about.  As I said in that blog post, I wasn’t too worried about it since he seemed perfectly healthy to me, but as time went on, my world class hypochondriac skills kicked in and I began to worry.  I would notice him breathing a tiny bit harder when he climbed to the top of the stairs, or after Mark chased him around for 20 mins and I was semi convinced that maybe something was going on with him.  It doesn’t help that I follow a few heart babies pages on FB.  All I could think about is, what if that was my baby and what if I ever have to see him hooked up to all those machines, etc.


Mark was able to take the morning off of work so he could go with us to Ben’s appt, and I was very thankful for that.  I was a little worried that Ben might be a bit of a handful when they hooked him up to the EKG machine or did the echo on him, but he was PERFECT.  He just watched as they put all the stickers on his body and didn’t even freak out very much when they used the blood pressure cuff on him.  He also laid basically still the entire time they were doing the ultrasound/echo on him.  He played with one toy and ate a sucker and watched a bit of Sesame Street but he was a really, really good boy.  By the end of it he was starting to say “all done”, but he’d been laying there for 10-15 minutes by that point.   By the way, the whole time I was thinking the one with all the stickers and cords was the echo and it turns out that is the EKG and the echocardiogram is like an ultrasound of the heart basically.


We waited FOREVER for the doctor to come in after he’d had the EKG and echo’s done.  We were all getting a little bit restless and I was starting to worry more and more thinking they found something wrong.  After having been there for over 2 hours, the doctor finally came in and he started asking us a TON of info on my pregnancy with Ben and our family histories with high blood pressure and cholesterol and other things.  I was getting more and more nervous with every question because he never said right away what was going on with Ben.  He listened to his heart for a minute and then he told us that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about.  He said that he doesn’t have any holes in his heart any more and that he can hear a murmur mainly because of Ben’s build.  He said that Ben is so narrow and that his chest cavity is so small right now that they just have a very clear sound of the blood moving through his heart, which is what the murmur is.  As Ben gets older, the murmur sound could go away since his chest cavity will get better and he’ll put on more muscle, but he also said that if he has Mark’s lean build throughout life, that it might always be noticeable, but that it’s not his heart malfunctioning or holes in his heart.


So the visit ended up being a huge relief for me.  I was beginning to feel sick to my stomach while we were waiting for the doctor to come talk to us.  I am so thankful that our kids are healthy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting settled

This week has been another week of adjustments for us all.  Emily is adjusting really well to being here in the US.  She’s taken to her new school like a champ and it seems as though she just fits in naturally with our family.  There’s nothing forced about our relationship with her at all and I love how open she is with us and how open we can be with her.  We are all really happy she’s here.

Abbie and Emily are gone most of the day Monday through Friday.  Emily rides the bus to school and on Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri she catches the bus around 6:40am and on Weds they usually have late starts so it’s an hour and a half later.  She gets home around 2:30pm every day.  Abbie has to be to school by 8am.  So instead of the kids and me getting up around 8:30am, like we used to, I am up at 6:45am now and the kids are up before 7:15am.  We eat breakfast and I either take Abbie to school by bike or car.  I love that her school is only about 5 mins away by car and less than 10 mins away by bike.  It’s a nice way to start the morning since it’s usually in the 90’s at 8am here, instead of the 115’s….  Ben loves to go for rides and I’m really pimping out my bike, if I do say so myself.  I have the seat on the back for Ben, and I pull the Burley with Abbie in it.  I just got a basket for the front of it, which I’m excited about, and I also have front and rear lights on it, and a bell!  Now I need to put my water bottle holder back on it, but I have no clue where that went.  And I also have one of those little odometer things on my bike, but I can’t get it to work for some reason.  Another thing for me to work on, I suppose. 

Abbie gets out of school at 3pm, and usually Emily will go with Ben and me to pick her up, and we usually drive since 3pm is about the hottest time of day out here.

I thought that it would be really hard to push Ben’s nap up an hour and a half, but it’s been VERY easy.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  He’s in bed no later than noon now, sometimes 11:30am and then I wake him up at 2:45pm, and we jump in the car to go get Abbie.  And the kids go to be around 7:30pm now instead of 8:30pm.  And I go to bed around 10:30pm instead of midnight.  Works better for all of us really.  I feel like we have a good routine going here now and we’re all getting used to it.  Our roughest time of day is from about 4-5pm when Abbie gets restless and Ben gets hungry and I try to hold them off until Mark gets home and cook dinner.  Emily has been very helpful during that time, so that’s been a huge blessing to us.

Overall, I think we’re all adjusting well and this week went a lot better than I was anticipating!  My parents get here tomorrow and then 3 days after they leave we head to San Diego for a few days!  August will be over before we know it, which is fine with me since this heat is NOT fun!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Abbie’s first days of pre-K

Abbie started at the Montessori school last week.  We went in Monday just for a quick meeting with her teachers and she wanted to stay all day and was sad when we had to leave.  Thursday and Friday she went 8am-10am, and again, she wasn’t at all ready to leave when I went to pick her up.  She is just SO social and she really thrives in group settings, especially ones where she has constant stimulation.  Honestly, I just don’t have that kind of energy or ambition to keep her that entertained all hours of the day and she is TERRIBLE at keeping herself entertained.  The Montessori schools really try to foster a child’s independence and teach them how to love learning, and I’m really hoping that this year she will learn how to be more independent with entertaining herself.  In other ways, Abbie is very independent.  She will pick out her own clothes and get herself completely dressed.  She gets herself some of her own drinks and snacks.  She goes to the bathroom by herself sometimes in public.  She loves to help and to do grown up things, but if she’s not helping with something, she wants you to entertain her ALL the time.  Play with her, turn on shows for her, let her do whatever you’re doing – it can be exhausting.  So I think I might be just as excited for her to be going to school full time as she is.

Two weeks ago we got a call from her school that a full time position had opened so after discussing it, Mark and I decided to put her in the Montessori school from 8am – 3pm Monday through Friday.  Originally she was signed up for 12pm-3pm Mon-Fri, but since they had the full time opening, we bumped her up.  I have no doubt that she’ll be able to handle full days since she doesn’t nap anymore anyway and she LOVES school.  I think she’ll get a lot of out it, so I’m excited for her.  But the school is $650/month for full time!!!  YIKES!  However, public schools around here are $600/month for full time pre-K also, so we’re really only paying $50/month more for the Montessori school.  Next year will be the tough one since public Kindergarten is free.  I can’t wait to see how she learns and grows during this next year!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ben at 20 months


Hard to believe that in four months our little dude will be TWO!  So crazy!

Ben has changed a lot in the past month.  His vocabulary is really picking up well.  He’s trying to repeat almost anything we say, and he’s starting to put two or more words together on his own.  “Help please”, “more water”, “All done.  Get down.”, etc.  He loves trying to figure things out, and those stupid buckles on all the high chairs at restaurants are his favorite.  He gets frustrated though and then he screams if he can’t get them together or apart, so that’s a little bit trying at times.

Ben full on runs now, and he’s starting to jump.  He doesn’t fully get off the ground but he definitely tries to jump, especially off of very short stairs.  And he likes to climb now….  I’ve come out of the bathroom twice to find him on the middle of our kitchen table.  Yay.  Abbie never climbed but Ben loves to.  And he loves to go for bike rides and any time he sees a bike – ours or ones parked outside of businesses – he says his version of “bike ride”, which sounds pretty good for him.  We’re slowly getting him to not throw his food all over the place when he’s done eating and now we can give him a look and tell him no and he’ll put it where he’s supposed to.  He’s definitely in that testing stage now, where he knows he’s not supposed to do something, but will do it anyway and watch you the whole time he’s doing it to see what you’re going to do.  Luckily he’s not nearly as persistent as Abbie was at this age, so you can tell him no a few times and then he’ll stop.

Ben still LOVES animals.  There is a tiny dog named Charlie, at Abbie’s school, and Ben goes looking for her every time we are there.  When he finds her, he crouches down next to her and says “Hi” in a really high pitched voice.  It’s really cute.  He talks in his funny, high pitched voice any time he sees any animals.  There are guinea pigs and a rabbit in Abbie’s classroom also and Ben goes in and talks to those the same way.  The little guy just loves animals.

Ben is still totally fascinated with planes, which really worries me.  He just LOVES them and often points them out and shout “PAIN!!!!” (his version of plane") when he sees them.  And when we go to Mark’s work, he just stands in front of the big jet photos in awe, with his little finger stuck out pointing at them.  It’s like it’s in his blood or something, although I’m not sure Mark was that interested in planes at this young of an age.  It’s very cute and it’s fun to see him so excited, but I don’t know if I can handle being married to a military pilot and also have a son as a military pilot also…  In a way I think it would be easier to have a son as a pilot when you haven’t lived the life and you don’t know exactly what is involved with flying these jets and some of the dangers.  But since I am married to a pilot, I have a better idea than someone who isn’t married to “the military”.  Fingers crossed that he finds many other interests in the years to come.


Overall, this little guy is a lot of work, but he’s a lot of fun too.  His smiles are infectious and he’s always so happy to see you and says “HI!!” as soon as he does.  He’s at a fun age and I wouldn’t trade him for the world!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ready for Emily


We are finally ready for Emily’s arrival, which is a good thing considering she gets here tomorrow!  It seems a little bit surreal that she’ll be here in less than 24 hours.  She’s currently in NYC having a bunch of fun with a group of kids with a travel company.

Her room is ready.   It’s by far, the most put together room I think we’ve ever had in a house.  Now if we could just get all the other rooms up to that standard…  I’ll post before and after pictures of the room soon, but I want her to see the room in person before she sees it online so I’ll wait until after she’s here.  We finally found bedding that we really like for her room and I’ve gotten a few accessories (picture frames, candles, etc) that match.  I’m still looking for a few more things to hang on the wall, but for now, I think it’ll definitely work for her.

Mark and I have been talking about Emily’s arrival for weeks and weeks.  Every time we do anything – go to church, go to a restaurant with a massive menu, go to Costco, work in the yard out in the heat – we’ve been wondering what Emily will think of it, and now, tomorrow, we get to find out.  Mark is so sweet and has been thinking about when she might feel homesick and how we can remedy that for her and what we can do if she does feel homesick.  He’s very thoughtful like that.  We are just so excited for her to get here.  I honestly feel like I already love this girl and I’ve never even met her.  I’ve been in contact with her quite a bit in the past few weeks, along with her mom, whom I also adore.  Emily will obviously be our primary concern, but as a mother, I also want this to be a good experience for her mom too.  I couldn’t even imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye to a 16 year old for almost a year.  My heart breaks a little for her mom, but I know that we’ll try to take good care of Emily for her too.

So this is our last day as a family of 4!  Tomorrow we will be a family of 5 (without having to push out a baby – major bonus!!) and we are just as excited as we would be if we were giving birth to another of our own.  However, I think picking her up from the airport will be a much more pleasurable experience than going to a hospital.  =)  These two can’t wait to meet her either!!