Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And Then We Snapped | Week 4

August 10 - 16, 2014

August 10 (22|365): protectors

August 11 (23|365): sweet dreams

August 12 (24|365): new haircut + new shoes (in his favorite color) = cool dude

August 13 (25|365): wide eyed

August 14 (26|365): "touch-a-truck" night

August 15 (27|365): a garden path...

August 16 (28|365): ...that leads to chickens!

Next, check out what the talented Chrissy, and her adorable kids, have been up to this week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

And Then We Snapped | Week 3

August 3 - 9, 2014

August 3 (15|365): sleeping beauty

August 4 (16|365): those eyes melt my heart

August 5 (17|365): yawn

August 6 (18|365): a rare moment of quiet

August 7 (19|365): Princess Isabelle

August 8 (20|365): chilling with her paci

August 9 (21|365): naptime at the Arboretum

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And Then We Snapped | Week 2

July 27 - August 2, 2014

July 27 (8|365): having a newborn in the house is exhausting for everyone

July 28 (9|365): buds

July 29 (10|365): can't get enough of these tiny toes

July 30 (11|365):chilling with her big bro

July 31 (12|365): no more umbilical cord stump!

August 1 (13|365): sweet dreams

August 2 (14|365): first smiles

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

And Then We Snapped | Week 1

Whew! What a whirlwind the past 6 months or so have been. (More on that later, if I ever find time to post again). Since life has been a little hectic, my photography has taken a back seat. I had been planning on getting back into it, with the birth of my daughter, when a local photographer (and friend) asked me if I'd be interested in joining a 365 blog circle. It's just what I needed to get me back on track and keep me shooting through these first insanely wonderful, yet exhausting, months with a newborn because I know all too well that I will look back at the end of this year and it will be a blur.

Welcome to Week 1.

July 20 - 26, 2014

July 20 (1|365): waiting for her arrival

July 21 (2|365): love at first sight

July 22 (3|365): he's smitten

July 23 (4|365): drying off after her first bath at home

July 24 (5|365): ten tiny toes

July 25 (6|365): exhausted

July 26 (7|365): ruffle bottom

Since I was a little late to the game, links to the other awesome photographers in our circle will begin in week 4. I highly encourage you to check out all of their amazing work!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

20 Weeks and Beyond

After the excitement of the big gender reveal, things were pretty quiet over the next several weeks. (At least on the pregnancy front. We were crazy busy packing up our house and getting ready for our move on May 1). I had a few appointments that were mostly uneventful. Isabelle was growing right on track and I passed the glucose test. Woo hoo!
Easter morning we got up early so Jax could hunt for his Easter eggs and see all the loot that the Easter bunny had brought him. (Sadly, the Easter bunny was lacking in the effort and creativity departments this year and Jax was unimpressed by both the number of eggs hidden and by the fact that he forgot one of his special requests... Ooops!) Then, I made the side to bring to our gathering with extended family that afternoon. I finally went to take a shower around 11 and noticed that I was spotting. My heart immediately dropped. This was particularly scary because of the possibility of vesa previa, so I immediately called the nurse line. They told me to go to the hospital right away.

John dropped me off at the door and went to park with Jackson. Meanwhile, they hooked me up to a bunch of monitors and did a cervical check. Thankfully, the check showed that I hadn't dilated at all and Isabelle seemed to be doing great on the monitor. However, they noticed that I was having quite a few contractions. As a result, they decided to watch me for a couple of hours to make sure that the contractions slowed down and that they weren't causing any cervical changes. They also ran a fetal fibronectin test which can determine if the "glue" that attaches the amniotic sack to the cervical lining is starting to break down (which means you are at a greater risk for premature labor). Jackson and John had joined me in the room at this point and poor little Jax looked so scared when he saw me (almost as scared as I probably looked when I noticed that they had given him a big brother sticker). It was WAY too early for our little girl to enter the world- I was only 27.5 weeks!

Three hours later I was finally given the okay to join my family's Easter festivities. The contractions had slowed down and I passed the fetal fibronectin test. I was told that I better take it easy, though, and that I should follow up with my doc in a few days. My doctor was definitely concerned and put me on modified bedrest, at least until my next level 2 ultrasound which would either rule out or confirm vasa previa or velamentous insertion.

Over the next few weeks, I did my best to take it easy, but this was extremely difficult to do while spending my days with a very active three year. Plus, we moved during this time. We hired movers and had help from friends and family, but it was impossible for me to just sit and watch everyone else do all the work. The increase in Braxton Hicks contractions I had during this time told me that I was probably doing more than I should have.
I had my ultrasound and perinatologist appointment on May 12. Overall, the appointment went great. All of the really scary complications (vasa previa and velamentous insertion) were ruled out and, despite the marginal cord insertion, Isabelle's growth continued right at the 50%ile. The somewhat concerning news was that my cervix had already started to shorten. The perinatologist told me to continue the modified bedrest and to have my doctor perform another fetal fibronectin test at my appointment in a couple days.

I was feeling pretty good after my appointment on May 14. The nurse didn't think it felt like my cervix had changed too much and she thought that I would pass the fetal fibronectin test no problem. That afternoon, however, I got a call that the fetal fibronectin test came back positive! They said I needed to have a series of corticosteroid shots to help Isabelle's lungs develop in the case that she did come early. They wanted to start them immediately, so I had to pack Jackson up in the car (right during his nap time) to go back to the doctor's office (which is now 45 minutes away). Thankfully, we made it in time and Jax was a trooper! When I went back in they also told me that I needed to get full time help with my son, so that I would be better able to follow my modified bedrest recommendation. John and I now had the difficult task of finding a daycare facility, in a new town, that had an opening, and would be flexible since we had no idea how long it would be needed. Ugh. The stress of the day put my contractions into overdrive. I layed in bed, wide awake, most of the night timing my contractions (and stressing out about putting my little boy in daycare). Things had calmed down by the next morning and I went in to get my second shot that afternoon. That evening, the contractions picked up again (even more so than the day before). I called the nurse line and they told me to go to Abbott right away, since they are attached to Children's Hospital and better able to care for premature babies. We threw a few things in a bag, dropped Jackson off at grammy's house, and headed to the hospital. This took over an hour and a half (and had us second guessing our decision to move out the the country)! I prayed to God that John wouldn't have to deliver Isabelle on the side of the road somewhere!

When we got to the hospital they hooked me up to all of the familiar machines to monitor my contractions and Isabelle's heart rate. Isabelle was doing great, but they were a little concerned with the frequency of my contractions (even though they didn't seem to be causing any cervical changes). They gave me a terbutaline injection in hopes of stopping the contractions. That did the trick, but made me feel incredibly shaky and jittery. They decided that I probably had a UTI, which can irritate the cervix and cause contractions. They prescribed antibiotics and sent me on my way. The next week I saw my doctor again. She said that I did not have a UTI... Good news, but a little troubling since that meant all those contractions were preterm labor. She also said that I was now 20% effaced, so the contractions were starting to cause cervical changes. She said to continue modified bedrest and with my weekly check-ups.
32 Weeks (Melissa Pizzalato Photography)
The next weekly visit, which was actually just 4 days later, brought some pretty scary news- I was 80% effaced! Definitely NOT good at only 32 weeks pregnant. At this point, I was put on more strict bedrest. She explained that gravity was not my friend and that I needed to lay down all day with the exception of meals and an "occasional" shower. This was tough news to hear (especially with a nursery that still needed completing and boxes all over our house). Of course, I was willing to do whatever they said to keep my baby girl snug in my belly. She said that it would be great if I could at least make it to 34 weeks. Jackson wasn't scheduled to start his new daycare until the next week, but my mom and John were able to take time off of work to watch Jackson, while I watched hours of Netflix (thank you House of Cards and Friday Night Lights, for keeping me entertained). I also did lots of online shopping to help settle my nesting urges! Best of all, my much anticipated newborn photography class started during this time. I wasn't able to complete most of the assignments, but since it was online I was able to follow along with all of the reading materials and videos and learn from the critiques of the other student's work. (I can't wait to practice on Isabelle!! Poor girl!)

Thankfully, not much changed over the next few weeks. Bedrest helped quiet down the contractions and I stayed right around 80% effaced and 1 cm dilated. Everyone was thrilled when I hit the 34 week mark, but no one more so than John and I. At 34 weeks, I had another level 2 ultrasound with the perinatologist and she said Isabelle continued to look great. She was still measuring right around the 50%ile, which meant that the marginal umbilical cord issue did not seem to be affecting her growth. However, she decided that I should start getting weekly biophysical profiles, amniotic fluid indexes, and non-stress tests to ensure Isabelle's well being. Marginal umbilical cords tend to cause issues during the 3rd trimester, and this was also right around the time in my pregnancy that Jackson started to have a growth restriction issue. Every Monday morning, I spend 2-3 hours at the hospital going through these tests and then meet with my doctor or nurse for a cervical check and to go over the results. It's comforting to start each week seeing my baby girl and knowing that she's doing well!
35 Weeks
Friday, May 20 brought the next round of excitement. My mom had graciously offered to babysit so that John and I could get out for a little date night. (I had been given the ok to be out of bed a little more at this point, since I was just about 36 weeks). We joked that maybe we should bring the hospital bag "just in case." Well, about 5 minutes after we left the house I started having really consistent contractions. They were coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting about a minute. It was about a 45 minute drive to the restaurant and we debated whether or not to go straight to the hospital. I decided that I wanted to enjoy my (cooked) sushi dinner first, while guzzling water (which I hoped would slow down the contractions). We finished our delicious meal around 7pm and the contractions were still coming consistently. They weren't very painful or anything, but I decided to call the nurse line anyway (especially since we were right in the neighborhood). They said I should probably come in to be monitored, just to be on the safe side. So, our romantic date night ended with over 3 hours spent at the hospital (where I got felt up by 2 people other than my hubby). My contractions started to slow down pretty quickly once we were there, of course, and they hadn't caused any further cervical changes. Again I was sent on my way. On the way out, I vowed to John that I wasn't going back to the hospital until I was SURE I was in full blown labor.
The 36 week mark brought a huge sense of relief. Babies born after this point are usually very healthy and can even go home without a stay in the NICU or special care nursery. By this point we had gotten much more settled into our new home and had just about completed the nursery, which also made me feel much more at ease. At my 37 week appointment, I learned a possible reason why she didn't end up coming earlier. She flipped to a face-up position. I had noticed this on the previous several ultrasounds, but didn't think too much of it since she was head down. It's called a occiput posterior position and it can cause babies to go PAST their due dates (go figure!), as well as stop and start labor, longer labor, back labor, and all sorts of other fun things (again I made the mistake of googling this condition and totally freaked myself out). Oh well, it's all worth it if that's what prevented her from being premature. My doctor said it's highly unlikely that she will change positions before I go into labor since her head is engaged and at a -2 station, BUT it's very possible that she will turn (or that they will be able to turn her) once labor starts.

Today, it is July 5 and I am 37 weeks, 4 days, which is exactly how far along I was when I gave birth to Jackson. I never thought that she would stay put longer than her big brother. After all the drama that has conspired throughout this pregnancy, I am so incredibly thankful that she is still safe inside of me (even though she didn't get to wear the darling little 4th of July outfit I had all ready for her). As of the last ultrasound, she is almost 6 pounds! We are all so excited to meet the newest addition to our family, but (as I keep reminding Jackson) she'll decide when she's ready to meet us!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Road to Baby #2 + The First 20 Weeks

My poor blog has been grossly neglected over the past 6 months (for good reason), but I am going to do my best to get caught up over the next few weeks. First things first, I'm pregnant again! We couldn't be happier, but this pregnancy has been rough, as was the road to getting pregnant.

After all of our difficulty getting pregnant the first time, we didn't do anything to prevent pregnancy after Jackson's birth. We crossed our fingers that it would just happen. At first we weren't trying very hard (we had a little baby so it definitely was not at the forefront of our minds). Once Jax was about six months old, however, we put a little more effort into it. After trying this method for about a year, to no avail, we started fertility treatments in September of 2012. Over the next 6 months we endured five rounds of various fertility drugs plus IUI. We had a glimmer of hope in November of 2012 when we saw a faint second line on a pregnancy test, but when we went in for a blood test a few days later, it came back negative. My doctor said it was a chemical pregnancy. We were heartbroken, so we took a month off before diving back in for a couple more rounds (with no success). After the fifth round, I developed a cyst which forced us to take a break and discuss our options going forward. (My body had clearly had enough at this point). My reproductive endocrinologist told us that she wasn't sure that this was the best course of action for us anymore. My response to the meds was okay, but I wasn't producing as many mature follicles as they would have liked. She explained that we had three options:
1. do one more round of Femara + IUI
2. injectible meds + IUI
3. IVF

I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the rollercoaster of the previous months, so we decided to take a couple months off to think about our options (and try on our own again for awhile). Well, a couple months turned into almost 6 months... We decided that we would go forward with injectibe meds. At least it was was something different to try and less expensive and invasive than IVF. Upon talking to my doctor again, however, we were thrown a bit of a curve ball. She said she strongly believed that, at that point, IVF would be the most logical choice for us. The injectible meds would add up pretty quickly and didn't offer a much greater success rate than what we had been doing previously. She also equated it to playing "fertility Russian roulette" because there was a high chance of higher order multiples (triplets, quads, etc..). We went to their IVF seminar for more information and made our decision pretty quickly after that. Even though the price tag was quite a bit higher, the 60% success rate had us sold. Plus, we didn't want to waste any more money on treatments that weren't likely to work. After another saline infused ultrasound and entire battery of bloodwork (since it had been a year) we were set to start our IVF cycle in October of 2013!
The intimidating supply of meds.
I was absolutely dreading the weeks of abdominal hormone injections and monitoring. Overall, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Some of the shots hurt more than the others, but they weren't too painful. (Although, by the end my stomach was a bruised mess). Even better, the side effects weren't any worse than those with Clomid or Femara (I was a bit more emotional than normal and got some headaches, but it really wasn't bad). It took a little longer than expected for my eggs to mature, but my doctor was really happy with my response and the number of eggs I was producing. My egg retrieval was scheduled for October 29. This was the part that I was the most nervous about. I had only ever been put under sedation when I had my wisdom teeth removed and it was not a good experience. I had also heard horror stories about awful swelling and pain after the procedure, but it was a breeze! I was really loopy after I woke up and apparently made some pretty embarrassing jokes and asked several times how many eggs they got. The answer was 15! We were thrilled!

Next, they injected John's sperm into my eggs and put them in an incubator for monitoring. After a couple days, they called to let us know that 9 of the eggs had fertilized and seemed to be maturing. We scheduled our transfer for November 3.
All dressed up for the transfer!
That morning, they told us there were two level 2 blastocysts that would be great for transfer. They were still watching a few of the others, but weren't convinced that they would mature any further. We had to decide right then if we wanted to transfer both of the embryos or just one of them. We had talked this over, ad nauseam, in the previous months and weeks. It was not a decision we took lightly, but we wanted to have the best chance of getting pregnant, so we decided to transfer both blastocysts.
Our beautiful little blasts under the microscope!
The transfer went smoothly and I was sent home for 2 days of bedrest and 10 long days of waiting before my scheduled pregnancy test. Although I had promised to save myself the torture of peeing on a stick at home, the day before my appointment I made an impulsive trip to Target to buy a test (while John was at work and Jackson was at preschool). I had just a few minutes to stop home and take the test before picking up Jax. Lo and behold that glorious second line showed up almost immediately!! I was over the moon!

The next morning I went in for my beta test, which confirmed the good news. I was officially pregnant! They scheduled a second beta two days later to make sure that it was increasing appropriately. Well, it went from 220 to 1800, which was a very drastic jump, so we started to suspect that it could be twins. They scheduled one more beta, the following Monday, to make sure things kept heading in the right direction. Well, that beta came back at only 1395. This number was still high for a singleton pregnancy, but a little low for twins. Our elation turned to anxiety and worry at this point. A decreasing beta can be a sign that you'll miscarry or of an ectopic pregnancy. We had to endure a grueling two weeks before an ultrasound to confirm if the pregnancy was viable. Although I kept busy with Thanksgiving celebrations, a concert, and a couple photo sessions, my mind was always drifting back to the baby (or babies). I hadn't had any spotting or cramping and I was already starting to experience some pregnancy symptoms (all good signs) but it was still torture!

On Monday, December 2, John and I picked up Jackson from school a little early and brought him to a friend's house while we went in for the ultrasound. I don't know if I've ever been more nervous in my life. I was shaking. Well, almost immediately, we saw a little sac and a heartbeat!! I was so, so relieved! A few moments after that we saw another sac and a heartbeat! It was TWINS!
Now I was shaking for an entirely different reason. We were in shock. My doc assured me that my height and long torso and previous full term pregnancy made me an ideal candidate vessel for twins. She said that everything looked perfect and that I should schedule an appointment with my OB/GYN in a few weeks.
Over the next few weeks, we started to make plans for welcoming 2 babies into our family! We decided that we would try to sell our house that Spring because we would most definitely need more room. We also determined that we would probably have to trade in one of our cars for a minivan (oh the horror!). We were overwhelmed, but so incredibly excited. So much so, that we started to tell some of our close friends and family the news. I think Jackson was the most excited of all!

On December 23 (I was 10 weeks pregnant at this point), we went in for our next appointment. I filled the nurse in about how we were pregnant with twins and that I had been experiencing some pretty bad morning sickness (much worse than in my previous pregnancy). After my routine physical, it was time for the ultrasound. We could tell something was wrong almost immediately. After a moment, that feeling was confirmed when she told us she was very sorry, but we had lost one of the babies. John and I both fought back tears throughout the rest of the appointment. I could hardly focus on anything the nurse was saying or on the remaining, thriving, beautiful baby. All I could see on the screen was the empty small sac. It was truly heartbreaking.

Christmas definitely had a cloud over it. We did our best to put on a smiling face for Jackson, but it was hard. I had another ultrasound on December 30 to make sure that everything was "resolving" itself. Since I lost my baby during the first trimester, they refer to it as a vanishing twin. In these cases the baby that has passed away is usually just reabsorbed. We were lucky that it happened when it did because if it happens later in the pregnancy serious complications can occur that would put the other baby at risk. That ultrasound showed that the sac was indeed shrinking and that our surviving baby was growing right on track. While we were still devastated by the loss of one of our precious little ones, we were so thankful that the other baby continued to thrive.

Breaking the news to Jackson was harder than we expected. We weren't sure that he'd really even understand what had happened at 2 years old, but we underestimated him. We first tried showing him the ultrasound picture of the healthy baby. We told him that this was going to be his little brother or sister. Immediately, he said "I want 2 babies!" We told him that there was just one baby and he got really mad and wanted to know why. At this point, I felt horrible that we had told him about the twins so soon. How were we supposed to explain the loss of a baby to our toddler? We said that the other baby stopped growing, but that we were so thankful and happy that the other baby was healthy. I think we tried to change the subject after that, but he continued to bring it up and ask questions over the next several weeks (in fact he still does). It is gut wrenching.

The next couple of months went well, despite my constant nausea. Our baby continued to grow strong (measuring right around the 50th percentile) and Jackson started to read-up on the whole "big brother" thing!
The day before I hit 20 weeks (March 3), we had the big growth ultrasound. Of course we were more than excited to found out the gender of our bundle, but we were more anxious to confirm that the baby was healthy. We were so, so grateful to learn that all of baby's organs looked excellent and that it continued to develop normally. We were also thrilled to find out we were having a GIRL!!!
She was not shy- we had a clear view right off the bat!
Unfortunately, this appointment also had a bit of concerning news. The perinatologist noticed that my umbilical cord wasn't attached normally to the placenta- they called it a marginal umbilical cord. It's a pretty rare occurrence, but it's more common in pregnancies of multiples and when reproductive technology (like IVF) is used. Basically, instead of being attached to the meaty center part of the placenta, mine is attached at the bottom (very close to the cervical opening). She said they would perform ultrasounds every 4-6 weeks to make sure that the baby wasn't showing any signs of growth restriction and to rule out a velamentous insertion and vasa previa. She told me not to worry and that everything would probably be just fine. Of course I couldn't just leave it at that. I googled both terms as soon as I got home and learned that both can be extremely risky for the baby. Needless to say, the worrying continued. (Thankfully, I was somewhat distracted during this time because we were also in the midst of buying a new house and selling our old house).
I did my best to think positively and focus on the excitement of announcing the gender to Jackson and our immediate families. John and I fudged the date of our appointment a little so that we'd be able to surprise everyone at Jackson's family birthday party on March 7. Since the very beginning, Jackson was adament that we were having a girl. Every time I'd try to tell him that we didn't know if it was a boy or girl yet, he would say "Mom, I'm having a baby sister!!" He was so sure, that he would get downright angry anytime I said it could be a baby brother. It got to the point that John and I decided that, if it was a boy, we better not tell him during his party for fear of ruining his birthday. Since it was a girl, we could happily move forward with our plan.

I bought and wrapped a bunch of pink helium balloons in a big box. We brought it out just as Jax finished opening his presents and said that this one was from the baby... This is what happened next:
I absolutely love the looks of surprise and excitement as my grandma and mom start to figure out what the pink balloons mean! (Side note: About 10 minutes into his party, the birthday boy decided that clothing was optional). Everyone was shocked (and maybe a little mad that we had kept them in the dark for a few days). Jax, on the other hand, wasn't surprised at all. He just looked at us, like "I told you so!"
To be continued...

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Weight: 34.5 pounds
Height: 39.5 inches
Shoes: 9.5/10
It's hard to believe that Fall is over and Christmas is just around the corner! I started posts about your first day of school and Halloween, but never finished them, which is a testament to how crazy the past few months have been. I guess I will just jam it all into one giant post!
Your first preschool experience is going really well! The picture above is on your first day (I know you don't look very happy, but I think you were just tired after all the excitement... Well, that and the fact that you really don't appreciate posing for pictures). Most days you can't wait to go to school and you love telling me all about your day afterwards. Daddy and I met with both of your teachers last week for your first conference. It was wonderful to hear that you are well liked, always smiling, patient, and polite. Your fine and gross motor skills are awesome. They said you are pretty quiet and they've been working to get you to talk more. This came as a shock to daddy and I because you never stop talking at home. Although, overall you seem to be quite outgoing, I think you're shy around new people and in new experiences. They said that's pretty normal and that you've opened up more recently, now that you're more used to things. You especially like to listen to stories (and can even answer questions about what you think is going to happen next in the story). You also enjoy playing with the doctor kit, cars, magnets, painting, music class, and gym time. They said there isn't an inch of the classroom that you haven't explored.

About a month ago, you started class with teacher Celeste again, one morning a week. Mommy had a lot going on this Fall and needed a little extra time (partly to work on my new photography business). Plus, every time we drove past your "old school" you would beg to go inside. You were really excited to see Celeste again and your friends Christopher and Braden are in your class. (Notice that I'm trying to make myself feel better about adding that third day. Mommy guilt). You tell me that you really like both schools, and your response when I ask you how your day was is always "great!"

We also signed you up for soccer this Fall, even though I knew that it would be total chaos... The first few weeks went okay, you at least sort-of participated and seemed to enjoy the different drills and learning about soccer.
By the third or fourth week, however, you were over it. You'd participate for about 5 minutes of the 30 minute lesson and daddy and I would spend the rest of the time chasing you around and trying to bribe you to join your teammates. By the last couple of weeks we gave up. Maybe soccer just isn't your thing... You keep talking about hockey now, so we might have to try that next (but not for another year, at least).

We continued our Fall tradition of going to Minnetonka Orchards this year. We went on a dreary, rainy day which ended up being a good thing because it wasn't very busy.
Since you are such a big boy now, you were able to participate in some new things this year. You went on a tractor and a train ride. (That's you in the airplane in the very back).
You had a blast visiting the petting zoo and climbing up a huge pile of hay.
I think your favorite part, though, were the apple donuts and hot apple cider.
About a week later you helped us pick out pumpkins...
...and carve them. Yours is the little one- you wanted a "spooky" face.
You chose your Halloween costume again this year. Curious George is still your hero and this year's costume was also based on George. One of your favorite episodes is when George goes to outer-space in a rocket ship. Naturally, you were an astronaut. I couldn't find an astronaut costume in any stores, so you helped me pick one out on-line. Everyday you asked if your costume was coming today and the day we saw it sitting on the steps you could hardly contain your excitement. You tore open the package and then peeked back in the box with a disappointed look on your face and asked me, "Where's my rocket ship, Mommy?" Apparently, you thought you were actually going to get to travel to the moon.
As a consolation, I found a park in Minneapolis that has a pretend rocket ship. It was deemed unsafe for kids to climb in, though, so you only got to look at it (which was also a pretty big disappointment).
The week before Halloween you got to be a part of a parade at school and we went to the 50th & France Pumpkin Festival.
Thankfully, once Halloween came around you had forgotten about the rocket ship and couldn't wait to go out trick-or-treating. We covered several blocks this year (which was a big improvement from about 5 houses last year). We even surprised Grammy and Papa and stopped at their house for a little trick-or-treating.

Other fun activities have included playing in the leaves,
 visiting Sea Life aquarium,
and your first experience in a movie theater (which was a bit of a disaster). Thankfully, we went on Toddler Tuesday so it was a theater full of kids under 5 (and their very understanding parents). You only sat in your seat for the first few minutes. Then, your popcorn spilled and you started eating it off of the disgusting movie theater floor. Then, you were peeking at the screen right right between the two seats in front of us (in which a mom and her daughter were sitting). Luckily, it was only a 30 minute show and not a whole movie! You keep asking to go back to the movie theater and we've reviewed the rules several times (1. stay in your seat 2. be quiet 3. don't eat popcorn -or anything- off of the floor) so we may try again soon, especially since it has been FREEZING and there are only so many things to do in the dead of winter... Meanwhile, you've been watching movies in forts in the comfort of our own basement.
You've also had the pleasure of having lots of sleepovers at grammy and papas house. I think you have slept over just about every other weekend for the past few months. Daddy and I enjoy having a little alone time and you absolutely LOVE spending time with them. It's a win-win! (And I'm pretty sure grammy and papa enjoy your company, too). You spend your days rough housing with papa and playing with whatever new toys he has bought you that weekend (you guys are two peas in a pod), cuddling with grammy, watching movies (like The Wizard of Oz, which you now quote "I'll get you my pretty! Eeee-hee-hee-hee!"), eating gummy worms, and making pancakes and bacon in the morning. When Daddy and I come to pick you up you cannot hide your disappointment, which ranges from an "Ugh. Mom!" to hysterical crying and a full blown tantrum. You even told Grammy that you wanted to stay over there for "a really long time." We are so lucky to have them be such a big part of your life. I know those are memories you will always cherish.
The day after Thanksgiving we started Christmas preparations by getting out all of the decorations and the Christmas tree. You were so excited and really enjoyed helping hang the ornaments on the tree. You even remembered making a little handprint ornament with your friend Christopher last year. After your nap that day, Buddy (our elf) made his return from the North Pole.
He wrote you a note reintroducing himself and telling you what a good boy you've been (mostly). He said he'll be watching to make sure that you listen to mommy and daddy, go to bed like a good boy, and be nice to KG. At first you weren't convinced that Buddy was real because he couldn't talk. We had to read the book again, which explains that Santa has ordered Buddy NOT to talk. Once you realized that he's real you immediately asked "When he go back to North Pole?" The pressure of being a good boy all the time was already getting to you!
That weekend we also decorated the outside of our house. You helped daddy hang the lights (by holding the ladder). You kept saying, "Be careful daddy!" It was so sweet!
This past weekend you got to meet Santa yourself. You marched right up to him and climbed onto his lap. You guys had a little chat and later you told me that you asked for your own camera so that you can take pictures with me. I am so proud! (And I think it's safe to say that you will be getting what you asked for!)
You are growing like a weed!! So much so, that most of the clothes and shoes I bought for you at the beginning of the school year are too small. People are always shocked when the hear you are only 2 because you are the size of a 4 year old. Your new batch of clothes are 4T! Hopefully, they'll last through the winter!
The coolest thing that has happened with you over the past few months, though, has been your ability to express your self and tell us your feelings. You talk all of the time (except at school, I guess) and it is so cool to hear what's going on in your brilliant little mind. You are always trying to figure out how things work and love taking things apart and trying to put them back together. You are also a little clown and love to make daddy and I laugh. My favorite part of your personality, by far, is your sweet side. You stroke my cheek and say "I really like you, honey." (You refer to me as "honey" or "honeypie" most of the time). You give the biggest hugs and kisses. Today, on the way home from school you said, "Mommy, you're the sweetest." Melt. My. Heart. Daddy and I are so lucky! We love you!
Happy 2 years, 9 months, Jaxy!

Love,  Mom