This blog is a look at life through my eyes: a woman trying to lose weight through weight loss surgery, a woman recovering from fertility problems, a woman going through the process of adopting a baby, and a woman on an amazing spiritual journey. Our incredible journey of faith led us to the adoption of our son in April '10... but also to a miracle pregnancy!
My partner in crime... and partner in life. A wonderful husband, provider, support system, and father. Loves football, fishing, gardening, cooking, and hanging out with his family.
Our son born in April '10, loves getting into everything - climbing - running - and has a great time doing it! James is always on the go and loves to be outside!
Our son born in October '10... is also into everything! Tyler loves reading as much as climbing, and would sit most days and read with you all day long. He also loves to snuggle.
The wonderful folks at CSN Stores have contacted me again to do a product review on an item of my choice... they've got everything from blenders to sling backpacks and everything in between! They've got over 200 online stores specializing in just about anything you can think of... I've shopped their sites several times, and have never been disappointed.
I've done three give-a-ways, and with being unemployed... I thought this time that I'd review an item for the boys. It'll be just in the nick of time for Christmas - so that makes our holiday a little brighter! I'm planning to try to get an item for each of the boys to review and put under the tree - so look for that as soon as the items arrive!
I know all three of you that read - HAHAHA - are waiting to see photos from Thanksgiving... and I'm planning on getting that up sometime today along with some photos that I took of our new Christmas decorations. I might give you a sneak peak of a photo that might or might not be on our Christmas card this year as well. So stay tuned until later today... it is Cyber Monday after all and I've got to get my shop on!
It's that time of year again, and I am one happy Amazon shopper during this season. I utilize them for so much around our house with the babies... we buy our diapers, formula, wipes, and lots of other things from them for the prices and convenience. I am a member of the Amazon Associates program, and that means that I get to offer some extra special deals to you guys!! There are sales and things in every category - so bookmark this page for all your holiday shopping needs.
So in this season of giving... I wanted to share their amazing Top Holiday deals (good Nov 30th - Dec 23rd) & Black Friday deals (good Nov 22 - 27th) with you guys. You've got to check them out - last year I scored some serious savings by shopping with them throughout the season. In addition, with our two new family members - we'll be looking at the 2010 Hot Holiday Toy list as well. With this link you can get 25% off on some popular toys too!
When I was in college, a dear friend of mine would always call right before an exam to sing me the 80's song Eye of the Tiger... and then we'd jokingly do the Rocky Theme together... just to pump ourselves up and get in the zone for a test.
So this morning when I woke up with two sick babies... and needed to take them to the doctor - I instantly started humming both of those to myself. It was my first attempt at taking both boys somewhere and getting out of the car alone. We'd ventured to the Starbucks drive thru... but that had been it up to today.
We got all loaded up, in the car, unloaded... checked out by the doctor, and back in the car without any major meltdowns! WAH HOO! It was time for both of them to eat at the doctor - so there was minor fussiness in there, but I fed them both and they actually fell asleep on the way home. It was so great - I drove around for a little bit and made some phone calls that I needed to make.
Here is James sitting in the stroller at the doctor's office. He looks SO big!
Both boys have colds, but nothing that the doctor said warranted any medicine. If James isn't better by Friday - he'll get a decongestant - but other than that they checked out great. James weighed in at 18 pounds 8 ounces... and Tyler is now 10 pounds 4 ounces!! Tyler has gained 4 pounds since we've gotten home... or extremely close to it - and he's only been home a month! I'm not sure what James weighed at 6 weeks old... but I don't think it was that much. Ty is really starting to catch up in the weight department.
This past weekend, we had a visit from one of John's cousins and his wife. Melody made James the cutest cross-stitch for his room, and is working on a Noah's Ark one for Tyler that we should get around Christmas.
Here she is playing with Tyler.
When we got back from the doctor - James played for a bit with a new toy... and Tyler slept...
And now... I have to show you a BIG part of my daily existence right now... laundry. Can ya'll guess how many days worth of laundry this is for just the boys?!
Well, I finished laundry on Friday before John got home from work... and completed all of this in the last two days. If that's not crazy enough... I have all of this to wash because they're both growing into a new size at the moment...
It's crazy, but I'm so glad we have it all... Tyler is going to use some of James' old stuff, but none of that is long sleeved for the cold days - so he's got a few things in the pile for that. There are also matching outfits of a couple different styles, and of course their three Christmas outfits... one of which I'll put them in to get a picture in front of our Christmas tree when it goes up - my goal is to have it completed by Sunday.
Any of you know if most of the places in the mall where you'd get the kids pictures with Santa... do they have digital packages? I'm just thinking that I'd rather get a CD with the photos than have their printout... but I don't know if they do that yet.
I found a new line of products in the store that can be a busy girl's best friend in the kitchen... McCormick Recipe Inspirations spice mixes. These things are very cool! It's basically a recipe with the pre-measured spices that you'd need and all you do is add the protein & veggies... and presto dinner!
We're having Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Potatoes tonight for dinner - and I literally had it in the oven in 5 minutes... it just took me long enough to cut the potatoes up and the chicken... mix and put it in the oven. Can't get any better than that!
They've got lots of other flavors that you can look for as well...
I also bought the Chicken Cacciatore one as well - which I think I'd make and serve over rice or pasta... but it looks equally as easy to prepare - I just need to have mushrooms on hand. I just thought these were very cool, and the back of the package is a recipe card that you can keep to make the meal again with your own spices.
I had to share something that might make your lives easier in the evenings... no matter what else you have going on - we ALL could use a few more minutes to relax with the ones we love!
Well, I recently shared with you guys Tyler's birth announcements, and they turned out FABULOUS! We do so much business with Shutterfly right now - I had to tell you about some other things that we're planning on getting for the holidays.
We are in the process of working through which Christmas cards we are going to use - and Shutterfly has an incredible selection! I'm having trouble deciding if I want to go with the traditional 4x8 photo style card or if I want a card stock folding card. I am planning on including my regular Hawkins Family newsletter so the cards will just be one more opportunity to share a photo of our adorable little men. The styles I'm thinking of are:
There are just so many - I can't decide! I'm also waiting for our newborn session photos to come back from the photographer to see what images I want to use...
In addition to the Christmas cards - we are planning to get our families or at least certain members of our families a 2011 photo calendar with the boys photos through out the year... and I'm thinking of getting some of their Christmas gift tags... or possibly some of their other photo gifts (like mugs, playing cards, coasters, ornaments, and much more!) - so much to choose from!
I'm very excited to get everyone a little something with the boys picture on it this year... but in addition - here's a little something fun for all of you bloggers out there - if you join in and write a post like this (wait until they send you the instructions) you can get 50 free Christmas cards of your own! Just follow this link to sign up and they will send you the instructions on what to post and how to submit your post for the free cards.
I'm finally sitting down to get started on answering some of your very awesome questions! YAY! (I know... it's about time, right?!) My plan is to break these up into a couple of different groups because there are so many this time around, but I'll answer as many as I can while the kids are napping.
As always, if any of these or the answers spark some new questions... submit new questions in the comments section and I'll answer them with one of the subsequent groups.
1.) Do you and John have any nicknames for each other (sweet or embarrassing)? What about the boys? Have you given them nicknames other than "little man" and "tiny man"?
Nicknames... John and I really just call each other "Honey" - there isn't too much creativity there, but it works. For the boys - we haven't really settled in on anything besides the two you mentioned - but I do call them "Jay" or "Tee" or "Ty" - we've called them "stinker pants" "fussy man" and things like that too. John has a game he plays with James where he turns him upside down while holding him by his legs... and for some reason he calls him "Turkey James" while doing it - it makes James laugh really hard, so we go with it! One other set of names we've used is to call James our "greatest gift" and Tyler "our miracle."
2.) What is the best part of being a mama to two boys that you never even thought or dreamed about before having either of them? And you can't say the unconditional and overwhelming love, because that's a given. :)
It's hard to say the best part of having two... I can say right now that the best part of being a parent - or at least the part that makes it all worth it - is the big smile you get when James sees you after being away from you for a while. That instant recognition of you being his Mommy... it's magical. Tyler will get there in a few months - so it'll make all of this hard work and lack of sleep mean that much more.
3.) Does your church do a baby dedication? How awesome would it be to stand before the body of Christ with not just one, but TWO, beautiful babies? What a joy it will be for them to see how abundantly their prayers were answered!
They do baby dedications - in fact they've contacted us twice since Tyler's birth for a ceremony... but the times they've contacted us have been 1) when Tyler was still in the hospital and 2) when James has been sick... so we haven't done it. In all honesty though, we are planners and would really want to be able to set it up in time to have some of our family be able to attend. So I'm looking for a weekend to make that happen - I was thinking about doing it around a holiday, but we'll see. I'm also a little torn on waiting until James' adoption is final too - just to have it be a sort of public way of going full circle with our church family.
Now with both babies to care for how are you handling meals? Do you cook a lot ahead of time and freeze it or just let every night bring a surprise?
So far, we've been very blessed by our church family... they brought us meals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for three weeks after we brought Tyler home. So we've had plenty of food on hand to just grab and go. We also planned ahead and cooked things to freeze into meal sized portions - which we have done pretty much since I had weight loss surgery. It's easier to cook a regular meal, and then divide it up to take to work for lunches or use on nights when cooking just isn't an option. When we can make it work - we will cook while the other one of us takes care of the boys and gets the bedtime routine started.
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
It was a very surreal time - so I'd say shocked, overwhelmed, elated, and nervous. I already had a baby that filled the empty place infertility left for me... and I had been told that I wouldn't have a child naturally... so I really essentially had moved on. I planned on praying for God to bless us with a pregnancy if he wanted that to be part of our story for the future... but little did I know that the whole time I was pregnant. I mean literally from the time we finished our home study for the adoption - that was about the time I got pregnant. Before we lost the baby girl placement in February... before James came along... it's crazy when you think of it. But also, very clear why I thought the nausea was stress or part of one of my normal illness cycles. (I have suffered from occasional periods of extreme nausea lasting 2 weeks to a month or more for several years.)
How did you meet your husband?
The short answer - Online. The long answer - We met initially in 1997 on America Online by chatting and instant messaging... after chatting for a few weeks or so, John had me mail him a photo of myself. (I didn't have any digital photos back then) I chose a photo from high school that was one of my favorites, but apparently it made me look too young... so John stopped talking to me. About a year passed, and we started chatting again on AOL - this time around we both were in relationships - but mine was an abusive situation so he tried to talk me into leaving my boyfriend at the time and seek a healthier relationship for myself. We stopped talking again and over time I did realize that my situation wasn't good for me and I made the changes to my life that I needed to make. One more year later - (the third time was the charm) we started chatting one last time and we both were single. The situation was perfect... and we've been together ever since! We started officially dating in March of 1999... engaged in early 2001... married in February 2002!
What made you decide on James and Tyler for the names of your boys?
For James - John always wanted his first born son to have the same initials as he has...which are also his father's initials. We toyed with the idea of naming him after John, but I didn't want to have people calling him Junior... so instead we named him after a high school teacher that John was really close with. That teacher worked with the Ag program at John's high school and was special to him. He never had children of his own, and he died suddenly while John was in college... and at his funeral one of the other teachers told John that the guy told him once that if he ever had a son - he'd want him to be just like John. So, we named him after him and gave him my father-in-law and John's middle name. Ironically, my grandfather on my Dad's side was named James too - he didn't go by that name, but it was his... also one of my uncles, a cousin, and a cousin's son are all also named James.
Tyler's name doesn't quite have the same story... we subscribed to one of those weekly pregnancy email services and somewhere around 20 weeks they told us to both make a list of names that we liked and share them with each other. John did it, but I never did. I looked at John's list, and instantly loved the name Tyler. His middle name "Christian" is in honor of the miracle that he is... being the baby that we were told we'd never have.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom to two young children?
I think for me in this moment, my favorite thing is knowing that I overcame some incredible obstacles to get here... we worked so hard for 8 years to get where we are today... and we've been given such a blessing by being faithful and never giving up. We prayed so many different prayers - both for natural babies, and even for God to give us the babies that he would want us to raise... and look where we are. We were given the incredible privilege to raise James and love him like he deserves to be loved... AND at the same time we were given the miracle of Tyler to raise and love just the same. With all of that being said - it can be incredibly overwhelming at times!
What is you favorite thing to do? (other than be with your boys)
There are so many answers that could go here... I'd say that in the fall... it's getting a Starbucks and hitting the craft fair circuit... I LOVE craft fairs! In the other times of the year - I have a really deep love of cooking and trying new recipes... reading, watching movies, hanging with friends... basically there isn't one set answer - it just depends on the day and my mood.
James is awake now... so I've got to run play with him, but I'll be back to answer more of your burning questions soon!! If you think of any new questions to add to the list - just enter them in the comments section, I love being able to interact with you guys in this way!
I have been desperately trying to get a chance to start working on answering your questions from last week - and I PROMISE that I'm going to make it happen... one way or another. Geez, even if I have to stow away at a Starbucks this weekend for an hour.
It's funny - before I actually tried my hand at this whole stay at home Mom thing... I thought it would be easier. Even if it is temporary - it's totally worth every minute of heart ache and exhaustion... but I really thought that more of the day would be down time that I could use to get things done - I was SERIOUSLY wrong on that front. Maybe when the kids are older, but certainly not as life stands in my house right now.
As soon as I get done feeding, changing, and settling one baby in... the other wants to feed, change, play or settle in himself. So it's pretty much a constant series of actions devoted to my two little princes... so I sort of thought it might be funny to give you a little sneak peak at the glamorous life I'm leading these days.
Today alone - looked like this:
Both boys threw up on me at different times during the day - which means Mom had three wardrobe changes herself.
We had 4 super stinky dirty diapers during the day today...
Eleventy Billion wet diapers
12 or so bottles made, consumed, and washed
2 boys given baths, massages, and snuggles
2 attempts at giving James baby food (he's still not feeling 100% so his eating isn't normal)
15 million showings of Baby Einstein for James
4 attempts at reading books with James
1 hour or so of helping James sit up... he's getting so close to being able to do it on his own
7 doses of acid reflux medicine given to James
3 applications of vapo rub on James' feet to help with his stuffy nose
Likely 2 hours or so of play time in the exersaucer and/or rolling around on the floor for a certain 7 month old
3+ hours of sweet snuggle time with Tyler
6 or so short naps for each of the boys... that I wish could be translated into 2 or three longer naps
1 bottle held and consumed by James all by himself... or at least he held it while he drank the last ounce or so (he's getting so BIG!)
at least 2 loads of laundry generated between wardrobe changes, burp cloths, bibs, and blankets used since Tuesday
several videos and photos taken of the boys throughout the day...
all leading to ONE tired, sore, brain dead, and deliriously happy Mama
My time today is a little more flexible, but not quite flexible enough to start tackling your questions - I plan on working on that tomorrow afternoon when I get back from an interview. James will be visiting the sitter - so I should have a few more minutes to concentrate.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share some videos...
This first one was Tyler in the NICU... I think the commentary might give the incorrect son's name, but lets just say that Daddy had been through a lot that day and was REALLY tired.
Today, I find going better - but at the same time I have moments of completely being in awe of having these two boys. Its sort of that moment where I just am confused because I'm not nearly old enough or mature enough to be entrusted with such an amazing task.
Here we are today...
This guy is 7 months old today, and happens to be VERY happy about it.
So, what happens when you have two kids within one year? Trivial as it sounds... but a big concern for me has been our Christmas Stockings! I truly love nothing more than finding little fun tidbits in my stocking every year, and I can't wait to pass that on to the boys.
I started looking online about 2-3 months ago... extremely early, but I knew that time would be slim once Tyler came along and it just isn't an option to not have cuteness hanging from the mantel during the holiday season.
My next irrational concern in the stocking shopping... what do I do about our future baby's stocking? How do you handle that? Do you just buy a whole new set again at that time? Well, at roughly $20+ per stocking... I would rather take the hit now and not have to get a whole new set. I'm a big dork and like things to match - so we set out to figure a solution to making this work.
That's when we found Stocking Factory online - they actually address this very issue. They tell you the likelihood of them carrying the stockings you purchase in future years... but also allow you to go ahead and buy extras to return later for personalization. Just keep your order number and information with the extra stockings, and you can send it back at some point in the future to get your kiddo's name put on it.
We found these... and they will be proudly displayed on our mantel this year!
We're ordering the Santa for "Daddy", the Snowman for "Mommy" (because Mommy is a snowman FREAK!), and a reindeer for each of the kiddos. I can't wait to see how these turn out... and you know that I'll post a picture to show you!
I'm a day late and a dollar short on the winner of the drawing - but what can I say? James hasn't been feeling well, and by the end of the day - I'm pretty much brain fried. Today is my first day home alone all day with both boys - and the old brain is almost mush already. (2PM!)
I think James is getting those teeth... but I can't find any bumps in his mouth just yet. He does however have extreme fussiness, he won't eat more than 2 ounces at a time, has no interest in baby food, can only handle being awake for about 30 minutes to an hour before needing another nap in a BIG way, he won't take the pacifier... and just is generally on edge.
So needless to say, Mama is running like crazy - and is still trying to get a thing or two done around the house at the same time. Apparently, only one task can be handled along with taking care of these two... I've been working on getting the laundry done all day!
Anyway... the Holiday Give-A-Way winner is....Danielle @ Nacho Mama's Quilt!Congratulations friend - I know you'll get good use out of the prize! Danielle is an incredible entertainer - and a fantastic cook!
I think life is kicking John and I while we're down right now... and what can you do about that? Not much. I guess in time we'll just laugh about it, but today it feels pretty poopy. The boys absolutely are sleeping terribly right now... which is to be expected for Tyler, but James is having some serious issues the last few nights.
I don't know what to make of it - teething? jealousy? growth spurt? new room? - I have no idea, but it's making us borderline certifiable... from the hours of 1-5 there isn't much sleeping going on for this Mama... or really anyone in the house. In addition, Tyler eats just about every 3 hours... but is going through something where he is just fussy all night long - laying him down flat in the bassinet just doesn't work for him. He either wants to be in the bouncy (which for some reason makes him happier during the day than at night) or touching one of us. John can get the boys to sleep a little bit by snuggling with them, but I can't because of the pain in my shoulders that I'm being treated for.
Oh yes, I've somehow managed to have a baby and the worst pain that my body is feeling is in my shoulders - I can't raise my arms up even the slightest bit without pain. So, I'm on steroids.. woo hoo... you know that that means? For me, it means that for about the next month - I go blind. Weird... I know, but it is true. Every time I take these things this same reaction happens to me. At least I get some wear out of the $200 pair of glasses I bought several years ago when this reaction happened for the first time.
So, literally - I'm blind, unemployed and exhausted... but then this morning - the world is taking a swing at the husband too... his amazing cell phone landed in a puddle of water - which could mean that it's ruined. It's going through a drying out process right now, and I sincerely hope that it comes back to life! Add to that - two emails from people over petty issues... and we're just a little over our limit. Under normal circumstances - most of these issues would just roll off without any lasting irritation... but when coupled with the whole no sleep thing - it can be overwhelming!
I love these kids with all my heart, but seriously - one night of them cooperating a little so that these two tired parents could regroup would help tremendously! I think we could deal with one of them having a sleeping issue, but both at the same time?! Oiy!
This guy is 1 month old today... I'm not sure what he's doing to his ear in this shot... but it makes me smile. It's like he's trying to hear the television or his music on the bouncy seat better.
Here's hoping that you're all doing better than I am today... I don't even think an IV of caffeine would help me now - but I'm trying to push through it and get some things done... only two weekdays left until I start watching both boys during the day. So if I'm going to finish getting the house organized and nested - I've got to hop to it!
We just finished Tyler's birth announcements, and even though some of you will be getting one in the mail... I had the opportunity to share it with you, and wanted to do it! Any of you getting ready to do any sort of holiday cards or birth announcements might want to check out Shutterfly... we use them not only for printed photo cards and keepsake photo books to be given as gifts, but also for printing our photos to frame and for sharing photos with family that aren't on Facebook. By posting this image of our finished product... we are getting a coupon code that we hope to use for our Christmas cards as well... so there might be something in it for you to use in the future as well!
Anyway, one of the principals of Dave's plan is using what is called an envelope system - where you budget small amounts of cash to set aside for future expenses... when the cash is gone - you are done shopping for said expense. He recommends doing this system for a lot of household expenses on a monthly basis, but that didn't quite work for us - but there are things that it does work beautifully for... like Christmas, Birthdays, and the like.
We set a plan for how much we plan to spend on Christmas each year in January, and break it up into 12 monthly payments... and put the cash aside each month. Since Christmas doesn't sneak up on us in an expensive way... it takes some of the stress out of the season for us.
Now, I know that in this day and age - we do a lot of shopping online... and with two infants - this year I'll likely do more than ever before via the interwebs. So what we do is shop online and then take the cash and deposit it back into our account... always paying for our online purchases with our debit card to make sure that we don't get into a credit card spending situation.
Another way that we make our shopping a bit more stress-free is to make a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for during the coming season. I write out each person - and then determine the amount that I'm willing to spend for each individual on that list. It can take some of the fun out of buying the perfect gift when you see it in the store, BUT it keeps you from getting into a shocking credit card bill opening period come January!
I am always determined to make my gift purchases fairly even for each type of person on my list too - so I set an amount we'll spend on parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, spouses, children, friends... and so on. It sometimes takes some tinkering with the amounts to make sure that you don't go over your budget - but it works for us. You may need to do a bit of this initially before setting your budget for the year as well - just to get an idea of what you need to be considering for that annual Christmas season amount.
Like Dave always says - Christmas happens every December 25th - so it shouldn't ever come as a shock to your budget! Plan ahead and you will be one step ahead of the game.
For more ideas check out Turned Loose. I joined in her Christmas themed carnival, and hopefully will be back with some more posts for you during this season of giving!