Friday, October 31, 2014

Blankets and babies

I've been wanting a new comforter for our bed for a long time, and finally picked this duvet cover up at IKEA on a whim last week since I liked it well enough and it was cheap. I wasn't really in love with it, but after unsuccessfully searching over the past several months for something I loved that wasn't painfully overpriced I was so ready to just get something already. After I put it on our bed, our whole room instantly looked so much brighter and happier, and I actually really, really like it after all... yippee! I have been struggling to figure out what direction I want to go in with paint and decor, and now I've got lots of ideas spinning in my brain. I can't wait to really start working on this room in earnest... although I probably better finish some of the many other projects I'm in the middle of at the moment, like painting our hall/bathroom walls and trim, as well as staining cabinets, installing doors, replacing light fixtures, sewing curtains... the list goes on and on. I'm the queen of beginning projects... but finishing them is hard with a mobile, mischievous baby!

Like I said in this post, our mornings are usually pretty slow and lazy while I try to get as recharged as possible after a rough night, and it's so nice to have this room a little more cozy and cheery. The happy change (and morning light) inspired this little impromptu photo session. 

He loves hanging out on my bed, but is always crawling dangerously close to the edge, so I have to pick him up...

...and plop him down in the middle again. It's his new favorite game.

Here he is, trying to do it again...

...and laughing at me as I get ready to grab him. 

This time he actually laid down for a while, distracted by the window and his toes. They are still a bit of a novelty after wearing the brace all day for so long. 

Those eyes, man. He is always observing everything so intently and I just wish I knew what he is thinking.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Eli Thursday

35 weeks

I put him in our backpack so I could get some chores done, and when it had been a suspiciously long time since I had felt him yank on my bun I looked in a mirror and saw this.

Can't blame him. Doing the dishes bores me too. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Real life

Crazy hair
Yesterday's makeup
T-shirt + yoga pants
Eli is only dressed because he blew out all over his PJs
You can't see it but my room is a mess
(Actually my whole house is at the moment... shhh)


We tend to spend a lot of time in my bed in the morning. The morning sun makes it bright and cheery, and since a certain young man still isn't sleeping well at night it's nice to just stay under the covers as long as possible. I love that he is a morning person. He chats and giggles and tries to crawl off the bed to explore new territory and then giggles some more when I pull him back to me by his little ankles. 

I try to take a lot of pictures, but I don't think I take enough of the real, genuine, un-pinterest-worthy, but oh-so-happy snippets of our life. Those are my favorite moments though, when the house is is disarray, with toys all over the floor and dirty dishes left ignored in the sink, and yet everyone is happy. And that's what is most important, right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Storytime: Our First Kiss

It was getting late and I knew I would need to head home before long. We were snuggled up on the couch watching a movie after making dinner together. That was (and still is!) one of our favorite things to do on our dates.

We had been dating long enough to know we really, really liked each other, but we still hadn't kissed. I honestly hadn't really even thought about it much. Looking back, it probably would have been wise to be prepared to avoid being taken off guard, because I was not expecting it to happen that night. No sirree. While we were snuggled up on the couch, I suddenly realized Dallin was quite close to me, and before I had time to realize what was happening he closed the (narrow) gap and kissed me. He kissed me reeeeal good, right on my unsuspecting (but certainly not unwilling) lips.

Just to warn you, this story is about to get really romantic.

I should probably also mention here that this was, in fact, my first kiss... something Dallin didn't even know. I'm sure this is partially why I suddenly became extremely nervous. The butterflies in my stomach started swarming, and when Dallin gave me a very, very, very tight squeeze with his arms directly around my midsection, I felt an overwhelming sensation come over me.

But it wasn't the romance. Ah, if only! Instead, it was my dinner churning in my stomach and venturing upwards into unwelcome territory. I couldn't believe it. I extricated myself as quickly as possible, and ran to the bathroom just in time to toss my cookies. I spent several minutes cuddling with the toilet while poor Dallin sat alone on the couch (unable to ignore the sounds of my barf session, no doubt) thinking, "Well, I guess this means she probably won't want to see me again."

See, I told you this would be one romantic story. It doesn't get much more steamy than this, does it? Oh baby.

Obviously I did want to see him again, and lucky for me that little incident wasn't enough to scare him off. Hallelujah! While it wasn't exactly the wildly romantic first kiss I was hoping for, at least it made for a great story that I can't wait to tell our kids someday.

(At Grand Falls a couple months after "the incident")

Annnnnd at least I still managed to keep him around, so he must really love me. ;)

Monday, October 27, 2014

A few snippets from the weekend

We went to the Phoenix Temple open house on Saturday. All these temples popping up in Arizona makes me so happy!

This one is pretty small, especially compared to the Gilbert Temple, and absolutely beautiful.

Eli sat on Dallin's shoulders during the tour. I know he won't remember it, but I loved watching him look all around and take everything in.

And even though it doesn't look like it in this picture, I think he had a pretty good time. :)

We also stopped by to see grandma Carmen, who is always so happy to see us, especially Eli.

I finally used this certificate I got for my birthday about... three, maybe four years ago. About time, right? I'm pretty sure butterscotch squares are what we will eat in heaven. SO GOOD. 

Eli met his doppelgänger at IKEA. He had some pretty mixed feelings about the experience.  

First, interest and curiosity. 

Then exuberant displays of affection. 

Things quickly turned south as deep feelings of jealousy began to develop, and the offending lookalike got a smack in the face...

...and an attempted arm amputation.

But then Eli realized this supposed "lookalike" was lacking his shiny bald head... the jealousy dissolved, all was forgiven, and they parted as friends. 

We finished off the day at Chick-fil-a where the cousins were finally able to hit each other in the face without doing harm. Possibly the best day of their short lives. 

Becca and I pretty much finished up painted the bathroom we started a couple weeks ago, when this picture was taken. We are awful at taking duck-faced mirror pictures (that's probably good thing). Next step: staining the cabinets! Wish us luck! Man, it feels so good to see real progress being made on our house. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eli Thursday

34 weeks

This kid loves bath time, especially when he gets to enjoy it with his beloved spatula in hand. I love that squishy baby belly.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our clubfoot experience

As I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this blog knows, Eli was born with a clubfoot. At his appointment a couple weeks ago, we got the great news that he no longer has to wear his brace during the day, except for naps! I was pretty sure that would be the case, but I was really hesitant to get my hopes up! He is so happy to be free which makes us all happy. Plus, now I can kiss those little baby toes whenever I want to. I've missed that.

Now that we've moved on to the next stage of this treatment, I thought I would share a little bit about our experience and answer some of the questions we get.

First of all, let me explain what clubfoot is. Basically, it is a congenital birth defect that causes the foot to turn in, kind of like a golf club, because the tendons are too short and tight. It's fairly common and usually can be fixed without complications (yay!).

(Image source)

I found out the day after my 20 week ultrasound during an unexpected phone call from my OB/GYN. I went in for another ultrasound just to confirm it, and then had another from a specialist who looked for evidence of other complications, since clubfoot can be a sign of problems like spina bifida.

I knew nothing about clubfoot before that phone call, but in the weeks and months that followed I did lots of research... and lots of worrying too. Even though his ultrasounds looked good we couldn't be 100% certain it was an isolated clubfoot, and even if it were I was worried about the treatment. Casts to stretch out the tendons being put on my tiny baby? Probable surgery? A boots-and-bar brace we would be dealing with for a few years? None of that sounded very fun. On the bright, it was something we could fix. The treatment usually works. That made me feel a lot better.

From what I have gathered, the typical treatment for clubfoot goes something like this:
  1. Weekly casts (4-6, on average) that gradually stretch out the tendons and align the bones properly
  2. Possible surgery in which the Achilles tendon is cut all the way through. When they are little, it just grows back, and that completely blows my mind. This surgery seems to happen most, if not all, of the time for clubfoot patients. 
  3. One final cast after surgery which stays on for three weeks
  4. A boots-and-bar brace must be work 23 hours a day until they are cleared to just wear it when they sleep. From what I've seen, there are a lot of different opinions about when the brace time can be reduced, but it seems like it's just about always before they start really trying to stand/walk.
(Image source)

Here's what Eli's treatment has been so far, in a nutshell:
  1. Four of the weekly casts, beginning when he was just under a month old (March 17). Only his left foot was "clubbed," so obviously he only needed one cast. I'm thankful we needed less casts than average since we had to drive 1.5 hours to Eli's pediatric orthopedist (if you are in AZ and looking for someone, email me for his doctor's info... we love him!), plus the casting process wasn't a lot of fun. My job was always to hold him down since he would kick and scream as the doctor and technician turned his foot out and applied the cast. It was so sad, but he was usually okay after that, especially after getting some Tylenol and snuggles and milk. Sometimes he was a little fussy for a few hours though. He had a "soft" fiberglass cast, which meant I could peel it off myself, with a little elbow grease, before each appointment and give him a bath.
  2. Surgery (April 15). This is a very minor, quick surgery that only required one stitch, but they did have to put him all the way under. That was probably the scariest thing for me, especially since he wasn't even 2 months old yet! It went very smoothly though, of course, and he was back to his normal, happy self by the next day.
  3. The final cast that stays on for three weeks got put on right after surgery, which was nice since that meant they could do it while he was still under anesthesia. Much more comfortable for Eli, and easier for everyone involved.
  4. Eli got his boots-and-bar brace, the thing that we think looks like a mini snowboard, on March 7. We all liked this much more than the casts! He was able to bend and straighten both knees and enjoy an hour of freedom every day. He continued to wear it 23 hours a day until his last appointment on October 1st, and now only wears when he sleeps. 
I already answered most of the questions we are usually asked, but here are a few that I didn't cover yet:

What causes clubfoot?

Nobody knows for sure, although I was told it is more likely when they mother smokes or drinks during pregnancy (I've never done either, just to clarify... ha!). It just happens sometimes, although making sure you get enough folic acid might help prevent it. I was taking prenatals though, so... who knows. There is also some speculation about it happening if there isn't enough room in the womb for the baby to develop.

Is it painful?

His foot did look pretty odd before treatment, so I can see why people would be worried about it hurting him, but it was obvious that it didn't. The only painful part happened when we started bending it back into shape.

Will he be able to go canyoneering with Dallin? ;)

Oh yeah. His left foot should work just as well as his right when he is older, although it might be a little shorter and fatter. Fun fact: there are several famous athletes that were born with clubfoot, including Mia Hamm and Kristi Yamaguchi.

How does it affect daily life? What changes did you have to make to get normal things to work?

Honestly, it isn't that much different than it would be otherwise. I thought life would be a lot harder. We didn't have to make a lot of changes, but naturally there were some adjustments that had to be made. For example:
  • Swaddling: It was no problem with his casts, but the brace made it a little tricky to wrap him tightly enough. I'd either use a bigger blanket (I like the size of the Aden and Anais muslin blankets a lot!), or – better yet – use a HALO SleepSack. These are perfect because they allow you to have their torso tightly swaddled even with the bulk of the cast/brace. 
  • Clothes: I was a little worried about this, but it ended up being fairly easy to find clothes that would work. I never had a problem getting normal stretchy baby pants over the cast, and just a couple of pairs were hard to slip over the boots on his brace (the bar can be removed for this purpose, which is so nice!). Rompers were a little easier with the brace, but it wasn't a huge difference. It can be a little hard to find tall socks, which he needs for his brace. The cheapest ones I've found are the cuffed ones at Walmart which are pretty tall when they are unrolled, but I prefer these ones from Amazon since they are thicker. 
  • Diapering: Since his casts went all the way up his leg, the gauze would always soak up some poop. That was pretty gross. No matter what I tried it always happened. I just made sure to rub some diaper cream between the cast and his skin or else he would get a rash where it rubbed. Once he got the brace, diaper changes became super easy because it functioned as a pretty nifty handle to keep his feet out of the way! 
  • Other than that, everything was pretty effortless and his casts/brace didn't get in the way very often. He always seemed comfy in his carseat, bouncer (where he slept fairly often at first), crib, Bumbo, booster seat, stroller... you name it. Just not a baby wrap since his legs couldn't spread out the way they need to. 
And here are some pictures of my favorite little gimp! 

These first two pictures were taken the morning of his first cast.

These pictures show the progress we made over two months of casts. I love how happy he is in the brace picture. :)

And here is what his little toesies look like now! 

Pretty much good as new! It's amazing what you can do with modern medicine and babies that are still made out of rubber! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Eli Thursday

33 weeks

The most pitiful little jailbird, contemplating his unfortunate luck in being born to coldhearted parents that won't let him stay up and play all night. Such a rough life. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

This boy.

I knew I was going to love him, but I didn't realize how much.

His sweet little self just makes me want to squeeze him as tightly as I can, and kiss his squishy face off, and spin him around in circles because that always makes him giggle. 

He makes me want to have a million babies, but also makes me wonder if I'll be able to handle two someday. 

He is so perfectly innocent, perfectly perfect. 

He's got me wrapped around his dimpled little fingers. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eli Thursday

32 weeks

We've got a bit of a Cheerios junky on our hands. If it gets a little too quiet, I can usually bet on finding him like this with the snack container he sneakily swiped from my diaper bag. It's so funny to watch him eat since he still hasn't quite mastered the art of picking up the food and putting it into his mouth. Most of the Cheerios he tries to eat end up rolling down his chest and back onto the floor, and yet he tries over and over again, totally undaunted, until he finds some other mischief to get into. Silly goose.

Monday, October 6, 2014

On making happiness

Of all the lessons I've learned in life thus far, I think one of the most important ones has been learning how to be happy. Lately I've really begun to understand that happiness is almost always the result of your own actions and choices. It isn't something you should just wait for, hoping it will be delivered to your doorstep wrapped in silver paper. It's something you have to make for yourself.

Being happy has been a bit harder for me sometimes after having Eli. I know I had post-partum depression which made for a lot of very difficult days, and even now – 7.5 months later – I still have moments when it comes back a little bit, but thankfully not very often. I'm pretty sure I don't have depression (meaning MDD), but at times it is easy to fall into a rut that is difficult for me to escape from. On the bright side, I'm figuring out how to avoid that, and I've been doing really well lately. Yippee!

For me personally, here are some things essential to my daily happiness:

  • A hot shower. Ideally a long one, but even five minutes is enough to improve my mood.
  • Getting out of the house, at least every other day, even if that just means a walk around the block.
  • Speaking of walking, I have to get some kind of exercise. Walking, pretending I am a runner (also known as pretty much walking. It's a struggle.), and yoga are my current exercises of choice. I notice a huge difference in my mood when I don't do something active. Even walking around the store helps!
  • Eating well. Junk food makes me feel gross and grumpy. The more fresh fruits, veggies, and water I consume, the better I feel.
  • But I also believe in balance, and that a few chocolate chips or a spoonful of ice cream can go a loooooong way. Amen. ;)
  • Getting sleep. I get what I can, which hasn't been that great lately, but I think it's getting better! I only had to get up once last night! Hopefully I don't jinx it.
  • Doing something for someone else. Usually this tends to be focused on Eli and Dallin, but I'm trying to be more aware of people outside my family. Making other people happy always makes me happy.
  • Personal scripture study and prayer. Can I be honest for a second? Ever since Eli was born I have been lousy at reading the scriptures on my own. Dallin and I are pretty consistent about reading a chapter together at night, but lately that's all I've been doing. Same story with prayer. When I really take the time to study and ponder and sincerely pray, my day is so much better... every single time. I'm improving in this area, but I still have a long way to go! How do you remember to read? What time usually works best for you? I could use some suggestions in this area!
Well, there you have it. There are a few of the things I do to be happy. It's been working for me... what works for you?

And just because we all know I can't resist posting pictures of my favorite little babe:

Oh that boy. He makes me happy and drive me bonkers all at the same time.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


This weekend is General Conference. Yippee! In other words, I will be spending today and tomorrow snuggling, making/eating delicious food, and watching the leaders of my church speak. It happens twice a year, and it is my favorite. 

There are sessions at 9am and 12pm, AZ time, both today and tomorrow. If you want to hear President Monson speak, tune in tomorrow (Sunday) morning! No matter what your religion is, this is a great opportunity to learn more about Christ and how to be a better person in general. Or just have an excuse to watch TV in your PJs. Whatever floats your boat, peeps. Here's the link: 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eli Thursday

31 weeks

Eli is usually a pretty happy little dude, but ever since yesterday life has been particularly good because... guess what? He no longer has to wear his brace during the day! We are all so happy! I get to kiss his baby toes whenever I want to, and it's a lot more comfortable for him I'm sure. Today he's just been all smiles, especially when I took him to the park to exercise his new freedom. He will still have to wear it at night for 2-3 years, but that's much more manageable than 23 hours a day. Hallelujah!

Also, he loves blowing raspberries. All day erryday.