Connor: This kid loves to show us his love and affection by body slamming us, licking us and in general just doing anything crazy to us he can. He even likes to "push our buttons" and see how we'll react…he literally pokes me in different places and laughs when he sees what I'll do.  It may be my smile button, my hug button, my tickle button...

Isla: This girl and flowers. Whenever she sees one, she wants to pick it. Sometimes she wants them put in a vase, other times she wants to give them to people, other times they are food for her (stuffed) kitties, and other times she shreds them and calls it pixie dust. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

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Swim Lessons

Connor just finished up two weeks of private swim lessons through the city. Given that last year he wouldn't even get off the step of the pool, regardless if someone would hold him or not, he definitely has grown this year. One of his huge fears has been putting his face in the water. Even with goggles on, he has big issues with not wanting to get his eyes wet. But, by the end of the two weeks, he was consistently doing it. The last two lessons, he even grasped the concept of opening his eyes underwater, with his goggles on of course. Now, Connor isn't swimming on his own yet. But, he is getting more comfortable in the water. He is blowing bubbles out both his nose and mouth. And he is starting to get the hang of using a kick board on his own. After his lessons ended, he actually asked me to sign him up again. This is huge for him. Now I am hoping that Isla will follow suit, given that I am pretty sure her fear of water has really been her feeding off Connor's fears.

On a side note, there was a lifeguard at every lesson, who obviously really did nothing. Sometimes he would float around the pool, other times just stand in the shade. But this kid had colored rubber bands on his braces and for some reason that just really cracked me up…and made me feel old.

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Why I Said Goodbye to Starbucks

My love affair with coffee started at a young age. I can remember my grandma giving me coffee in her sunroom in the morning when I would sit in there and play card games with her. I remember playing tea at a friends house. While everyone else wanted to drink juice in their cups, I would beg for coffee and her mom would always concede. I remember my dad taking me to see "a coffee shop in a bookstore!" And I remember when the first Starbucks opened in my city when I was 14. Everyone loved it. Sure, most my friends were getting frappuccinos while I got a cappuccino. But I loved coffee and never went down the super sweet coffee road. 

In high school, hanging out at Starbucks was basically a daily occurrence. In college, both Ian and I worked at Starbucks. After college, the love continued. And my love only grew during my time working at Starbucks in Scotland. After having Isla, my love of the Starbucks drive thru was born. I needed to get out of the house but didn't want to unload two kids from the car. And after being up half the night, the Starbucks drive thru was just the place to go. 

Then my kids started getting older. I started treating Connor to his own drink. And that's where the drama began. More often than not, stores wanted to argue with me about the cost of a kids beverage. It really was workers on some weird power trip, but I got tired of it. I got tired of ordering a $1.40 drink for my four year old and having to argue with the person ringing me up why I shouldn't have to pay $3…when it was clearly on their menu for $1.40!!! I actually can't even tell you how many times the manager got involved and how many times I wrote Starbucks in frustration about the matter. Because of that, I basically stopped going to Starbucks altogether. It wasn't worth it for me to argue about the price of a child's beverage each time I went there. 

I get that Starbucks is a money making corporation. I have never had a problem with that. But over the past few years, they seem to care more about churning out overly sweet beverages at an alarmingly fast rate than they do about their customers. I can't tell you how many times my cup of coffee I ordered was only luke warm. And given my "inside knowledge" it appears that more often than not, they are serving old coffee…fresh brewed coffee is supposed to be dumped and rebrewed every hour. Now, my husband probably wishes I had given up on Starbucks and their "subpar" coffee years ago. But it never bothered me. It was convenient. Even though they are everywhere and convenient, they are no longer worth it to me. So, with sadness in my heart, I shut the door on a huge chapter in my life and kiss Starbucks goodbye. I wish them and their zillion frappuccino flavors all the best. 

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Fun in the Sun with Friends

^^ I struggled deciding between this picture and one of Isla actually smiling at the camera. Ultimately this one won out because Isla has been doing this lately. Instead of smiling at the camera, she looks at the person she is in the picture with and smiles. Like only a mother would, I find it cute. 

Last week a few of my friends and our kids met at the river to play. I had never been to this area before and didn't know what to expect. And, truth be told, the words play/river/children just don't go together for me. But I was pleasantly surprised. The river was clear. It didn't get deep until about halfway out…and up until that point it was at most 18 inches deep. It was the perfect spot for kids to play. They splashed in the water. They played with trucks in the water. They turned a big log into a teeter totter. I enjoyed it so much that there will definitely be a next time. And next time, I will wear my bathing suit so I can sit in the middle of the water and cool off…my friend did this and I was totally jealous. And, next time, I will bring toys for my kids to play with so they don't have to steal everyone else's.

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Playing Police

My kids love playing police. They turn anything and everything into a jail (like our dining room chairs in the picture above). And I frequently hear them yell, "9-1-1, police under arrest Connor!" "No, police, under arrest Isla!" They say this not only when they are playing, but also when they are mad or annoyed with each other. And, I have to admit, I love that they say "under arrest" because it shows that they are still little and I just think it's cute.

Funny fact, when I was in junior high, my younger brother called the police on my older brother. My mom was out running an errand, my dad was at work. My brothers were upstairs fighting and I was curled up in my favorite chair in the living room when there was a knock at the door. When I was standing there talking to the cop, my mom came home. Believe it or not, the cop lectured me for not keeping my brothers from fighting. What?! As if I wanted to get in the middle of that!!! I have since learned that if cops have time, they respond to calls like that to try and scare the kids into behaving.

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This is the first time in several weeks that I am actually posting my weekly photos on time. I'm finally over {most of} the first trimester fatigue and am back into the swing of blogging. And, oddly enough, I didn't plan on the kids pictures being so similar this week. Both are side profiles with part of their face blocked. 

Connor: He started swim lessons this week. He has done a good job at facing some of his fears in the water. He put his head fully under…of course, just once and hasn't done it again since! And he started using a kick board unaided. Not bad for a boy that refused to get off the step last year.

Isla: This girl loves to sleep in. This past week has been our first down week since school got out. She has enjoyed it by not getting up before 9am any morning. It's so nice not having to wake her up for things because when she wakes on her own, she wakes so happy.  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

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Big Kid Territory

Connor lost his first tooth yesterday. That can only be described as something definitely rooted in big kid territory. When Connor said his tooth was loose a week ago, I felt a little sadness in my heart. But, when he ripped (okay, it was really just barely hanging on there) it out yesterday, I felt nothing but pure joy.

For a few days now, Connor has been asking me, "How many sleeps until my tooth falls out?" I have made him guess, then I guess. Not an hour before he pulled his tooth out, he asked me that very question and I said "I think tomorrow, just keep wiggling it." Then, before you know it, he tells me he thinks it's ready to come out. Thankfully, I had my camera in the car, and we were parked, so I filmed him pulling it out. For your viewing pleasure, the little video clip is below.

Oh, and Connor totally knows that the tooth fairy is his 'ole mom and dad, but he is still excited. He told us once he went to sleep, we were supposed to take his tooth out of the bag it's in and put money in the bag instead. At least he schooled us on what we are supposed to do. I mean, this is our first time, what if we didn't know?! ;)

These milestones are so incredibly fun. I love being able to watch my kids grow up. I feel privileged to be a part of their lives and see these "firsts" happen. It feels like just yesterday he got his first tooth, yet that feels like a lifetime ago at the same time. And apparently five years ago, I didn't think blogging about Connor getting his first tooth was important, so I didn't. But I did mention in his 8 month update that he had two teeth, both on the bottom. So, he lost either the first or second tooth he got in. We will never know. And I am sure some day he will berate me for not knowing…I kid. I know he won't care. 

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My Journey with Secondary Infertility

I've written many variations of this post over the past few years. But never once could I bring myself to hit that publish button, with letting it all out there. There were many reasons for this. Believe it or not, I am actually a pretty private person and don't share much with people. Why? Mostly because I don't want to be judged or gossiped about in the areas of my life that are the most tender and important to me. Plus, I felt I should be grateful for what I have, after all, I already have two children. And, I kept thinking that I would look like a poser if I put it all out there then got pregnant the next month. But now is the time to share…part of the story anyway.

After having Connor, Ian and I discussed how many kids we wanted and came up with four. In my head, these children would be perfectly spaced apart in two year increments. With Connor and Isla, that obviously happened. This time, not so much. When Isla was about a year old, I felt more ready to tackle another child. Ian had the desire too and it just seemed like the right time. The problem was, I never got my period back after having Isla. Most people I would tell that to would tell me what a blessing it was. Sure, I loved not having it, but I wanted a baby. And no period meant no ovulation, and no ovulation meant no pregnancy. So, even though I desperately wanted to have another child, I felt like I needed to act as this "blessing" of no period was just that, a blessing, and not the curse as I saw it.

Now, let me not gloss over the fact that I thought all this was happening because I was extended nursing Isla. So, I regularly had these fights in my head feeling like I was to blame for not being able to get pregnant again, yet at the same time, not wanting to stop nursing Isla because she didn't seem ready.

Finally, two years after Isla was born, during a routine physical, I admitted to my obgyn that I never got my period back. I mentioned that I was still nursing. My doctor was shocked that I had yet to have a period, even though I was still nursing, and sent me for labs. She was very encouraging and told me that no matter what, they could get me pregnant somehow. What began was months of hormone taking and lab follow ups with nothing happening. In the middle of all this, I decided to stop nursing Isla, on the off chance that really was the problem. Well, it turns out it wasn't.

About a year ago, I was referred to an endocrinologist. I still remember that appointment. I thought I was going in to discuss my fertility options. Instead I was faced with hormone problems that affect a lot more than my fertility - think early menopause, osteoporosis, heart problems. I left that appointment feeling stupid for not speaking up sooner. After all, this is my health we are talking about.

About a week later, I found myself staring at the inside of an MRI machine. I laid down on the table, they put a blanket on me for comfort, put what they referred to as a "bird cage" on my head, then slowly I was moved into the machine. As the guy left the room and I was stuck, I began to cry. The thing is, I rarely ever cry. But at that moment, stuck in that stupid machines, it felt like everything came to a head. I was laying there with only my thoughts. I was crying and couldn't even move to wipe my own tears. Talk about a vulnerable moment. Anyway, to keep this story from getting out of hand, I was put on a medication to fix my hormone imbalance. Basically, it a medication I will have to take until it truly is time for me to go into menopause. But, I do not take it while pregnant.

This medication came with all sorts of scary side effects. But I took it. And, thankfully, the scary side effects never came. Which, I must say is a miracle. After reading in forums online, my dosage is much higher than most and most people taking it have side effects. After being on the medication for three months, my period came. Then two months later, I started ovulating again. And a few months after that, this little miracle inside of me came to be.

It's been a long road. One that has been very mental for me. Not a day went by that I didn't think about it. There was a constant pit in the bottom of my stomach. The pit that life, my family, isn't turning out the way I wanted. Dealing with the question of "When will you have another one?" over and over. And depending on how I answered that question, it could get awkward. Some responded with "I'm sorry".  Others have cried with me. Some have encouraged me. Other's have told me I should be grateful for what I have. Still, other's told me not to give up on the desire God placed in my heart. I was actually getting really close to being okay with the fact that I may never see the life I imagined. A month before I got pregnant, I actually went through and purged some of the baby stuff I kept. It was a little process in moving on from that dream and accepting my reality.

Obviously now I am pregnant. I don't know if the dream of four kids will ever happen…or even if we will really want another one once the baby arrives. But what I do know is I feel incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to have another child. I also feel incredibly blessed for modern medicine and the fact that one little pill can correct my hormone imbalances and keep me healthy. This has been a hard journey. It's been a lonely journey. But it is nice to be where I am today…15 weeks pregnant with a little "apple" (that's about the size of the baby now).

Though I'm not glad to have walked through this journey, I am glad for the compassion I have learned toward others. That quote you see all over the internet really is true. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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Tball Pics

Tball only ended last month. But apparently it takes a while these days to process film. Actually, I am sure these were shot on digital, so I don't know what the excuse for the time frame was. But, whatever. We finally got Connor's tball pictures last week. I was excited to see them. I was actually out of town for picture day, so Ian took Connor. I would like to say that even though it appears that Connor is being tortured in the above photo, I am pretty sure he was not. 

Ian wasn't an official coach on the team. But given that he showed up and helped at every practice, they ended up giving him a hat, then had him be in the group picture on picture day. I think it's cute. 

^^ Connor is standing on the right. I have never seen this particular facial expression from him, so I am going to go ahead and say he was somehow caught off guard by the picture! 

Connor still talks about tball all the time. I am glad it is something he has pride in. And we definitely plan on putting him in it again next year.

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California Adventure

The day after we went to Disneyland, we went to California Adventure. I was looking forward to this because I knew it would be less crowded and had rides for Isla that aren't "scary". After the long day we had the day before, all the adults seemed to be dragging a bit, but we rallied. Isla and I spent a lot of time in A Bug's Land because both Isla and I could ride all the rides. So, when others wanted to ride other things, I would take her there. Her and I also went on the ferris wheel twice and a merry go round. She said her favorite ride that day was the ferris wheel. Connor is now tall enough to go on a lot of the rides. His favorite ride that day was Goofy's Sky School, which is a roller coaster for kids. 

Really, the highlight of the day for me was the princess lunch at Ariel's Grotto. Both kids were excited about it. Though, Isla was much more excited about meeting the princesses than Connor was. They got to meet Ariel coming into the restaurant. It was a beautiful setting, sitting on the water for lunch. A page came out, walked around the restaurant singing. Then, he came out four different times announcing the various princesses - Snow White, Belle, Tiana and Cinderella. Isla was so excited and could hardly wait for the princesses to get around to her. They stop at every table, so it does take a while. And Isla asked each one when Cinderella was coming, which is her favorite princess. Even though Cinderella is her favorite, I have to give props to Tiana because she was definitely the most interactive. She got down on the ground and talked with Isla for a couple minutes. Not to mention that her dress looked really cool all spread around her on the ground. Isla was very excited about Cinderella and she didn't disappoint. And Cinderella asked Connor if he would be interested in marrying one of her stepsisters. Cinderella did a great job of staying in character and talking with the kids about the various characters in the movie, like Jack, Gus and Lucifer.

After lunch, we went and rode a few rides. Then we went to the Frozen Sing-a-long, which was everything I hoped it would be. They had a lot of humor in it for the adults. The lighting was amazing and with lights they kind of built Elsa's ice castle around you. Then, at the end, it snowed. Isla had such a huge smile on her face. It was fun. She actually asked to go watch it again.

On our way to Car's Land, we stumbled upon Jake and the kids of course said hi. They are both huge Jake and the Neverland Pirates fans. Everyone else got to go on the Radiator Springs Racers, but the ride wasn't suitable for either Isla or I. So we headed back to A Bugs Land for a couple rides. The other nice thing about bugs land is the lines are almost nonexistent, so you can get in a couple rides really quickly. We went on three rides and walked back to Car's Land and still beat everyone…and they had fast passes for their ride!

After Cars Land, we went over to Paradise Pier and rode a few rides. Then, Ian, the kids and I decided to head home about 7:30pm. I could tell the kids were tired (judging by their short fuses) and with knowing we had our breakfast with Mickey the next morning, I wanted them to get some sleep. All four of us were fast asleep by the time the rest of Ian's family came home.

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Fun in the Sun

Okay, so really this should have been titled "fun in the shade", but it just doesn't have the same ring to it. With temperatures being in triple digits and apparently ready to stay like that for a while, I headed out and got the kids a pool to play in. I decided to set up this gargantuan blow up pool on the patio. I figured it would keep the kids from getting too much sun exposure and would also keep the water from getting too hot, thus allowing me to reuse the water for longer. Yes, I have had problems in the past with water getting too hot in the kids kiddie pools when sitting in the sun. It be hot here people! The kids had a blast. The pool play was mostly fight free. We even busted out some popsicles…because pool or no pool and shade or no shade, 104 is HOT! And in case you are wondering, yes Connor did shoot me with the squirt gun while I was taking his picture and unfortunately, no I didn't get an action shot.

I must admit, later that evening the kids and I went back into the backyard to play. They decided to make mud to play in and Isla threw her mud covered self into that clean kiddie pool water…the water I was trying to allow us to reuse for days, given that we are in a drought and all. So yesterday, the kids got to play in a pool filled with dirty water. But, it's all good because they covered themselves in mud again and I didn't even have to try to stop them from getting in the pool to rinse off! Oh, and I am slowly getting rid of the water by watering the plants in our yard. Gotta conserve people, gotta conserve.

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