Friday, April 30, 2010

What do you do when....

You have an adorable two and a half year old girl who:

Is funny and cute
Has LOTS of personality
Has LOTS and LOTS of energy to burn
Likes to talk a lot
Is a joy and a blessing

And Also....

Likes to hit other kids
Likes to spank her mom's butt and mouth off when scolded
Thinks that time-outs are great because she can jump on her bed and sing
 Says "no" to everything
And can't follow through on the simplest request?

On another note......

My friend Catherine and her daughter Ashlynn and little boy Brayden had a sleepover with us last night. (All were brave for weathering Anslie's storm.) For the most part the two girls had fun playing in the play room and watching movies and eating popcorn. We gave ourselves and the girls pedicures and Anslie and Ashlynn finished the evening off with a super duper bubble bath in my giant jetted tub. Here are a few of the photos from the highlight of the night!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Fighting for Naps

Napping is something Anslie has ALWAYS fought me on. I remember when I was trying to get her on some semblance of a schedule when she was an infant, getting her to nap was a three-ringed circus. At one point I would swaddle her, take her into the bathroom (the darkest room in the house), turn off the light, turn on a hair dryer for white noise, rock and bounce and walk her until she was sleepy, then strap her in her bouncy seat with the vibrator on to simulate the rocking and bouncing, and tuck her in with a t-shirt I had slept in so that she could smell me while she napped (she never took a pacifier, otherwise that would have been involved too). Even then, she still would only nap for 30-45 minutes at a time.

As she got older her naps condensed from several a day to two (maybe around her first b-day?) and you would think that each nap's length would increase since there were fewer of them. Nope. 30-45 minutes, twice a day. Finally, I don't remember at what age, she was ready for one nap a day (I think it was pretty early, maybe 1 1/2?). I knew it was time to cut her second nap because she would wake up from it hysterical and it would take hours to calm her down.

When she was only napping once a day, I could expect her to sleep for an hour to an hour and half. That's IT. Every once in a while she would surprise me and sleep for 2+ hours, but I bet I could count on my fingers how many times that has happened over the last year.

Anslie is now 2 1/2. And she fights me EVERY. DAY. to take a nap. There are days when I don't put her down because we are out and about, or frankly, I just don't feel like fighting. (Those days I put her to bed an hour early at night) She does just fine missing her nap... until the evening time. And then we have a little tazmanian devil on our hands. Anslie becomes defiant, HYPERACTIVE, she won't eat, she hits, throws things, and is generally not a very pleasant kid to be around. (And the best part is she thinks her behavior is FUNNY and laughs and giggles as we try to enforce rules and implement dicipline.) So I feel like she still needs her nap to temper her behavior in the evening.

Here's the catch though. Not only does she fight me tooth and nail EVERY. DAY. to go down for a nap, I can't even trick her into falling asleep in the car and transferring her into her bed. I've driven around town for over 20 minutes when I KNOW she is struggling not to fall asleep, but she fights it every time. Some days it takes 40+ minutes of me rocking her, singing, soothing, and even sometimes threatening and spanking to get her to fall asleep...just for her to rest (and me to get a break from her) for an hour to an hour and a half. And even after all that (today is the perfect example) once I do get her to fall asleep, she will often get up about 5-10 minutes after I leave the room (as if she is faking me out, pretending to be asleep so I will leave) and play, sing to herself, scream my name to come and get her over and over again at the top of her lungs, or, best of all, take her clothes and (ocassionally poopy) diapers off.

So I just don't know what to do. I have a kid whom I think still needs a nap. She refuses to sleep. If she does go down it's a fight (and it's getting harder and harder for me to carry her and rock her with my due date quickly approaching. Not just hard, but physically painful.) Do I let her give up naps now, along with any hope of her napping once the baby is born so that I can get a break from my kids during the day, so that I don't have to fight her and put up with her bad behavior in the evening, or do I keep fighting the good fight and just hope I can get her to "nap" for the next few months to get her the rest she needs so she can be a happy, well adjusted, and productive kid, and until baby and I have recovered and I can get him on a schedule of his own?

Let me just say that some parents have already suggested that I still put her in her bed for an hour or two of "quiet" time instead of nap time, but the risk that I take by doing that is leaving her unsupervised to 1. smear poop all over everything like she did the one time I tried that, 2. figure out how to climb out of her crib and break her neck, 3. destroy her room if she does get out of her crib because really, what 2 1/2 year old can be left for any length of time unsupervised without ruining something.

If you have any advice, please post a comment. I am just at my whit's end and I don't know if I can fight any more. I will have to fight at some point during the day, I just don't what time is best. I'm desperate. And feeling violent. Your thoughts are welcome.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pima County Fair

Our last family hoo-rah before Anslie and I leave Tucson on Tuesday was a trip to the Pima County Fair. It was a cute little fair but, oh so expensive! They lure you in with a $7 entry fee and then assault your wallet with the cost of the rides and games! We had fun walking around enjoying all of the idiosyncrasies of fair culture, especially since we went with our friends, Jeff and Hilary, who are not experienced fair-goers. It was fun to see a fair their fresh eyes, confusion, and disbelief at all that a fair can and will offer it's patrons. Especially when it came to all of the livestock! Anslie had a great time looking at the animals and even more fun in the petting zoo. Thankfully Hilary brought her camera (I forgot mine at home) and was able to catch a few snapshots for me of Anslie with the animals. The other fun experience we had at the fair was Jeff and Hilary bungee jumping. It was Hilary's first time and she was a brave girl! Can't say I will EVER follow in her footsteps, though!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Old Tucson Studio

Kevin had today off of work so we took advantage and spent the day hanging out as a family. We went to the Old Tucson Studio, which is a location in Tucson where western movies have been filmed since the 30's. It was surprisingly large and the buildings all look authentic, but to my knowledge everything was props. Some of the most famous western have been filmed at this location including many John Wayne movies.

The only bad part about our excursion was that we went on the one day of the year that it rains in southern Arizona. It was about 50 degrees and because of the inclement weather, a lot of the games, booths, and other activities were closed. Huge bummer! We had fun though with a train ride, carousel ride, "horseless carriage" ride, a stunt show, dancing can can girls, a tour of a "mine" that was directed by the funniest and cutest old man I have ever met, and a pony ride!

The other bad part of our trip to the Studio was our lunch. Be forewarned: if you ever go for a visit, eat before you go or bring a sack lunch! We ate at the BBQ restaurant so highly recommended on their website and the food was so gross that none of us finished! The beef brisket, prickly pear chicken, and BBQ chicken sandwich must have been cooked earlier in the morning and then left in a hot pan or something all day so that it dried out and had a burned under flavor. Kevin's biscuit and Anslie's corn on the cob were even over cooked. The only thing that was actually tasty was the thousand island dressing that I had with my salad (that included a really old, wilted slice of tomato). And at about $12-$15 per plate, that is just not acceptable!

Besides the pony ride, I think Anslie's favorite part was the saloon show at the end of our trip. She loved the can can girls and was itching to get up and dance with them the entire time! At the end of the show the girls stuck around to pose for pictures and Anslie was the first to run up for hugs and pictures. One of the girls was really sweet and stayed late to hang out and dance with Anslie for a while.

This experience was a new one for our family and we had a fun time! I'm glad we went!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Today Anslie and I (okay, I) decided to go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens to see their butterfly exhibit. I will spare everyone the details of what a nightmare it was to get Anslie out of the house this morning (i.e. temper-tantrums, power struggles, refusals to eat, stuborness, etc) and just say we got there, all limbs intact.

We didn't stay long because said two-year-old chose to continue her behavior to the point that I became one of those mothers. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones who can't say anything nicely to their child, yell after them, make outspoken threats, and drag their kids around by their arms. Basically I was a total HAG and decided to leave before Anslie and I embarrassed ourselves any more. So, we paid what I considered an exhoribitant amount of money for what the Gardens offered for 45 minutes of me coming within an inch of killing my kid. Fun.

I tried to grab some pictures, but it was a little hard to get some of Anslie since she was traveling at warp speed and I was literally chasing after her, stroller filled to the brim with my purse, our lunch, and my camera bag, and hauling an extra 30 lbs of not-so-discreet baby weight. So, here's what I got. It's a shame it was such a rough trip because the Botanical Gardens were quite lovely and peaceful. Well, as long as we weren't there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fun at the Tucson Zoo

On Tuesday I took Anslie to the Zoo. We met with our new friends, Jessica and her daughter Tristan, and Melissa and Juan and their son Alvaro. Jessica's husband, Matt, went through the academy with Kevin and we met Juan and Melissa last summer when Juan and Kevin were teaching in Roswell.

We had SO much fun! Anslie and I started our visit off with a special little activity for pre-schoolers. We met with our zoo keepers and they took us to a special classroom where we listened to all kinds of animal sounds and tried to guess what animals they were. Then we colored pictures of Macaws and glued feathers and eyes on. Anslie had a blast using the glue stick and coloring is one of her favorite activities. Story time was then followed by a show and touch series where the zoo keepers brought out a guinea pig, a hedge hog, and a chicken for the kids to touch. Anslie loved seeing the animals but did NOT want to pet them. The final activity was a parade to the aviary where the keepers threw bird seed and live crickets out for the birds to eat while the kiddos watched. It was great fun!

After our activity, we met up with the others at the giraffes for our giraffe encounter. We got to feed them biscuits and lettuce and Anslie thought that was something special. She liked touching the giraffe's tongue and thought it was funny once she finally let go of the bicuits.

We walked around the zoo to see all of the animals of course, but the crowning moment was when Jessica and I took Tristan and Anslie to the water area and let them play (for Anslie and I, a couple of hours). I don't think I have seen Anslie have that much fun in a long time! And the best part was that no one got sunburned!!! Yay!

Anslie and I shared an ice cream cone and some rock candy as we walked back to the giraffes to say goodbye for the day. I bought her a little stuffed giraffe to remind her of our special zoo day and then we headed home. It was truly one of the most fun days Anslie and I have spent together!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

32 Weeks and Counting

I'm so thrilled to finally be in my third trimester! I am 32 weeks (33 as of tomorrow) and I can't believe I have less than two months left before we will welcome our little boy into our family! Aaaaahhhh! It's such a crazy thought that I will have a newborn again! I will be starting all over....nursing, getting up every two hours, sucking snot out of his nose with those blue suction balls, having a rear-facing car seat, swaddling, worrying about SIDS, leaking through my nursing pads and waking up in the morning in puddles of breast milk (we made sure to get a waterproof mattress cover this time!, going through 12+ diapers a day, etc, etc, etc. All of those little milestones you and baby meet and then forget about!

I'm doing well. I have lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, but that is nothing unusual. With both Anslie's and this pregnancy they started around 5 months and get stronger and longer throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Anslie is keeping me active and I am (somewhat) grateful for that because it's the only exercise I get.

I have a check up on Thursday and hopefully I will not have gained more than 4 or 5 pounds over the last four weeks. If that is the case then I will have gained less than 30lbs at this point in my pregnancy. I don't remember where I was at at this point with Anslie, but I gained 44 lbs total by the end. I'm trying really hard to stay within the 35lbs weight gain recommendation and so far things are looking like they are going in the right direction!

I have been able to hang out with my friend, Melissa, while here in Tucson which has been so much fun. I met her last summer while our husbands taught in Roswell and we became fast friends. She has always loved photography and since I saw her last she's been able to purchase her first dSLR camera. We've been able to spend some time practicing photography techniques and she did a really great job on some cute belly pics for my update this month. Thanks Melissa!

Stay tuned to hear more about my update and other fun things Anslie and I have been able to do on our "extended vacation"!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

One of my worst nightmares came true!

I went to get Anslie out of her pack and play after her nap today and when I walked into the room it totally wreaked of poop. Now, Anslie has pooped during her sleep many, many times in her life. In fact, it is pretty common for that very thing to happen.

But today there was something a little different about this stench. It was much stronger than it normally is. I turned on the light and much to my horror, found Anslie and her crib covered in poop! Apparently Anslie thought it would be fun to take her poopy diaper off and smear it all over her face, hair, and bedding.

I have heard of kids doing this before. My sister, Tera, has a few good stories about it. But this is the first time it has happened to me and hopefully the last! It was sooooo disgusting to clean up! I threw Anslie in the tub and had her stand under the shower to rinse most of it off, and then gave her a bath while I cleaned up her bedding. I'm just glad I didn't throw up!

Anslie and I had a little talk about what happened afterward and she ran around the house for an hour saying,"diaper poopy off. Uhgusting!" She probably doesn't get it. I don't care if she does or doesn't, as long as she never does it again! Maybe I can sleep a little better now that one of my worst nightmares has come true...

Where are the pictures, you ask? I thought I would spare you the horror. You can thank me later.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thank you for reminding me.

In light of all that is going on in our crazy lives, it makes sense that something had to be put on the back burner. It couldn't be Anslie. Of all things, she is the most important. It couldn't be Kevin. He is what makes our world go round. It couldn't be the baby that is growing inside of me. He is coming in 8 weeks whether I like it or not. It couldn't be cleaning, cooking, communicating with family, purchasing our home, moving in, unpacking, or church, either. All of those thing HAVE to be done. So what could I give up to lighten my burden? The only answer was photography.

Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about photography. A friend of mine called me a photography nerd the other day and you know what, he is completely right! If wearing thick-rimmed glasses with tape around the bridge of the nose, a pocket protector, and high-waters pants would translate efficiently how serious I am about photography, my wardrobe would be changed forever! Understanding that, you must then realize how hard it has been for me not to shoot.

I still take pictures, of course, to document our family life. But it's just not the same as working with a client in the unique situation that provides, creating art, making memories, and most of all, learning from each and every shoot and becoming better at what I do.

At first I was itchy. Itchy, irritable, and aggravated that I didn't have constant stimulation from my work. I didn't have any work at all! And then I got sad and angry. It hurt to be separated from something I hold so dear to my heart. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but if you have a passion, you know what I mean). I was envious of the other photographers I know and follow because they got to do what I so desperately wanted to. I felt like I was being left behind...they were working and progressing and I simply was not. And then I became apathetic. It was easier to give up than to care anymore. I stopped reading photography blogs and articles on the internet, something I spent about an hour every day on. I stopped creating projects for myself. I stopped researching equipment. I just stopped. Everything.

So, yes, it has been by choice that I have not actively pursued clients and built my business. Was that choice an easy one? Yes and no. Yes because my family will always come first. No because being a photographer is part of who I am.

Things have been put on hold with our family life for the time being with Kevin getting sent to Arizona for work for a few weeks and Anslie and I tagging along with him. It has been both a curse and a blessing. Life is hard to manage from afar! But I was given a gift:

While life at home in California demands that I sacrifice what feels like an appendage, life in Arizona has given me the opportunity to narrow my focus and not spread myself so thin. And what that has left me with is some time to pick up my camera again and create.

I have to admit that when my friend Hilary and I discussed shooting a session for her and her husband, Jeff, I was a little....unenthusiastic. I knew in my heart that I had been craving photography. But my head was telling me,"Shillawna, what's the point? You're rusty. You don't have a vision. You're not on fire anymore. You are stuck and anything you do at this point just simply won't be good enough. Why try? If you were meant to be a photographer, then you would be able to push through all that is happening in your personal life and STILL have time for this. Just. Give. Up." But I feigned enthusiasm for the sake of Hilary and my heart and our session was scheduled for yesterday evening.

I have not had the chance to go through Jeff's and Hilary's session with a fine-toothed comb like I normally would before posting my favorites online. I don't have my computer or my software available - just Kevin's PC laptop (which is NOTHING like a Mac desktop) and Picasa instead of Adobe Photoshop to view and edit my photos (which feels like working with archaic tools). But what I have been able to gleam from these photos, as I am able to view them right now, is that I've got IT. I have something. I have not picked up a camera to do a serious photo shoot in quite some time, and yet what I was able to capture moved me.

That flame was re-ignited. That driving force is back. My passion for photography has been restored, and yet, I feel a quiet confidence that all that I want to do doesn't have to happen now. My life is still going on. The demands it is placing on me have not gone away. Photography will have to wait for a little longer to be an integral part of my existence. And that fact has become okay with me.

I am now hearing from my brain,"Not right this second. Just be patient a little longer. Take care of yourself and your family and your passionate companion will be there for you when you are ready once again."

I haven't lost anything by putting photography on the back burner. All that I have worked for is mine to keep. I am glad that I realized that. It's something my friends and family have been trying to tell me but I have not been able to hear. I am so grateful to Jeff and Hilary for the opportunity they gave me to become resolved. And to realize that I am a damn good photographer-something else I have struggled with.

I know that I still have a long way to can be discouraging at times. Am I where I want to be yet? Absolutely not. Have I come a long way? Yes. Am I worth what I ask for in return? There is no doubt in my mind. Do I have IT? Yes, I do. If I take a break from photography to take care of my family and grow a baby, am I ruining my career? I can finally give a resounding NO as my answer. I am a lucky woman to have finally realized that I can have it just might take me a little while to get it. But my life will be richer and I will be a better person for harvesting patience and endurance to acheive all that I want for mine and my family's lives.
And here is the product of my epiphane; Eleven of my favorite images from Jeff's and Hilary's shoot. Very minimal edits have been made to these images due to the fact that my equipment is over 400 miles away (slight color correction and exposure correction). And I can finally say, whether you feel the same way or not, that I LOVE these pictures. I think they are Beautiful. And I am PROUD of them. Thank you for reminding me of who I am, even if I can't be that person right now.
I must give credit where credit is due: Jeff and Hilary - you were incredible to shoot! I have never met another couple who has been so natural and beautiful in front of my camera. I am so thrilled to have been able to capture these moments for you, but it is not without your patience, cooperation, and good looks that they are successful. You guys rock!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter, 2010!

The last year has been one full of new things...mostly new places to live! Since June of 2009 we have lived in 5 different homes!!! Needless to say, we are looking forward to staying put for a while after Kevin is finished with his detail in Tucson!

Soooo.....this Easter was a small celebration for us, seeing as how we are staying in someone else's home, cooking with someone else's dishes, etc. :) We colored Easter eggs with Anslie the night before and she had sooo much fun! We mixed up the easter egg dyes and then handed her a paint brush and she went to town! The eggs were little tye-dyed messes, but the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I think we have a future artist on our hands! We then enjoyed those yummy store-bought pink sugar cookies to finish off our festivities.

Anslie woke up Easter morning to a little basket that the Easter Bunny left for her. She really liked the gifts, including her first Mr. Potato Head and lots of candy. In classic Anslie fashion, she couldn't wait to dig into her treats and Kevin and I were happy to oblige her!

For dinner we invited over a couple BP agents who were missing their families and a dear friend of mine from college who's hubby is also a BP agents, who had to work the holiday as well. I made a delicious ham (of course), mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, and rolls. (Sorry-no pics...I was too busy cooking.) We had a nice day!

Here are a few snapshots from our little holiday.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

10 Things I Don't Miss About Condo-Living (and Renting)

I have been a home owner for only 4 weeks...and one of those weeks has been spent back in condo-living conditions. Kevin and I are in Tucson, Arizon for another temporary job assignment for Kevin's work. He's here for 6 weeks, Anslie and I are visiting for a little over two.

Anyway, in the three short weeks that I have lived in our new, single family home, it is amazing how quickly I have become accustomed to living that way. Let me explain:

10 Things I don't miss about condo-living (and renting)

10. Hearing people walk through the halls of the complex or even by my front door at all hours, talking and laughing without concern for anyone else's schedule.

9. The smell of my neighbors cooking dinner mixed with my own. Sometimes the scents just don't mix!

8. Being able to track my upstairs neighbor's schedule because I can hear their alarm go off in the morning, hear their shower running, hear them opening and shutting closet and dresser drawers, hear them stomping around the house as they get ready for work, and then listening to it all over again when they come home at the end of the day.

7. Wondering if my upstairs neighbors are elephants and my next door neighbors have never heard of water conservation.

6. My eye constantly being drawn to my window as people walk right by it throughout the day and night.

5. Gardeners and other maintenance crew working at whatever hours are convenient for them, regardless of the time of the morning or whether or not their raking the gravel outside the bedroom window that my child is trying to take a nap in, will wake her up.

4. Having to take the dog for a walk 3+ times per day because we don't have a yard to send her out in to do her business.

3. The fact that condos are generally MUCH, MUCH smaller than a house. It makes storage, entertainment, and clutter a much, much bigger issue.

2. Hearing noises from outside and surrounding apartments and wondering if someone has broken into my house because it sounds like they are in my living room.

1. Constantly hearing toilets flushing over and over again. My neighbors are very regular people!

Sorry, no pictures at this time.:( Wouldn't that be awesome if I had some to accompany this post?!

Needless to say, I am very happy to own my own that has a yard and doesn't share any walls or floors with anyone else. It's really nice not having to worry about someone or something disturbing my family because we are literally living on top of each other, and to be able to distinguish one sound from another in my own home because I can recognize their familiarity.

 I do have to admit, though, I love having a pool available to me at all times :)