Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Pictures (Picture Heavy!)

While we were home for Christmas, we had a family photoshoot by Callie at Achor and Eden. You can see more of her beautiful photography at if you'd like :-) Callie has been photographing my kids for a couple years now. Each year I look forward to seeing how she captures them as they grow. This is what she got this year! I couldn't be happier! THANK YOU, Callie!
My sister is pregnant with her first baby, a BOY, so she did a maternity shoot on the same day. Here are a few of her pictures - they are too beautiful not to share. We are almost 8 weeks apart in our pregnancies. My belly isn't quite as exciting as her belly is at this point, haha. She is perfectly round and gorgeous!

And just for are a few of the pictures Callie has done for us in the past. They are hung all over my house!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Booster Seat Recap

The day arrived and we received C's new Britax Parkway SGL from the UPS man. After getting it assembled, I decided to let her try it out. We headed out to the van for the first install. It sure was pretty, but I was nervous about how well she would fit in it and how "protected" she would look.

It turns out that while it doesn't hug around her quite like the infant/toddler convertible seats do, it still does look pretty protecting - much better than my own front driver seat! Of course, it is side impact tested, so I trust it will do its job if we are ever in a crash. Although, I definitely hope we will never have to test this assumption.

I immediately noticed that when you thread the seat belt through the "slot" above her upper left shoulder and buckle it in below her right hip, the seat belt is unable to retract back if she leans forward to get something or when she simply hops out of the seat. The seat belt just hangs there. It looks as though the slot is too narrow to allow the seatbelt to zip back up into the holder on the side of the vehicle. I checked at Target and it looks like most of the booster seats have this very narrow slot though, so maybe this is a common problem with booster seats. BUT, being the smart innovative mom that I am, I decided to just buckle her in nice and snugly, and then just pull out the remaining seatbelt portion and let it retract back (click, click, click). I don't know if that makes any sense, but essentially, I just made the seatbelt "lock" so she can't bend forward anyway. At least not more than an inch or two. This has solved the issue and makes me comfortable when driving that she is not sitting there with a bunch of seatbelt slack hanging around her torso.

To make sure this was a proper way to use the seat, I did call Britax and they informed me that this was an acceptable way of using the seat and possibly even the preferred method. It really holds the child in place and doesn't allow them to bend all out of proper seatbelt form. It makes sure that they stay protected at all times.

So, here is my big girl in her new big girl booster seat. She loves it. I love the safety. I LOVE the strap between the legs that holds the lab belt down properly over her upper thighs. That is a GREAT feature. I also love the head wings. She fell asleep in it today by simply resting her head back and to the side. She looked cozy and safe. I couldn't ask for anything more. Thanks, Britax!

And just one more time, here is a picture of my little girl a little over a year ago in the seat she has now least my little man is still in his same seat and will be for a very long time!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"O Holy Night"

Do you think you've heard every possible version of A Holy Night? I thought I'd pretty much heard them all. Up until this afternoon, Josh Groban's was the best version I've ever heard. That is until, I flipped on the radio at just the PERFET moment and caught the last 90 seconds of this version...I wish you could see how my heart was jumping for joy!!!! It was like I was hearing it for the first time! If you want to be moved, take the time to watch David Phelps sing. The song starts at 1:30 if you want to skip the talking in the beginning. Let me know what you think!

I ended up downloading the "studio" version from itunes and I actually think its even better than the live version. There is a brief period where the instruments drop out and its just his amazing voice that you hear. Its gives me chills. Praise the Lord!

Also, I should add, I know this is an older version and I really don't know how I made it this long without ever hearing it before. I guess I was too young to care when it actually was released, haha. This is very apparent to me when you see the lady adjusting her shoulder pads :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A VERY big day for me

My baby is growing up. I know that. She is now over 4 1/2 years old and is 44lbs and about 44 inches tall. She wears a size 5 or 6 in clothing and will be entering kindergarten in the Fall. She speaks as clearly as you and I and is learning things faster than I can teach them to her.

I knew this day would come. I just kept hoping if I didn't think about it, it just wouldn't ever come. BUT, two days ago, I took the step...I ordered me sweet C a booster seat for my husband's car. This marks the end of toddler days in my mind...and much of the preschool days as well.

Many of my friends celebrate the day their child moves up in the world of car seats. Whether it is "flipping" them forward facing on their first birthday or moving them to a booster seat when they hit 30 lbs and 3 years old, most moms I know, LOVE seeing their kids move on to the next step. I just have a different view on these "milestones." Here's why -

The most protected our children will ever be in a car is when they are an infant riding rear-facing in a bucket style seat or in a convertible car seat. It would be safest for us ALL to be riding rear facing, but clearly, that just isn't feasible in a vehicle these days. In a head on collision, the head is completely "cradled" against the back of the rear facing seat. This fully protects the head and neck. For me, this is BIG. I want my children to be absolutely as protected as possible when we are on the road. I am a very cautious driver, but I realize that there are a lot of bad drivers out there. In fact, where I live, we were rated the nation's WORST drivers. Seriously, the Washington DC metro area was rated number 1 of the worst drivers. This is scary!

The next safest thing for our kids is to keep them in a 5 pt harness forward facing as long as possible. They stay properly positioned when they fall asleep or play with a toy. They can't unbuckle themselves to swat at a sibling or pick up a toy. They are protected on their sides and around their head (in most newer car seats at least). The idea is to keep your child as safe as possible and keep them in one of these seats until they outgrow it - not until they reach the next "minimum" of the next step-up in car seat world...the booster seat.

In most states, the minimum to move your child to a high-back booster seat is 3 years old and 30lbs. Then the minimum for a backless booster is 4 years old and 40lbs. Many parents gladly "bump their child up" to the next seat as soon as they hit those minimums.

To provide optimal safety, my daughter is still riding in a 5 pt harness in a convertible car seat at 4 years 8 months old and 44lbs. She has two car seats since we have 2 vehicles. In my van, she rides in a Graco Nautilus. This seat will hold her in the 5 pt harness until she reaches 65lbs. Then it converts to a high back booster seat and then to a backless booster. For about $150, this is a GREAT seat!!! I LOVE IT!
In my husband's car, she rides in a Britax Marathon. She has had this seat since she was about 14-15 months old. It has been awesome. Its easy to install and provides lots of great protection. She should have been able to use this seat until she reached 65lbs as well. However, she is outgrowing the height limit much faster than the weight limit. She still "technically" fits in the seat height wise, but because she is so big now, it doesn't cradle her sides and head as it did when she was younger. I prefer the way her body is protected when she is in her Graco Nautilus in my van. In fact, each time I see her in this seat in my husband's car, I cringe...she just doesn't look as safe as she could look in a larger seat, a seat designed specifically for kids her age.
Here is the Britax Marathon....a GREAT seat!
Here she is riding in her Marathon at 2 1/2 years old.
So, I began my search for another seat to be used in my husband's car. It just doesn't make sense to buy another convertible 5 pt harness seat. I know that she is well over the minimums for a booster seat. It is time that I realize she is a big girl. A big girl that is ready for a booster seat. So, of course, I did LOTS of research before deciding on a seat. I wanted one that still protected her head and her sides and that would properly align the seatbelt where it is supposed to lay on her shoulder and upper thighs. I decided on the Britax Parkway SGL.

Here is a video describing all the awesome features on the seat. Many of these features are only found on this particular seat. If you are in the market for a booster seat (or will be in the future), I highly suggest you watch the video:

And here is the one C chose.
She is incredibly excited to be getting a big girl seat in this hot pink color. I am nervous about having her ride in it, but I am sure she'll do fine. She will look safer and we will use it properly 100% of the time. So, this is why this is a really BIG day for baby is officially growing up. I think my next post may as well be when she goes off to college. Seriously, I feel like that is just around the corner! I will post pictures of her actually riding in the seat when it arrives....and when I have to guts to let her ride in it :-)

For any of my friends who are in "car seat mode" with their own kids, I should mention that I buy all my carseats from Their prices can't be beat. They offer free shipping and they have a huge selection and are always offering coupon codes and discounts! Much cheaper than Babies R Us or Target in my opinion :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Third baby = last chance to use some cool baby stuff!

I have a ton of baby things. I have a lot of clothes - more girl clothes than boy, I have a bouncy seat, a newborn snuggly seat, three Pack n' Plays, a breast pump, a travel swing, a bassinet, about 4 sleep sacks, crib sheets, receiving blankets, a glider, a beautiful crib, a breathable bumper, several great car seats, and lots of loveys and baby toys!

Like most moms-to-be, I am totally excited about this new baby growing inside my belly. I am starting to feel him kick - mostly in the evenings when I sit down and am still. I enjoy every little surprise nudge from within. It is one of God's most awesome gifts to a pregnant mama!

I have begun "nesting" rather early with this little baby. I have started gathering all of my baby items in one location - his room of course! I don't have the crib in there yet because my older son is still sleeping in it in his room, but the changing table and glider are all set up. I also opened up the Pack n' Play that will be staying at our house (the other 2 will stay at grandparents' houses) and set it up in the corner of his room. The floor of his room is crowded with the infant car seat, the bouncy seat as well as the travel swing and the "snuggle nest" to go in our bed those first few nights. The blankets and sleep sacks are all hanging in his closet :-)

I can't wait to paint his room and get the room decorations/bedding purchased when we have some extra funds (hopefully with some Christmas money if I do indeed receive some, haha). Every time I walk in the room, I can just picture the blue walls with letters of his name hanging
above the white crib. I will probably make the letters with scrapbook paper, chipboard, and some ink just as I did for our last nursery. The ocean theme I am imagining is going to look so cute!

With all that being said, there are a few baby products that I have discovered since having my last son that I am so excited about trying with this next one! The first one that I am anticipating trying is the Miracle Blanket. I am a huge fan of swaddling babies. I believe they all like to be swaddled even if they pop their arms out and fight could they not? They just CAME from a "swaddled" environment for the last 9 months! In the past I have used a regular velcro closure swaddle wrap (which D used for a very long time), but I have always had a hard time getting it snug enough on a tiny baby. The last thing I would want is it to be too big and to slip up over their faces! So, with this baby, I can't wait to try a Miracle Blanket which doesn't have an official closure but just wraps and wraps around that tiny squirmy body :-) It works like a charm in all the testimonials I have read.

The next thing that I hope to be able to get for this sweet blessing is an Ergo baby carrier. This is a rather expensive purchase, but I really think I will get lots of use from it. I am hoping I will find a way to acquire one of these...I've been checking on craigslist and for a used one. I can only imagine how much I will need a "hands-free" way to hold my baby with 3 kids in the house! I had a Baby Bjorn carrier with D, but by the time he hit 17-18 pounds, it began to hurt my back and become rather useless. He hit this weight very quickly, haha.
Also, I will be needing a new high chair. Oddly enough the only thing that didn't correctly make its way from NC to VA was the tray to our high chair. It got lost. This makes our high chair rather useless. If you have a high chair that you love, I'd love to hear your suggestions on good ones! Our last one, though beautiful, had so many nooks and crannies that I am not all THAT sad that we need a new one. Cleaning it was a huge pain!

Lastly, I will be adding a few size small diaper covers and prefolds to my diaper stash. I have already ordered a handful of goodies for this babe, but newborns sure do go through a ton of diapers - one time I counted 11 diapers in a day with one of my other babies! I will be using prefolds (the old school flat ones that you fold around your baby) and covers because its the cheapest method. And super easy to wash! By the time the baby reaches about 12 pounds or so, he will most likely fit in all of D's old "one size" cloth diapers. With the exception of the few new ones I may get, D's old "stash" will still work great for his little baby brother! Perfect!
If you have used any other great baby products that I probably haven't tried, please let me know! I'd love to hear about things that worked great for you and your baby. I am willing to try anything to make my life easier!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Baby Progress....

Just wanted to share an update on the growth and progress of our newest blessing...

To date, I am 18 weeks and 6 days pregnant and we found out earlier in the week that our third baby is definitely ALL BOY!!
The most exciting part of finding out that he is a boy is that for the first time in my life, I feel like I truly know what our "complete family" looks like! I've always wondered how many boys or girls I would have - and today I can proudly say that I will have one daughter and two sons. I couldn't be happier with this God-given-family. Truly, its just perfect!

I am very much a planner, so knowing that he is a boy just thrills me to no end. I just HAD to know what our family would look like! Even though we just found out a few days ago that our little addition is a boy, we already have his name chosen and I am currently planning how his room will be decorated. I feel pretty sentimental about this baby most likely being our last, so I want his nursery to be perfect and special :-) I am thinking a soothing ocean theme will work best for me and him. I know from experience how much time is spent in the baby's nursery, nursing, rocking, soothing, diaper changing, playing, I want this one to be just perfect -and different from D's nursery which was beautifully done up in yellow, red, brown, and dark blue. This is what I have in mind...What do you think?

And here is a picture of D's nursery. I want to do something very different from this, not because I didn't love it, but because I am ready for a change.
And because no blog post would be complete without a picture of my other two rascals, here is a picture of them on a little indoor train. I am pretty sure it was the best $4 we've spent in a long time to let them ride this thing!