Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Arbitrary 1st Day

Jessica's preschool is year round with a rolling entry for new students, which leaves little in the way of clear division between one year and the next. However, they do take a week off around Labor Day. Since a lot of schools in the area start right after Labor Day, I arbitrarily decided this would be Jessica's first day of school too!

This is her second year. I'm trying to forget that by this time next year my baby girl will be starting kindergarten. Not cool folks, not cool. So without further ado, Jessica's 1st day photo!

You might have noticed a locale change from last year. It turns out that if you don't luck into an overcast morning, our front porch is blinding and makes for a grumpy uncooperative child. 

but when you finally realize that pushing it is just going to make everyone unhappy and move inside you get multiple cute shots for the outtake collage ;)

Your vocabulary word for the day is ar·bi·trar·y
     ˈärbiˌtrerē  adjective 
           based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

and actually... now that I've gone back and reread what I've written, perhaps her 1st day photo wasn't as arbitrary as I first assumed considering I DID have a perfectly logical explanation.

Friday, August 29, 2014

So much to do!

It's been a very busy week in the world of Jessica.

Her first ballet class. [Wednesday]
The shoes were too tight but after a little microwaving and a lot of stretching they fit perfectly and she's excited about going back next week. (I wish there was more space outside of the studio. If I want to watch her dance I have to hold Gabriel the entire time because there's nowhere I can put him down.)

the beautiful ballerina

Her first time really swimming all by herself. [Thursday]
(Turns out all she needed was a pool deep enough to swim in yet shallow enough to put her feet down and still have her heard above water if she needed to.

best baby pool ever! tons of toys, perfectly shaded and just the right size.

Her second Tumbling class (but the first time I got any video.) [Friday]
She's the only kid in the class and so far she seems to love it that way. I of course would love another parent to talk to and it's likely she'll start to have less fun if she's not getting to "play." So, nudge nudge, feel like enrolling?

the little gymnast in her first real leo!

She's on a mini break from school this week. They start back Tuesday so prepare yourself for the requisite "First Day" photos! She really seems to love all the extra curricular activities but we don't push and if she shows any signs of getting "burnt out" you can be sure we'll scale it back, especially now that she's headed back to school 3 days a week.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Looking for love

My name is Ashes. Do have room for me?

I had a family that loved me for 13 years but we can't be together anymore. I know I'm not a kitten but I still have so much love to give.

I love cuddles, one of the few felines that actually enjoys a hug. I'm living with a wonderful foster family but I can't stay. They have two big dogs and a cat of their own already.

I'm calm, I don't scratch at the furniture and you'll find my personal hygiene impeccable.

I'm not adverse to a home with other cats, providing they're accepting of newcomers.

Really all I want is someone to cuddle and scratch behind my ears. Warm lap required.

The story behind the name:

"I worked in property management. A resident called repeatedly one day telling us there was meowing in his walls. Of course we thought he was nuts. But, after about the third or fourth call, we sent maintenance men to appease him. Sure enough they heard it too. The thing was they were both afraid of cats. So I went with them. I pulled out each kitten as they were cut from the wall. 3. But then we heard another small mew. Then silence. We waited. It took a very long time to find shy, quiet Ashes, unlike her siblings. She was behind the fireplace. The most difficult to cut out. I couldn't resist her. Because she was the behind the fireplace, down in the wooden part closest to the chimney, I called her Ashes."

If you think you are Ashes forever family and live in the Raleigh, NC area, please email Susan at susanolvera@gmail.com for more information. [UPDATE: as of 8/29/2014 it looks like Ashes may have found a home! Thank you!]

I had the privilege to meet Ashes this morning. She is a very warm and loving kitty despite her forlorn expression. Even with dogs, kids and other cats in the mix she still let me cuddle her. She didn't shake, she didn't hiss, she didn't cower. This girl will make someone a wonderful companion. Please consider opening your heart and your home to this lovable furball.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


If you follow my instagram you'll have noticed a heavy influx of pictures from Sunday night. I've only posted 18 photos in the past 2 years so you might be asking yourself why exactly I felt the need to post 18 photos in one night.

Blame the Raleigh Parks and Rec department. They're running a #tagurit contest promoting their parks and greenways since it's National Parks and Recreation month.

Last night they had a small event at Pullen Park officially launching their Instagram account. Here's the Eventbrite blurb: We need your help launching the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Culural Resources Instagram Account! You are invited to a free VIP evening at Pullen Park. Enjoy free pedal boat, carousel and train rides. We will have light refreshments as you and your friends enjoy a free evening at the park.  All we ask is that you take pictures of you and your friends and family enjoying the park with #tagurit. The person with the best picture from the evening will win a prize! This is limited so RSVP so make sure to grab your spot today.

An excuse to ride a carousel AND post pictures of my super cute kids? Of course I couldn't resist. 

Head over to http://instagram.com/bexmichelle to find them in all their instagramed glory.

Looks like I need to go charge my phone...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gabriel - 11 months

The 11th fell in the dead center of a trip to visit my parents. I remembered to bring the kangaroo but forgot to account for the temperament of a newly mobile 11 month old in a house full of novelty. This is the closest to a passable picture I managed to capture. Only one more month of these posed shots to complete the set. Definitely going for a slightly different take after he hits the big 0-1. 


  • He walks, he thinks he can run, he falls on his face. 
  • He signs all the time. Unfortunately 99% of the time the sign is "More." We're pretty sure he thinks it means WANT. (Today he finally learned drink, he was very excited to make the connection. I was excited too because this little mister tries to bite when he can't make himself understood.) 
  • He says Dada more than Mummy. Today I found him at the bottom of the stairgate trying to squish his face through, calmly hollering, DA-DA! DAAADA! The expression on his face obvious that he fully expected Mark to appear out of thin air at any moment. 
  • Making real progress learning not to smack. In the past two days I've only gotten smacked on the face twice and Jessica has only had her hair pulled once I think. It's a baby miracle!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Remember to breathe

I had a little extra time putting my daughter to bed tonight. Normally, the littlest goes to bed after she does so I'm always in a hurry to get back to him and prevent the bedtime meltdown. Today time moved differently. Instead of an early morning nap, he held strong through an entire puppet show and lunch with friends, crashing out around 1:30. He was obviously interested in napping around 5 but there's no way I wanted him to sleep until 7 and then not be ready for bed until 10 or 11. So we played hard until 7ish and I had him asleep by 7:30! 

For the first time in a while, when my precious daughter asked if I could lay with her for a bit, I could actually say yes. Yes my love, for a little while. Her small arms wrapped around my neck as she snuggled up close. She kissed my nose and closed her eyes. I closed my eyes and after a few blissful moments of peace, in charged my intrusive thoughts, "Is she asleep? I wonder if I can get up?" It took me a second to realize what I was actually thinking was:  I'd like to check in with Facebook- someone posted something about a dog... there is that pinterest page on cupcake shaped cakes - maybe I can make one for Gabriel's smash cake at his party, ooh I need to upload photos, if the baby is still asleep maybe I can watch a show while I fold some clothes, did I put the leftovers in the fridge? and that's when it hit me.


There is no way that in 10 years I'm going to look back and say, "Man I wish I'd paid more attention to what acquaintances and strangers were saying about random things on facebook." Or that I didn't feel like I'd spent enough time admiring other people's ideas on pinterest. What I WILL be thinking is, "How did my beloved baby girl grow up so fast?" 

So I took a deep breath, I cleared my mind and I looked at my daughter. She'd rolled over but was still holding my hand. Every few minutes her eyes would flutter open just enough to reassure her that I hadn't snuck away. I laid there and I attempted to memorize everything I possibly could about this wonderful girl that God had sent to me to love. I thought about how I thought she was the most perfect girl I'd ever met and then counted up how many times she'd gotten in trouble just today. 

We watch them navigate this world and all our odd social rules. We want to protect them, shield them, but let them experience everything at the same time. At the puppet show this morning they called a few children up onto the stage to participate. I knew Jessica would want to be up there. I hoped they'd choose her. They did not. From at least 20 feet back I could see the tears welling up in her eyes, I braced for her to coming running to me when they didn't choose her. She stood there with her hand raised until it became painfully obvious no one else was getting called. But you know what? She didn't. She sat quietly back down with her friends and watched the rest of the show. At the end she told me she was sad that they didn't choose her, but she didn't dwell on it. She's growing up so fast. 

Once, when I was talking to my mother about how quickly Jessica was growing up, she looked at me calmly with her big brown eyes that look the same to me now as they did when I was 10 and said, whilst rocking my newborn son, "and before you know it, she'll be bringing home her babies for you to rock." Message received Mom, message received. 

When her eyelids stopped fluttering, her breathing became deep and regular and finally she was still, I kissed her forehead and quietly slipped out of her room. A little more relaxed, a little more peaceful and a whole lot happier than if I'd spent those 15 minutes at the computer.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

His First Steps

Gabriel started standing on his own almost 2 weeks ago. When I say started, I mean two seconds here, three seconds there. We've been in no hurry for him to walk. Babies will walk when they want to. That said, I can't pretend that there hasn't been some good natured ribbing from his parents along the lines of "Jessica took her first steps at 10 months 10 days old, you have 3 days left..." etc etc (it's okay as long as they can't understand English yet right?)  In the past couple days he ramped up his standing time to stretches of 5 or 10 seconds so last night, 10 months and 10 days Gabriel time, we decided to give him some dedicated walking time incase he wanted to match his sister ;) Turns out he did!

10 months 10 days old ~ Gabriel's first steps. 
(His first steps were actually about 5 minutes earlier but I didn't have the camera out because I wanted to be fully present. I'm trying to work on things like that ;))

Now that's he's taken his first steps he can relax and just chill for a while. Jessica didn't take off and proper walk for another month. hahaha

Honestly I doubt he would have been that interested in walking if Jessica had stayed in bed like she was supposed to. He loves making her laugh, giggle, squeal, scream.... you name it. Attention from his sister in any way shape or form makes his world go round. 

He also figured out how to push our make-shift baby gate out of the way for clear access to the stairs. Proper baby gate arrives tomorrow. 

For now it's like we're just piling anything we can into the barricade. 24 more hours of this required, totally secure right?  [UPDATE: Not even this configuration is besting the beast. He slides the chair and then moves the cube like a finely practiced tetris move. oh why oh why did I not spring for 1 day shipping?]

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