phases and stages

Declan has gone through lots of phases and stages: balls, Dora/Diego, bowling pins, Mickey, etc etc. This one is a doozy. Complete and utter obsession.

Maria, Luigi, Toad and Yoshi have taken over my son's world. Yes, folks, Mario Bros is on the top of the "phases and stages" list. He wakes up talking about it, goes to sleep talking about it. He role plays with his stuffed animals. He begs to play it on the Wii (we have to restrict this big time). I've fallen prey as I'll pick up the random shirt and jammies (only in little boys XS because it's not a popular toddler hobby).

A boy and his current love:
How incredibly grown up does he look here? Blows me away. I have a little story about these pics. Declan accompanied me to a photo shoot today and I was checking the light (he was my little model). The shoot was for a gal who has 3 kiddos...probably 7, 5, 3 in age. The 7 & 3 year olds (boys) played with Decs for nearly half an hour after the shoot. They had an amazing time and it was a nice mental break as Declan has been alone with me working today because our childcare fell through. He has constantly needed my attention for every little thing all day long. With these boys he was in heaven. 

As I drove away from the shoot I was a little sad. Declan needs a sibling. I can't wait to see him run around and play games with his sister or brother. I called Mark and he tried to "encourage" me by saying they played so well together because they WEREN'T related. Ha!


Absolutely gorgeous.

I can not believe it's nearly 70 degrees in January in Nebraska. UNHEARD OF. We basically spent every moment prior to nap outside soaking up the sunshine.
 Flip flops. Yes, please.
 Picnic in the park!
 It was chilly early on but nearly 70 by late afternoon.
Good times with this little man:


Big Dreams

Today I have been dreaming about all that this year could hold. 
At the tip top of the list is expanding our family. As we hit 9 months of actively waiting (cue cricket chirps) I have renewed hope that God still has huge plans for us and I'm excited to see those play out.

We are sooooo very pumped to being close to being debt free. In our nearly 9 year marriage, we've always had debt. After we pay that last loan payment, I want to start an "international adoption" savings account STAT. I'd also like to go back to cash envelopes (Dave Ramsey style) to be better stewards of what we make.

My photography business really took off last year. What an unexpected blessing! Photography is my fun hobby so for it to be a profitable side business, it's a huge bonus. I put most my proceeds toward equipment or debt payoff so, in 2012, we want to set this money aside for DISNEY. Late Fall maybe? Of course Disney with a newborn won't be happening so we'll just have to see where this goes.

Last year was the start of me finally taking control of my health. Weight loss feels like it will be a forever battle but this year I want to push myself to continue to invest in a healthy lifestyle. I'm on a post Vegas detox (super restricted eating) but I plan on transitioning to a more balanced way of eating next week because I start training for the Lincoln Half Marathon. I got bit by the crazy-you-have-no-idea-what-you're-getting-in-to bug and signed up for it and have regretted it ever since. BUT, it's a new huuuge challenge that I'm up for. I think. Maybe.

I have so many more goals and dreams floating around in my head. Doesn't 2012 just feel like it's going to be a good one?


Vegas 2.0

This was the trip of firsts. Mark and I usually go to Vegas alone (we were just there in July) but this trip was with my office. So, the mantra of this trip was to try new things.

Some firsts:

-Flying out of Grand Island from this tiny 3000 sq foot building....basically 1 large room. You even walk out to the plane. A little freaky that it was all on such a small scale but I'd fly from there again.
-Right after landing, a new first: limo to the hotel. Woo hoo!! We always travel alone so taxis are the cheapest but with a group, limos are the most economical. Yes, please!
Mark, me and my co-worker Joe

-Staying at the New York, New York and we LOVED it. Perfect size, great restaurants, clean, nice rooms, good location. The first night our whole crew ate at Gallagher's Steakhouse and settled in at the Dueling Piano Bar.  Dinner was fab (isn't most food in Vegas??) and the piano bar is an experience none of us will soon forget. Side note- borrowing friend's heels and dancing = super sore feet the next day. Yikes. That first night Mark also won $450 in craps (he's never played before). HOLLA!! Other NY/NY highlights: nice gym (yes we got up and worked out because we are weird), fun roller coaster (Mark did this with my co-workers while I watched out the window), Ben & Jerry's (need I say more?!), and a sassy little Mexican restaurant that was deeeelicious.
 My co-workers. So lucky to work with such great people!!
Dueling Piano Bar

The next day, we woke up and got in a good work out and headed to the Fashion Mall. We could not go there without happy hour at our favorite sushi joint: RA. Several friends and family share a love for RA, especially their entree called "hot mess". You'll just have to trust me here- it's off the charts.

-That next night we saw Criss.Angel.Mindfreak with my co-workers. It was giant waste of $200. Doesn't help that we chose that over a Circ.de.Solei show (we've gone to 3 and loved them). Regardless, it was a trip of firsts and we wouldn't have ever gone to it on our own and got to spend time with my co-workers. So, not a waste.  The night was redeemed when we went down to Fremont Street. MAJOR people watching there. Wowza.
 Me with my co-worker's wife (who I am friends with outside of this trip)
 The hubs with Josh and Bryan (co-workers). Limo down to Fremont St.
-The next day we went to a buffet. I hate buffets. I loved this buffet. It was at Aria, a funky new hotel. Since my husband has always wanted to go to a Vegas buffet and I never do, this was a perfect chance. It was so chic and impressive [and expensive]. ;) After Aria, I hit the outlet malls with a friend. How have we never done this before? Same stores as Fashion Mall but cheaper. I was on a purse mission and am the owner of a new funky Michael.Kors purse. I will never spend that much on a purse in my life again so I look to enjoy it for a long time!
-That night was chill and fun and spent back with the work crew at a local Irish Tavern. Lots of music, dancing, Fish 'n Chips, and more people watching. We turned in early (nearly 1am...."Vegas early") and woke back up a mere 3 hours later at 4am to get to the airport. Somehow we barely made the plane and slept the whole flight back.
So many new things, so many fun things, so much bonding. Vegas, you're the best.  And tiring. And expensive. Regardless, see you later this year????!? :)


Friday iDump

beep beep, coming through (with cousin Evie in tow):
 look for it...look for it...
 kiss kiss:
 tracing letters on the Ipad:
 unseasonably warm!! woot!
 on a run with mommy (he didn't even last a mile):
 Declan and his 'tude:
 aw, cute dog children:
 Mark, Decs and I are all rocking the green smoothies:
 silly monkey:

And, folks, we're potty trained!

Declan first showed interest in potty training nearly a year ago. We hopped on board- made a sticker chart, got the reward candy, bought cutie pie underwear, froggy potty, etc. Unfortunately, he cooled off on the idea and we took the "whenever he's ready" approach. Fast forward through months of interest and zero interest. If I applied any pressure (i.e. set a timer and took him to use the potty every 30 minutes, etc), we would battle. One morning, mid battle, I found Declan like this:
Have you read Raising Your Spirited Child? It's gold, people. Pure gold. So as ironic as this moment was, I backed off a bit. Two Fridays ago, I woke up with a fire in my belly and a razor sharp focus. My 3 year, 4 month old child is no longer steering this ship. We bagged up his diapers to take to a baby cousin and dusted off (not really, ha) the underwear. 

Declan wasn't really on board but he humored me and went potty a few times on the potty. Then, the true battle began. It was time for #2. Now, as I am sure you've put together, my son is strong willed. I knew tackling #2 (he had never done it before on the potty...resisted it at all costs and holding it so long he got constipated). So I decided to take his very favorite Christmas toy (Kinex.MarioKart.Track) and put it out to the curb to be picked up by the trash man. Keep in mind, it's not trash day, this was all to encourage Declan to finally use the potty for #2. I told him if he went #2 before the trash man came, he would get it back. He cried, he was mad, he fought it. This went on for hours and right before nap I got all dramatic and told him "you better go, I hear the trash man coming down the street!!" 

Wouldn't you know it?? He stripped down right there, walked over to the froggy potty and went #2. We had a huge dance party, called the grandparents and daddy and got his favorite toy from the trash. He was SO PROUD of himself. From there on out, the fear was gone and it's been smooth sailing. Like, way smoother than I thought. He had a couple accidents that next day and not really any since (except waking up wet from nap a time or two).  But as far as his waking hours, he's done all his business in the potty these past couple of weeks. Easy peasy! Yay!!
Now, I thought awhile about whether I should post my "method". Seems a bit cruel, eh? I get that. Trust me, my son is way too smart for his own good. He loved that toy more than he feared #2 in the potty. Once he realized he wouldn't die going #2 (why do kids fear this so bad??), he was a rock star. Coming from a mom that tried everything and every method, my #1 advice is wait until their ready. Then when you're sure they are, find out what works for your child with trial and error and praise the heck out of it when they do use the potty. 

Also, don't be afraid to take things they already have and use it to encourage them to keep up the good work. For example, we walk in the door from running errands and I ask Decs to go potty and wash his hands and I get a typical 3 year old response of "I don't wannnna" and I tell him if he goes and does it with a good attitude he can play Ipad for 10 minutes or watch a show before nap (both things I'm okay with him doing on a normal basis, again, I'm using stuff he already has privleges for to keep up the good bathroom skills). Does that make sense or am I rambling?! 

I joke with Mark now that we are done with diapers, I'm ready to start diapering a new bum! C'mon baby H, #2! We are ready for you!!

Super Skater

We met the cousins this past weekend at a rollerskating rink. My germophobic tendencies were pushed to the limits but Declan sure had fun and that's all that matters in the end.
 Aunt Heather helped me steady Decs. He was pretty good with support (i.e. my arms killed the next morning):
Such a big boy!!