Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

Many of you know my concerns with Spencer's developments, as well as my feelings of inadequacy at understanding what he needs as his mother. (See this post.) I've relaxed a bit on worrying whether or not he has developed as much as all the other children we've come in contact with and just try to develop and praise the small accomplishments he makes.

However, it seems like in the last month he has been making such huge progresses that each one makes my heart swell. Yes, he may be behind in these things that I'm going to post about compared to other kids, but to me I'm just happy he's doing them.

The first thing that has made me so proud is that he is communicating so much more with me (which is the doctor was concerned about in the first place). He didn't ever point to things, or hold his arms up to be held...things like that. Brian and I started analyzing what he does, and realized that he is just his own person who just doesn't ask for things because he either a) gets/does it himself, b) or decides he doesn't need it. He's a pretty easy going child which I have become very thankful for.

But just in the last few weeks, he's been not only climbing up on top of my lap, handing me books to read, and holding his arms up to be held, but a few days ago when I came home from being out with Randi, the minute he saw me he ran as fast as he could (well...toddled as fast as he could) and gave me the first open-mouthed kiss (teeth and all) that I've ever received from him. I about cried. Since then, he has continued to give them to me at the most random when I'm singing him to sleep. I'm sure he does it cuz he's realized that it makes me giggle and it prolongs me from putting him down in his bed...but I don't care. I'll let him stay up to all hours of the night giving me open mouth teeth kisses and giggling afterward. It melts me.

Another thing he's been doing is he's been meticulously stacking and lining up anything he can get his hands on. It first started at his Aunt Lori's house when for 45 minutes he lined up and re-lined up the wooden alphabet blocks. He'd move them apart and then line them up in a row again. He's been doing it with the big legos, books, figurines, food, etc. He's so meticulous about it that if something gets moved out of the way, he notices and moves it back. One time he was lining up Matchbox Cars from nose to trunk making a huge line of cars. I took one of them and turned it perpendicular to the other cars. He crawled over to it and promptly put it back in line. To me, that's amazing.

I love that he analyzes things and figures out how they work. (see picture above.) He doesn't just watch a car that shoots balls out, he looks inside and figures out where the balls are going to and coming from so he can mess with the contraption his own way. Things like that.

Many of the friends I've been visiting have told me how cool it is to sit and watch him. He's very patient with the toys he has and they love to watch him make patterns. They say he's very smart, and one of my friends even said he could even be gifted. Wow. How happy was I to hear that! Way happy.

So, there really are some pictures that go along with this post. Spencer's new thing is he loves coloring with his crayons. I got these in the Target dollar bin (bless the dollar bin) and he has been making so many pictures. In true Spencer fashion, though, whenever learning something new, he always puts his hands on MY hands to see how it's done. Like in these pictures where I was teaching him to draw. He put his hands on top of mine to watch me swirling the crayon around. So, of course, I had to get a picture of our hands together. I love them. Just don't look too closely at the Doritos (his favorite is Nacho Cheese, so sue me) powder on his hands. hehe. I love how pudgy his hands are. Can you tell the difference between mine and his? Mine are pretty pudgy too. Nice.

Way to go Spencer. Love you much!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Sierra Vista!

Well, I think the last place I left off was my trip to Utah for the girls' birthday. But before that I was in Arizona visiting Randi and a few other friends. I never finished posting about that trip. Here ya go!

While I was there, it was about two weeks before Valentine's Day so Randi helped me make a package for Brian to send to him. Needless to say, she did it all. She showed me how to make chocolate covered pretzels, but ended up doing the whole thing, then made rice krispie treats and individual brownies. Spencer and I weren't feeling well. See! She's such a great friend isn't she? I don't have a lot of pictures cuz the ones I did take weren't so good of Randi, so as HER good friend, I'm not posting them. haha.

Randi is such an amazing example to me. She takes so much time with Brenna and really enjoys every moment. She relishes in every advancement and wants to spend every waking minute with her daughter teaching her, reading to her and playing with her. Don't get me wrong. I ADORE Spencer. I just sometimes find myself feeling like I need to be doing other things. But I realized that I want to enjoy my baby boy and notice every facial expression, every laugh and every new thing he does.

The other thing about Randi is not only does she love Brenna that much, but when we're around she gives love to Spencer the way she does Brenna. She was always including Spencer in Brenna's activities and took so much time with him. She's awesome, isn't she?

Two Darling Babies...
Sorry, Randi, that looks like it would have been a great picture of you. Alas, I cut you off when taking the picture. heehee.

Driving to the Airport...

Randi and I were both very sad when we had to go to the airport. But we were in a little bit of a rush after she and her husband got off work, which was good to take our minds off of it.

Randi sat in the back with both babies. Check out how much love these babies have for her. The first picture is of Brenna as she was falling asleep. hahaha. Look at that darling tiny hand resting on her mommy's arm.

Then, if you know Spencer, he wants NOTHING to do with anyone touching his carseat. He will push your hand, face, head away at any cost if you touch his seat. But check out him with Randi. Now that's love.

Saying Goodbye...
These are pictures outside but she didn't leave yet. When I was at the ticket counter, she just piped up and asked if she could be my escort through security. I only had Spencer so it shouldn't have been too hard, but if any of you heard about my flight there, you'll know why. My Little Black Raincloud was definitely showering on me that day. So we both didn't want a repeat of that. She was awesome and it really helped wrestle him while security was strip searching me...well, not really but almost. They always seem to pick me to go through my bags, or test random things I'm carrying with me. Doing that with a grouchy toddler his horrible. So, she really saved the day.

One of the reasons the airplane ride was so horrible getting TO Arizona was because I didn't have a stroller or a sling. Big mistake. So, I bought a small umbrella stroller the day I left. I didn't have time adjust the straps before I put it in the car, and what a mistake that was. Check out how Spencer used it to his benefit.
If you can't see what he's doing, he's actually got his feet on the ground walking the stroller by himself. And we were in a hurry to get through security before putting him back in that we couldn't adjust them. He kept trying to get out and was so frustrated that all his efforts were being thwarted.

Thanks Randi for the great time! You guys are so amazing.

And thanks to all my friends for coming to have Greek with me for Girls' Night Out and Joanna and Mary for hanging out with me. :) I love you guys so much! Til next time!
(Check out how tan I look. Wish I really looked like that.)


Destination: Sierra Vista, AZ

Has anyone missed me blogging? I've been a little out of it lately. It could be because I've been traveling around a LOT. Why wouldn't I? The girls have been with their dad, and Brian is back in Germany. I've visited a lot of friends all over. I still have grand plans of doing lunch with California peeps and to revisit with my friends in Utah.

Right now? I'm in Sierra Vista. And it was such a last minute decision. I flew down on Thursday and have been at Randi's ever since. The kids (Spencer and Brenna) have been the best of friends this trip, much to our delight. If betrothals were still all the rage, these two would already be promised.

They both play so much better now that they have a friend playing nearby. Check out these cute pictures of these darling babies playing.

Spencer has found a new toy that has kept him entertained for hours. In true Spencer fashion, he watched it, analyzed it and figured out how it worked.
How darling is this little Brennalyn?
Doesn't he look so old here?

They had their rough times though....haha Brenna just wanted to be his friend so much so that she would play with his feet in the high chair and shove blocks in his face. Check out this series of pictures. It makes me laugh.

First...Brenna rubs her blocks all over Spencer who's trying to play with his car.

He totally shoved her away (can you see his little arm).

She does it even harder... Love that little girl.

I'll be here til Tuesday so stay tuned for more grand times!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Marriage Down...

January 16, 2010

Sam is my younger brother. He (and his soon-to-be) were one of the main reasons we stayed in the states after the holidays. His wedding was scheduled for January 16, but we were set to fly out on January 12. I promise it really was planned out better. We were supposed to be there when it was originally scheduled for January 7th. However, as many things got in the way, they had to change their date to January 16...which meant we would be flying out only four days before.

As we struggled with the decision of whether or not to stay, I just kept the thought and planned for the fact that we probably wouldn't be. Which meant that my sisters, who are fully amazingly capable, would be left to do the decorations, planning and flowers. (Although they were really not super thrilled about being left in charge... I don't know why. They're so good.)

My sister, Amber, and I spent countless hours trying to figure out what to do for centerpieces, what types of flowers to order, and how to capture Nikki's "look." At one point when we were shopping for fabrics to make runners and to decorate with, I got really bummed that I wasn't going to be there and that I was going to miss out. (And that's coming from someone who doesn't really ever get sad to miss out on things.) I really felt like we had finally captured Nikki's "look", which was something we were all struggling with. Not that we couldn't "get it"'s just that it was an evolution of ideas that we needed to make sure it all got pulled together. And in that moment when everything was laid out, I really felt like we had "got it"! I saw in my head what it was going to look like and knew I just had to be there.

Nikki's main idea was to have it all black and white with touches of green. She wanted all mismatched designs...stripes, polka dots, checkered, etc. And both she and Sam wanted a sort of "nightclub, party atmosphere, while keeping it whimsical and fun". She also has a very unique vintage style of her own, so we needed to make sure we captured all of that. You see if we did.

Okay, but my post has gone to mishmosh. I can't figure out what I did to make all the pictures post the way they did above, but they're not in order and I can't fix it. So, it's not a big deal. The first ones (above and below) are of the ceremony and family pictures.

I just wanted to say that before I go on with more pictures that I have, please remember that I was a single mom at that point, because Brian still flew back on the 12th. So whatever pictures I did get were random and sporadic. So, to see the real artsy cool pictures, you have to go to my cousin, Amelia's blog, who happened to be the photographer. She and her husband do really amazing work. There's also a slideshow at the end to see more pictures than what they posted. (And make sure you check out the flowers on the altar and along the aisleway... :) )

A lot of the pictures I posted I'll admit were a little vain. I wanted to post more of the flowers that Amelia didn't post about. So, I may make a comment here and there, or may have posted pictures mainly cuz it was a good picture of the flowers. Like the one above. It's of Nikki and two of her three sisters, and her mom. It is also a good picture of the bridesmaids bouquets, one of the corsages, and probably the only picture I got of the flower girls' headwreath bow. Look at all the fun fabrics the bridesmaids wore, and the fun mismatched ribbons we found.

These are Nikki and Sam's daughters. The two on the end are Ryah and Taylen (Nikki's) and the one in the middle is Ainsley (Sam's). They seriously love each other. If nothing else says that this was a match made in heaven, the love these girls have for each other would. It helps that Taylen and Ainsley are like a month and a half apart. More twins in the family! :)

Xanthe and I

Cousins! Ruby, Xoe & Max
(Check out Amber truckin in the flowers in the background)

I didn't get any pictures of my own of the reception. These are courtesy of my sister, Amber. Those who read her blog probably have already seen them.

I wish you could see the rest of the reception through these pictures, but for sure Amelia has a couple good ones on her blog. Sam had lights shining on each individual centerpiece as well as the most amazing food displays. They had a crepe station with every crepe filling you can imagine, including some I've never heard of before (even here in Europe where they serve crepes all over the place). He also had a bread station where there were workers grilling garlic breads for everyone, and an Italian soda station. Not to mention an amazing buffet with awesome food. Did I mention my dad catered it? haha. Most of you probably didn't know that my dad's a wedding caterer.

This is my sister, Amber. She was seriously so amazing through this whole wedding. She was originally going to be the one taking over if I had to leave. She helped me make decisions and helped me delegate and organize. We could not have done it without her. I also wish I had a picture of Nan cuz she seriously whips up the most amazing arrangements in no time. I depend on both of them whenever we've done our siblings' weddings. (And everyone else who helped, sisters-in-laws, friends, aunts, etc. you guys were amazing too! We couldn't have done it without everyone! We have such a great support system.)


Okay, and last but not least...props to Hannah! She was totally my nanny for the day. She makes me want to have a nanny some day. Just an extra set of hands! I can't even tell you how awesome she was. And she was happy to do it. Just things like, when I was taking pictures she was holding the sleeping Spencer. When I was walking out the door and Spencer wanted me to hold him, she asked, "Here, let me hold your purse and diaper bag." And as we were leaving the house in between the ceremony and reception (I was over setting up for the reception), she already had his bottle made up, he was fed and changed, napped and re-dressed in his reception clothes. Seriously, no wonder celebrities have nannies. I wouldn't leave my children all day with one, but have one just follow me around. She was f'amazing! (Sorry Hannah your eyes were closed. It was the only picture I had.) And how stoked am I that she is my niece! Woohoo!

And lastly, I had to capture this on my blog. All Spencer wanted to do the entire reception was watch the moving lights. He stayed there for seriously the longest time. If you were holding him and you turned around, he would turn himself around to watch them. It was amazing.

Well, congrats to Sam & Nikki. We're all so glad to have her as our new sister-in-law and have some new cousins in the family! Love you guys!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Little Change in Plans...

We didn't go back to Germany...

Here's a short explanation for those who think I write too much. :D. For those who have questions, I've given a long explanation, and hopefully I've answered them all. I've gotten a lot of emails asking what's happening so I hope you don't mind that I'm answering you all via this blog post. :D

SHORT EXPLANATION: My brother and sister are both getting married within a 6 week time-frame. And jetlag 3 times instead of 1 really bites the big one!

LONG EXPLANATION: ***Warning, lots of writing...***
1. Who's getting married?
Sam is getting married this weekend, which I was going to miss it. I was also helping to plan a lot of it and it was starting to get really exciting. Plus, we wouldn't be in any of the family pictures.

On New Year's, my younger sister Heather got engaged to her return missionary. While trying to work around a bunch of different date conflicts, they decided to get married February 27. This meant that I would be flying back to Germany, getting through jetlag with all the kids, then pretty much turning around a couple weeks later and doing it all over again 2 more times.

For those of you who know my health issues, sleep is a huge issue, if not a major part of what makes me somewhat functional. Thinking about doing the jetlag that many more times gave me such huge anxiety.

2. What's happening with taking the dog over to Germany?
We found that trying to get paperwork settled for the dog within the short timeframe we had was not going to happen. The girls were heartbroken when we told them it might not happen. Ya...I could have forced the issue to sell the dog or make them deal with waiting til February to have it come home with us...but if it was an option to possibly stay, why make them any sadder than they need to be and we would just add this to the list of reasons why I should stay.

3. What about the girls' schooling?
We've gone back and forth about what to do about school. I'm working with the Germany school to see if we can keep them enrolled there and just take part in their independent study program, which is more for highschoolers, but they might let us be a part of it too. There was an option to do public school, and I had amazing friends who worked in the front office helping to make it happen. But we think it's best for them to keep up with their current classes, just from a distance.

And being on independent study, they can now go back up to Utah to visit their dad for a few more weeks. If we would have gone back to Germany, then turned around to come in February, there wouldn't have been enough time for them to travel up there, so they wouldn't have seen him til summertime.

Let's see...what else?
4. Where are you staying?
For now, we're staying at my parent's house off and on. They have a quasi-motorhome that we have all our stuff in and the girls sleep I'll try and make the rounds visiting friends in different states that I haven't really done the past few years. I'll maybe make a trip to Utah again, and maybe up to San Jose (hint hint Johanna).

I think that's it. Those are the main questions I get from everyone. Anything else? Let's party!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Did I Ever Tell You...

...I was voted our region's "Girl Scout Leader of the Year" last year?

It happened when the family was visiting/touring Germany in May. I didn't even know and was wondering why the other leaders were desperately trying to get a hold of me to see if I was going to the end-of-year Girl Scout Leader Dinner. Well, this is why! How cool is that? It really made everything we experienced (good and bad) even THAT much more worth it.

And reminiscing about it really makes me miss our troop and the parents/friends I made...It's a time I know Xoe, Xanthe and I will NEVER forget.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

WE TOOK THE PLUNGE-Christmas 2009

All of you know we were in California for Christmas. It was really important for the girls to be able to spend Christmas morning running down the stairs with their "Schultz cousins" (my side of the family) who mostly all live in Southern California. So, we flew into California, and their dad and his family graciously drove with their 3 kids to California to spend a few days and Christmas Eve with them. Then their dad drove them to us Christmas Eve night before Santa came so they could be with everyone for the morning.

Here are the girls waiting for the event to begin.

Christmas Santa Set-up
Here's Spencer playing with the "toy that ruined Christmas". You all have one of those I'm sure. The toy that the kid played with so much that they ignored everything else that was under the tree. This was the first thing Spencer opened and he played with it, no joke, for an hour straight. First watching, then taking the dogs on and off, then figuring out how to stop them halfway down the track to wait for the other dogs before letting them all go down. I think he loves this toy cuz it's similar to the penguin one on Baby Einstein.

And we took the plunge. We now have a dog. Can you believe it? Don't even get me started on how it came to be cuz the whole story is a whole post in itself. But know that after the first night I had it (five days before Christmas) I was about ready to give it back. Too bad the family we bought it from probably crossed the border to come over and sell it. Glory be and hallelujah for my 6 year old niece, Eliza who babysat it every waking moment until the girls came back home for Christmastime. I let her present it to the girls since she had been my saving grace.

It really is a cute talk and thank goodness Brian has bonded with it. I'm not a dog person (see this post), and thought I was going to be stuck with all the responsibility of this dog while the girls were away in Utah after Christmas. Brian has been amazing and actually REALLY likes the dog, and HE'S not a dog person. That's how cute this dog is (and of COURSE how good of a man Brian is right? hehe.)

It's a teacup chihuahua...only 1 1/2 pounds, and will probably only grow to be 4 pounds. We only bought it for $100, which was a huge deal for us since in Germany, mangey mutts are selling for a starting price of $600. We were told that we could re-sell it for $800 if we wanted since it is a pure chihuahua and its colorings and markings are very distinct.

I thought Xoe was going to have a nervous breakdown with delight (no joke) when we gave it to her. She was so touched that her chin was quivering and it was all she could do to hold back the tears. She just kept saying, "I just really can't believe you guys got us a dog. I just can't believe it." They have been asking for a dog for at least 10 years....ya, pretty much since they were born. I think I've made my case long enough. They better understand how quick that dog will be "outta here" if they don't take care of it.

They named it "Otis" after the movie "Milo and Otis". But we call him Otie.

Who thinks I'm crazy? I do. Now we gotta figure out how to get it back to a foreign country with us.

Oh and by the way, if any of you remember this post, you'll remember that Spencer was enamored with dogs, which is one of the reasons we gave into getting one...ya, he wants nothing to do with this one.