Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy 2016!!

Happy New Year!  Glad I am (barely) getting this in before February hits this year :-)  I was very happy we made it through Christmas nice and healthy, but a few days after Christmas we got sick.  Stella had a runny nose and didn't eat well for a few days, Mark was run down for about a day, and I was sick for almost 4 weeks.  Dang it.  Basically I had a nasty sinus infection which resulted in me going through 3 boxes of Kleenex and having multiple headaches that were so bad I wanted to throw up.  Lots of bloody noses too...not sure if it's the pregnancy or sickness but I'm still battling a stuffed nose and headaches occasionally.  I go to the doctor tomorrow so I will know more then.  Anyways...

This month has been productive, even if it wasn't healthy.  We have been working really hard on organizing our house, basement, and shop as well as transitioning Stella into her new room.  I am holding off a few months on putting her in her toddler bed to sleep, just because she sleeps so well in her crib now and I like my sleep ;-)  I will absolutely transition her before the baby is born, and for now she enjoys playing on her bed and LOVES her Frozen big girl room.  I plan on doing a 'house tour" post when I get everything cleaned up and organized in the next few months.  I want to take pictures for when we put our house on the market so it will be a great time to share them on the blog as well!  Gotta get it done before baby items fill up the house again!

OK, now to recap 2015.  I have to say overall it was quite the mixed up year.  We faced so many challenges.  I am grateful for all our blessings and while things could always be worse I did feel it was a tough year.  Between all of mine and Stella's sickness, her developmental delays, my tough C-section recovery, Mark transitioning to a new job, and getting pregnant again (and being a lot sicker this time!) it seemed like all my time centered on just getting back to "normal."  It was just a hectic year!  However, I am very proud to say that we were able to overcome all of these obstacles, with a lot of hard work!  The sickness is behind us (for now anyway), Stella is in all the necessary therapies and we have a specialist monitoring her progress (which I feel is going very well!), after finding a great new doctor and attending PT myself I finally healed from my crappy C-section and even got pregnant again (and I'm finally starting to feel better!), and Mark has adjusted to his new job and we decided to hold off on moving until after baby girl comes.  So it's safe to say things have settled down for us and we are very excited for the new year!

Normally I like to set some resolutions for the upcoming new year.  I used to be so good at getting them all accomplished, but I've found that's SO much harder as a mom.  There's constantly things thrown at you that derail your progress.  Most of your time goes to just getting through the day.  Not that that is a bad thing, it's just different.  I wouldn't have it any other way, it just took a little while for my Type A/perfectionist brain to accept that I can't do everything I used to.  So this year I am looking at my "resolutions" differently.  My main focus for 2016 is to keep my family healthy, practice "clean living", and have fun along the way.  I do, of course, have a To-Do list before the baby arrives, but it is greatly pared down from what my old self would have expected me to do.  I am already starting the new year so much more relaxed than years past, which I hope leads to one happy and healthy year! 

Here's how we rang in 2016...
On New Year's Eve Mark went bird hunting with friends (a tradition for them) in the morning.  That night we ordered Chinese take-out and relaxed around the house while watching the New Year's Eve show.  It was VERY cold out, so we bundled Stella up in her little bear coat and winter coat for our food run.  As you can tell, she wasn't too happy about it ;-)  It may not have been the exciting New Year we used to have, but it is a whole new kind of fun.  How can you not love the views I had from the couch...Stella entertaining Kaiser, my growing baby bump, and a midnight toast with my husband (yes in our old prom glasses, so classy haha!)  It was a great night even though I didn't feel well.
We were pretty bummed we had to miss the New Year's Day celebration at the local bar, it is one of our favorite days of the year.  But I was just too sick and Kaiser cut his paw on the ice from the bad ice storm that hit us the week before New Year's.  We bandaged up his foot after it quit bleeding all over, but he had to stay inside all day.  As you can tell he was very sad, kept looking out the window wanting to go out :-(  Stella, being the sweetheart she is, kept him company on his bed!  Even though Kaiser ate the bandage 2 days in a row (I gave him canned pumpkin to make sure he pooped it's a natural laxative for dogs), he did heal within a week or so without having to go to the vet.  It was just sad to watch him limp around for that time period.

Since we had to cancel our dinner reservations on New Year's Eve, we decided to re-schedule them for the week after when I was feeling better.  Mark and I ate at The Cellar in Geneseo.  I hadn't been there in so long and it did not disappoint!  We had steak, salad, potatoes and beans and even enjoyed dessert.  It was delicious!  We just did dinner and decided to skip the movie since it was about 20 degrees below zero out that Sunday night, so we just picked up Stella after dinner and headed home to watch a movie from Netflix.  It was nice to have a date night out!

I hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year!  I am so excited for what this year has in store, and I look forward to relaxing and enjoying the changes it brings to my little family!

I will be back this week with another bump update...tomorrow brings the glucose test and another sonogram appointment!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2 Year Update

I am a little overdue on this post, so I am actually going to include months 21-25.5, which will take us right up through the new year to where we are at today!  So much has changed, so I have a lot to write about!  With another baby entering our home this spring, I will probably cut back to once a year updates from now on.  I will still do holiday and seasonal posts, and since most of Stella's growth will show on those I think once a year will be sufficient now that we've passed the 2 year mark.  I can't believe we are to that point already, honestly I started this blog as a way to document our family memories since I enjoy writing and really stink at scrap booking!!  It was a very wise decision as I will cherish this blog for years to come and it is starting to develop into something more!

Typical kid playing with a box :-)

First just a quick recap of what we've been up to this fall/winter.  In September we went to Tanners Orchard to celebrate my mom's birthday.  I was all set for a pumpkin-everything fall when I got pregnant and developed an aversion to pumpkin anything and coffee.  Boo, my favorites!  I was also very sick during the first trimester (read more about that HERE) so it was a pretty slow and lazy fall.  Mark and I celebrated our birthdays in October, and we announced our pregnancy at Halloween.  November was filled with Stella's birthday and Frozen party (read all about that HERE) followed by Thanksgiving.  Christmas consumed December, as it always does, and that's fine by me!  You can read about our December HERE.  We got sick after Christmas, so I'm wrapping up the year this week and my next post will be a New Year's one!  Alright, let's get down to business...
Tanner's Orchard fall fun!
Celebrating daddy and mommy's birthdays in October!
Happy Halloween!  Coloring and checking out her loot from her therapy party, reading her Halloween books, and our Halloween pregnancy reveal to our families.
Happy Thanksgiving!

On the health front Stella has been completely healthy since the last post.  YAY!  I pulled her inhaler at the end of August and we've never looked back!  That was officially the end of her breathing issues.  She did catch the sniffles in October and again right after Christmas, but recovered in just a couple days without any medications or doctor visits both times.  This has been such a change for Stella, and I think being so healthy has allowed for tremendous developmental growth!

Developmental Delay:
Gross motor development did a complete 180 this quarter!  Right at 21 months Stella took 4 baby steps to her table on her own!  That was the extent of it for a couple of weeks, but at least it showed us that she was capable and considering a different mode of transportation!  During the next few weeks she started being a little more adventurous and climbing more, and about 2 weeks later she took 11 steps on her own!  The next two months were rough.  Even though Stella was starting to walk, she wasn't completely confident with it.  She had a really wide gait, and she looked very awkward when she walked.  This caused her to become frustrated and have meltdowns.  A LOT of meltdowns (especially in public).  I took her to tumbling a few times and left in tears.  This time frame was also the beginning of my pregnancy, and even though I wasn't sick yet I was really emotional.  Months 22-24 (September to November) were a very frustrating time for both Stella and mama.  We increased her physical therapy to twice a month, and I kept taking her out in public no matter how hard it got.  I wasn't about to give up!  We saw the pediatric developmental specialist at the end of September, and I will mostly go into that visit when I talk about her cognitive development, but he did find some abnormalities with her physical development.  She has hypotonia, which is basically low muscle tone.  This is partly why her gross motor development has been delayed since the very beginning.  She just has to work harder at everything, and he said there's a chance she'll never be a great athlete, but we believe anything is possible if you work hard enough.  And work hard we have!!  Lastly she has abnormality of gait and mobility.  This just means she walks with her legs wider apart than she should to compensate for the low muscle tone.  His recommendations were to just keep up with PT, he thought everything would correct itself over time.  And I can confidently say we are well on our way!  Around 23 months she finally began to walk outside and on various surfaces, just in time for summer to be over :-(  At 24 months her walking got faster and smoother and we would occasionally see a little run.  It melted my heart!  She also became confident enough to push her baby stroller and shopping cart!  Today her walk is almost normal, just slightly wide still.  She can't yet do steps (but to be fair we don't have any), but she got a slide for Christmas so we are working on it!  We still go to PT twice a month, we are focusing on kicking a ball.  I am very pleased with her accomplishments and all our hard work.  It has paid off!!

On to speech.  At 22 months she started mimicking sounds, trying to sing, and repeating all animal noises.  The pediatric specialist wanted speech started ASAP, he felt that was the most important step for Stella's growth and a huge part of her frustrations.  Stella was very social, but got upset when she couldn't communicate.  We still heard mostly babbling.  So I made phone call after phone call until FINALLY we found a speech therapist that was willing to see Stella.  She is out of a reputable therapy group in Peoria, Shine Therapy, but the catch was I had to drive Stella to Brimfield for speech.  Done!  Whatever she needs.  It was still through EI, so it was covered under our monthly therapy co-pay.  The gas cost doesn't hold a candle to paying out-of-pocket.  Our insurance, and most from the sound of it, doesn't cover any therapy.  She started speech on November 2nd and I am convinced her therapist is an angel.  Stella and I love her.  She is patient, pleasant, and has brought out a whole new side of Stella in just 2 short months.  We won the lottery finding her.  Stella started by saying her favorite characters (from Mickey, Barney and Frozen), and then said Ready Set Go!  Finally at 2 years old she said Mama.  Music to my ears!!!  She also started to count, just 1-2-3 but now she can get up to 14 (usually skipping a few numbers though).  At 24.5 months she started to recognize letters and call them "ABCs".  She also finally started to put two words together, starting with "hi doggie" and then onto "hi mama"  and "hi daddy".  She also began labeling items quite often.  Now at 25 months she can ask for a few things (milk, eat, help please), show expressions (I sad, OH MY!, oh no, uh-oh) and can say Kaiser.  She repeats lots of words we say (yep, even a few bad ones!) and the babbling is few and far between.  We go to speech twice a month, but her therapist wants to do a re-eval since her progress from her initial evaluation in July is so incredible.  I am excited to see where she stands.  There are a few factors that might have caused this delay:  genetics, poor mouth muscle tone (kinda matching her overall hypotonia), and all the sickness she endured for a year.  Whatever it was, it happened, we dealt with it, and we are moving in the right direction!!

Alright, we are finally to the cognitive development.  At my last update we were ready to take Stella to the pediatric developmental specialist the very next day.  I was really nervous, especially since I'd heard he was a real hard a**.  I am pleased to say we very much liked him.  He was thorough, to the point, great with Stella, but didn't sugar-coat anything.  Just how I expect a specialist to be!  After several tests, he found that Stella has hypotonia and abnormality of gait and mobility, as discussed above.  He also found she has encephalopathy.  It sounds a little worse that it is (don't Google it mom!!).  Basically her brain has difficulties processing information.  This is the primary cause of all her delayed developmental milestones.  There is no real known cause for this, just one of those things that happens.  He said the future is uncertain, she might grow out of it, she might always need extra help in school.  It's just too early to tell.  He also had some concerns about autism, which I had as well for a while.  Based on the survey I filled out (some sort of autism test) she failed.  He put her on the list to be officially tested, but the list is backed up about a year.  He didn't want her tested before then, she is still so young and can grow out of her abnormal social behaviors.  But he did want her on the list in case she doesn't in the next year.  Taking the safe route.  Stella shows a lot of red flags for autism, but she is very social and has great eye contact, so it is so hard to tell.  He recommended increasing Stella's exposure to other children.  Lots of play groups don't start until age 2 in our area, and I don't want to put her in daycare.  After her second birthday she started "playgroup" at therapy twice a month.  With the holidays she has only been able to go once so far.  They do crafts, have a snack, play and sing songs.  I sat out in the hallway.  She cried the entire time, not really wanting me but just overwhelmed with a different environment and also being directed what to do.  It was hard to hear, but it is good for her.  She will keep going!  We are also going to try the YMCA childcare a few times a week again this winter.  Now that she can move around and play with the toys I hope she enjoys it again (and mama can have her gym time back!)  With Stella's recent improvements I no longer have autism concerns, but we will see what the doctor says at her follow-up this spring.

For the first month or two after her appointment I was scared and sad, yet relieved.  I hated watching my daughter struggle with things that came easily to most children.  But then that was nothing new.  I was relieved to have a professionals opinion, and I was so thankful for her health and all that she can do.  Stella is very unique and I love her exactly how she is.  As time has gone on her growth has blown us all away.  Without formal evaluations I would say she is almost developmentally caught up to her age level.  I am going to work really hard the next 3 months to further close the gap with the help of her 3 wonderful therapists.  She will have her yearly eval in March, which is great timing.  I hope to have her caught up by then before her sister arrives.  And if not I know we have the strength and resources to keep giving her the help she needs.  It might not look how I pictured it and I may cry a few extra tears, but I am thankful for my teaching background and the patience I developed through teaching.  I highly doubt I ever teach again, but I believe the education path I took has helped me be a better mother to Stella, and I am so glad God gave her me.  And me her.  This whole experience has taught me to throw expectation out the window, work hard, and make the most of what you have...being thankful every step of the way.  Life is good.

Oh and we go back to the specialist at the end of March for a follow-up.  I think he's going to be surprised ;-)
So much growth, so much happiness!  My little helper cleaning up her mess :-)

The Routine:
We have officially entered the picky toddler eating phase.  She is now refusing all meat and veggies and basically only likes carbs, fruit, pizza and pasta.  She still loves those fruit & veggie pouches, but they are expensive!  We still do one a day since that's the only veggies she gets.  I got a new cookbook for Christmas, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry's wife!).  It teaches you how to puree veggies and add them to meals without kids tasting them.  That is my goal for this month!  Stella's flexible sippy cups also became a thing of the past at 25 months when she bit holes in those too.  After failing at hard top cups again, I got some disposable cups that my mom had.  She does great with them and they are only $3 for four!  I can tell they will need to be replaced more often (we do re-use and dish wash them of course) but for that price it's no big deal.  They are very durable and don't leak at all I'm impressed!  Stella is not really using silverware, and her speech therapist wants her to start drinking from a straw.  She is also a feeding therapist so she is going to help me a little bit.  She said Stella just has weak jaw muscles so needs a little extra help.  I got her a special straw cup and chewy toy on Amazon.  We are going to start using them this month to develop her muscles.  The therapist said this is why Stella never went through the typical "put everything in my mouth" baby phase.  I never would have dreamed that could be a bad thing!!
Newest sippy cup:  the disposable!

Cloth diapering is going well, but I still use disposables (size 5 still) at night and on the go (size 4).  Around 24 months she started saying "I poop" but that didn't last long.  Honestly potty training isn't even on my agenda yet.  She's just not ready and we have bigger fish to fry.  Not even setting a "try" date.  Going to play it by ear, but my goal is to have it done by age 3 for sure.  

Around 24 months Stella started to freak out in the tub.  I bought a bigger tote (remember we don't have a bathtub) to use and she loves it!  She only got upset when we took her out, but now she doesn't even really do that anymore unless she didn't have enough playtime.  We do a bath every 2-3 nights because of her eczema.  I have been using the Aveeno baby eczema cream and running a humidifier every night and nap, and her skin is completely cleared up!  I can't remember what she weighed at her 2 year check-up, but I did switch out the clothes to the 2T ones around 24 months so she is still right on track.  She is wearing a size 5 shoe but has almost outgrown them.  I ordered a size 6 and it's ready to go!  At her 2 year check-up she only had to get one shot.  She didn't even flinch and then proceeded to take the pen she was holding and stab herself right in the shot wound to give herself a shot.  Didn't flinch again!  She has an extremely high tolerance to pain...not sure that's a good thing!
Stella's eye is banged up from falling down 3 concrete stairs at Thanksgiving.  We will master those pesky stairs yet!!
Stella is still sleeping from about 8pm-8am with a 1-2 hour nap from about 2:00-4:00.  However.  Stella LOVES to play in her crib.  She also loves to poop in there.  Naps are getting exhausting, she usually screams and laughs (happily) for an hour before she falls asleep.  And that's after she poops when I lay her down.  Might need to re-arrange her sleep schedule a bit, maybe wake her up earlier, because that hour of yelling drives mama CRAZY!  I am thankful it's happy yelling, but frustrating nonetheless when you desperately need some quiet me-time!
Waiting by her door for ni-night; snuggling puppy of course; and up and ready for the day in the morning!
A few of Stella's favorite things: 
  • Getting in the cupboards when we're not looking
  • COLORING!  started asking to color about 20 times a day around 23 months.  now we are down to once or twice a day, but she has really refined her coloring skills.  and she is definitely a lefty!!
  • anything Mickey Mouse (mainly Pete the bully and Donald, go figure!)
  • pushing around trinkets in her shopping cart and doll stroller
  • carrying around trinkets
  • playing ball
  • playing with her "smart phone"
  • playing with Kaiser, sitting on Kaiser, touching his ears and laughing when they twitch
  • watching kids on the computer and TV
  • PUPPY!  we don't go anywhere with out her.  in fact we bought a spare for when one is in the wash and should anything ever happen to her.
  • sucking her thumb when she's sad, tired, or watching TV.  not concerned yet but will pry start getting her to wean it within the year.  don't want her doing it in school!!
  • people!  still a very social little girl.

Around the house: 
  • Nothing really new around the house.  I kept busy with my pregnancy, our birthdays, and the holidays.  Mark did get the landscaping done.  It has been a mild fall/winter so he was able to finish it up after harvest.  We are still house hunting, going to look at a place this week.  Not sure how I feel about moving while I''m pregnant so we will see how it goes!
  • I feel really bad I never did a postpartum health/fitness update before I got pregnant again like I kept promising.  Time got away from me and then BOOM I had a belly again!  I will tell you I lost all of my baby weight except the last 6 pounds.  Since I started with 40 to lose on my own, I consider that a victory!  For now I will just say that I used the 21 Day Fix, but I PROMISE to keep better records and post more after this pregnancy.  Having a baby in the spring this time will force me to start sooner since I can't hide under my clothes all winter ;-)  I feel confident it will go better this time now that I know what I'm doing!!
Refused to let the picture bear sit with her for her last picture.  Threw him out and put puppy in his place.  Oh well!!
So that concludes my Stella updates for the first 2 years of her life.  The next time I do one she will be 3...excuse me while I go sob.  Of course I will check in several times throughout the next year though!!  And as always, visit my Facebook page HERE for more pictures of our beautiful girl.  I only put a small portion of them on here ;-)

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    This time it's a...

    GIRL AGAIN!!!!  I was so surprised.  This pregnancy is nothing like my first.  I was never sick with Stella, I was so nauseous and had several food and smell aversions for 14 weeks this time!  This baby's heartbeat always ran on the slow side, Stella's was always very fast.  I just thought it was a boy!  I even told people that.  Boy was I wrong (see what I did there?)  I know Mark wants a boy, as I think deep down every father does and every mother wants a little girl, but we are very happy Stella will grow up with a sister.  I can't imagine not having a sister.  Plus it will be nice already having a house full of girl stuff ;-)

    Mark went with me to the ultrasound while Stella played at Grandma and Grandpa's.  This was the first time Mark got to see baby girl and hear her heartbeat, I was glad he could get off work.  We were in the office for quite a while, their power flashed off so they had to re-boot everything.  The ultrasound itself only took about 20 minutes.  The tech is SO much better than the ones I had with Stella, and you do the ultrasound right in the office.  Before I had to do it in the hospital section.  Here they also have a TV on the wall so you can see everything the whole time, with Stella I had to fight to see the tiny computer screen.  MUCH better experience!!  Plus she even does some 3D imaging, something I never had with Stella.  You don't even have to pay extra here!  It was a really nice surprise.  Baby girl was all over the place, she is so much more active than Stella ever was!

    Everything looked very healthy and normal thankfully.  My placenta is sitting lower than normal again, just like with Stella.  At my 25 week appointment I have to do another ultrasound to check it out.  Once again my doctor isn't too concerned about it, just something we have to keep an eye on to avoid pre-term labor.

    After the appointment Mark and I went to Gander Mountain to check out concealed carry guns for me.  Yes I am eventually getting it.  With the way things are going in our world you can never be too careful, and I want to feel confident that I can protect my girls!  Mark had to really convince me at first, but the recent terrorist shootings put the nail in the coffin for me.  Right now I am in the process of getting my FOID card, and after baby girl comes I am going to brush up on my shooting and then take the class.  After that we went to an early supper at Olive Garden to celebrate and then headed home to pick up Stella.  We decided to wait until the holidays to do a fun gender reveal with our families since it was right around the corner.  This time we don't have a name picked out yet.  We still have time.  We have a few choices that we like, but just waiting to see what feels right.

    At Christmas we wrapped up cute little packages for our parents and grandparents with some pictures and gifts from our family photo shoot and chocolate "It's a Girl!" cigars.  Everyone was surprised it was another girl but very excited!!

    We shared the news with friends just before the New Year with the first picture in this post on Facebook.  I had a few other favorites from the "shoot" so I will share those with you.  Stella had lots of fun playing with the pink New Years gear!

    Halfway there already.  It seems to be going slower this time, but I'm OK with that because I have so much left to do and it takes twice as long to prepare for a baby when you're chasing a toddler around!  So far Stella has no idea that I'm even pregnant, but she loves kids and calls them all "baby" (or "Ryder" if it's a boy haha) so I think after the adjustment period she will be so in love with her sister!  I'm very happy with the age difference between the two, with Stella needing lots more help I'm glad we waited a bit.  She is doing SO well in all her therapies and I'm hopeful she will be caught up by the time her sister arrives!  And if not we are still on the right track :-)  We're going to have another daughter!!!!!!!!!!!

    I haven't taken my 20 week bump pictures yet because I have been so sick for the past week.  I am feeling better so I will get it done this week, check back next weekend to see that picture (so it will actually be done at 21 weeks...close enough).  I took Stella with me today for my monthly doctor check-up.  She did really well, in fact we even got a full round of groceries after without a meltdown!!  Everything looked great today, baby girl was squirmy and her heart rate was up.  Other than my terrible sinus infection and sore feet I have been feeling great!  My doctor even told me I looked good, which was a nice change from my previous doctor, who never failed to tell me I was too big at EVERY single visit.  Everything is so much more relaxed this time.
    Got the picture on :-)

    I will be back with another baby update at 25 weeks (still staying on track with matching all my prego posts with Stella's, woo hoo!)

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Merry Christmas 2015!

    This year I am happy to report we were all healthy for Christmas (although we got sick right after...more on that in the New Year's post...) and with Stella being a little older we were able to do a few more things!  We got our tree a week after Thanksgiving.  It was hunting weekend, but Daddy snuck away to get a tree with us.  We got one at Weber's Tree Farm in Geneseo.  Stella whined a lot in the car, but enjoyed looking at the sheep they have there!  I sipped my usual hot chocolate while we picked out our tree.  It was a very warm and beautiful day.  After getting our tree, Mark decided to skip hunting that night so Stella hung out with Grandma while we snuck up to the new bar in town to grab lunch.  We stopped in the new bakery across the street to grab some holiday cupcakes and cookies for dessert.  It used to be an ice cream shop when I was in high school...that was my first job!  It's nice to see it up and running again.  Their treats are phenominal and they still serve ice cream too!  Stella enjoyed a cookie when we got home :-)
    That night we set the tree up and the next day we decorated the house.  We didn't do any lights outside this year, next year we will make sure to since Stella will appreciate it more!  Stella didn't really get into the tree at all...she liked the ornaments but after a few times re-directing her she left it alone all season!  Of course I had to burn my pine tree Scentsy and enjoy a cupcake and Peppermint Mocha while I decorated ;-)
    The weekend before Christmas Mark and I took Stella and Ryder to see Santa at the bakery in Annawan (same place I talked about earlier!)  Mrs. Claus was with him.  Ryder was very brave this year but Stella wanted nothing to do with it!  She even cried when he tried to talk to her!  They were handing out free cookies and lemonade to the kids, it was a really nice event.  After we got done we went to my mom's to let the kids play a bit, and then we got a pizza at the new pizza place in town (so proud of all the new businesses in our little hometown!) and headed home to enjoy it.  We drove through Windmont Park on the way home, they put on a spectacular lights show every year.  I tried to take pictures but none of them turned out.  Maybe next year!
    The week of Christmas my feet started hurting really bad.  It's from being pregnant, right under the arches.  I had it with Stella too, but it didn't start until about month 7.  This is way too early!  It hurts just to stand, not fun at all.  Glad I see my doctor Monday!  Anyways...that had me down for the few days before Christmas, so I had to do all my wraping and cooking on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully Mark had this year off work so he was a huge help, but I will sure never leave stuff for that day again.  It's meant to be enjoyed!  We got everything done and cleaned up by 2:00 and headed into town to my sisters for Christmas with our parents.  It's so nice we can still do that together, it's so hard to fit several Christmases in.  We had appetizers and drinks (coffee for me!) and opened gifts.  Stella got so many awesome toys that I can't wait to set up!  She had a great time playing with Ryder.  Around 5:30 we headed to my Grandma's for our annual Christmas Eve party.  We ate supper and opened gifts.  Stella started getting pretty fussy (long day with no nap!) but we took her leggings and boots off and she was instantly better.  Must have been pretty hot!  We headed home around 10 and finished the last night on her advent calendar (which she LOVED all month!).  Daddy read her Olaf's night before Christmas, and she went to bed so Santa could come.  Mark and I had a nightcap (hot chocolate for me!) while we got everything set up and cleaned up.  We were in bed by midnight, not too bad!
    Christmas morning Stella slept until 9:30!  It was amazing.  I got my cooking done (I made a pigs-in-a-blanket wreath with a bell pepper bow and BBQ/cranberry sauce for every party we went to...had it down by the 3rd time!) and breakfast in the oven and the gifts ready to go before she got up.  She came out to see her slide, doctor kit, coloring game, and stocking.  I got it on video she went straight to the slide, sat on it and said "Oh my thank you!"  It was adorable.  Kaiser enjoyed tearing apart his yearly stuffed toy (a Santa this year) and couldn't wait to go bury his bone outside!  We spent the morning exchanging gifts, watching Christmas shows, and having breakfast and coffee.  It was an enjoyable morning.  I got Mark a punching bag and the Christmas Classics cartoons, he got me a tablet, I am so excited!!  It's time to get with the times ;-)
    After showering and getting ready we headed to Mark's aunt's house at 1:00 for lunch.  It was an exhausting day because Stella was already tired and I had to follow her all day due to stairs and a balcony at their house, but we still had a very nice time.  Stella always seeks out her boy cousins, they are wild and sure make her laugh!  She also enjoyed coloring the tablecloth with the girls.  I can't believe how much she's growing up!  She didn't eat much though, and by 6:00 she was DONE.  We headed home and she went to bed early while we relaxed on the couch and watched Bad Santa.  I was glad we went home early I was also exhausted and my feet HURT!
    20 weeks into Pregnancy #2!
    A few misc. pictures from the month:  We always keep the reason for the season alive in our home, so this year I ordered Stella some basic books and a DVD about the story of Jesus' birth.  She enjoyed them but next year I will go into more depth.  She did a lot of coloring this Christmas.  The bottom right picture is from her Christmas party at therapy.  They did crafts (Stella never left the coloring table of course), sang songs, saw Santa, got a gift, and ate Happy Joe's Pizza (that we missed, we had to leave early because Stella was crying of course.)  She also enjoyed "helping" mommy wrap gifts, i.e. carrying around the bows or "pretties" as she called them!
    So this year we had a wonderful Christmas and were able to see almost all of our family.  We did our gender announcement at Christmas, I will post on that soon too!  Stella and I got sick a few days after Christmas, so this last week has been pretty boring and unproductive as we try to rest up.  Today is the first day since Monday that I've felt human, so I am trying to get some stuff done around the house.  Got the Christmas decorations and tree down so this week I can focus on wrapping up some other projects and then clean the house when we are all better.  I hope to go out next weekend for dinner since we totally missed New Year's this year :(  Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, I will be back with a 2 year update for Stella (way overdue), a 20 week pregnancy check-in/gender reveal post for baby #2, and  New Year's post this week as I wrap up lots of stuff for 2015.  I'm giving myself an extra week since we were sick...maybe next year we'll make it through the entire holiday season healthy...