Friday, September 25, 2015

Baby Face Friday: 20 weeks

Oh Preston, you are happiest baby in town...except for our car rides home from work and when you get yourself "stuck" in the middle of night from rolling around too much.  I see some sleep training in your future! 

What's in a name?
I was thinking this week about the weird nicknames we end up calling our kids.  I can't even remember how it started, but I often call Eloise "Goofy"  and Brad calls her "Munchkin."  In just a few months, Preston has acquired quite a few of his own too.  Many of them have to be said with a certain tone in your voice too, haha.

Big Baby
Big Man
Preston Beston Bradley
Prestie Bestie
Presto Change-O Bradley
Goo Goo
Baby Brother
Preston Bradley Wadley

Friday, September 18, 2015

Baby Face Friday: 19 weeks

Over the past 2 weeks, Preston has become such an active baby.  He rolls every where and every which way he can.  He rolled himself under Eloise's bed the other morning just because he could.  Lord, help me.  He gets on his belly and finds a way to scoot around to get where he wants to be.  He is very interested in his surroundings and will spend long stretches of time surveying his surroundings.

He can't quite sit up on his own but loves any opportunity to do so.  He sat in the Bumbo seat the other night for at least 20 minutes.  What made him so content you ask?  One word.  Eloise.

This picture sums up our life really.  The living room is the epicenter for the Kalins Family.  We play there, do business there, eat there (i.e. I nurse Preston on the couch) and sometimes even sleep there.  Gone are the days of fancy coffee table books. Our coffee table is a merely a stage for the next scene in Eloise's My Little Pony telenouvela.  This photo captures our real life -  Eloise playing with her ponies, Preston gazing at her, Brad on a conference call for work and me attempting to be super mom by documenting our life through photos while dinner is cooking on the stove. 
Enjoy this little video of Preston & Eloise.  I refer to this as the "baby brother" voice because of the way Eloise changes her tone when she talks to Preston.  It's precious. 

Click HERE if the video does not appear in the post.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Baby Face Friday: 4 Months

Weight: 14 lbs 15.2 oz (38%)
Height: 26 in (84%)
Head: 17 in (90%)

Skills & Tricks
  • Rolling over - front to back, back to front.  He especially likes to demonstrate his skills when he is trying to go to sleep or in the wee hours of the morning. 
  • Discovering his toes & feet.
  • "Talking" whenever everyone else around him is
  • Laughing
  • "Jumping" in the Jumperoo
  • Holding his toys and immediately putting them right into his mouth

Summer of Great Grandma

Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of summer just like how Memorial Day is often considered the start of summer.  Over the long Labor Day weekend, I was reflecting about our summer as this summer will be one that we will never forget for many reasons.  Just before the "start of summer," we welcomed Preston into the world and I thought that his birth would be the biggest thing impacting our family this summer but I was wrong.  For our family, Memorial Day was not just the start of summer but the beginning of a journey for my Grandma Fitz.  Just after Memorial Day, my Grandma was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer.  After much consideration, she decided to leave her home in Peoria, move in with my parents in Oak Forest, and start her cancer treatment at Loyola. 

All of my life, I have wished that my Grandma lived closer to our family.  Once I had Eloise, I wanted them to have the chance to know each other as my Grandma optimizes what it means to be a Grandma.  In a million years, I would have never expected that this was the circumstances that bring us physically closer.  When I got the news about her diagnosis, I was devastated to say the least.  For those of you who don't know Connie Mae Fitzgerald, she is a unicorn.  What? Yes.  A Unicorn.  She is one of a kind and magical.  She is 84...almost 85 years old...drives a red SUV with the word "SKI" as part of her license plate number and has more amazing stories than all of Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People combined.  She makes friends everywhere she goes, stands up for what is right and has a prayer list longer than the Christmas list of a 5 year old kid.  My Grandma has always had this air about her that she was untouchable...never aging...invincible.  Honestly, I believed it and this is what made this diagnosis so hard for me.  When I got the news, I made the decision that no matter what that I was going to make my Grandma a priority this summer and be present in her journey. 

With a few exceptions,  I would pack up Preston & Eloise and bring them to my parents' house at least once a week.  My mom told me that holding Preston had a healing component to him and I took that to heart.  My Grandma got to meet him when he was just 10 days old and has been able to watch him grow week by week since then.  She introduced whistling to him and got some of his first smiles out of him.  Now, anytime that he hears whistling, he smiles.  I'm convinced it's because he is thinking of his great grandma.  Not only has my Grandma won Preston over, her and Eloise have bonded as well.  Now that she is a short car ride away, she & Eloise have gotten to know each other.  Eloise regularly asks about Great Grandma whenever we aren't at my parents' house.  My mom and I joke about how much of a big deal it is when Eloise adds you to her "roster" and asks about you.  In our opinion, it's like you've entered her world and her little heart.  It's hard to try to explain to a 3 year old what cancer is like so I don't. All Eloise needs to know is that Great Grandma is living with Grandma Carrots & Papa Kevin.  Every once in a while she would ask about her visible "ouchies" and her resolution was always very quick & simple - draw her a picture and bring her a princess Band-Aid. 

I quickly realized that cancer treatment becomes a lifestyle.  Not just for the patient but for their caretakers as well.  Days can blur into one another when they are filled with appointment after appointment, test after test, and waiting and then some more waiting.  Often times, I have felt so frustrated as I feel like a total spectator in this lifestyle because I haven't been able to help.  I have had my hands full with an infant and a toddler.  Of course, my Grandma understands that and graciously thanks me every time that I bring the kids out to see her.  Because of the intensity and rigorous schedule of my Grandma's treatment, many members of our family have stepped up to be part of the treatment team.  The Clark Bed & Breakfast (aka my parents' house) has had many guests this summer!  Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't get to see my Grandma or my aunt & uncle this often.  On top of that, so many people have been able to enjoy spending time with my two little blessings - Eloise & Preston.  It's hard to be sad when there is a toddler teaching a group of adults about My Little Pony and an infant laughing at his own reflection.  In some ways, this has been the silver lining of this journey and I'll take it.

After a whole summer of hearing about my Grandma's treatment and picturing what it was like, I was finally able to sit with her at what would be her final Chemo appointment.  I wasn't surprised to see how all the staff there responded so positively to my Grandma and simply adored her.  I knew that she had won them all over just as she does with everyone else she meets.  Thinking back to that day, I remember how excited she was to introduce me to her nurses and brag about me being a working mom and how bright my kids are.  Only my Grandma would be hooked up to a 5 hour Chemo protocol and go out of her way to make me feel comfortable and supported.  Even on her toughest days, she never waivered in role as head of our family.  She keeps us connected, shows us she loves us and supports us in everything we do.  During the summer, she and I have had many conversations about motherhood.  She still remembers how hard it is to breastfeed an infant when you have a demanding toddler and encourages me to "keep up the good work."  Even when Eloise is being difficult, she smiles and tells me, "See Honey, at least we know she's normal."  I've heard people say that no matter how old you get or how old your kids get that you will always worry about them and need to parent them.  After spending so much time with my Grandma these past few months, I have a whole new appreciation for that sentiment.  She probably doesn't realize it but I have learned so much about parenting, motherhood and grace from her during this time. I will be forever grateful.     

This summer, it felt like there was a lot of talk about what bravery was or what it looked like.  Of course, I'm biased and I want to say that my Grandma is the epitome of bravery for all the obvious reasons.  A wise friend of mine told me, "there is enough bravery to go around for everyone"  and she was right. Yes, my Grandma is brave but so is everyone who has taken an active role in her treatment and been part of this journey.  With that Grandma made the decision to shave her head after she was losing hair by the handfuls last Thursday.  For me, this is what bravery looks like...  

So, now we wait.  We wait to see if all of this "worked."  As I've been writing this post, I realize that this journey will soon be just another fantastic story that my Grandma will tell people when she is huddled with a group of her ski buddies back at the ski lodge or sitting in a boat with a group of fellow travel enthusiasts on some wild adventure.  I said it once and I'll say it again, my Grandma is a unicorn.  One of a kind and magical.  Always be a unicorn Grandma.  I love you. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Eloise: Year 3 Slideshow

One of my favorite things to do for Eloise's birthday is to make a slideshow with the photos from the past year.  An added bonus is that she loves watching these videos of herself!  Enjoy!

Click HERE if the video does not work in the post.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Baby Face Friday: 17 Weeks

Bubbas is growing up so fast!  He is perfecting his rolling skills every day and has become quite the squirmer over the past week.  You gotta strap that boy into everything or he will arch his bag and roll right out of whatever you put him in.  So far, sleeping unswaddled has been going pretty well.  Just a few random wake ups where he can easily fall back asleep with his pacifier.  He loves his freedom and sleeps with hands above his head.  Every morning this week I have found him with his head at the opposite side of the crib.  What a busy sleeper!
We decided to break out the exersaucer after his teacher at daycare told me how much he enjoys it there.  He has always loved to be upright so I knew it would be a hit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eloise's Birthday Questionnaire

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite toy?

What is your favorite movie or TV show?
Minions & My Little Pony

What is your favorite thing to do?
Play with Ponies

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?
Waffles.  Candy Bars.  Waffles

What is your favorite outfit?
Dresses & Sandal shoes.

What is your favorite book?
"Bunny Book" aka The Velveteen Rabbit

What is your favorite song?
"Oh my Darlin'"

What makes you laugh?

What is the best time of the day?
Morning time.

What do you sleep with at night?
Ponies - Twilight, Princess Celestia & Cadence.

Who are your friends?      
Lauren, Leah, Jacob, Kendall, Kaitlyn, Ms. Laura  

Who is your best friend?

What do you like best about school?
Play basketball.

What do you love to do with Mom?
Take a picture with you.

What do you love to do with Dad?
Play with Ponies and play outside.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Line Leader.