Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tanglewood Farm

Today Anna's play group took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed to an adorable place called Tanglewood Farm. Tanglewood is unique in that they have a bunch of miniature animals, in addition to the full-size ones. Perfect for the kiddos! And among all the animals, they have the farm decorated as an old Wild West town. Anna had an absolute blast, and it was fun to watch her petting and hugging the animals.

IMG_1818

IMG_1830

IMG_1828

IMG_1833

IMG_1835

IMG_1836

IMG_1842
Anna had a mini-meltdown when we had to leave the llama pen!!

IMG_1849
The pigs were definitely on her "favorites" list too!

IMG_1851

IMG_1856

IMG_1858

IMG_1860

IMG_1866

IMG_1867
They had a pony ride set up for the kids, but Zoey refused to get on the pony and Anna refused to put on a helmet, so brave Reagan was the only one to actually get a pony ride! Maybe next time.

IMG_1871

IMG_1874

IMG_1875

IMG_1888

IMG_1890
Banana Bean was a little obsessed with the Jail house.

IMG_1903

IMG_1853

They had little rubber brushes for the kids to brush the ponies' coats. And then I look over and Anna's brushing her own hair with it!! Needless to say we both got straight in the tub when we got home, haha.

 IMG_1855

We wrapped up our visit with a leisurely picnic in their shaded picnic area, and the owners treated all the girls to a little piece of chocolate and a sticker- Anna was in heaven! When we got in the car to go home, I was surprised to see that we had been there for almost 3 hours. It was a fun day and I'm already excited to take Anna back - hopefully soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

19 Months Old!

My beautiful little girl is 19 months old today! What a fun month this has been!

IMG_1612

IMG_1618

IMG_1627

I think the biggest piece of news from this month is that Anna is officially and fully weaned. I have been ready to be done nursing for a while now, but was having major mommy guilt about stopping her before she was ready. Well, lo and behold, she just up and stopped all by herself! I am thrilled that we were able to nurse so successfully until she was ready to stop, and I am also selfishly grateful that she stopped when she did, haha. I had about a week of discomfort but after that (and several days of cabbage leaves stuffed down my shirt), we are all happy and healthy. The other fantastic news in regards to weaning is that Anna is sleeping better than she ever has in her entire life. And I am loving the fact that Steve can easily handle bedtime now!

IMG_1607

IMG_1621

IMG_1666

Anna has also noticed my belly getting bigger and she has been very interested in it, especially my belly button. I keep telling her that her baby sister is inside there, just like she used to be, but I don't think she really understands, haha. The other day at play group, I was holding my friend's precious 2 month old and Anna seemed very confused to see me holding a baby. And then she got mad at me for not letting her hold the baby too!!

IMG_1796

IMG_1679

Speaking of play group, we met at Debbie's house so we could see the baby chickens that they got for Easter. I was a little nervous letting Anna touch the fragile baby birds but she did SO well! She pet them very gently and didn't try to grab them, and she kept excitedly saying "burrs! burrs! burrs!". So cute!

IMG_1695

We took Beanie Baby up to Chattanooga for a day trip and to hang out with our friend Jessica, while Steve went to the Orange and White football game in Knoxville. It was a looong day but Bean was such a trooper! We took her to the aquarium (so much less stressful than the Atlanta one, my goodness), lunch, and walked around a little outdoor festival that was nearby. And the highlight of her day was getting to play with Jessica's dogs Taffie and Daizy, her new BFFs! 

IMG_1784

IMG_1780

IMG_1777

Anna loves dancing - if she hears music or if I start singing, she will immediately start busting a move. And we even have "our" favorite songs on her toys where if it starts playing, she'll grab my hands so we can dance together.

IMG_1718

IMG_1732

IMG_1762

This next month will be a lot of fun - we've got some more out-of-town trips planned and Steve is finally done with busy season (yay!). We're hoping to fit in a bunch of fun Atlanta adventures before lake and beach season officially kicks off!

IMG_1709

IMG_1714

IMG_1700

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pregnancy Q&A

Stevo sent me this today and it made me laugh - enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wills, Bills, and Other Grown-Up Matters

One focus that has been a major priority for us ever since we bought our house and especially since we became pregnant with Anna was to make sure that we were prepared if something were to happen to one of us. Even at our age, we unfortunately have several friends that have gone through the devastating loss of a spouse, and the last thing we would want to do is to leave each other with the burden of a mortgage and bills and childcare, on top of the grieving process.

When we bought the house, pre-kiddos, we both took out life insurance policies on each other which would basically give the other spouse enough money to carry the house and bills. Once we became pregnant with Anna, we increased Steve's life insurance coverage pretty significantly, and then just recently we upped mine too. We re-evaluate our coverage once or twice a year to make sure we have enough to cover everything, and especially at new big events like a positive pregnancy test.

The great thing about being young and healthy is that life insurance policies aren't very expensive!! The process is fairly easy and straight-forward, and although it is a little more of a pain in the derriere to do while you're pregnant, I can speak from experience that it can definitely be done. Make sure to shop around the various insurance companies because the quotes can vary widely for identical coverage, and this is especially important if you have any existing health issues.

Guys, I can't even tell you how much peace of mind it gives me that if God forbid, something were to happen to Steve, our family would still be provided for and we would be able to take care of ourselves. And it gives me comfort to know that if something were to happen to me, at least Steve would have a cushion to take some time off to be with the children, and to be able to afford to find them quality childcare. It absolutely blows my mind when life insurance comes up in conversation with other moms and they don't have any coverage at all (on either spouse!!), or just enough to cover funeral expenses. So as a personal PSA, go get yourselves some life insurance.

The other thing that we recently crossed off our to-do list was to get legal wills. This was something that we really should have done earlier, but at least it's done. We opted to go through an estate attorney, and he helped us set up trusts for Anna and the future kids, set out a custody/guardianship plan, and also helped designate asset distribution. The attorney also helped us set up health care directives (or living wills), so our health care/end of life wishes are clear and communicated. Morbid, yes, but we had very specific desires in terms of our children's guardianship and estate planning, and it's given us immense peace of mind to know that now if something happens to us, Anna's guardianship and property isn't in the hands of the government to allocate. This is another thing that I think all parents should have to look out for the best interests of their children, so I'll add this to the PSA list.

If your will/estate is straightforward, and you want to avoid the expense of hiring an attorney, one option that I learned about while researching was www.legalzoom.com. You essentially plug in all of your information, pay the $70, and the website will create a legal document that will outline your wishes. If your situation is more complicated, or if there will be a significant amount of life insurance money or property, you probably do want to at least consult with an estate attorney, but for a simple will I think the legalzoom.com seems like a good option.

Sorry for the morbid post today - sometimes being a grown-up isn't all that fun, is it?? I promise to do a camera clean-out soon so some cute pictures will be coming your way to make up for it  :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Car Seat Safety

As all of you know, we happily reside in the city of Atlanta. But you non-Georgians out there might not know that Atlanta is home to some of the dumbest, most distracted, and most aggressive drivers in the entire world. Yes, the world. I get massive anxiety driving anywhere in Atlanta traffic, and especially if I have to drive through the city.

Needless to say, when I was confronted with the reality that I was going to have some very precious cargo in the car after Anna was born, I wanted to make sure I could protect her as best I could, with proper car seat safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 75-80% of car seats are installed incorrectly, even as car seats become easier to install. And honestly? I believe that statistic. Amazon has a Facebook page and a few weeks ago they ran a photo contest soliciting pictures of kids in car seats, and it about damn near gave me a heart attack to look through those pictures.

So, in the spirit of protecting our kiddos, I'm going to share some of what I consider to be the lesser-known facts about car seat safety that I have run across in the last year and a half. And if you know some safety tips too that I don't mention, please share!!!

1) Never buy a secondhand car seat, especially if you don't know or trust its history. Car seats should be replaced if they are ever in an accident, and car seats also expire - generally after 5 years. Safety standards change, materials wear down, and the straps can lose their tension. Yes, car seats are expensive, but cut back ANYWHERE else that you can to get a quality, highly-ranked new car seat. Once you purchase your car seat, make sure to register the seat with the manufacturer so you can receive information about recalls or defects.

2) Check your vehicle's owner manual to see their recommendations on which back seat is the safest for car seats. Once you've purchased your car seat and gotten it installed, take it to be inspected. Here in Atlanta, the local fire department has licensed car seat technicians that will perform a FREE inspection check to ensure that you've installed it correctly for your vehicle. Steve followed the car seat's manual to a tee and the technician still had a few pointers for us on how to get the seat installed even more safely, given our vehicle. If you switch back and forth between 2 vehicles (like we do), seriously consider purchasing an additional seat so that you don't risk re-installing it incorrectly. You can find inspection stations in your area at this website - http://www.seatcheck.org/.

3) The new recommendation is for kids to be rear-facing in their car seats until the age of 2, or to the height or weight limits of the car seat. Once your car seat is facing forward, the child loses the support of the back of the seat and all of the force of the impact is on the child's neck, which can lead to serious injuries including internal decapitation. Speaking of weight limits, we also learned from our car seat tech that the LATCH systems on cars also have a weight limit, usually around 40 pounds. Once your kiddo reaches the weight limit for the LATCH system on your car, you're going to need to use the seat belt to install the car seat instead of the LATCH anchors.

4) Straps should be very snug (to where you can barely fit a finger underneath them) and the chest clip should be on level with the child's armpits. You should remove bulky clothing like jackets or coats that could cause too much of a cushion between the straps and your child. Make sure the straps aren't twisted, too!

5) If you have grandparents, nannies, or day care providers that will drive your child in their car, make sure that their car seat is also properly installed and that they know how to adjust and buckle the straps.

Here are some great internet resources if you want to read more!

NHTSA
Kids Health
Mayo Clinic

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hoppy Easter, Everybunny!

We had a wonderful, laid-back Easter this year. Anna participated in several Easter egg hunts over the past few weeks, including one with her playgroup at Debbie and Zoey's house, which is where these first few pictures are from. This morning we gave her a little Easter basket, and then spent the day working out in the garden.

DSC_0001

DSC_0009

DSC_0035

DSC_0055
This picture cracks me up. The girls are all stealing eggs out of each others' baskets!

DSC_0116

DSC_0129

DSC_0142

DSC_0150

DSC_0158
The Easter bunny brought Anna her very own little watering can - she was so excited! She's been dragging our big one around for weeks!

DSC_0167
Very first chocolate bunny - she ate the entire thing so I'm glad I didn't get a bigger one, haha.

DSC_0177

DSC_0184

DSC_0245

DSC_0260
What are Easter baskets compared to big boxes and bubble wrap??

DSC_0279

DSC_0297
The Easter bunny also brought her a little garden tool set, so she had lots of fun digging in the dirt!

DSC_0304

Happy Easter, everybody!