Saturday, September 14, 2013

Four Months Later

Wow, so much has happened since the last time I posted! It has been both an intentional and unintentional hiatus, as there were some horrible things happening that I didn't want to talk about or even remember looking back, and then there have been wonderful things happening that I would have loved to talk about but couldn't find the time or energy to get to it. But here I am now, and I'll just talk about the good stuff.

About two months ago, we finally moved into our new house out in the country, far enough to be away from noise and people and light pollution and all the things that drive me crazy, but close enough to still visit family and keep our regular health care providers. I love visiting family and hate switching doctors and such, so I'm quite happy with this arrangement. The air smells good here, and we can see so many stars at night; we can even see satellites and the Milky Way! We have so much more space, both inside our house and, especially, outside of it. We're now enjoying over 900 square feet more than our old house had, and we're actually able to fit ALL of our furniture inside of it without it seeming even the least bit crowded. An heirloom dresser that never even made it into our old house for lack of space now has a comfortable spot in our bedroom. My home office, once a tiny corner in our bedroom, where I couldn't even scoot my chair out from under my desk, is now it's own perfect-sized area. The boys are now sharing a room, which would have been impossible in the old house with its tiny 10'x10' bedrooms. The nursery is large enough to also accommodate a full bed, which will enable it to double as a guest room. We have all the space we need!

And outside, well, our property is incomparable to the old house. It's like living in a park! We have around 50 huge oak trees sprawled out in our huge front yard, backyard, and side yard areas. To give perspective, we could have fit the entirety of our old property in just half of our side yard. The biggest oak tree has two tire swings hanging from it; two others hold up a hammock. My goal is to have swings of all kinds, as well as another hammock or two, hanging from our trees. Our chickens are in heaven, with all the grass and bugs they could ever hope for, and plenty of room to roam around. They often run together in little packs, their necks sticking out and their legs running just as fast as they can, chasing grasshoppers. It's so funny to watch! Our dog loves it out here, too. The soil is different here, loose and sandy, and she loves rolling around in it and, especially, digging in it. The large backyard is her domain; she can dig as much as she wants and, in fact, has turned up several bones, much to her delight. We've recently added two cats to patrol the property for things like mice (which are inevitable when you're surrounded by fields!), moles, and gophers. We have tons of hummingbirds and other small species of colorful birds, and we've had a great time watching them from our dining room window as they gorge on the feeders we hung out for them. The funny thing is, my husband has never cared for birds, and now we've both become quite the bird watchers, and he enjoys them as much as I do. We even have binoculars sitting on our china cabinet, ready to get a closer look at the cute, zippy little hummingbirds. The kids love watching them, too, and they have their own binoculars lined up on the windowsill.

We have a barn, and once we get it cleaned up from the old owners' chicken mess and get a fencing situation set up, we're eager to get some goats to start cleaning up our back pasture for us. The front pasture won't be ready for awhile because it's only fenced in on three sides, but eventually we will close it off and use it as well. Eventually, we'll get horses, which I am so excited about!

It's easy to say now that living here is like paradise compared to living in suburbia, but when we first got here, it was quite a transition with a huge learning curve. The day we closed on the house, we came to see it and relish in the fact that, after nearly two long months of mental and emotional stress and anguish, it was finally ours. It had been unoccupied for a couple of weeks, and that was all it took for the area critters to decide it looked really cozy. There were wasp's nests, BIG spiders galore, and a snake ON THE WALL of our back patio.

The next day, we came back with the keys to start moving in, and the inside was something to adjust to, as well. It was dusty, there were cobwebs and dead spiders, and the windows were dirty, inside and out. The exterior door to our mudroom was surrounded by spiders; the door to the back porch was surrounded by spiders and wasps. The grass was severely overgrown; the trees neglected and in desperate need of trimming. There was a flea infestation in the barn and in the front and back yards. I have to admit, I felt overwhelmed and a little freaked out. What had we gotten ourselves into?!

It took many trips back and forth with the biggest UHaul truck available, but we finally got everything moved in. We dusted, cleaned windows, and started to combat the pests. Luckily, my father-in-law does pest control, and together we eliminated the fleas, cut down on fire ants, drove the spiders away, and killed a good number of wasps. Bringing the chickens over after about a week helped immensely to cut down on the bug and spider population. We never saw another snake. Finally, things started to feel manageable. And now, two months later, well, I still hate the fire ants (but this is Texas...they're inevitable), but I only occasionally see large spiders, our back patio is clean and no longer creepy, we've trimmed tons of trees and cut the grass, we never see fleas anymore, and living here is our new normal. We still have a few opened boxes around, and I still have yet to find a few things I would really like to be using, such as our bathroom rug and bathroom scale (WHERE COULD THEY BE?!), but for the most part we're pretty much settled.

I love it here now. Sure, it seems like every week our 50-year-old tractor has another problem, and yes, we have to be a bit more frugal and careful with our money now, but it is so worth it for the peace, quiet, and space we get to enjoy. I love smelling the fresh air and seeing the stars at night. We have a perfect view of the sunset everyday. I love that the only sounds outside are birds, crickets, the occasional rooster or cow, an airplane overhead, or the neighbor's kids playing in the distance. I lived in the country as a very young child, and I've always felt like it's where I belong. All these years, I thought I just didn't like Texas, but I've found that the truth is that I just don't like living in the city or suburbs. The convenience is great, but I couldn't even go in my own backyard without wanting to put in earplugs to drown out the lawnmowers, leaf blowers, dogs barking, cars' bass thumping (one of my most hated sounds), and people talking. It drove me crazy. I hear none of those things now, and it's wonderful. It fits me perfectly. I'm home.

And in four weeks, I get to seal the deal with a home birth, which will make our new home all the more special to me. I'm so excited to meet our new little guy!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Last week I turned 30. The Big 3-0. Dirty Thirty. The Year of Shame (I made that one up).

People kept asking me how it felt to be 30. Months ago, when it loomed in the future, I'd lamented the end of my 20s. I can't believe I won't be in my 20s anymore, I'd think woefully. But as it grew near, it started to seem kind of cool. Upon reflection, I realized that I've always been an old soul, and maybe turning 30 would finally help it make sense to people, like "Well, Keri's old now, of course she thinks the music is too loud." But, hello! The music IS too loud. I can't even hear myself think in here! And I would have said the same thing at age 25. Maybe even age 20. And at 12? DEFINITELY.

It didn't really hit me how I felt about it until I was reminded of a quote by a character on one of my favorite shows, New Girl. The character Nick, a crotchety, grumpy, cute guy who acts way older than he is in terms of general crankiness, says, "I like being 30. I feel like I'm finally aging into my personality." YES! EXACTLY! I thought when I read it. That is me to a tee. And it hit me that 30 might be my best age yet.

When people ask me how it feels to be old now, I joke that I've always been old. It's true. Example: For my 21st birthday, we rented a lake house and had a big party. Friends begged me to take shots with them, and I finally agreed to on one condition; my shot had to be weakened with orange juice. Barely buzzed, I proceeded to spend the evening taking care of everyone, making sure people were being responsible, and throwing paper towels over piles of vomit. I was a party animal, for sure. I probably remember more from that night now, 9 years later, than the rest of the people there remembered the next day.

Need another example? I've told kids to get off my lawn. Enough said.

One great thing about turning 30 is that it's a milestone. And it's the first milestone of adulthood that has no requirements. When you turn 18, you're expected to buy cigarettes (never gonna happen), porn (ditto), and/or lottery tickets (which I still haven't gotten around to doing), and you're expected to vote (I  LOVE VOTING! It's a great outlet for my righteous indignation). When you turn 21, you're pretty much expected to binge drink until age 25. Um, no...but thanks. When you turn 30, however, you're pretty much expected to just, I don't know, be old? I guess technically it's expected that you'll be married (check), own a home (yep), and probably have kids (duh). Well, thank you 30, for allowing me to finally meet society's expectations! (And I mean that sarcastically, but I'm also secretly proud of that fact. Because this is pretty much the first time it's ever happened.)

See? 30 works for me.

A few years ago, a friend once jabbed at me teasingly, "Geez, Keri, why don't you try going back to a time when you were cool?" Without missing a beat, I replied, "Are you kidding? I've never been cool!" It's the truth! I've always been old. So I am fully embracing being 30. I love it. It fits me.

Besides, I still LOOK 25, so whatever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Well, that explains a few things.

I'm not sure how this happened, but for some reason there seems to be a misconception about me floating around that I don't like to do anything without my kids or husband. What the what?! Is this why people don't ask me to do stuff? Because, seriously, no one EVER asks me to do anything! No happy hours, no random hanging out, no shopping, no game nights - nothing! And ok, yes, in the past I have expressed a certain amount of disdain for "girls' nights," BUT I didn't really have the best girlfriends at the time. Actually, I guess you could say I didn't have any girlfriends at the time! So the idea of a "girls' night" was like, pshh, whatever, that sounds boring anyway. But I have female friends now, and they are great! (Well, a few. Some live far away and I never see them. And some are just friendly acquaintances on Facebook. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm hopeless!) But I never see them outside of playdates with the kids. [Sad face!] And my guy friends are great, no doubt, but it's a little weird to be like, "Hey, let's go hang out without our significant others. They'll be cool with that, right?" EDIT: For some reason, Blogger is highlighting the above text when I view it. I didn't intentionally highlight it, and I can't figure out how to unhighlight it. Weird.

I was talking to my mom recently, and she was saying how she hates to go to the movies by herself, so she just doesn't go. And I was like, "Um, hello, I'll go to the movies with you!" I was shocked/confused at how surprised she was that I said that - she said that she has always just assumed I wouldn't want to do anything without the hubby or the kids. And it made me wonder - does EVERYONE think I'm not interested in doing anything without them? Because that's not true! Of course, I LOVE to spend time with my kids and hubby. That's a no-brainer. If I didn't, that would be a serious problem. But I'm also an individual. And, hello, I work from home. Naturally, I'd be thrilled to go do something anything with friends on my own!

So now I'm wondering what kind of vibes I've been sending. Maybe I've been giving the impression all along that I'm not interested. It's possible: I'm introverted and shy, and sometimes I'm reluctant to break out of my routine (a classic introvert move), and I seem to always fail miserably when I try and take the initiative to get something set up. The hubby can get anyone to agree to anything, while I bumble around and can't seem to get an answer out of anyone. Which is PROBABLY why I rarely do things without him - he's the only one who seems to be able to get people to say yes!

So that kind of sucks. How do you go about reversing something like that?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Letters to Oliver - Month 15

Dear Oliver,

This week you turned 15 months old. You are learning so much and doing so many things!

You've learned the words "bird," "stop," "thank you," "hi," "hello," and "love you", and you've started giving kisses! Real, smoochy, smacky kisses! You've also figured out how to blow LOUD raspberries on people, and, well, you're a biter. Last night you bit me on the face because I was trying to rock you to sleep and you thought you weren't tired. Not cool, dude. (After a brief time out in your crib, you promptly fell asleep when I resumed rocking you. Turkey.) You're almost done with the rest of your teething (until the 2-year molars - PLEASE don't get those early!), and in just a month you've doubled your tooth count from 8 to 16!

You went on your first extended trip a few weeks ago, and you did really well! We had a great time in Taos and the drives both there and back were without incident - and without tantrums! You were a total prince charming there and back, and I'm so proud of how easily you rolled with all the changes to your routine. You napped in the car every day for a week without complaining once, you accompanied us on a strenuous, impromptu hike up the black diamond ski trail on a mountain, and you rode a ski lift! We had picnics, played on old playgrounds, self-toured a fish hatchery, visited a TINY town with only one store, ate gourmet pizza and homemade ice cream, swung in a hammock, peeped at prairie dogs, and collected rocks. You are just like your Mama, picking up rocks wherever you go!

Your personality continues to grow, and you are turning out to be very smart and highly entertaining. You've also started flexing your climbing muscles, and you're very adventurous and daring. You'll climb up onto the dining table over and over again, just to prove that you can, and you love standing on things that are dangerous to stand on, such as your little rocking chair and your car that you can scoot around on. You're actually really good at scooting around on that little car, and you know how to go both forwards and backwards. When you go backwards, you actually turn and look behind you to see where you're going, just as though you were reversing in a real car - cracks me up!

I love you to pieces, and your little wrinkle-nosed smile and hearty laugh never fail to brighten my day. And even though you are STILL NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT OH MY GOD, I am so happy every day that you are exactly the way you are.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Letters to Oliver - Month 14

Dear Oliver,

How is it possible you're 14 months already? You're a toddler - a toddler?!  What the what?!

It seems like you're growing at warp speed; you're currently cutting 8 teeth at the same time, you started walking overnight and will now walk all the way across a bowling alley without any help - and you're fast, too - and you climb on anything and everything, including chairs, tables, the couch (you try to jump on the couch with your brother amid gleeful giggles), and outdoor furniture and toys. You say a lot of words (puppy, night night, mama, dada, bubba, chicken, tickle, bunny, ta-da, Ry-Ry, no, stop, stop that), and you learn new ones all the time, always imitating what you hear. You're super duper sweet, but also stubborn and occasionally obnoxious - you always let us know EXACTLY what you think! You've become a bit more adventurous with foods; you'll even eat bananas now! Some recent new favorites include cherries, bananas, peanut butter, and grapes (we make sure they're not chokable, obviously). You also LOVE this Cookie Dough Dip (BEST STUFF ON EARTH!!!) I make - minus the chocolate chips. And you're obsessed with bread - always have been.

I'm not sure where you are on the growth charts right now, but you seem to be filling out a bit. At your 12 month check up, you were only in the 3rd percentile for weight (but 75th for height). You've always seemed very healthy to me, though, and you eat very well and are still breastfeeding, so I'm not concerned. You've got the tiniest bit of chunk on you, but you're just a tall, slender guy. Nothing wrong with that!

We've been having so much fun with you lately, and you and Jude play nonstop some days. One of my favorite things is to hear you both playing and giggling in another room. You're super silly and very easily entertained and also very entertaining yourself. You love to elicit reactions, and your imitations of our expressions and sounds are priceless! I always feel like I never take enough pictures or videos, but I'm sure that when you and Jude are grown, you'll both be like "GEEZ Mom, how many THOUSANDS of pictures did you take?!" So I try not to worry too much about it and simply enjoy and participate in the funny or sweet moments instead of trying to document everything!

Next week we're taking our very first family vacation EVER, and I'm so excited! I'm a little nervous, sure, about the 4 days of driving and how bedtimes will play out and all of that stuff, but as far as the big picture is concerned, I'm thrilled and excited out of my mind! I think we're going to have a great time! Hopefully the next time I write a letter to you, I can tell you all about how wonderful our vacation was, how you slept through the night every night (HAHAHAHA wishful thinking!!!), and how the drive was as smooth as could be, with no hysterical crying. Are you taking notes yet, Ollie?



Monday, May 28, 2012

Life as of Lately

It's been awhile since I've written, which wasn't intentional, but we've been busier than normal and I honestly haven't had a chance to sit down and write. Last weekend, we left on a last minute trip to San Antonio to see my great-grandfather-in-law, leaving here on Saturday morning and heading back on Sunday around mid-day. It was a very short, no-frills trip, but we took our time and had fun. On the way there, we stopped in Waco to see my dad and picnic at the park. On the way home, we stopped in Austin and ate at this great vegetarian cafe, the Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. The wait was long, and we were there for quite a while longer than intended, but the food and atmosphere were worth it. We again stopped in Waco on the way home and played Frisbee at Cameron Zoo Park, our regular stopping place. Love that park!

Oh yeah, have I mentioned the diet we began at the end of February? No meat, no dairy, no processed foods, no refined sugar, no caffeine. We're basically vegan, except for eggs. (Since we're raising chickens, it didn't make much sense to cut out eggs!) So we've been on this diet for about three months now, and we're loving it! We follow it about 95% of the time, allowing ourselves room to indulge on special occasions - holidays, birthdays, etc - if we feel like it. Additionally, Ollie and I have gone gluten-free, as I am apparently gluten-intolerant/sensitive, and I suspect he is as well. Randy and I have begun seeing a nutritionist, and we're both taking an assortment of supplements and following customized lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid. Honestly, we've never felt better! Randy has made the most remarkable change, losing 25 pounds without even trying to lose weight and improving his day-to-day mood 100%. I've lost 23 pounds myself, but I've been counting calories and running. Side rant: It is SO NOT FAIR how quickly and easily guys lose weight!! UGH!! Anyway. We're feeling great and have a lot more energy! We get a lot of flak and a lot of questions from other people about our "OCD" eating habits (since when is choosing healthy food over junk considered OCD?!), but it's a choice we stand by 100% and are always happy to talk to people about it.

I had my 29th birthday a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I'm in the last year of my 20s, and I feel weird about it. I'm not obsessive about numbers and age, but it does freak me out how quickly time passes. I don't feel like I'm almost 30! I still feel like an awkward, dorky kid. I'm still shy in large groups; I still cannot dance at all; hell, at my 10 year high school reunion, I spotted the guy I'd had a crush on for six years (throughout junior high and high school), and I couldn't even make eye contact with him. I'm almost 30, happily married for 8 years (our anniversary is in two days!), and I am a mother of two beautiful children, and I'm still 15 inside. I might always be 15 inside - that will make turning 40, 50, and 60 even weirder!

The boys are doing so well! Jude had grown up so much lately and expresses himself so much more clearly now. I'm continually amazed at the things he says and all that he observes and remembers. He has an incredible memory, and he misses nothing. His favorite word lately has been "freakin'" and he loves to use it at every opportunity, much to our chagrin. We've also heard him exclaim "Dammit!" a couple of times, and we have to try hard to stifle our laughter. We really don't curse around him as a general rule, but sometimes we slip up, and of course, little ears hear everything - except, of course, instructions on what to do or what NOT to do. He is such a sweet, caring, and patient big brother, and he and Oliver are so cute together. Ollie has finally started walking! Overnight, he went from taking maybe 5 steps at a time to being able to traverse an entire room without falling down. He always walks with a huge grin on his face, his arms up in the air. He loves to laugh and squeal and babble, and he is just as cute and snuggly and funny and spunky as can be. He's added a few words to his vocabulary and can now say "night-night," "ball," "ta-da," "tickle," "chicken," and "Bubba," and he can do the sign for "please" and is working on the sign for "more." And kid's got personality, I tell you what. Over the past couple of days, he's become very interested in Jude's Legos (the bigger kind, not the choking-hazard kind), and he loves to dump out the whole bucket in one cacophonous crash, then sit in the middle of them and try to put them together and take them apart. I kept thinking this was a new interest, but then I remembered that when he was much younger (he's almost 14 months now!), if he fell down or got upset, you could hand him a Lego and he was instantly fine. That's him in a nutshell; a little on the dramatic side (you should see his reaction when you take something away or try to brush his teeth), but easy to comfort and/or distract. He's such a little character! Right now, he's cutting all four one-year molars and all four canine teeth, all at the same time. Oy.

One of my goals for our family this year has been to take our first family vacation - we haven't been anywhere since before Jude was born, and we haven't been out of Texas in seven years. SEVEN YEARS. A change of scenery is long overdue for us! At first, we were considering going to North Carolina since we have family there and we've never seen the East Coast, but flights were too expensive. So we weren't sure what our Plan B would be, until we found out there was going to be a large portion of Randy's family going to Taos, New Mexico for a memorial service for his uncle in June. Bingo! As much as I would love (Love. LOVE. LOVE!!!) to be near - and show Jude! - the ocean, I have never been to Taos and I've heard that it's so beautiful, and of course Jude has also never seen mountains before, so I'm excited to show him those. And I'm sure the stars at night will be spectacle to behold for us city(well, suburb)-dwellers. Plus, how much fun will it be to have a HUGE family vacation, instead of just the four of us? My family never did anything like that, so it'll be a new experience for me. We'll be staying in a nice little bed and breakfast with a mountain view and a whirlpool tub (in fact, the actual tub itself has a window with a mountain view!) and a fireplace. I'm so excited! We'll be driving - 12 hours each way, yikes - but we're cutting each way into two-day, six-hour excursions with an overnight stay in Amarillo. Hopefully, this will help us and the kids keep our sanity. My fingers are definitely crossed on that matter, but I'm looking forward to the adventure and the challenge just the same. My fear, though, is that the same thing will happen that always happens whenever I go someplace beautiful or different - that I'll fall in love with it and never want to leave. Obviously, I will inevitably have to go home, back to this boring, ugly city with pollution and noise and too many people and too much traffic and not enough nature, and I'll be depressed and want to move away. Does everyone feel that way after a vacation, or is it just me?

So anyway, that's what's going on with us lately. There's more, of course, always more, but those are the interesting parts. I've missed writing lately, and I even missed writing a Month 13 Letter to Oliver. I've been trying so hard to do everything - reading the two books I got for my birthday, running, work, household upkeep, spending time with the boys, working on a painting for Ollie's room, date nights, and photography - so my free time is always taken up with something. Way at the bottom of the list is blogging and reading blogs. I've even stopped using my phone around the kids (inspired by Hands Free Mama), so I'm on Facebook and Pinterest and Words With Friends way less than before (a GOOD thing, of course! Being fully PRESENT when I'm with my kids has been a game changer!), so that's one less thing occupying my time, which is great, but it has easily been replaced with other activities. Such is life, though, and although it sometimes gets overwhelming to try to keep up with everything, I'm actually enjoying staying busy and productive and having fun with the kids. I'm never bored, that's for sure!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Letters to Oliver - Month 12

Dear Oliver,

Happy first birthday! I can't believe it! I know I said last month that I couldn't believe you'd be one soon, because you still seemed to baby-like to me. But, holy cow, it seems that your first birthday flipped a switch within your brain, because you are now in full-blown toddler mode! You are on the verge of walking, you climb on EVERYTHING, you imitate everything we do, you're trying out new sounds, and you are into everything you can get your hands on! You love disassembling things, pulling things out of drawers, bags, and boxes, and just generally making a mess. And you're fast!

But you are still just as sweet as you can be, very lovey and snuggly, and you have a great sense of humor. You love to be chased and tickled and nibbled. You've even started letting us feed you with a spoon - enthusiastically, no less - and you now eat a big bowl of oatmeal every morning. You even grin after every bite! Now that's what I call progress!

Right on cue, you have two one-year molars starting to come in, but they haven't seemed to bother you at all. You've had a big gap in teething time, and I've been dreading new teeth for months, expecting a sleep strike, but so far, so good. Time will tell, but I'm hoping for the best.

You get a big kick out of the chickens - in fact, I think chicken is your first word aside from Mama, Dada, and Bye-bye. Every time you see the chickens (or any bird, really), you get excited and start saying "Ticka-ticka-ticka!" So stinkin' cute! You love to look at them and try to make a grab at their faces every time. I guess you haven't scared them off yet, though, because they still don't mind having you around them!

We've had so much fun watching your personality come out, and in the past week, it seems that you're learning and doing something new every day! And the climbing - oh my gosh, you're going to give someone a heart attack! I don't know if it's a boy thing or just a toddler thing, but you climb on everything you can possibly think of, and if you find that you're not able to scale something, you get mad. You once used your brother as a step-up to climb on the couch, and when you were unable to replicate that action, you'd think your world had ended! You'd try and try to climb up again, attempting to use the pillows as leverage, and upon failing to find yourself on top of the couch, you'd bury your face in the cushion and cry. It sounds sad when I type it, but it was actually really funny. Whoops.

Yesterday we took a little road trip to see Gans, and on the way you kept yourself entertained by teasing your brother. You were playing with this toy phone, and you held out your arm to offer it to Jude. When he reached out to take it, you'd quickly pull your arm back and screech, as if to say "PSYCH!!" You did this over and over again, and we were all laughing so hard! You got the biggest kick out of teasing your big brother. I can see where this relationship is going!

Well, you got your first haircut. It pained me to cut your hair! Your dark newborn tips are gone and your wispy little side curls - I called them your wings - are gone, but your hair is no longer in your eyes and no one would dare mistake you for a little girl again. I miss your long baby hair, but I have to say, you do look adorable with your new haircut, such a big, handsome boy. I really, really miss your hair though. I'm shedding a little tear on the inside!

Your first birthday party was a big success! We kept the group small and it was just right. You didn't go nuts with your cake, but you did taste the icing and seemed to like it. I made you a vanilla vegan cake, and it was quite tasty, but I guess you just weren't sure what to make of something so sweet. But don't worry, you're sweet enough without it. And yes, I still plan to say cheesy stuff like that when you're a teenager. In front of your friends. And now I can say I warned you!

I'm so proud of you, Ollie. We've made it through your first year! In fact, I think it's safe to say we kicked ass for your first year! You made it through without any illness whatsoever, we're still breastfeeding, and you are rocking it with the milestones! You've been an amazingly wonderful addition to our family; you were exactly what we were missing.  Thank you for being such a fun, sweet, beautiful baby. Here's to your next stage of life!