25 December 2014

Merry Merry Christmas

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Oakes Christmas Card 2014 (front)

17 December 2014

KateKate is Two Months

Two Month Kate Kate Web

Kate was all about the silly faces during our little photo shoot.  She was very amused that her big sister, Harlow, was dancing around right next to me and singing Frosty the Snowman.  I thought I would add a few of the out take photos of our little roly poly girl.  

Kate 2 Month Outtakes

17 April 2014

let's talk about miss harlow

When Mabes was born I documented everything.

First sneeze, September 6, 2007 9:05pm!

I documented every day with photos.  No joke, I have folder after folder filled with photos that chronicle every single day for the first three months of her life.  After that I have folders filled with photos from every week of her life up until she was about four.  Furthermore every single photo is meticulously labeled with the location, every person in the photo, the date, and what we were doing when the picture was taken.  I'm not a big scrapbooker (read: I hate scrapbooking) but that didn't stop me from putting together a custom fairy tale themed scrap baby book for her to treasure all the milestones of her first year of life.

Then comes the second child.  Loved just as deeply as the first, but unfortunately just not as well documented.

Poor Harlow.  I tried my best to at least photograph her once a month on her "birthday anniversary."  That worked well for the first eight or so months and then I forgot until a few days after the fact and then dropped the ball entirely.

Documenting firsts, that is a joke.  I had to answer some questions the other day regarding some of Harlow's bigger milestones and my answers were anything but specific.  

Doctor: When did she roll over for the first time?  
Me: Um, four months?  No!  Five months.  Yeah, I think it was five months.  Maybe?  Does that sound about right for a baby?

I also have a folder on my desktop called "SERIOUSLY EDIT THESE ALREADY."  I kid you not, inside that folder is over 4000 photos from the last 16 months of all of our family events, Harlow's newborn photos, etc. that have never been sorted, looked at or edited.  Labeling them with accurate dates, people, locations...that's never going to happen.  

At this rate when the new baby comes this fall there will be one blurry Instagram photo of the little gremlin taken before I hand him/her off to a pack of wild dogs and say, "Raise yourself kiddo.  It's a sink or swim kind of world."  

In all seriousness, this is something I want...no NEED....to rectify.  It weighs heavy on my heart that I don't blog and document our lives as much as I once did.  The story of my family is fading quickly into distant memories that we may not remember.  I have decided to make it a priority to sort through the folder of photos from the last 16 months, to finally edit my baby's newborn photos before the next newborn comes and before my baby isn't a baby anymore.  I'm also realistic and realize that there are some things that are going to have be lost to the dark recesses of our minds.  I will never have some of the dates/times of Harlow's firsts.  However going forward I am going to make a greater effort.  I may not be able to document the big milestones the second they happen, but I will document them.

Starting now.

Let's talk about Miss Harlow.

This girl is the biggest chatterbox.  Almost everything she says is baby babble, but there are some words mixed in.  She says Mama, Dadda, Mabry (pronounced Maybe), bye-bye and night-night (she just started saying it this week).  She also knows and uses some sign language.  The big ones she is consistent with using include, Please, More, Thank You and All Done. She also does this silly thing where she sticks her tongue in and out of her mouth (almost like she is licking her lips very quickly) to indicate she wants a drink from her sippy cup.  

I'd show you videos of her talking, signing and even babbling.  Except I can't.  Because every single time I try to video her she either grabs for the phone and throws and unholy fit if I won't give it to her or smiles and refuses to do anything but stare at me. 

The girl has a stubborn streak that is not only a mile long but equally as deep.  Translation: Dan and I are in so much trouble when she gets older. 

We have been working for months on trying to get her to walk. The stubborn streak has been making the whole walking thing hard.  I made an appointment with a therapist to come and observe her and make sure we were all doing what we can to encourage the walking.  I made the appointment two days ago.  Which meant that yesterday she decided to take a few steps on her own for the first time.  Of course since then when we try to get her to walk she immediately sits down.  I'm keeping the appointment.

She loves bath time and is still the biggest cuddle bug.  As I type this she is sitting on my lap with her chubby cheek pressed into my chubby cheek and she is calmly watching the words I type appear on the screen content to be held by Mama.

She also loves any toy with wheels that she can push around.  For Christmas we bought her a car that she can ride in while we push her around.  In the evenings we take her on walks while she rides in her car.  She loves to beep the horn and wave at people.  

Bedtime has gotten much better.  I figured out that as long as she has a pillow, she will stay in her own bed.  I guess she got used to sleeping on mine and that was why she would scream and fight until we broke down and put her in bed with us.  

She eats everything we eat and has started to insist she feed herself.  Anything pasta related is her favorite.  

Tomorrow I am making it a point to photograph the girls in their Easter outfits, so expect the next post to include photos.  

15 April 2014

what is the cop code for purse in a potty?

This morning Dan, Harlow and I went to breakfast at McDonalds.  This is something we do fairly often as long as his work and my schedule allow.  It helps that the McDonalds is right down the street from Mabes' school and on the way to Dan's work.

We sat at a table in the back corner.  There were some other soldiers sitting at a table near us and a few other people scattered throughout the dining area.  It was business as usual as the baby scarfed down her pancakes.  When it was time to leave we walked out and it wasn't until a minute or so later that I realized I had left my purse hanging on the back of the chair I had been sitting in.

I quickly went back inside and immediately went to where we had been sitting.  The purse was gone. I asked the lady behind the counter hoping that someone had turned it in.  No such luck.  The good news, she informed me, was that they had cameras and she could have her manager take a look to see if she saw anything unusual.

While the manager was reviewing the footage, I called the bank to cancel my debit card.  Thank goodness it was the only call I had to make.  (Yay for being a credit card free household!)  Dan went outside and started looking in all the trash bins in the parking lot to see if whoever had taken it might have thrown it away.

Dan came in just as the manager approached me.  It turns out there was a tall man, dressed in dark clothing, who had been sitting in the opposite corner of the dining area.  She said you could see him watching us and as soon as we got up, the table of soldiers near us also got up.  The darkly dressed man immediately walked over, grabbed my purse and left the building.  Another worker piped up and said that she remembered the guy and that he had been on foot.

Without really thinking about it, I handed Harlow to Dan and walked out to my minivan.

Tall guy, dark clothes, on foot.  I don't know how far he could have gotten in just a few minutes, but I was going to try and find out.

Turns out not far.

I located him standing by the grocery store in the plaza down the street.  I called Dan to have him confirm with the manager that the guy who took my purse was dressed in the exact clothes this guy was wearing and that he was carrying a backpack.

It was the guy.

I hung up and dialed 911.

By this point the guy noticed me.  Of course, why wouldn't he?  Tiny white lady, behind the wheel of a giant minivan, pulled right up next to him, giving him the death stare as she spoke to the dispatcher.
If you ever need a stalker, my amazing skills can be yours for a few small payments of zero dollars!

The guy started to act really fidgety and nervous.  He kept watching me and then started to speed walk through a little field that connected the plaza with a restaurant.  I followed him in the van.  (Not through the field, though I wanted to, but on the street that ran in front of the restaurant.)

I saw him go inside the restaurant.  But by that point the dispatcher had demanded I stop following him.  I had already confirmed that I wasn't in any immediate danger.  However, I also could neither confirm nor deny if he had a weapon.  Let's face it, in this town the likelihood of him having a weapon is pretty high.  I understand where the dispatcher was coming from and I know she was doing her job.  But I wasn't too happy to stop mid pursuit.

I hope you can sense the bitterness of me no longer getting to follow the guy.  I like a good dose of getting what you deserve.  Who knows where the guy could go if I didn't have eyes on him?

I waited in the parking lot and watched the door like a hawk.  Ten minutes later a very nice police officer pulled up.  I told him everything that had happened up to that point.  Dan had also called me while I was waiting for the cop and I had asked him to go back to the plaza and search the garbage cans there.  Dan met the cop and I just as the cop was going into the restaurant to try and find the guy.

The cop searched the bathrooms, dining area, and kitchen and couldn't find the guy.  His best guess was the guy had a change of clothes in the backpack and so he didn't match the description I had given the cop anymore.  Or he left out the back somehow.

The cop helped Dan and I search the trash cans in the area again.  We also searched in some trees and in the grassy field area.  I may have also hoisted myself inside two donation bins at the edge of a parking lot.  We found nothing.

A report was filed and that was about all that could be done.  I was angry and felt violated.

Dan was super awesome about the whole thing.  I was pretty hard on myself about forgetting the purse to begin with.  He reassured me and said he would help as much as he could to replace my IDs and other important purse items.  We spent the next several hours driving around, making phone calls and trying to figure out the best way to obtain everything I needed before the weekend.  He also bought Harlow and I lunch.  :)

Finally we had to part ways so he could go back to work and so that I could get a few things done.  Later that afternoon I got a phone call from another police officer.  He asked me if I could meet him near the plaza we had been searching earlier that day.  As it turns out I was right by there and so two minutes later I was pulling up next to a cop who was handing me some blue medical gloves.

There is another restaurant under construction across the street from the plaza.  One of the construction workers had went to use a port-a-potty and found my purse and ID floating/half submerged in the blue water.

Go ahead and gag.  I surely did.

Anyhow, the construction worker told the foreman who immediately called the police.  The cop and I went through everything in the purse.  Every single thing was there.  My debit card was in the same spot it had always been in.  A gift card I had received for my birthday was still there.  Nothing was missing other than the cash I had in the wallet.

The case of the missing purse was solved.  Minus the whole finding the guy and bringing him to justice aspect.

Everything (minus the IDs which were washed in extremely hot water, Lysoled and then washed and Lysoled once more) was a total loss that ended up in the trash.

Silly as it sounds, I loved that purse.  It was a really nice leather purse Dan had given me as a gift.  Worst of all, if the guy would have asked I would have given him some money.  I would have bought him a meal.  He didn't need to break the law or destroy my things.

I'm still chalking it up as a win.  1.  I no longer have to retake a driver's test to get my license reissued.  2.  I chased a bad guy and wasn't shot in the face.

People always think bad things won't happen to them.  And if they happen to live around here, it is true, they really don't have to worry.  Bad things probably won't happen to them, because they seem to happen to me.

Just call me Super Freak Magnet.  I'm happily accepting donations for a cool superhero cape.

10 March 2014

party of five


Surprised?  So are we.

Dan and I were shocked at first.  Now we are excited and can't wait to meet our gremlin in the fall.

However, if you would keep me in your prayers I would appreciate it.  My anxiety attacks are back with an ugly vengeance.  I have hardly slept in the last few weeks, my stomach is twisted in knots, and many tears have been shed over the worry I feel about the whole birth process.  The first trimester has not been good to me and I have been operating on a level very consistent with low-grade flu-like symptoms.  It hasn't been much fun.

On the upside, baby snuggles are in the top three very best things in the whole world and that is what is waiting on the other end of all this anxiety and sickness.

24 January 2014

7 quick takes: the first edition

We have been battling sickness here and it has been no fun.  Harlow and I both woke up with colds one morning and it has snowballed since then.  Last weekend I took a Nyquil and ended up sleeping until 10:45 the next morning and then walking around in a fog for the next two days.  For the record when I say I am sensitive to medication, I am not joking.  Thankfully Dan and Mabes have managed to avoid our little sinus/coughing/congestion plague for the most part.

I found a few link that I thought were worth sharing:
8 Simple Steps
When Your Mother Says She is Fat

We have decided to put Harlow on a gluten free diet.  The doctor had her tested for celiac disease. The test came back negative, however that doesn't mean much when the test is only 50/50 on accuracy.  (The only way to know for sure is with a biopsy of her intestine, which we are trying to avoid if possible.)  So we made the decision to go gluten free for a month and see what kind of a difference it makes.  Gluten free is a lot harder than it seems, especially when we have been lucky enough to have gone our whole lives with no dietary restrictions whatsoever.

Friday I did a one-year photo session with Harlow.  Let's all just pretend that I wasn't a month overdo taking the photos.  I will post more photos from the session later, but this is one of my favorites.  I feel like it encompasses exactly what the last month has been like with her.  I think a lot of that has to do with the teeth that seem to be popping up in her mouth all of a sudden.  I am not going to complain about how clingy she is with me or how hard it makes getting anything done when she only wants to be held 24/7 because it means extra cuddles and that is never a bad thing.  However, if she decides that she can do without the 2am cuddles, I would be OK with that.
Harlow 1 Year Photos 32

Mabes requested an Elsa dress from Santa this past Christmas.  The dress turned out to be more elusive than Big Foot and took us more than a month to track down.  It came the other day and she has worn it nonstop since then.  Dan is enjoying all of the glitter that seems to be making its way off the dress and onto every square inch of surface of everything in the house.

The Rosie Network: I recently joined this network with my photography business.  They are a new site that promotes military owned small business.  They launch to the public tomorrow!  I am really excited about the potential opportunities this will lead to.

Dan signed in to his new job on base yesterday.  He has some training he has to complete before he officially starts, but we are all ready for him to spend some time stateside and not have to worry about a deployment looming for at least the next few years.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

06 January 2014

catching up on harlow's last six months

In June Harlow started to realize that she could control her voice.  She realized she could make us laugh by making silly sounds.  This pleased her (and still does) to no end.  I referred to a lot of her noises as dinosaur noises because they are more like a growl than anything.

June is also when Harlow began to really sit up on her own.

At the end of September she cut both of her front bottom teeth.  We also moved her from an infant car seat to a rear facing, larger car seat.

In late September/early October she began pulling herself around the floor.  She wasn't full on crawling for several weeks.  Every time anyone put her knees under her she would start to cry and refuse to move.  Once she did start to crawl (and the way she continues to) she decided to let her one leg basically drag behind her.  She looks like something out of the Walking Dead moving across the floor, but she is fast and it works for her.

One thing we have learned is Harlow is stubborn and will do things in her own time and in her own way.  Dan and I are OK with that...for now.

In October she said her first word, Dada.  I am pretty sure at first she thought it meant "feed me more food" based on when she would say it.  Which was usually in the highchair as soon as I had finished feeding her the last bite of whatever was on her plate.  She has now added "Mama" to her vocabulary, but uses both very sparingly choosing to point at things with her chubby finger or babble instead.

November we took her to Disney World.  She did AWESOME compared to what we were expecting, both on the long car ride to Florida and at the park itself.  Any ride that didn't have a height requirement she was allowed to go on and aside from the spinning tea cups, loved it all.  A favorite was the Dumbo ride.  She managed to get her hands on the little lever inside the car that allows the rider to control if your elephant goes up or down and she lurched us all over the place, laughing hysterically all the while.  The biggest highlight of the month was when she started giving kisses.  Most of the time when Dan and I ask she will kiss us, sometimes she really makes us work for them.  Mabes, on the other hand, is always getting kissed by her sissy, no asking needed.  Lucky Mabes.

Just before the new year we saw that she has finally started cutting her top two front teeth.  She is also starting to pull herself up onto her knees, but for the most part has no interest in standing or attempting to walk.  (Though she does march around when we hold her hands.)

Harlow 5 Months #2
(5 Months Old)

Harlow 6 Months #3
(6 Months Old)

Harlow Photo Shoot #3
(7 Months Old)

Harlow 8 Months #2
(8 Months Old)

Harlow 9 Month #13

(9 Months Old)

Harlow 10 Months #5
(10 Months Old)

Wedding Photo Day 15
(11 Months Old)

We went months and months of her waking up anywhere from two to four times a night.  I was starting to reach the end of my sanity limits.  In late September I started forcing her to sleep through the night using the cry it out method.  She still wanted to party at least twice a night, but finally figured out that from 8pm-6:30am is a nonnegotiable sleeping time.  There are still nights where she attempts to push the limits of the rules, but for the most part she does really well at night.  Nap time has always been good.  Usually she sleeps for 3-4 hours every late morning/afternoon.  For the most part she always wakes up happy and ready to go.  Harlow still likes having a crochet blanket with her to go to sleep.  I think it is safe to call her a blanket kid, but only at bed/nap time.

Session with the Meullers #19
(For her first Halloween she was a chicken/duck)

I introduced her to solid foods starting just before six months.  Other than peas, there hasn't been a thing that she hasn't liked.  She has always been more interested in what we were eating than the purees I was feeding her and so from about November she eats basically everything we do, only cut up into tiny pieces.  She only has two teeth and that makes chewing a little complicated, but she has done really well.  Some of her favorite foods include tortillas, chicken, steak, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, cheese, tomatoes and green onions.  She is only nursing before bed.  I have enough pumped breast milk that she gets a bottle as soon as she wakes up in the morning as well.  When we use up everything in the freezer we will introduce her to whole milk.  Throughout the day she drinks water or very watered down apple juice.  It was a fight to find a sippy cup she was willing to use, thank goodness there was one from Nuby that she finally took to.  It also took a little bit of work, but she can successfully drink from a straw if we need her to.

(Picking up Daddy from the airport when he came home from deployment.  These two hadn't seen each other in 9 months and they picked right back up as if no time had passed.)

Harlow is a total ham.  She loves to laugh and to make us laugh.  She is curious and constantly trying to discover and explore.  Everything is considered fair game to chew on.  She is also a total cuddle bug and will happily lay in our arms, curl up in our laps or rest her head on our shoulders any time she can and will stay that way for as long as we let her.  Mabes is still her favorite person and Harlow follows her everywhere.

GF0A1502 copy
 (1 Year Old)

It is safe to say that Miss Harlow has stolen all of our hearts.

02 January 2014

mabes catch up

Today I thought would be a great time to recap the last six months or so of what has been going on with this little lady:

We spent much of the summer traveling to Georgia and Pennsylvania and back again.  All the while playing dress up and princess.
Mabry is all dressed up

In August she started Kindergarten.  Unfortunately the first full week of school she missed due to a tick bite and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  It was not fun.  
Mabry's first day of kindergarten #9
Sleeping Mabes #4

She also traded in dancing for gymnastics this year.  Ever since she saw the American team during the 2012 Summer Olympics she has been all about learning to do gymnastics.  

Early September she celebrated another birthday.  Six years (or as she put it on the morning of her birthday, "It takes two hands to count to me!").  Seriously where is the time going?  This year she was able to have two birthday parties.  One party in Atlanta at the American Girl Store with her Gamma, some of her Nashville cousins, Aunt Vail, Gloria and Elayna.  The other party was an ice cream social in the park near our church that was filled with lots of friends and family.
Mabry's 6th Birthday in Georgia #16
Mabry's 6th Birthday Party #4

For Halloween Mabes was insistent that she be Jasmin.  I had already planned to dress her like a farmer.  In my defense I was dressing her little sister up to look like a chicken and I thought it would be the perfect themed costume.  When I told her my idea she looked at me like I had gone way off the reservation.  In the end she deemed my plan no beuno and used her own money to buy herself a costume fit for a princess.  This was also the first Halloween where there was very little struggle to get her to trick-or-treat (which we did in our neighborhood with Harlow, Wyatt and our favorite neighbor, David).
Session with the Meullers #14

October is also when I landed her in the Emergency Room after accidentally lodging her earring back all the way inside of her ear.  To make a long story short, she had pushed the backs of her earrings on so tight (unbeknownst to me) that they were practically already ripping into her ear.  After her bath one night I was using the towel to dry her hair, her earring got caught on the towel and when I pulled it away from her head it pulled out the earring and pulled the back inside of her ear.  It was not a good night and unfortunately she is no longer able to wear earrings until her ears fully heal.  She isn't interested in having anymore holes put in her ears and instead told me for prom and her wedding she would put "stickers" on her ear lobes and call it a day.
Mabry's earring back stuck in her ear #5

Early November was definitely the highlight of the year.  Aunt B, her Daddy and I were able to pull off a huge surprise at gymnastics when Daddy finally came home from deployment.

After Daddy's return it was a whirlwind of trips and holiday plans.  We took a trip up to Pennsylvania, we took a surprise trip to Disney World (where her dreams came true when she met the princesses from the movie Frozen) and we took two trips to Georgia.  All the while Mabes was the fantastic little traveler I have grown accustomed to.  Very rarely does she complain or ask to stop...that is as long as we are willing to keep playing the movies on the DVD player (that she thinks only works on long car trips.).  
Wedding Photo Day 13
IMG_0840 copy

Some of my favorite Mabes sayings from the last six months include:

"Mama, I've waited for this moment my whole life!" Said after I put both her and Harlow in a cart sans baby carseat for the first time.
Mabes: Mama, did you know I am a kid?
Me: What?! You aren't an adult?! 
Mabes: No. You aren't a grown up until college. No! Wait! You are still in school in college. What age are you a grown up? 
Me: 25
Mabes: No! You are tricking me. It is 26. Until then you and Daddy are the boss. 
Me: You are right. 
"You are such a squishy, cute baby! I can't get enough of you!" 

Mabes has been a wonderful big sister to Harlow.  She is always ready and willing to help with Harlow from getting diapers, to picking out clothes or entertaining her while I cook.  She can't ever seem to get enough of her baby sissy (even when her sissy doesn't feel quite the same way).  Every night when I put her to bed she will tell me, "Mama, I only got to hold Harlow a little today."  No matter how long her sister patiently sat on her lap earlier in the day.  Or worse, "Mama, I didn't get to hold Harlow at all today!"

Mabes has been a big help around the house...taking on responsibilities with chores (she now makes her bed, helps with laundry and other basic cleaning).  She is always good about doing her homework and going to school.  She loves her teacher and has lots of friends in her class.  Other than the need to work on patience and talking a little less she is a great little girl to be around.

State College 21
Mabry Grace 9.19.13
We love our Mabes.

01 January 2014

guess who is back?!

Happy 2014!

We meet again.  I know, I know it has been six months.  Hugs, kisses, let's make up?

When I look back at the archives of this blog (and trust me it goes back a long way) there are so many moments that I treasure.  Moments that would have been long forgotten had it not been for the blog.  I am so excited to be back in the swing of things and documenting our lives!

Getting to watch these two girls grow up is an amazing gift and I want to make sure that we remember as much of it as we can.
Mabes Web
Harlow Web

I am also excited about starting up some photography projects this year.  Currently I am doing a 31 day project with Carl.  I will be posting all of those photos on my Instagram account.   (You have to follow me in order to see my photos.)
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