Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Grandpas Need Such Big Shoulders...

I was looking through some old pictures to find some I needed to scrap, and I came across this photo of my dad:
So sweet! My kids seriously have the best grandparents in the world. All four of them are simply wonderful, and they are adored completely by my children. We love you all and miss you!
Summer can't come soon enough!

ETA: When Katie saw this post, she shouted, "That's Grandpa Barnes! We love him!" So I'm not just making this up...

Monday, March 16, 2009


My friend Jen tagged me, so I'm supposed to post the 4th photo in the 4th folder. Technically, this is the 4th in the 4th in the 4th:

It's my little sister Ashley while we were on a snowmobiling trip in Yellowstone in February of 2004. Look how close she is to that buffalo!

Here are some other pictures from that same trip:

The girls: Chelsey, Heather, and Ashley


Whoa, Heather is BLONDE!!

Mom and Dad

This was quite uncomfortably close...

Okay, so I tag Ashley, Kristie Lee, and Laura Carlston! 4th photo in your 4th file!

Averi's SIX Months Old!

Can you believe it? I hate saying it, because it seems so cliche, but the time really has flown. It doesn't seem possible that so much time has passed since she was born. She really is the sweetest little girl and brings so much joy to our lives.

She had a doctor's appointment today, and she's dropped down to the 25th percentile in weight, but the doctor said she wasn't worried about it, since nursing babies frequently do that around this age. We just need to focus on feeding her high calorie baby foods like sweet potatoes and bananas and keep an eye on her.

Here are her stats:
Weight: 14 lbs, 8 oz
Height 26.5 inches (I think)
Head: 75th percentile! Our babies all have very large heads!

Funny story...after Averi had her shots, she was really upset, so I was nursing her in the doctor's office before we left. The doctor came in, sat down, got out her stethoscope, and said, "So what are we in for today?" I was extremely confused and said, "Um, Dr. Longfield, we've already seen you today...?" She was mortified, but I just started laughing. "Oh, my gosh," she said, "I'm SO sorry! I've been on call this entire weekend and I'm so tired! I've never done this before. I'm so sorry!" Then she started laughing so hard she was crying. It was quite funny. Now that I type it out, it doesn't seem as funny as it was then, but trust me on this one.

So we had to do a six month photo shoot, of course. Averi was definitely not in the mood, but I managed to capture a few good ones.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's that time again!

Time for me to clear my completed layouts off my desktop and share them with everyone!

Very Romantical...

I realized that I never did post about our Valentine's Day. Traditionally, Aaron and I have never done very much, since we prefer to focus on our birthdays and anniversaries. And we figured that buying gifts for each other is kind of silly, since it comes out of the same checking account. We usually go out to dinner, and that's really about it. This Valentine's, we decided to do something a bit different. Dinner, a movie, and a babysitter can wind up costing close to $100 if you eat somewhere nice and get a popcorn and a drink. Yikes! And really, isn't Valentine's about celebrating and strengthening your relationship? Aaron and I both follow several financial blogs that are aimed towards saving money, and they had several great ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day. So we decided to give it a whirl.

First, we picked out a menu from the Food Network that we could prepare together. We fixed the kids a simple dinner and then sent them upstairs to watch a movie. We both got dressed formally; I wore a dress from Preference (the girl's choice dance at BYU) and Aaron wore his black suit and tie. I created a playlist of romantic songs and together we made dinner. Here's what we made:

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad
We were hesitant about making this, but it was our FAVORITE. It was so amazingly delicious, I think I could eat it every night.

Roasted Asparagus
This was an easy and elegant side dish.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini
Aaron's thrilled anytime I agree to make seafood!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
These were so much fun to make together! And, surprisingly, they turned out exactly like the photo!

We made sure to set the table properly so that we had a restaurant-like atmosphere. I even picked up some Martinelli's and champagne glasses and scattered the table with rose petals.

After the food was prepared, we put the kids to bed so we could eat in peace. We ate by candlelight. (Can you believe that I have no candlesticks? I had to improvise with a hurricane lamp.) We let the music play while we were eating, and then afterwards danced in the kitchen. Cute, huh?

It was honestly the most fun and romantic Valentine's we've ever had. And one of the least expensive!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sleeping Beauties

I'm going to say something that's not frequently heard: I have 3 children under 4 (including a baby) and...I'm not sleep-deprived. Honestly. How many women can say that? I have the best sleepers in the entire world. All of my children started sleeping 12 hours a night by 3 months old. When people would ask me how I did it with Katie, I would just laugh and say, "Just a great baby!" And then when Paul did it too, I said, "Just lucky, I guess." Now that Averi is also sleeping through the night, I'm starting to wonder. My three children are as different as three kids can be. So it must not be the kids. And after three in a row, I'm starting to think it's not just luck either. I MUST be doing something, right? So I thought I'd write down some of the things I've been doing with my babies to get them to sleep. This list isn't exhaustive, and it may not work for everyone. But it has worked for us, so I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Start at the right time. Honestly, I think that babies younger than eight weeks old are too young to start sleep training. But 8 weeks will fly by, even with no sleep.

2. Decide how important it is to you. Anyone who knows me knows that I cherish my sleep. Without 8 or 9 hours, I'm a mess. So sleep was VERY important to me. If it's not that important, it may be hard at first, and you may be tempted to just give up and let the baby dictate when and where she sleeps. So decide early on just how important getting enough sleep is to you.

3. Decide on an ideal bedtime. For us, it's been 8:00. That gives us plenty of time to get dinner and even run some errands in the evening if we need to. It also means they're not waking up too early. All of our kids go to bed at 8:00. At first, your baby will be on no sort of schedule at all. So watch her for a few days. See if you can find a pattern in when she sleeps. If she tends to go to sleep around 10, try putting her down at 9:45 the next night. Then 9:30...until you've reached your ideal bedtime. Then put her down at that time EVERY night.

4. Find a quiet place. During the first few weeks, you'll want your baby close to you, since she'll be waking up so often. But you'll want to find her her own quiet place soon. All of you will sleep so much better that way. For us, it's our closet. Don't worry--it's not as bad as it sounds! It's quite large and has a window. We've set up a nice portable crib in there, and it's works extremely well for us. It's close enough that we can get to it easily, but it has a door that shuts and it remains quiet.

5. She's gonna cry. I have never talked to anyone who had a baby that didn't cry during sleep training. They will cry. And that's okay. If they're fed, changed, and safe in their crib, it's okay to let them cry.

6. Set a limit. It's heartbreaking to hear your little one cry. So set a limit. Decide that tonight you will let her cry for five minutes before you go and pick her up. It makes you feel like you aren't just sitting there doing nothing. Then increase that limit. You'll find that as you continue with sleep training, she'll start to mellow out as you reach your limit. So when your 10 minutes is up and you can tell she's calming down, leave her a little bit longer. Soon she'll be asleep.

7. Just leave. If you can't stand hearing your baby cry, just leave. And don't bring a monitor with you. Take a note of the time and come back after your designated time. Nothing's going to happen to her while you're gone.

8. Put her to sleep while she's still awake. Honestly, this works wonders. They learn how to calm themselves down and will be able to use that skill when they wake up during the night.

9. Keep it calm. When your baby does wake up at night, keep it very calm. Have the room as dark as possible. Don't smile or talk or play. Avoid eye contact, since this stimulates them. Only change diapers if they're poopy, and then do it as quickly as possible. Feed her, and then take her straight back to bed.

10. Let her put herself back to sleep. After she's going to sleep initially on her own, you'll want to start using the same skills during the night. If she wakes up, give her 5 minutes before you get her to feed her. Then 10. Then 15. I've never gone longer than 15 because if they're crying that long, they're usually starving or not feeling well.

11. There will be setbacks. Sickness and vacation always throw off sleeping schedules. You may feel like you're starting at square one, but it usually only takes a week to get them back on schedule.

12. Enjoy! It only took a few weeks of sleep training for our babies to start sleeping 10-12 hours during the night. And they have all been such pleasant babies. I'm convinced that almost all grumpy babies are simply sleep-deprived. Once they start getting good, solid sleep, you'll notice a world of difference in their attitude and yours.

Averi at 6 weeks