Monday, December 20, 2010

Alexis is 16 Months!

The days seem to go faster and faster lately. I still can't believe how little I have done on Lexy's baby book and again am thankful I have things recorded here. When the New Year hits my plan is to plow through her first year and get it done!(Feel free to encourage that plan!)

This past month Alexis:

*Has become much more vocal. She tries to say much more and has said baby, cheese (when taking a picture!) mama for "more", and uh-oh. She has said other words when trying to copy something we said. The cutest thing is how she says "Hi!" all of the time now. She says it as soon as she sees someone and in the cutest little voice!

*Has really started imitating us. She will intently watch what we are doing and then proceed to try whatever it was herself. Opening a compact, typing on a keyboard, picking up toys, stirring something. It's really cute and something we notice is different then the boys. She is much more interested in detail and doing what we do.

*Has developed an "evil villain laugh". It's pretty funny! She will wait until one of her brothers leaves something they have been carrying around (this is usually Jacob) and she runs over, picks it up and then runs away with this deep, throaty laugh! She does the same laugh whenever she is up to no good.

*Has started clearing out every cabinet, basket and drawer she can find. It is making A LOT more work for mommy during the day. Within seconds flat she can empty entire drawers of clothes in the boys rooms. I have put together pj sets countless times now...hoping she grows out of this stage quickly!

*Still wears size 3 diapers. Is wearing 6-12 months jeans and most 6-12 month outfits. Gymboree 12-18 month tops are fitting. She's a site to see as she runs around, being so small. As most people say it, "She's a busy little thing!"

*Still not drinking milk. Trying to put a little in her water but she will only drink that with the tiniest amount of milk. I dropped her morning nursing time yesterday which has been hard. She was really out of sorts about it this morning. So now she nurses just once a day at night.

*She has really been enjoying the Christmas season! She loves when we dance around every day for our Advent Tree drawing! Something else super cute is how she dances everytime she hears my text notification. It's a cheery Christmas song with ringing bells and she grins and dances so sweet every time without fail!

*She's been making a funny face where she freezes her mouth into a little "O" (There's a picture below that kind of shows it!). She'll do it if she eats something funny or something happens she doesn't like.

I was telling Craig the other day that I found the perfect way to describe her being in our family. It's like having a sundae with 3 scoops of your favorite ice cream (the boys) complete with a big cherry on top! Alexis is definitely our sweet "cherry"!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Tree

It's that time of year when the bells ring and "Advent Tree! Advent Tree!" can be heard once a day in the Shoemaker home. It is one of our most beloved family traditions as we have been doing it for most of the boys life! What is Advent Tree? It is a tree that I made at a MOPS meeting one year. Someone came and spoke to tell us about their Advent Tree traditions and it was such an awesome idea I couldn't pass it up for our family. There are 25 pockets to put a slip of paper in that holds an event for each day until Christmas. It can be as big as a trip to Disneyland or as simple as reading Christmas stories together. But when we grab that tree off the wall, begin to shake it so the bells jiggle and yell out "Advent Tree!" over and over....priceless! The kids run from every corner of the house as fast as they can in anticipation of what that little piece of paper holds. Even Alexis is getting in on the action this year! She grins from ear to ear and tries to dance cute! So far this year or Advent Events have been:

December 1st - Started off with a Bang! Went to Disneyland and thoroughly enjoyed all of the beautiful decorations and "snow"!

December 2nd - Went to get frozen yogurt at Berry Sweet and bought our Christmas Tree! The boys go crazy for our trees...ahhh the wonderful scent of pine!

December 3rd - Went to spend time with our friends the Hoopers! Our kids have grown up together and playing with them is always high on their list of favorite things to do! And going to Mc Donalds for a treat certainly sweetens the deal!

December 4th - Going to Sea World and meeting Grandpa and Grandma there! Very exciting being able to enjoy more awesome decorations and 3 shows this year with a Christmas theme! Also watching the "Polar Express" 4D movie fun!!

December 5th - We decorated our Christmas tree! The boys love getting all of the ornaments out and remembering each special one. Speaking of traditions I have bought a Hallmark ornament (or two or three...) every year since we have been married. The buying of Hallmark ornaments actually goes back 3 generations. My Grandma Pape used to work at Hallmark before I was even born and when I was born, bought me an ornament every year for many years (which I still have). My mom continued this by buying them nearly every year while I was growing up and now I get to continue the tradition. So neat to be able to carry it on!

December 6th - Was "The First Gift of Christmas!" Around the time Advent Tree started I began this tradition. The boys get to open a gift during the first week of December. Sometimes they each get something small but lately it is usually just one gift for all of them and is Christmas themed. This year it was a Phineas and Ferb Christmas movie that they were able to watch that night.

December 7th - Chick- Fil-a Family Night and read Christmas Stories! Nearly every Tuesday we go to Chick-fil-a for Family Night. That night one of the girls that usually runs things played her guitar and sang Christmas songs with the kids. They were also able to color Christmas pictures. When we got home they each picked a Christmas Story and we read them together.

December 8th - We had Wednesday night Small Group and the kids Youth Night. Before going they got to watch "Charlie Brown's Christmas". Another "must-do" of the season!

December 9th - Last night we took our Family Christmas Pictures and got treats at See's Candy afterwards! Can't beat all of the free samples and the lady that helped us even gave us their suckers for free!!

December 10th - Today's much anticipated activity is making sugar cookies. Mom's going to have to find her second wind to get through that one! Make the dough and frosting from scratch and then let the kids cut out different Christmas shapes. We may be frosting some of them another day as it's a L-O-N-G process!!

I really have so much fun getting to share this special event with my kids. I hope they grow up with fond memories and pass the tradition onto their own families! As for the rest of the activities be continued!=0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alexis at 15 Months

Alexis had a very busy month! So many new and fun experiences! She:

*Got to touch the gooey inside of a pumpkin! She was very hesitant to touch and made such funny faces! But she was intent the whole time and loved the experience!

*She was Tinkerbell for Halloween...and all of the other events we went to! We even dressed her up for Disneyland one day and she literally stopped crowds with her cuteness!=0) And usually when I do her hair she rips it out in seconds flat. On Halloween when I dressed her, and then did her hair....she left it in...ALL NIGHT!!! It's like she knew it was a special night and that she looked adorable!

*She spent an entire day at Disneyland and DCA so we could see World of Color. She did great and had a fun day. She really likes to be out and about exploring the world!

*She got to experience the "snow" at Disneyland for the first time and LOVED it!

*Cute story. Tyler won an award this past month so we were up at the school one morning. As we were leaving a huge group of 5th and 6th graders were waiting to enter the gym. Alexis was doing what she does best...running from one place to the next....until she saw those kids. They started ooohhhinnggg and ahhhhiiinnngg over her so she promptly stopped running, stood right in the middle of them, and beamed!! It was hilarious! She loves to get strangers attention!

*She had her Dr appointment right on her 15 month birthday and has been feeling sick ever since. Poor baby has such an upset stomach and a horrible rash as a result. She doesn't usually react to her shots so I'm not sure what is going on. Thinking maybe the flu shot? She also woke up with a runny nose this morning and has been super fussy and clingy. She does not do well when she is at all "off".

*At her appointment she weighed exactly 20 pounds!! I'm thinking she may be down again due to her upset tummy but we are waiting a bit longer to turn her around anyway since she was so close to the line. She is in the 10th percentile for weight and height so her weight moved from the 3rd to the 10th. She is still wearing all of the same clothes but just yesterday finally fit in her 6-12 month Gymboree jeans! Yay! Good timing since it has gotten SO COLD the past few days!

*Down to nursing just in the morning and at night. Dr gave us some more ideas for getting her to drink milk. Hears hoping it eventually happens!

*She tries to say "blanket" now as that is her most prized belonging. She started barking this month after visiting friends that have a dog. She says, "Woo-woo, woo-woo! It's very cute. She will also do a cute kitty sound. She has "Ma-Ma" down and says "Dad-DEE!"

She is our Joy even when she's cranky! We are looking forward to seeing her experience the Thanksgiving feast and the Christmas season! We will see what damage she does to the tree!=0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When it Pours!

I have had so much going around in my head the past months I think I just need to get it out on paper so to speak.

A few years back we bought a condo as an investment property. We were advised by Craig's friend to buy one in Indiana where they were especially "cheap" at that time. He had been buying up real estate like crazy as the market was super hot at that point. We thought we were being responsible, making a wise decision. Soon after the market began to decline, and our first renters were a nightmare.

We finally got that situation cleaned up (literally) and after a few month's vacancy through the winter, had someone else move in. Right away there were domestic violence police calls made on her and her boyfriend. Things in the condo were broken...another unbelievable situation. Eventually boyfriend moved out after a restraining order was in place and peace seemed to follow for the next few years.

In the meantime we were in the hole over $200 every month. With the market tanking we had to lower the rent even more. On the plus side we thought we at least had a "good" renter in there because we didn't hear much from the agency we hired to take care of it. No news is good news right? WRONG! So began our nightmare this past July when we find out the tenant wants to move out. She starts getting really weird and doesn't want to let anyone in. Long story short on this finally gets in and finds the place a mess. They apparently hadn't been checking things out at all. We then have the agent who sold us the condo go in and take a look...and she came out appalled at what she saw. It was a complete disaster. A huge leak upstairs left for who knows how long caused major damage, slats broke off accordion doors, walls a mess, carpet a mess, a bathroom counter broke in half, knobs on faucets broke, junk left needing to be hauled away and new refrigerator needed to be bought...and on and on. It was devastating.

The tenant took forever to let someone in to get quotes. And then being a completely awful person, she skipped out on us without paying that last months rent. After leaving the place trashed. We didn't know what to do and I was terrified of all the options. We felt that fixing the place up was really our only option and hoped once it was, it would rent quickly.

Well, repairs took forever once they were actually able to get in the place. I watched our savings dwindle to nothing. After trying really hard to build one up, it has been super stressful to watch it all disappear so quickly. More and more money was needed. And this on top of paying the mortgage and insanely high association every month since August. The place has been fixed up now for nearly 2 months complete with new refrigerator. A few people came to look at it in the beginning. In the past 3 weeks, 1 person has been by. Now we are in the holiday season and winter will be picking up. Not the time people move especially in really cold areas.

And it seems we are completely trapped. I have been sick to my stomach (literally) over all of this. Especially the past week as I try to pull Christmas together for my family and our car just failed it's Smog Check. As I continuously think of all the other ways that thousands of dollars could have been spent. When I think about how our once amazing insurance has turned so bad that I'm afraid to go to the Dr. because every time we go, we get a bill for a surprise amount anywhere from $60 up. I feel so scared, frustrated, angry and helpless. I. Hate. It.

What's making things even worse? (Yes, it can get worse) We have been planning on taking a trip to Disney World for the last 3 years. We were able to go 3 years ago but we combined it with Craig's business trip to save money. We missed out on seeing so much because we fit everything around his time at a convention. So we left with the consolation we would do it right in a few years. Around June of this year I really started planning for our trip the following June 2011. We signed up for Disney credit cards just to earn 2 free $100 gift cards, I bought gift cards for the kids with special Christmas messages in them to give them at Christmas. I was theming our entire Christmas around the trip. Bought Disney clothes, games and an autograph book. I started putting money aside and selling things bit by bit to pay for plane tickets. I have been watching plane tickets daily. And pouring over all of the different options. We have even saved up our Amazon points for the last year and almost have enough points for TWO FREE plane tickets!! With Disney you need to book 6months in advance to get reservations for their restaurants. And their big dining offer ends in a month. That means moving on things now...or not moving at all.

I don't want all of this planning to go to waste. Thankfully only a small amount needs to be paid up front for the trip but it's still hard to go through with such a big trip not knowing when the condo will rent. This trip has taken so much of my thought and time and energy to find ways to save that with everything else it would crush me not to go. I've prayed for God to send someone. I've tried to figure out what I'm supposed to learn. I've tried so hard not to think about it or let it stress me out. But it's always, always there. Nagging at me. Freaking me out. Telling me how I could have used that money to get someone to paint our house instead of doing it ourselves. Or I could have gotten my new wedding ring we have talked about getting the past few years but keep holding off on. Or new floors for the house. Or sign the boys up for baseball. Or put Jacob in an actual pre-school instead of just a class through the city. The thoughts go on and on.

If anyone reads this your prayers are appreciated. Especially that I could somehow find peace in the middle of this stressful situation. And of course that we would find someone to move in quickly that will actually care for the place. We haven't talked much about this situation, especially me, because it's really hard to talk about. But, I just needed to get it out.

I hope to have a praise update sooner then later.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

A few nights ago we put the kids down as usual. Often one of the boys gets back up for one reason or another. That night I was feeding Alexis and in walks Zachary. He had a strange look on his face but keeping with the rules I told him he needed to get back into bed. He told me he needed to tell Daddy something. I responded that I didn't know where Daddy was and to just tell me. He started to speak and as he did, his sweet little face started to crumble and his voice break. He said, "Daddy just did something that made me so happy! He pulled my dog and he hadn't done that in a long time...and when I heard made me so happy I cried. And I pulled it over and over again...." by now tears are rolling down his face. I thought my heart was going to break and my eyes instantly filled with tears.

"Dog" as he was affectionately named years ago, has been Zachary's "lovey toy" of choice since he was born. Dog has slept with Zachary every night the past 6 years. He is a pull toy and plays a little song for about a minute or so. Since Zachary's first year of life he started asking us to pull the string for him so he could hear Dog's song. Over the last year the intensity of Zachary's love for Dog has been waning which made me sad. As a result, we stopped pulling Dog's string. When Craig pulled it for him that night our sweet Zachey was moved to tears.

I'm telling you, that was one of the sweetest things I have ever experienced! Oh how I am going to miss their babyhood!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alexis at 14 Months!

Time continues to fly by! Here's what Lexy is up to at 14 months.

*She started off being 14 months with getting really sick. She has had a cold for a little over a week and a few days ago she spiked a fever. Having dealt with Zachary and all of his ear infections (which eventually resulted in having tubes put in) I knew that a fever a week into the cold was a very bad sign. So the next morning we made an appointment for her fervently hoping I was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn't. The Dr. looked into one ear, flinched, and said, "Wow! That ear is reeaallly red!" Then looked in the other ear and exclaimed the same thing. Poor baby has a double ear infection and is miserable. She has been super clingy, whiny and cries most of the day. She is acting like a total different baby. She is on the meds 3 times a day in hopes to really knock it out. I hope she wakes up tomorrow morning feeling like herself again!

*At the office yesterday they weighed her. I was curious to know how much she had gained and was surprised to find that she was still just over 19 pounds...fully dressed! So no facing forward for her. Maybe around Christmas?

*As a result of her smallness I am having a very hard time clothing her. Now that we are having cooler weather, I realized how few pants I have that fit her. There are 2 pairs of Carter's 6-9 month jeans that she can wear although they still sag. Why oh why don't they make adjustable pants for babies??? The 6-12 month Gymboree jeans I have for her are a joke...their huge! Does anyone know of a company that does adjustable pants for babies? And when do they start making those for girls?

*At 14 months she still isn't saying a lot of words. She loves to wave. A few times she has meowed like a kitty when I've asked. She will say "hi" and "bye" occasionally. And she still "blows kisses" and makes a cute smacking sound when doing that!

*This past month she really began getting teeth in!! I was finally able to really look into her mouth and found that a few molars are trying to break through!

*She is officially in size 4 shoes. Still in size 3 diapers.

*She is still nursing. We went from 4 times a day to 3 this month. She loves it the most out of all 4 kids and will not touch milk. I don't mind doing it especially since we are down to 3 times...except when she bites me! I really wish she would start to take cows milk though so I knew I had the option!!

*We went to Oak Glen this past weekend. She loved walking around and looking at everything! Hoping to get another blog up on that trip!

Normally she lays down for a nap really well. Both times I have tried to put her down today she has screamed...which she is currently doing right now. She's exhausted and needs sleep more then anything to heal but isn't giving in. Looks like I am going to need to get her up again. God please help my baby to feel better...she is such a mess!! Hopefully next month I will be able to report a happy, healthy baby again! Until next time....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Zachary's Great Day

Last Friday Zachary told me he had had one of the best days ever. And it truly was an awesome day for him! It started off with a bang when he received an award that morning at the first assembly of the year. We were so excited to find out that it was for his artwork! He works at home everyday on his drawings and it has been amazing to see him get better and better and to watch his passion for art grow. Having someone else outside the family recognize that right away is super exciting!

Later that day he won the estimation jar! Every week his teacher fills the jar with a food item. Each child in the class gets to guess how many items they think are in the jar. The child with the closest number to the actual one wins and gets to take the contents of the jar home. This week Zachary's number was the closest and he got to take home a bag full of cheese Ritz Bitz!

When I picked the boys up I also found out that he had won their weekly class raffle and was able to pick a prize out of their treasure box! Both boys also received green all week (meaning perfect behavior, no warnings, on time to school everyday, school and homework all completed) and they were able to go to Principals Recess which is a reward for doing all of the things mentioned above. They get extra time to play and can purchase a treat for a quarter. Double awesome!

As if all that wasn't enough for a very cool day, I greeted the boys with the news that we were headed to Disneyland...right then! The screams that followed...priceless! We proceeded to have a great night with Jacob getting to ride Splash Mountain for the first time and all of us getting to ride the seasonally decorated Space Mountain for the first time. I do believe you had a fantastic day Zachary! ;0)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alexis at 13 Months.

Baby girl has been one for a full month now. We are enjoying her as much as ever. In the past month she has:

*Not grown much. Actually make that the past 4 months! At her one year check up we found out that she only weighed 18 pounds 10 ounces. Not big enough to face forward and only weighing 5 ounces more then she weighed at her 9 month appointment. That puts her in the 10th percentile. She is only 27 1/2 inches which puts her in the 3rd percentile for height. Still baffled at that since Craig and I are both fairly tall. I hope she get s a little more height to her when she's older but for now we are enjoying our tiny girl!

*On that note she is still in all of her 6-9 month clothing and some 9-12. She is still in a size 3 shoe! I have been looking for a size 4 shoe in the stores and am having a hard time. Most hard sole shoes start at a size 5. Since a size 3 is usually worn by a 6 month old they make most of those a crib shoe (soft bottom). I started looking on-line and am currently bidding for a very cute pair of 4's. Now if the person bidding against me would kindly step away from the shoes...that would be great!;0) She also continues to wear a size 3 diaper.

*Right after turning one she said her first word...or words actually. She said Thank you (pronounced Tank-Chew!). Oh my word that was one of the cutest things I had ever heard! I thought it may be a fluke but she kept saying it! She also says "Hi" occasionally while she is waving and will blow kisses. She claps and dances when she hears music...all of which is super cute!

*Looks like she is getting two more teeth. I can see a little bit of white poking through next to each of her top teeth. Once those come in that will be a grand total of six!

*She has started pulling out her hair bows, ties etc. As soon as she realizes they are there, she rips them out. As soon as I try to put it back in, she rips it out again!! Little stinker! Doesn't she know how adorable she looks with piggies? Doesn't she know how excited mommy is to do her little girls hair? Apparently, not so much.

*She's as busy as ever. Roaming the entire house. Shoes, magnets and baby purse contents strewn all over the place. She loves her baby dolls. Loves toys in general. She continues to be very good at playing by herself. Something she needs to teach her youngest brother!

*I love how silly she is getting. Her "sniffy face" is the best! If you haven't seen that you are definitely missing out! She scrunches her nose up and sniffs's a family favorite!She even does it on command! Lately she has also been sticking her neck out in a really funny way while looking to the's hilarious to watch. I nicknamed that "The Turtle". She has also started growling, such a goofy baby!

It's fun to see our little girl growing and changing! I can't wait to keep finding out more about her!