Sunday, October 23, 2011

MacKenzie is 2!!!


At this point two years ago we were just winding down our evening saying goodbye to Auntie Crystal and Uncle Darren and trying to relax. You decided to tell us you were on your way in just a few short minutes from this moment! How funny that we are now winding down our evening from a party to celebrate your second year of life and to look forward to your third year (and we even said goodbye to Auntie Crystal again). Tomorrow you were born two years ago. You went from this teeny helpless little child who had no way of telling me exactly what she wanted to being this tall and amazingly capable young girl who is articulate, kind, and so smart! Two years ago the center of my world changed and I hope you know I completely revolve my life around you.

This past year has been amazing and I can only hope that you have another amazing year ahead of you. I hope all the wonderful things that happened to you and our family are multiplied by a million. I hope all of the new abilities you have and all of your wonderful skills that you have learned are gained another tenfold (or more). It has been so much fun to see who you have become and who you might be. I want to let you know that I believe that you can do anything and be anything that you want to be and I hope I remember to give you that freedom for you to grow.

In the past month you have started to pick up on things much quicker and can learn easily. You repeat many things that we say (which means we have to watch what we say more often) and will ask even more questions about the world around you. It is difficult to keep track of all the progress you have made in the last month, but I assure you that you astound us on a very frequent basis (multiple times a day). Auntie Crystal is so good about sharing so many of the funny things you do (playing with her cats and dog, fashioning your own sling to wear a stuffed animal in, feeding the ducks and walking all the way around the pond). Mommy's heart aches to spend all of this time with you again, but I am relishing the times we have together after my work and know we will be spending that time together again soon.

Some of the new skills you have developed or improved on is eating with your silverware (you insist on having silverware and will frequently manually put the food on the silverware and then put it in your mouth), your dancing has become even more elaborate (lots of hand waving and bouncing/rocking), swinging on a regular swing and sliding on your playset, wanting to walk in all of the stores we go to, you are working on dressing and undressing yourself, and you are getting better at remembering things we have done or are looking forward to doing.

Mommy had been preparing you for a dentist appointment yesterday. We practiced opening our mouth and saying Ahhhh and we talked about going to the dentist and how he would look at your teeth. We ended up having to cancel, but you woke up on Saturday asking about the dentist and you were upset when I had to tell you we weren't going. It was very new to me that you could remember something like that and knew that it should be on the correct day.

You also got your very first haircut (a barely trim) this past week. You did so well as you sat and watched your Elmo and got a little bit off the ends. It still all falls into your face, but it is a definite improvement in the back. Also, you were in your very first wedding. Your Uncle Marty got married to Erin and we are so excited for them. I will post more about your wedding duties, but I loved seeing you act so grownup at the wedding.

I know there are a million things I should be thinking about writing, but I cannot tell you enough how much I love you, how much I am proud of you, and how much you make my heart sing for the things you do and the person you are. I love you and I love the direction you are headed, I hope that you continue to be blessed as we are certainly blessed to have you in our lives.

I love you and Happy BIrthday!
Mommy and Daddy

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Milk Banking

Several people have wondered my process when collecting milk for the milk here it goes.

When I first started pumping with MacKenzie it had a purpose that had nothing to do with donating my milk. I had to provide milk for her when I was at work. Therefore, four weeks into her life I began pumping to build up milk and to make sure my body had the hang of things before it was needed. My body most definitely knew what to do and I soon had not enough milk, not some for extra, not a surplus, but an excess of milk. When all was said and done in June (and I stopped working) we had half of a large deep freeze full of milk. So I called the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin (somewhat at the prompting of my sister and some because I realized what a blessing it was and felt it should be passed along) to see what I could do to provide this milk to someone else.

The screening process was fairly simple, but detailed. They first screen you over the phone to make sure that there are no huge red flags that would immediately disqualify you from donating. At this point they tell you to continue pumping as any previous milk can still be donated and your first donation has to be 150 ounces for testing. The questions have a lot to do with any diseases that might pass through the milk and where you may have lived over the past couple of years. After you are pre qualified they send you a packet where you confirm most of the same questions and fill in your doctor and your child's doctor's information so they can confirm that you are of good health and that your child is gaining weight. You also have to get a blood draw which they pay for.

During this time you continue to pump (they need a lot of milk for those little babies). Once you are qualified you drop it off at your nearest drop off site and they send it to Austin to process it and distribute it as they see fit.

So as far as my actual pumping process goes...

Obviously when working I pump when I can to get as much milk for MacKenzie or Keegan and have a bit extra for banking. When I wasn't working this past spring however, this was my thinking...

As soon as she dropped her 7 or 8 a.m. feeding I continue to get up and pump the side she would have fed on. This would usually yield 8-12 ounces which is a lot of milk! When I get up to pump I make sure to have water because I am very thirsty and I make sure I am relatively comfortable because it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. I am also usually on my phone to some degree trolling around on the Internet.

After I pump I put the milk into labelled bags or the nifty little plastic containers from the milk bank. I usually put 5 to 6 ounces in the bags or 4 ounces in the containers. This spring I donated most milk and would just bank some for Keegan from time to time.

After this I place the milk into the regular freezer and wait for my stockpile to build. I also make note of what containers I put in the freezer for the milk bank so that I can give an approximate number of ounces because they need that...

Once the milk is in the freezer I hand wash my parts and I am done. From time to time I will boil them to make sure they are extra clean and to get rid of the film that gets on them...

The hardest part of the process is driving out to The Woodlands to lug all the milk and usually both kids into the hospital to drop off the milk. But it is so worth it! As of right now I have donated over 600 ounces from Keegan and I donated 450 ounces with MacKenzie. I am hoping to donate another 200 or so ounces, but I have to make sure my chubby monkey gets her milk too.

Please let me know if anyone out there wants more information on how to donate milk or who to contact for more information. I believe the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin is a wonderful organization and I am so happy to be apart of their great work!

MacKenzie at 23 months


I cannot believe you are already 23 months! I cannot even tell people your month age anymore, I have to say you are almost 2 and in just a month it will be that you are 2! I cannot even describe how quickly the past two years have gone by. Last year at this time I was placed on bed rest and we were anticipating your arrival each and every day!

You are absolutely brilliant and there is no other way to describe it. You know all of your uppercase letters (with mistakes allowed from time to time of course), you are learning your lowercase letters, you can count with assistance to 20, know most of your basic colors, know all of your basic shapes, and are learning more and more each day. You have begun to name friends by their names and will recognize more people that you are frequently around. We can teach you something and in a matter of minutes you will have picked it up. I find it incredible how quickly your mind works. We are working on your independence by giving you a choice or two of outfits, activities, and snacks or some meals in order to see more about what you like and how you think. We are also starting you on basic chores from time to time and you love to be so helpful with those.

You love to play blocks (especially with Daddy) and really enjoy being outside on the swing or slides now that we have cooler weather. One of your favorite things to play is with the money your great grandpa gave you. You like to dump it out, sort it, stack it up, identify every thing that it is in there. You also of course still love to read and some of your favorite books are Go, Dog Go (you will say some of the words if we stop at certain points in the book), Barnyard Dance, Click, Clack, Moo and anything to do with animals or Elmo. Elmo is definitely one of your favorite things, but you really like all of the Sesame Street characters. You love to go play with friends and are starting to actually interact with the other kids instead of playing near them. I think it is cute to watch what you enjoy doing and what you focus your attention on.

Your naps are sporadic and you will sometimes play quietly in your room for hours on end without taking a nap (but without asking to get out of your room either). I think you just need the wind down time regardless. You still love to sleep with your blankets, but I love to get you up and see you surrounded by books that you have been reading to yourself during nap or in the morning. Sometimes you talk or sing to yourself in your sleep and you hardly ever wake up mid night. In the morning Mommy will ask you what you dream about and you must think I am asking about what you drink because you say "Juice", "Milk", "Bubbles", and "water". Daddy is convinced you were actually dreaming about puppies the other day because you woke up talking about them. Daddy also said that he went to get you up one morning and Keegan was crying so you pulled your rocking chair in front of her crib and you were reading a book to her- so sweet. A not so sweet, but funny habit you have begun is climbing on top of your changing table and pulling out all of the wipes from the container and "trying" to change your diaper. I think you are just pretending, but you love to be up there.

Your favorite meals are breakfast and snack! You love eggs, pancakes, or oatmeal for breakfast and have acquired a deep fondness for peanut butter sandwiches. Sometimes I will ask you want to eat and you say "buht-er...bread" and I know what that means! You love to snack on multigrain cheerios and popcorn the most, but will eat most of anything in snack form. Your favorite veggie is broccoli, you love all fruit and unsweetened applesauce and you are slowly enjoying more foods. I think it is funny that you do not care for it as much the next day. I don't know why... You still drink a lot of milk and watered down juice to stay hydrated. You will eat a bit of sweets, but you love cookies and suckers the most.

We love you MacKenzie. Not a day goes by that Mommy and Daddy aren't amazed and overwhelmed by how much you touch our lives. I sincerely enjoy being with you and love all that you show me. Hope you have a great month ahead of you!

Mommy and Daddy

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keegan's (late) 7 months!


What an amazing 7 (and a half) months it has been. You have grown up so much in the last month that I hardly know where to start. I guess I should start by apologizing for being so tardy with this post. I promise that I do not love you any less.

We will start with eating and sleeping habits. You are still sleeping great from 8:30 until 8:30 if we let you although some mornings you have to get up early to go to child care. I am so glad that we went ahead and put both you and your sister in the same room and hope you enjoy it while you are still young. There have been no issues and we just make sure that your naps are separate since they aren't at the same time or for the same length of time. You will usually take two bottles from your different sitters and then mommy will nurse you for 5-6 mini feeding sessions after she gets you after work. I suppose that is a bit of reverse cycling occurring, but Mommy makes less food in the afternoon anyways. You are also eating solids (pureed baby food) twice a day and will munch on some baby puffs or fruit in the mesh feeder if you need a little snack. You really liked the mixed roasted veggies Mommy made for you and I think you prefer food with a bit of texture in it. You have started to grab for the spoon or cups to try and take care of that yourself, but aren't quite coordinated enough. During meals if you aren't dozing we will put you in the high chair where you will try to feed yourself puffs or thawed frozen peas.

You are sitting up a lot on your own and have started reaching out for more things then putting yourself back into an upright sitting position. You love to look around and observe everything that is going on. You are also really starting to move around a lot and trying to wiggle yourself into where you want to go. After you get tired of wiggling too much though you will lay on your tummy and wave your arms and legs around like a beached whale "crying" until someone rescues you. You are such a mover though! You love to bounce and will jump up and down in an exersaucer or other jumper for babies. Daddy always talks about how "expressive" your feet are and it's true...they are always wiggling around and it seems to go with your move. It is hard for us to realize how tall you are because your legs are always bent or are in a mid kicking position.

You have your first tooth and the second wasn't far behind! You cut the bottom right (your right) tooth just before your "birthday" with minimal pain, but with a lot of sleeping. It is so cute to see that shiny white tooth poking through your big gummy smile. Hopefully that tooth will cause you to say some new sounds because if Mommy isn't careful your babble of "dadadadadadadadada" is going to turn into a legitimate "Da-Da" soon. You love to shriek and squeal as loud as you can and will laugh at almost anything. You love to catch MacKenzie's attention and to laugh at things she does, but will also laugh if anyone touches around your neck or blows raspberries into your sides. You also like to be startled by Mommy and will reward her with big smiles when playing "Peek-a-boo". You have been very clingy lately, but only as long as someone is doesn't matter who, it just needs to be someone! You are also sharing a big girl bath with Sissy so it has been fun for Dada to have more interaction time with you there.

We are so happy and thankful for the last month Keegan. We love watching you grow and seeing what you will do next. We are completely devoted to you and hope you realize how much you are loved.

Mommy and Daddy