"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

She Fooled Me!

Look who sat up today! Was it not two days ago that I was saying that she was a long way off from sitting up?

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Also, she was up quite a bit night last night. She would not sleep, but she cuddled so sweetly on my chest. I love these days! We woke up to fine her first tooth poking up. So no more gummy grin, but I am sure I will love her toothy smile even more.

Here are her 6 month stats. Her height came out as less than her height at 4 months. Her pediatrician just said, “That’s not right. They didn’t measure it right.” However she did not remeasure it so who knows how tall she.

Height: 24.8” – 19%

Weight: 15 lb 8 oz – 40%

Head: 43.0 cm – 66%

Zoya has us eating out of the palm of her hand! She is just the sweetest little thing, then again, so was this adorable little hellion once upon a time…

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<Sigh.> They get big so fast!

Kindergarten Decisions

The big day is drawing nearer… the day when my baby starts kindergarten!

I have been praying about Isla’s education since she was born, and it is a constant worry to me. I am just trusting that the Lord has it all figured out, but I have a few big fears, especially if we continue to move as much as we have. My primary fear is that her (and her sisters’) education will be spotty and incomplete. My second biggest fear is that we will not be able to provide her with educational options that challenge her. And finally I have a fear that we will be forced to pursue secular options. This isn’t a great fear as she’s younger, but as she gets older, I would prefer for her to attend a school where God and His word are revered. I firmly believe as the author of life and creator of the world we live in, no subject can be thoroughly explored with acknowledging God and the part He plays in it.

When Isla was born, a friend sent me Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (I wrote about it here) and I knew from that moment on that in my dream world, Isla would have a classical education with a Christian worldview.

The public schools in Midland are terrible, and so the private school options are fairly robust. It reminds me of New Orleans in this regard. We have found the most wonderful school here in Midland and I am so overjoyed!!! Isla was accepted this past week, and I keep telling Nick that I have never been so content anywhere that we have lived because a major fear of mine has been alleviated completely. This school is going to be tough to beat wherever we move!!!

Here are some things that I love about it:

  • It’s Christian. It was founded by several believing families from different denominations in Midland, one of whom also helped found our church. I am so thankful that Isla will hear the word of God and about Him everyday with teachers who are not afraid to pray with her.
  • It’s classical. If Isla stays at this school through high school, she will move into the rhetoric phase of the trivium. I could say more about what I love about the trivium, so I’ll keep it to my favorite phase. Classes are not held in the classic lecture style where students listen while a lecturer speaks. Instead they rely on the Socratic method where a student has to participate to pass! There is a lot of discussion and debate in each classroom. For graduation, each student must write a thesis paper and defend it before a board. Pretty cool.
  • The final clincher that helped me know it was perfect is that it is a university model school through the 6th grade. Isla will have two home days on Monday and Wednesday where I teach her based on curriculum and materials handed out by her teacher. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays and for a half day Friday, she will be in classes like a regular school. I love this! I love that she will have a chance to learn from someone who cares for her and her little heart and mind as much as me, but that I will get to be involved as well. I hate the thought of her being away from me for so many hours at the age of FIVE. My personal opinion is that the push to move kids into school earlier and earlier and for longer hours is INSANE. From 7th through 12th, it becomes a regular school (with block scheduling – holla!) that students attend full time.
  • The school REQUIRES heavy parental involvement. Parents and teachers SHOULD be working together to educate a child, and at this school we are welcomed to be as involved as we would like to be. We have to do service hours at the school every months. This helps keep the tuition rates low as well. I’m hoping I can volunteer in the library.
  • There is not even one little bit of elitism at this school! That was a big concern of mine in choosing the private school options. Should a Christian school be cliquish and only filled with rich kids? Um no. I wanted the school to encourage children to model love and a Christian heart towards others. From what I have seen and heard of the school, everyone is taught to remember that they are one body. There is even a neat mentorship program in the Upper school where the older kids mentor the younger ones.

Anyway, the more I hear, the more I love. Nick is also very excited after learning more about the school at our parent interview.

I have never been as relieved as I was when we received our acceptance letter. There are a lot of parents who are turned off by the home days, and so there are usually spots available in every grade. Every one told me not to worry, there was no waiting list, just to try to get it in a little early if we wanted Isla to attend T/Th. This is Midland, and so I didn’t trust them one little bit. I submitted our application on January 1st, the first day that you could turn it in. Thank the Lord I did because for the first year ever, both the T/Th and M/W days were completely full and there was a waitlist. T/Th only had two spots available because so many kindergartners were either repeating or had siblings and had precedence. Thankfully we have a T/Th spot! This will work perfectly with Gemma’s mother’s day out schedule. Everyone, including Gemma and Zoya will be able to nap! And mama said amen.

Isla is so excited that I will be teaching her two days a week! I asked her if she would like that and she said “Yes, I would just love that!” She is also excited about her “electives” that she will be taking on Fridays. She has the choice of ballet, Spanish, art and music. I was hoping she would pick ballet, but she chose Spanish and art. I’m a little bummed, but it really should be her decision and she has been very firm that those are what she wants to do.

Anyway, I’m jumping for joy and praising God over here. I really think this might be the reason He brought us to Midland. Midland has really grown on me as we’ve lived here and established a community, and this made everything just click. I am in a very contented place. With Nick’s job, we could move as early as this fall, so I am also at peace with that too, but if we stay in Midland, I will be very pleased.

(And also Isla will learn cursive because some people have been worried about that.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Soccer Star!

So we have become THAT family! The family that is overscheduled and stressed out. This all started when Nick suggested we enroll Isla in soccer for the spring. Isla is already in preschool on T/Th, swim on M/W, Awanas W nights, and ballet on Th evenings. Nick doesn’t ask for a lot so I said yes on two conditions. The first was that it had to fall on a day that we didn’t have anything happening – Tuesdays. And it DID fall on Tuesdays. And second Isla had to say that she wanted to play. Of course she did! So we signed up.

Soccer season only lasts 3 months, but it isn’t just Tuesdays, its also Saturday games and there is a skills camp on Mondays. In a way I am glad. Next year with homeschooling part time (more on that later), Nick and I have decided to cut way down on extracurriculars. Isla will stay in AWANAs, and she can do one other activity that she chooses. That is it!

This summer we are not doing ANY activities at all. I am really looking forward to doing nothing for a while. We have all been so tired since soccer started.

Anyway back to soccer!

Isla has only had 4 practices and one game. I was surprised at her first game that she didn’t jump in more, but she had only had two practices at that point. I’ve never played team sports, but I can imagine that it’s pretty overwhelming to try to listen to your coach, the referee, watch your team mates and the ball! I know she will just improve with time.

Her team is called the Starbursts… super cute name! And her soccer ball is pink. LOVE!

Here she is getting ready for her first practice. I have been learning a lot about soccer fashion. Like did you know that socks are supposed to go OVER your shin guards?

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Here’s her first game.

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An awesome daddy, with two of his beautiful girls!

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Gemma had a meltdown because she wanted Isla’s water! She is cute so we keep her around.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Zoya P. is 6 Months Old!

She’s actually closer to 7 months old, but who cares? Whose counting?

My plan is to record her stats, a few milestones, share a ton of pictures and move on. She doesn’t get much blog time, but this kid is a-dored with a capital A. We all pretty much live for for her smiles and coos. Except for Gemma who pretty much lives to use her as a chair.

Everyone thinks her eyes will stay blue! She’s my first with blue eyes like me. My big girls have hazel eyes like their daddy. I love their beautiful hazel eyes, but it’s exciting to have one take after me!

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Here are her 4 and 6 month stats. (can’t find her 6 months stats so will update with those later like nothing ever went missing little 3rd forgotten baby…)

Height: 25 inches (65%)

Weight: 14 lb 5 oz (54%)

Head: 42 cm (69%)

Zoya has some adorable extra rolls and she looks chubbier to me than I remember Isla being, but she’s not in a super high weight category. I’ve stopped paying attention to those because they don’t seem to matter or even make sense some of the time!

Baby Fats!

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Movement/Body Stuff

She is a LATE roller. She didn’t roll from back to tummy (the hard way) until 5 1/2 months and from tummy to back (the easy way) until 6 1/2 months. She did it backwards! I checked with her pediatrician who said that everything else looked good developmentally, so not to worry that she rolled so late. She’s strong in the core (crazy because all I see are rolls and cellulite). Her personality is just happy and content and gurgly. She’s never been a wiggler, just a cuddler, so I just think she didn’t care too much about moving.

Since then however, she has been moving and rolling all over the place! She can roll over to a toy she wants and reach for it! She’s so cute. Now I need to keep my floors cleaner.

She also found her feet in the 5 month range, adorable.

She’s all rolls in her core, so she doesn’t seem to be close to sitting up on her won. However she can lean forward and rest on her hands well if I sit her up.

Here is Zoya picking up leaves. I’m happy with her fine motor skills.

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Personality

Zoya is so happy and content! We love her smiles.

Sisterhood

Zoya is still the apple of Isla’s eye. However Gemma is going through a pinching, hitting, and scratching phase and occasionally Zoya is her victim! Sometimes Gemma will hit Isla or Zoya with objects.  It makes me so sad because Zoya used to grin when she saw Gemma coming. I’m working on Gemma, but in the mean time, I just can’t leave Zoya on the floor with Gemma around. She needs to be in her high chair or in my arms.

Gemma has also started sitting on Zoya. When she sits on Zoya’s back it’s cute and Zoya laughs. Gemma’s not much heavier than Zoya. However, she has also started stepping on Zoya. Arg.

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Food

I am going to try more baby led weaning with Zoya. She doesn’t seem to interested in food and with the way our lives are now, it will be much easier to just feed when and what I feed the big girls when she’s older. I have tried some purees, but she just isn’t ready. So for now she’s still just breastfeeding.

Her sisters however, have given her a taste of lollipop, which she loved. SmileIMG_7012IMG_7010

Sleep

Zoya was sleeping through the night, but she is getting bigger, and since she is not on solids she wakes once from hunger every night. It doesn’t bother me because she goes right back to sleep and I do a lot better on less sleep than I used to.

I really cant think of anything else!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Quick Gemma Update

I had planned to get like 5 blog posts up during my hour on the computer this afternoon, but then I got into responding to many neglected emails and so I am just going to do a quick Gemma update and then I need to get busy on bedtime.

AAAND Zoya P’s 6 month post is just going to have to wait a little bit longer too, poor little third born child.

Gemma had her 2 year well check yesterday. Everything is fine with her development and her pediatrician… wait did I mention we had switched pediatricians? Let me check previous blog posts. Ok I didn’t.

So I need to take a minute to complain about life in a boom (maybe soon-to-be bust) town. When we moved here I called about 15 different pediatricians (not exaggerating), was put on several wait lists, and FINALLY was able to get into the girls into see a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, not even a Pediatrician. We liked her, but several things over the past 18 months made me unhappy with the office staff, practice and regular nurses. When I called to get Zoya in for her 4 month appointment they told me 1) that they were so booked that they couldn’t get her in until well past 5 months old. 2) They told me to take her to the HEALTH DEPARTMENT to get her shots and that they would do her 4 month check when I brought her in. Guess what? You cannot take your child to the Health Department for shots if you have insurance. I was a little ticked because we were leaving for Walt Disney World and this was at the height of the Disney Land measles outbreak – it was an entire country away and she can’t even get the MMR vaccine yet, but it still made me want to have all my ducks in a row before taking a vulnerable newborn to areas heavily trafficked by possibly not inoculated foreigners. I called several of the doctors whose waitlists I have been on for 18 months or more (rant: I don’t know why they have waitlists when they obviously don’t check them or follow up with them!!!! I know one doctor who has accepted at least 4 or 5 of my friends who called AFTER me, and who even had a short open enrollment period last January advertised by word of mouth that I didn’t hear about, grr Midland. If you have enough spots to do open enrollment, call the darn people who are on your waitlist, grr grr grr). Anyway, we heard about a brand new to Midland doctor who was also accepting new patients. BONUS: She’s a fightin’ Texas Aggie Smile. The new doctor’s office was able to get us in in just a few days with a NP so Zoya could get her shots and 4 month visit. We have since met with our new doctor and I really like her a lot! The new office is much nicer too with separate sick and well waiting rooms.

Anyway, the whole situation had me worked up into quite a tizzy, probably because I forgot to pray about it. Ever seen this guy??? Yes, it was like that.

Anyway, back to Gemma. We are really pleased with where she is developmentally and her verbal skills are very good for her age, especially for a second child. I wasn’t at all worried about her. I’m so pleased with her fine and gross motor skills, and any and all other things.

I was hoping her head size and weight were finally starting to meet in the middle but that was not the case. Baby girl just has a big old brain and a little teeny body. Anyways since this just seems to be her shape and size, the doctor wasn’t worried and I have stopped worrying. As Nick says, someone has to be in the 4th percentile. She’s growing and healthy.

  • Height: 33.3 inches, 28th percentile
  • Weight: 22 pounds 8 ounces, 4th percentile
  • Head: 19.44 inches, 90th percentile

Sometimes Nick and I call her Gollum because she’s so wiry and agile. We’ll stop once she knows what we are talking about, but scrambling all over me, the doctor, the chairs, the table and whatever else was in that office dressed just in her diaper, the resemblance has never been more uncanny. Not her face of course, her face is so cute! But that little skinny body had me thinking she was Sméagol himself.

Oh and these right here… totally Gemma. Sorry, I’m in a gif mood tonight.

And this one is pretty much how she dances! HA!

Ok, I’m going to stop comparing my cute little daughter to a scary former hobbit now.

Here’s some real pictures of our princess. We do love this little character, she is such a hoot.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Paleo, Whole 30 and Eating Clean

So I am going to try to keep this blogging thing going while I have momentum and a few minutes. Nick took the big girls to a “date” at Whataburger (slightly ironic given the title of this post) and I almost don’t know what to do with myself with only one kid. Ok, I do. Blog.

We started trying to really understand eating healthy in 2012, right before I became pregnant with Gemma. Everyone has a different opinion on what that means, but the two main books I read were “Eat to Live” and “The Beauty Detox Solution”. If I had to pick an eating style that made sense and seemed intuitive to me, I would say “Eat to Live” 100%. I really believe Joel Fuhrman knows what’s he’s talking about, so we tried his eating style for a while, but it was just too gross. Do you think you could eat food with no salt? And worse! Nearly every single nutritarian recipe involves just throwing a lot of nutritious food in a pot (without salt) and it all comes out tasting like goulash (gross). In the end, it just wasn’t sustainable for us. One positive thing did come out of it and we were able to practice living dairy-free for a while. That was something that once upon a time I thought I could never do, so it was good practice as we have slowly been cutting out dairy.

Between then and now, we’ve had TWO babies. We’ve jumped onto the healthy eating bandwagon and jumped off. I wouldn’t say that we are bad eaters when I cooked but we had two big flaws. 1) We have a major sweet tooth and I love to make cookies and brownies and all kinds of great tasting things from scratch. Then we cannot lay off of whatever it is I make and its gone within 24 hours. 2) When life gets stressful, we eat out a lot. Sometimes fast food (What-a-burger, Sonic and CFA are our faves) but even when its real restaurant food our attitude was always to just eat whatever we wanted.

Now onto Paleo! I could go into a long blurb on it, but basically I have read that a lot of women have noticed a great alleviation in their hypothyroid symptoms from eating Paleo. Once upon a time, I would have said that the “Paleo lifestyle” did not make sense to me on any level, but I was willing to try anything to not be so tired all the time. I also wanted to lose the baby weight from Zoya, and I’ve decided that I’m 31 now so there’s no reason to be coy about my actual weight numbers so I am just going to come out and share them.

For most of high school and college, I weighed between 102 and 105 lbs. After graduation and a desk job, my adult weight has usually been between 112 to 115. After Isla was born, at 4 weeks post partum I was down to 114. After Gemma was born, at 6 weeks post partum I was down to 111. They came off so easy that I was hoping it would be the same with Zoya even though I gained so much more weight. After you have a baby, you lose weight like crazy and then suddenly you stop losing weight. With Zoya I stopped losing weight at 128 lbs, which was too high for my comfort. I don’t need to get back to my high school weight, but I would love to skip the middle age spread if I can.

I started testing the Paleo waters in October and I lost a few pounds, and then between Thanksgiving and New Year I wasn’t very careful at all. Then I did the Whole30 in January. On January 1 I weighed 125 lbs, at the end of it, I had lost 5 lbs and was down to 120. I am now down to 117, and I am committed to this and I think I will continue to lose the baby weight. I’m hoping to get down to 112ish, and I’d be even happier if I kept losing!

The Whole30

The first Whole30 was really hard. I have such a sweet tooth I would have killed someone for a little dark chocolate, and I made a banana-nut smoothie that I am pretty sure qualified as SWYPO, but there’s no way I would have made it through the sugar detox weeks without it. I also ate a lot of sweet potatoes. Thank providence that I was allowed as many sweet potato fries as I wanted! I’m really thankful that Nick was doing it with me or else I would not have been able to finish. The girls mostly did it with us without complaining about no more cheese sticks or almond milk.

In February we had trips to Walt Disney World and Great Wolf Lodge and we cheated some, but we actually do really well on Paleo while at home. The girls are eating 90% Paleo, and I’m really proud of them. There are a few things that are really hard. I don’t miss cheese, but I know Isla does and she eats it up whenever we eat out. We all miss peanut butter though because did you know its technically a legume? Crazy. I am glad that most people allow butter on Paleo even though you aren’t supposed to eat any other dairy. Butter is my favorite thing. I’ve also been using ghee and avocado oil.

I’m doing the Whole30 again right now and it’s so much easier the second time, and I feel well. I am relying on nuts much less to satisfy my sweet tooth and I think that I will lose weight much faster this time. I don’t even need Nick to do it with me, he really doesn’t need to do it as he has already lost 25 lbs! This week I’ve passed up doughnuts and Whataburger (Nick offered because I guess he forgot about my Whole30) and it has been shockingly easy. That is a definite first! Also, yesterday I was having a bad day or in a bad mood for whatever reason. Normally I would be stuffing my feelings with food or searching high and low for chocolate, but surprisingly I just stuck with my normal Whole30 plan and I wasn’t even tempted to go off of it or deal with my emotions with food.

Here are some recipes that we like:

  • Crock pot whole chicken – I’ve stopped buying chicken parts, it’s nothing but whole chicken for our family. I’m so proud of myself!
  • Ribs – I put them in the crockpot on high for 4 hours and they are so tender and awesome.
  • Sweet potato fries coated in coconut oil, chili powder, garlic powder, arrowroot starch and salt to taste and baked on each side at 425 degrees for 10 minutes each.
  • Salmon croquettes – my kids go crazy for these, even Gemma
  • Home made larabars – switch peanut butter for almond butter, these make great snacks
  • pumpkin pancakes – I spread it with almond butter and sprinkle a little maple syrup and Isla and Gemma gobble these up
  • Fauxtmeal – this is soooo tasty, I love it too.
  • Paleo Pot Pie – This was so amazing. It’s not Whole30, and I wouldn’t have it every week, but it’s a nice treat and Isla and Nick loved it.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, we are big smoothie people. We’ve been using canned coconut milk as a base, adding any  kind of fruit, almond butter, spinach, flaxseed, dates and of course bananas in some combination or another.

Anyway, we are doing well and I am really proud of us. Although we have had some starts and stops since we started in October, this now feels like a permanent change in our home. I don’t think we will fall away if life gets stressful or busy or crazy; it’s a lifestyle we can sustain. Of course we will still have treats every now and then, but they will actually be treats, not just sweets because it’s Friday!

I would love any Paleo or Whole30 recipes that anyone has to share! If you are thinking about doing this, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two Years of Gemma!

Inspired by my friend Melissa, no excuses… just diving right back into blogging like no break ever even happened.

Last week, our little teeny weeny spitfire turned TWO! This was her first time sporting a ponytail and I am a fan.

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So this kid is amazing. And cute. And sassy. And naughty. And charming. And everyone, everyone should have a Gemma. Or maybe not because the kid drives me crazy. But then she turns around, flashes those dimples and gets away with whatever shenanigans she’s doing. Basically, she spends most of her day telling me “no” and then hauling bottom as far away from me as she can get. When I catch up with her, she turns around, smiles and hands over whatever contraband item she’s stolen and puts her arms up to be held. I don’t know why I even bother to ask her to do anything at all because she always does the opposite. Or if I say “Gemma, you are going to get a spanking.” She turns to me, dimples up and “panks” herself. Or sometimes she covers her bottom, smiles and says saucily “I don’t want ‘pankin’” Oh this kid. She’s a mess. She went from being the easiest baby of all times ever to a 2 year old so wild I can’t even believe it.

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Right now she’s in very monkey-see-monkey-do. Whatever I do or Isla does, she copies.

She’s a tantrum thrower! Isla never threw tantrums or she tried once and I ignored it, she never tried it again and I thought I knew everything about tantrums and parenting in general of course. And I would love to ignore them except that she can make herself throw up in less than two minutes if she wants to! So although we don’t give her what she wants when she gets mad, we don’t ignore her because she just gets more and more upset and inevitably… blech.

If she wants something, she makes a mean, scrunchy face and uses an angry voice and says “I want juice!” or “I want me-mouse (mickey mouse)!” I remind her to ask nicely and say “please” and she will sign please. That’s enough about how bad she is because although she may ask rudely, she always says “dank you”, all the time, without being prompted and its so sweet to hear. I promise you if you saw this girl you would want to scoop her up and keep her forever.

She still loves cuddles and kisses and will ask for a “kees” or say “hold me”.

I love this picture. This was last week at the library. I took her to stoytime while Isla was in in school, and she walked right up to “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” and held their hands.

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Her birthday present was a bike and a “me-mouse” helmet and two Caillou books. We started teaching Isla to ride so late, we didn’t realize that we could start much earlier. So as soon as the weather gets better, we are going to try to get her used to it.

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Right now she’s really into Mickey Mouse, Winnie-the-Pooh and Caillou. Her favorite toys are her Little People toys, a Mickey and Minnie Mouse that she’s all but stolen from Isla, and several puzzles. She likes to play “amen” where we pray Smile and “ready, set, go” where I say it and she does her running thing over and over.

Gemma is still a picky eater, which is probably while she is so tiny; she’s just over 20 pounds. I refuse to feed her junk just to fatten her up so thankfully I have found some healthy foods she gobbles up and I still put whatever we are having in front of her at meals in hopes she’ll eventually start eating it. Here she is drinking a blueberry, spinach, flaxseed, banana and canned coconut milk smoothie.

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At this age Isla was already working hard to drop her naps, and thankfully Gemma is an excellent napper and sleeper!  No night waking unless something is wrong like a true Babywise baby and she still takes 2, sometimes 3, hour naps in the afternoon (Hallelujah!). She never fights nap time and often is very relieved when I take her to bed or naptime. Still I am glad that she is still in her crib and hasn’t tried to climb out. She shares a room with Isla now and Nick will put a bottom bunk in when it’s her time, but for now her crib is just under Isla’s lofted bed. Zoya is just in a pack-n-play.

Now that Gemma is older and very opinionated she and Isla fight more, but I still love their relationship. They adore each other and are so quick with the hugs. Gemma will give Isla anything she asks for, sometimes Isla has to ask twice Smile, but Gemma always gives her what she wants. I wish that I had been quick enough to snatch a picture of when they saw each other at Isla’s Valentine’s day party, but they were so happy to see one another with big hugs.

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Gemma is also pretty crazy about Zoya and loves to hold her, hug and and generally invade her personal space whenever she can. If you’ll remember when Gemma was Zoya’s age she would cry whenever she saw Isla, Zoya just grins through it all… I love it so much!

***UPDATE*** Gemma will also in her mean scrunchy, face say “My Zoya!” while giving you the stare down. Sometimes she will be gently rub Zoya’s back or head and say “my sithhhter (sister).” It is sooo cute.

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We spent Gemma’s birthday at Great Wolf Lodge. It was Winnie-the-Pooh themed and it was just us and Nick’s parents. We had a good time, but it was so cold outside and they didn’t make it very warm inside and then the kiddie pool was closed all day Saturday so I was a little disappointed in the venue… but we still had fun celebrating our girl! I hope she looks back and is happy we celebrated her birthday at such a cool place. In general, I hope my girls look back and always feel as though we treasured them on their special days.

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That’s pretty much it! I will probably update this post as I think of things, but we love every minute we spend with our Gemmy-Lou. She makes us so happy and keeps us entertained all day long.

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