Happy First Birthday Baby Girl

I just kissed my sweet baby girl goodnight and laid her down in her crib as a one year old. A one year old! I'm not going to say the inevitable, that that was the fastest year of my life, because in many ways, it wasn't, but it a lot of ways it was. Nonetheless, I now have a one year old. She's not my baby anymore, although, she'll always be my baby, no matter how big she gets.

It's always a bittersweet thing, that whole first birthday thing. It's exciting to watch your children grown up, but you want to savor those moments of them being so itty bitty and dependable, too. These years are the cutest years. Trying years for sure, but they're definitely the cutest years by far and, while some days I know I wish these days to speed up a little faster, I know without a doubt I'll miss them when they're gone.

Gwen has brought such a joy to our family. I was so worried about having two kids, afraid I would be a terrible mom to two. Afraid I'd feel torn with how I'd have to share my attention with both of them, but when it comes down to it, Gwen has made having two children easy. She's made it easy since the day she was born. What a blessing that has been.

She is self-entertained, almost too self entertained that sometimes I don't think she even cares if I'm around. But then I stand corrected when I run outside to throw the trash out and she comes running towards the door screaming for me. I'd like to think it's because she likes me close by, even if i'm not interacting with her, she just likes my presence, but in reality, I think she just screams because she wants to come outside, too. She loves the outdoors.

She can sit and read books for hours. I'll usually set her down in the playroom first thing in the morning to play while I make breakfast, and I can almost always count on her walking over to the bookshelf,plopping herself on the ground, and pull book after book off the shelf as she reads them to herself. It's rather darling.

She's obsessed with dogs and owls and has really mastered their sounds, along with sheep, elephant, snake, bear, and a lion. The girl loves to growl. We have her brother to thank for that one.

She loves songs and will get the biggest smile on her face as soon as you start sining twinkle twinkle little star to her. Since the day she was born, that song has always comforted her when she's sad. Preston loves to sing it to her. She's pretty awesome at the actions for it and I'll catch her singing it to herself, actions included, throughout the day.

She says hi to EVERYONE and EVERYTHING she sees. She LOVES to say "hi!" I'm guessing she picked that up from he Japanese people over here who loves her to death. They're always coming up to her saying "hi!" and now she does it to them before they even get the chance. She turns lots of heads with her little hi's.

She recently started counting, or at least saying "two" when she hears you say, "One, ...".

She's a water baby, just like her brother, and even the sound of the bath tub water running is enough to get her to squeal. She can't get to the tub fast enough...she also loves to drink the tub water...

I'm a little worried about the drama she's going to be full of, she already gets really mad when she doesn't get what she wants. She screams when her brother gets a little too close for comfort. And she'll hit things out of your hands with such force that it shocks you. She knows how to get what she wants and she doesn't stop until she does. Like screaming in the middle of the night until I finally go in there...or continuing to scream when John goes in and she just wants me. Girls got some lungs!

She puckers her lips and makes the cutest looking duck face when she wants a kiss. She's pretty much mastered it, and it's pretty much the most adorable thing ever.

Oh how I love this sweet baby of mine and I'm so glad she's just that, mine! I love her carefree personality with just a touch of spunk to keep things lively around here. She really does make being her mom easy, and I hope it always stays that way.

Happy first birthday baby girl, I sure love you more than you will ever know!


Cars and Trucks and Things that Go Party

We love Richard Scarry in this house, well, I should say, we love his book, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. Preston can spend hours looking through the pictures in this book, finding Goldbug, and having me read him page after page of that 60 page book. I try to get away with reading his three favorite pages, but we usually spend far longer than I anticipate reading that book at night. I got this book from one of the sweetest older ladies in my ward just before Preston was born. Little did I know it would become one of his all time favorites.

It only made sense to do a birthday party revolving around this book, so, thanks to my sweet husband who can take my ideas and turn them into something far better, we turned our house into a Cars and Trucks and Things that a Go wonderland. With 13 kids riding around our house, it was quite the afternoon.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Preston. We sure love you more than you will ever know.

Trick candles my friends, they were too perfect for a boy who LOVES to blow out candles!

The end!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Preston

I still remember the day Preston was born like it was yesterday. I'm sure every mother will always remember the day their precious baby was born and store those memories away in a very special and safe place, never to be forgotten. Because the day your child is born, is one of those most special days you'll ever experience.

I've now been mothering this sweet and rambunctious boy for three years. Three whole years?! It's been a good three years, but boy have these years been filled with lots of ups, and a whole lot of downs. This past year has been pretty trying on my little guy, and I wish I would have had more patience with him and understood this better. But I'm human, and we're all learning, and quite frankly he just doesn't listen, and I just yell too much.

This boy has had to deal with lots of big life changes these last twelve months. From getting a new sister, to leaving his house and friends behind, to bouncing from one families house to the next, and then finally flying across the ocean to a whole new country, bouncing from one hotel room to the next, moving into our house with government furniture, only for that to be taken away a few weeks later, and our actual household goods apeparing, it was rough. In fact, Preston even went through a period of extreme stuttering and we realized the poor boy had gone through so much stress, that this was his bodies way of dealing with it. It broke our hearts.

We've had days where everything starts and ends in a tantrum, and no matter how hard we try to reason with him, you just can't reason with a two year old. Days where I don't know how I even survived because my house was nothing short of one crazy circus act after another. The boy is strong-willed and it's hard to stare at this sweet little face and see all of your worst qualities coming out in him. But we're learning.

While he may have a side of extreme crazy, he can also be the sweetest thing you ever met. He loves to try and get us to smile and be happy, even when he's in the middle of being, well, Preston!

He requires you to lay by him when falling asleep at night, or watching him from your own bed, if neither of those things happen, and we try to let him do it alone, we'll soon find him coming down stairs saying, "Hi, mom, how was your day?" or "Hi, mom, I just wanted to talk to you." He'll do anything he can to stall going to sleep. The boy thinks he hates to sleep, but I'm trying to convince him otherwise.

He has a mild obsession with water and can spot even the smallest puddle from miles away. He begs to help wash dishes, just so we can stack everything on top of each other and declare he's made a waterfall. He likes to water our imaginary garden outside...I should probably plant him a real one, and he can take a bath for hours if we'd let him. He loves to play in the ocean, even on a cold day he finds a way to sneak his feet in, which usually turns to fully submerging himself, so, we let him. And it's a darn good thing we live in a place where we don't have to pay for utilities, otherwise we'd have one heck of a water bill.

He loves to play pretend fighting, but usually wants to play the bad guy much to my dismay. He likes to pretend he's shooting everything with his pretend shooters, and runs through our house like we're under attack.

He likes to pretend he speaks Japanese, and will randomly throw out the few words he actually does know, mixed with a whole lot of jibberish. He acts like he's nothing short of fluent. His favorite word use to be quedgi-wedgie. I don't even know where that word/phrase came from, but he rolls with it like he's Japanese himself.

After writing all over his arm with a sharpie marker the other day, and then declaring he hadn't done so, I looked at him and said, "Preston, what did you do?" To which he responded, "anything!" in the most serious tone a two year old is capable of.  I don't dare correct him and tell him its actually "nothing" because "anything" is far funnier.

He ends up in our bed six nights out of seven, and we usually let him stay, even though I swore I'd never be a parent to allow such things to happen. But sometimes it's just easier, and when I already feel sleep deprived, I see no reason to add to it. I always tell John we bought a king sized bed for a reason. But yet it still feels squishy with three.

He loves to draw and color and do all sorts of art projects, unfortunately the wrong parents stays home during the day to really help unleash his inner Picasso.

He loves to think he's in charge, and throws all of our lines we feed him right back at us. "You know the rule!" or, "Do you want a spanking?" It actually makes being in charge rather difficult.

He likes to think he can stop traffic, and anytime we cross the street, he sticks his arm out, and with the most serious face, practically scowls at the oncoming cars as if to say, "don't you dare get any closer." I got mad at him the other day for running away from me down the sidewalk along a busy road. I tried to explain why that was dangerous and that he shouldn't be near a busy road without me. After trying to explain why that could be scary, and that cars are big, and he is small, and sometimes big things don't see small things, he looked at me like I was an idiot and told me he can just stop the cars himself. It's hard trying to separate his imagination from reality. He thinks he can do anything.

My love for this boy is deep. While I want to strangle him most days, and we butt heads a good majority of the time, I still try my best to let him be little, and do the things little boys do without such as a gripe from his mom. But it's hard. It's hard to just let him be him sometimes when the things he wants to do aren't always smart, or safe, or realistic. But oh how I love this kid so much. How is it so possible to be so incredibly annoyed and frustrated at such a little being, yet I just want to grab him, and snuggle him, and smother him with kisses because I just love him so. He's my best buddy. My little sidekick. My three year old that think's he's the king of the world. And sometimes he is, because in that boys imagination, anything is possible.

Happy third birthday to my little man.

I love visitors

So, my sister came to town, and our friend Nicki, and it was rather glorious. Have I mentioned how much I love having visitors? It's one thing to have had family come visit us in Oklahoma and then St. Louis, but being thousands and thousands of miles away, separated by an entire ocean, and living in an entirely different country, makes visitors all the more special. It was a short visit, but a fabulous one at that. I'll take visitors for as long or as short as they'll come.

Even though it was a short visit, we tired to cram in as much of the Okinawan goodness as we could, and I'd like to think we succeeded.

The Aquarium, Pizza in the Sky, Japanese Naval Headquarters underground tunnels, Fukushen Gardens, Kokusai Street, Beaches, roller slides, delicious Japanese cuisine, shopping, and pedicures at Cocok's of course, I don't think we really stopped the entire five days they were here.

The Aquarium:

Pizza in the Sky:

Naminoue-gu Shrine:

Fukushuen Gardens:

Meada Flats:

Manzamo Point:

Hamahiga Island:


Cape Zanpa:

Roller slides:

 Pedicures at Cocok's overlooking the ocean:


The dreaded goodbye:

I wish we could redo this vacation all over again in another year, unfortunately, I know that won't happen. Thanks for coming to visit, I miss you already!