Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sesame Street Live!

It's Big Bird's journey to Ernie!
Sitting like a big girl in her own seat.
My friend Sara runs the local Macaroni Kid website and hooked us up with free tickets to Sesame Street Live! at the St. Pete Times Forum. When she asked me the other week if we were interested in going, I jumped at the chance because Bella loves Elmo (a.k.a. Aldo) and enjoys the little Sesame Street show at Busch Gardens. 

Little did I know that Bella woke up on the wrong side of the crib this morning... so before we even left the house, I knew I had an irritable toddler on my hands. She whined and cried while getting dressed... while eating breakfast... and while walking to Sara's house. I thought her crabbiness would subside once we got to the show, but I was mistaken. All she wanted to do was climb the stairs or run down the row, which is a terrible idea. She tripped and fell several times, which caused me to remove her from the show. Rather than watching Elmo and his friends, Bella and I roamed the hallways. At one point, I attempted to sit her down to watch more of the show, but this caused Bella to become more upset and caused me to have a break down.

I rarely cry or lose my cool, but after being head butted twice I put Bella down, looked over at my friend Sara and cried. I then started to laugh because I felt so silly crying and asked her, "I don't know why I'm crying right now"to which she replied, "because you're pregnant and your hormones are out of whack." Silly hormones strike again! Thank goodness I have a sympathetic and understanding friend, who understands what it is like to have an unruly toddler. I managed to get a few pictures while at the show, but the lack of smiles were no surprise. But for what it's worth, Bella enjoyed at least part of the show. When she wasn't whining or crying, she was dancing and laughing. Her little dance moves and giggles made up for the bad stuff. The whining and crying continued after she woke up from her 3-hour nap and lasted until she went to bed tonight. Bummer. 

Here's to hoping that tomorrow is a better day and that Bella wakes up on the right side of the crib. We have a busy day of appointments and our weekly play date. Bella has a follow up appointment with the allergist, which figures because she has a terrible eczema outbreak right now. I have my 20-week appointment with the OB, despite not having my 20-week anatomy scan until Friday. We're meeting our friends at a local park after our appointments for some much needed play time. 

I have a sleeping child and I really need to recoup from this stressful day, so I'm going to take advantage and hit the hay myself. Nighty night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

banthebags.org?

Apparently the breastfeeding rates in Rhode Island are slightly below the national average, so there is a movement to ban the free formula given out to new moms as they are discharged from the hospital. Ban the Bags is a site devoted to a movement to ban the giving out of sample bags and formula. 

I follow a blog, babygatorsden.com, which is written by a very intelligent and down to Earth woman, named Joanna. She is a bit crunchy, but isn't annoyingly crunchy. She has a lot of insightful things to say and I found out about this hot topic issue via her blog. I love the fact that Joanna can see both sides and is more curious about the issue than anything. Love people who are able to play the devil's advocate and play it well!

Given my experience with both breastfeeding AND formula feeding, I will take my place on my soapbox for the evening. As a mom who relied on formula to provide nourishment for my child, I find "ban" absurd. I gave birth thinking that I would nurse Bella 24-7, however I quickly learned that this wasn't the case. Much to my surprise, Bella did not take well to nursing and I struggled to feed my child. I worked tirelessly with lactation consultants and relied on my mommy friends for guidance. I was in the hospital for 72-hours and every 2-3 hours, I paged a lactation consultant to help guide me in breastfeeding. Bella was such a terrible nurser that even the lactation consultants were frustrated with her. Can you imagine such a teeny, tiny little baby causing so much frustration?!? Well, she did. One night I even asked the night nurse what to do. She told me she couldn't give me medical advice as to whether or not I should give Bella formula, but as a mother she felt I should satisfy Bella's appetite any way possible. I loved her for saying that. I left the hospital with nipple shields, a supplemental nursing system and an appointment with an in-home lactation consultant. Our first night home was miserable, as Bella refused to latch or would fall asleep a few minutes into nursing. She was starving and dehydrated and I was frustrated and confused. 

At her check up with the pediatrician the next morning, we were quickly called and informed that Bella was severely dehydrated and her bilirubin levels were dangerously high. And the reason for the dehydration and elevated bilirubin levels was because I was afraid to give her formula. Bella was admitted into the NICU and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I felt like a total failure as a mother and a woman because my child was sick due to my inability to nurse her. It took a scolding from a NICU nurse for me to realize that it was okay to feed Bella formula, just as long as she was being fed! Again, I worked with lactation consultants and learned that while Bella may not nurse, I could pump to provide her with some breast milk. After a few days of sun bathing, pumping Bella's little belly full of formula and breast milk and some TLC, she was discharged and we were on our own again. I pumped for many, many weeks to provide Bella with any amount of breast milk I could. The pumping eventually got in the way of my bonding with Bella and I could not keep up with Bella's appetite, so I resorted to exclusively formula feeding. 

I was provided with samples of formula when we left the NICU and by the pediatrician. If it hadn't been for those samples, Bella would have starved. I hadn't planned on formula feeding, so I was totally unprepared. I didn't have formula at home and I didn't have bottles either. If it weren't for the samples, Bella would have continued to starve. I would have been a terrible mother for not feeding my child! Was the decision to give Bella formula a difficult decision? Heck yes. But was it necessary to give Bella formula? Heck yes. 

I'm not pro-formula or pro-breastfeeding, but what I am avid about is doing what is BEST for your child.  If moms want to formula feed, then they will go out and buy formula. Not providing them with samples isn't going to persuade them to breast feed. What this movement does do, is create a greater divide between those who nurse and those who don't. It's unfortunate and women shouldn't be made to feel inferior for not breast feeding. That is all. 

All of this being said, I hope the bags aren't banned in Florida. I plan to nurse baby #2 and will give it my all to do so, BUT having a can or two of formula around the house wouldn't be a bad thing. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bella and Pop visit the Florida Aquarium

The first night Pop arrived, he and Ian attended the Wright State University vs. Florida basketball game at the St. Pete Times Forum (soon to be renamed the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but I digress). Bella and I joined them for dinner at Channelside and on our way there, Pop asked about the Florida Aquarium. He asked if Bella had ever been and if so, would does she enjoy going. Bella has been to the aquarium several times and she really enjoys looking at all the fish and other sea creatures. And so it was decided that during Pop's visit, we would make a trip to the Florida Aquarium.

We decided to go this morning because the kids were back in school and it wouldn't be as crowded. And wow, were we right, as the aquarium was deserted! Awesome. As we were about to purchase our tickets, I noticed a sign that said "10% off memberships" and so I inquired as to what new, low price a membership would set us back. The normal price is $95 for two adults, but with the 10% discount, it brought the price down to $85. After doing some quick math, Pop and I decided that it would probably be in our best interest to buy a membership, as basically two trips to the aquarium would cover the cost of a year-long membership. So thanks to Pop, we are now members of the Florida Aquarium! Thank you, Pop!

Bella loves the aquarium! She loves pointing to things and attempting to identify them. We heard the word "fish" quite a bit and it never got old. She identified starfish and referred to them as "stars." We gently pet "stars" in the touch tank, which was a big hit. She saw ducks and shouted, "quack, quack" as they swam by. Bella even identified an alligator and would have made her father proud by saying, "chomp! chomp!" Not only is she adorable, but she is so smart!

We will definitely be frequenting the aquarium more often, now that we are members. I know, I know... it seems like we have passes to anything and everything, but there is just SO MUCH to do in Tampa and passes really make it worth while. I love exposing Bella to new and exciting things, so having passes to the aquarium and zoo are great because not only are they fun places to go, but she can learn a little something while we're there. Plus, being out and about is much more fun than sitting at home!

Here are a few pictures from our day at the aquarium:
Laughing at the stingrays.
Pop helping Bella touch some "stars" in the touch tank.
Pop and Bella, just talking about "fishies." 
Bella chasing a shark... how fun!
Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

2011 Lasher family Christmas tree... 8 foot Fraser fir.
Live wreaths on the front doors, a Lasher family tradition.
Front entryway
It's only two days after Thanksgiving, but are off and running with decorating for the holidays. We're a mixed faith family and we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. We decided to get a live tree this year because we haven't had a live tree since 2008. Our thinking was to get our tree early so that we could actually enjoy it. Plus, we eliminated the time it takes to set up and take down an artificial tree and put up our tree in 5-minutes. Tonight we will decorate the Christmas tree as a family, complete with Christmas music, another Lasher family tradition. And don't worry, the Hanukkah decorations will go up once we dig all of the holiday decorations out of the many, many boxes. Getting the house ready for the holidays is something I actually enjoy. Having the house decorated makes it feel extra welcoming and cozy. There's something about the glow of a Christmas tree that makes me feel all happy and warm inside. 

This year should be especially fun because Bella will be 20-months-old and will have a better appreciation of the holidays. I think we will begin teaching her the story of Christmas and the story of Hanukah, so that she will eventually learn the reason behind each holiday. The holidays aren't just about receiving gifts and pretty decorations... and we want Bella to grow up knowing that. The holidays are about the birth of Jesus (Christmas) and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Bella is lucky enough to have a Jewish parent and a Christian parent to teach her the history, which we think is pretty cool. We have various books to help us teach Bella the true meaning of each holiday and hopefully she grows up respecting and appreciating the sanctity of each. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here and in another week or so, Hanukkah. It's a special time of year and a great time to be with family and friends. We have a jam packed schedule ahead of us, which should make for a very busy but fun holiday season. Well, I'd better get back to the decorating with the family... enjoy your Saturday!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2


Friday, November 25, 2011

After Thanksgiving sales...

Unlike the millions of people running around in Best Buy, Target and the mall, I will not be participating in the riff-raff of shopping in stores the day after Thanksgiving. I refuse to step foot in a retail store today. I simply don't have the energy or patience to deal with the crowds. I seriously don't know how or why people do it. What I do know is that online shopping is exactly my style of shopping after Thanksgiving and so it begins.


I ordered Bella five 2-piece outfits from Gymboree, for $50 + free shipping! Pop told me to order her a few things for Christmas and I wanted to respect his wishes. I ordered outfits from the clearance section, which was an additional 30% off and I was able to use a 20% off coupon in addition to the sale prices. The free shipping really sealed the deal... gosh, I love free shipping!


To add to my own shoe fetish, I purchased five pairs of shoes from Stride Rite. They were having a 50% off sale and I couldn't pass it up. I ordered Bella five pairs of shoes for $70! Considering that Stride Rite normally charges $40 per pair, getting them for $15 a pair was a steal! Stride Rite shoes are the ONLY shoes I like Bella to wear, so I'm pretty much stuck buying them from consignment stores, receiving hand-me-downs or buying them myself. The majority of Bella's shoes have been new, but since her feet are teeny tiny and don't grow as quickly as the rest of her, we've been able to get a lot of use out of her shoes. And luckily we're having another girl so these shoes will all be passed down to Baby #2. 


From Pottery Barn Kids, I ordered decor for the nursery. I had a 15% off coupon and they were running a few sales. The accessories coordinate with the rest of the room and will really tie everything together. The mirrors, butterflies, lamps and blankets coordinate perfectly with the wall color and the bedding. The extra 15% was what really sold me, because PBK rarely has coupons that good. I am also a huge fan of PBK and PB's customer service, so when I needed to add something to my original order, it was no problem at all. 


One of my favorite online boutiques was offering $40 smocked outfits for $20 + free shipping! I ordered the girls (hehe!) their first matching outfits. Hopefully I ordered the proper sizes and they will be able to wear the outfits together at least a few times. I LOVE hand-made clothing and smocking is absolutely adorable on little girls. I cannot wait for the dresses and rompers to arrive next spring! Again, the price was right and I couldn't pass up such adorable outfits at such an unbelievable price. Check out The Smocking Bug for adorable and affordable hand-made smocked outfits for your kids.


I cannot wait for all of my packages to arrive! There's something fun and exciting about getting goodies delivered to your door step. I love not having to run to the store, finding a decent parking spot and fighting the horrendous crowds. I also love online shopping in my pajamas from the comfort of my couch. Online shopping is the best! Well, I'd better go hide the credit card because the sales are oh-so tempting and Ian's starting to get a little nervous. I think the fact that Bella learned the word "credit card" and I taught her the phrase, "charge it!" REALLY makes Ian nervous... there's nothing like a household full of women with daddy's credit card!


Happy shopping everyone!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Our 2nd annual family Thanksgiving has come and gone. It's hard to believe that after busting my butt in the kitchen for the past two days that it's all over. After many, many hours shopping, cooking and cleaning, we sat down to dinner around 5pm and stuffed ourselves silly with all of the traditional Thanksgiving day foods. We had the FULL meal: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, two kinds of dressing, corn, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and gravy. Everything seemed to come together seamlessly and we topped off our wonderful meal with a homemade apple pie and pumpkin pie with freshly made whipped cream. It was so delicious and I'm already looking forward to next year!


My favorite part of cooking for Thanksgiving is the pause in conversation that occurs while everyone is eating. The clanking of forks and knives is music to my ears because it means everyone is enjoying their meal. It is so satisfying to receive compliments from people in regard to my cooking, but it is really satisfying to have 12 people sitting at your table in complete silence as they devour the food I prepared for them. And this year's meal was probably my best yet. It's my second time cooking a turkey and I think it turned out even better than last year's turkey. 


After dinner, the kids went for a walk with some adult chaperones while Ian and Pop washed dishes. This left a brief moment for my friend Stephanie and I enjoyed some quiet conversation. This is a rarity, as we are usually chasing kids around and it was much needed. A MNO definitely needs to be planned soon!


Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday to spend with family and friends. Our family has so much to be thankful for this year and I am so glad we were able to share our blessings with those close to us. This year, I am very thankful for my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter and our network of close family and friends. Many, many thanks!!!


Well, I am exhausted and my back is killing me. The couch and heating pad are calling my name. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Over worked and overwhelmed

This post is going to be super short. Why, you may ask? Well it's because we've been going non-stop since Monday. Ever since we picked Pop up from the airport on Monday morning, we've been busy running errands or doing stuff around the house. We're preparing for Thanksgiving tomorrow and preparing a meal for 12 people is no easy task. It's stressful, but it's fun. And luckily I have some awesome help (ahem... Pop, Ian, Aunt Dawn and Stephanie) and wouldn't be able to pull of this great feat without their assistance.


Today I am feeling very overwhelmed, to say the least. We are hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow and I feel like there is so much to do! Even though half of the meal is already prepared or in the process of being prepared, I still feel so overwhelmed. I do this to myself every time we host a family gathering at our house, but in the end, it is all worth it. This is our second year for hosting Thanksgiving and I think it's become the new tradition. Personally, I like hosting and even though I get stressed out, I enjoy the end result.


I suppose being 19-weeks pregnant just adds to all of the mayhem, right? Not to mention we prepped and painted the new nursery yesterday and assembled the furniture today. Someone (named Ian) wanted the nursery to be ready to show family and friends tomorrow. Someone (named Kim) tried to suggest that perhaps this should wait until after Thanksgiving, but someone else got his way. The nursery is just about finished, with the exception of lighting, wall decor and a few other odds and ends... oh, and a baby!


Well, I'd better get back to it. As the saying goes, so little time, so much to do! But so much to be thankful for this year!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby

Monday, November 21, 2011

The weekend update

In typical SNL fashion... here is the weekend update! Overall, it was a laid back weekend and I am thankful for that. The next month or so will be very busy, so weekends like this are a blessing. 


Our weekend started on Thursday when Ian and I attended a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Bella was at Grandma Ruth's for the night and we had a night out on the town! It was fun to get dressed up and have a night out together. We used to do things like that all the time, but since having Bella, we rarely do stuff like this. It was a food and wine tasting event, so I indulged in only the food and Ian indulged in both the food and wine. The desserts were certainly my favorite and were absolutely amazing! There was a silent auction, so we bid on a few silent auction items, but didn't win anything. We watched the live auction and left shortly after that ended. Even though we were home by 10pm, it felt much later than that. Gosh, when did we get so old?!? Because I wore heels, my back was killing me*. Being pregnant in heels is not for me, as I spent most of Friday on the couch until Bella came home.


Saturday we packed up and went to the zoo for the day. Apparently there was some sort of Latin festival, so the zoo was a bit more crowded than usual. We didn't mind the crowd and we were able to see and do everything we wanted to. We finally rode the safari train, which was so much fun! The weather was relatively cool, so the animals were out and about. We headed home shortly after lunch for nap time. Bella took a quick nap and we headed to a fall festival that our HOA was hosting. Our community was only completed last year, so our HOA is relatively new. The board has only been in place for 6-months and this was the first event. It was great to meet more of our neighbors and we definitely enjoyed the yummy bar-be-que. There was a bounce house and other little games for the kids. Bella played with her little friends and LOVED the bounce house!


Sunday was a relatively laid back day. We did some things around the house, including all of the prep work for painting the nursery. Ian pulled all of our painting supplies out and I took inventory of what we needed. Luckily we just need some new roller covers and drop cloth, and that's it. I taped the room, floor to ceiling, and we are ready to paint! While Bella napped, we watched football and relaxed. My back was sore from all of the prep work, so I laid on the couch with a heating pad*. We then headed to the mall to do a little holiday shopping and for Bella's pictures. Bella did SO WELL with her pictures and we ordered pictures to give out during the holidays. We ended the evening with dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (yum) and I returned to the couch with a heating pad.


*Despite only being a mere 18-weeks pregnant... I have been experiencing back pain almost every day. I had some back pain with Bella, but it wasn't this early on. I'm going to discuss my pain with the OB at my next appointment because it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I suppose picking up a 25-pound toddler isn't helping, but like I really have a choice in that matter.


And if you're wondering why I am posting at 4am, it's because pregnancy insomnia has returned. I went to bed around 10pm and woke up at 2:30am, wide awake. Thankfully, it's not every night but the nights it does occur, it is awful. My mind starts to wander once I'm awake and it makes it that much harder to fall back to sleep. I definitely haven't missed the insomnia and I will be glad when it subsides... which will most likely be after the baby is born. Oh the joys of womanhood and pregnancy!


Well, I'm feeling kind of sleepy so I'm going to go with it and try to go back to sleep... even if it's just for 3-hours!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Cards 2011

It's that time of year again! As we prepare to design and send out our annual holiday card, I thought I'd share a few pictures from our recent photo shoot with Black Onyx Photography. We went to a beautiful, secluded park and had a great photo shoot. The photographer worked really well with Bella and really got some amazing shots! 
Look at those beautiful baby blues...
Love her little Gator dress!
How adorable is she?!?
Love my family!
The loves of my life!
Bella, the baby bump and me.
My beautiful family.
This was my first photo shoot being pregnant. I can't say I'm thrilled with my appearance, but what women is, especially when she is pregnant? My family is absolutely beautiful and these pictures truly show all the beauty that is my family. And now to begin designing our holiday card. There are so many design options and we have so many gorgeous pictures to choose from... oh where to begin?!? 

Tiny Prints has some BEAUTIFUL holiday cards and I'm leaning toward ordering from here. Many friends have recommended Tiny Prints AND they have some great deals! For black and white photos, I think this is my favorite: charcoal holiday card. For the beautiful, colorized photos, I think this is my favorite: pleasant plaid holiday card. We have been sending out holiday cards since before we were married. My favorite tradition is sending out photo cards. I know this sounds simple, but cards without photos aren't much fun! Before we had Bella, we  started out with pictures of the dogs, pictures of us and pictures of us with the dogs. It's fun to schedule a photo shoot with a talented photographer and having him/her work their magic with the camera. 


Stay tuned kids and be sure to check your mailboxes in the next few weeks! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Co-sleeping... the good, the bad and the ugly

Before I became a mom, I was never the type of person who said, "when I'm a mom, I'm going to do..." or "when I'm a mom, I'm never going to do..." I don't like making value judgments, especially when I have absolutely no experience. Upon becoming a mother, I created my own style of parenting. While I cannot relate my parenting style to any one style in particular, my parenting style works for me and more importantly, it works for Bella. It's pretty simple... I strive to love and to keep Bella safe and secure.


This brings me to an anti-cosleeping ad campaign started by the City of Milwaukee:
                              
Personally, I think it's very tongue and cheek, but others are deeply offended by this campaign. Having worked as a child protective investigator, I saw the worst of the worst. I worked with young mothers who lost their babies to suffocation, due largely in part to poor sleeping arrangements. Co-sleeping can be very dangerous and it's something I don't choose to do. This doesn't mean that Ian and I haven't done this with Bella, because we certainly have done. With a great deal of thought and intention during those early weeks of Bella's life, we purchased a co-sleeping travel bed for Bella. The co-sleeper assisted us in preventing us from rolling over or smothering Bella with blankets or pillows. Unfortunately, most parents don't take such precautions, which places the baby in great danger. 


Aside from all of the obvious dangers, I think co-sleeping obtrusive. I have a hard enough time sharing a king-size bed with Ian, let alone Ian and my children! The very few times we have co-slept with Bella, I'm fairly certain Bella was the only one who actually slept. Both Ian and I were far too paranoid about smothering Bella or accidentally rolling over on her to sleep. Plus, when are you supposed to have intimate time with your significant other if there is a child sleeping in your bed? Bella has always been a great sleeper and can sleep just about anywhere. I attribute her ability to sleep to the establishment of good sleep habits. For our family, co-sleeping simply doesn't work. We all sleep better when we're in our own beds. 


I have many friends who believe strongly in co-sleeping. I even had a friend who posted as her status on Facebook that, "co-sleeping is so addictive." Drugs and alcohol are also addictive... need I say more? I frequently hear stories about parents having little arms and legs all over the place, which sounds really uncomfortable to me. These are the same parents whose children are nearly 2-years-old and still don't sleep through the night or take naps during the day. These parents claim that co-sleeping makes nursing easier and that they have a greater bond with their child, but I'm not buying it. It wasn't that difficult to get up and feed Bella overnight and Bella has a very strong bond with both Ian and myself. I honestly don't see any upside to co-sleeping. 


Perhaps more cities and states should educate parents on the dangers of co-sleeping. While working as a child protective investigator, I know I spent a significant amount of time trying to educate parents and even provided parents with pack-and-plays when they couldn't afford other sleeping arrangements. Resources are quite valuable in ensuring our child, especially our babies, are safe.


Just some food for thought...


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday



Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's a GIRL!

Ian, Bella and I are very excited to announce that Bella will be getting a little sister in April! I am on cloud nine right now and I am so happy to have our second little girl on the way. Two darling daughters, what more could a mother or father ask for?!? 


We had an elective ultrasound, just like we did with Bella, only we purchased a package that came with two ultrasounds. We decided to do the first ultrasound right at 18-weeks, so we could begin planning the nursery. Like I mentioned in previous posts, my dad will be in town next week and will be helping us paint. I wanted to have the bedding selected and the paint purchased by the time he arrived so we could get started right away. The ultrasound offered many sneak peaks of baby girl Lasher's lady parts and the technician was 99.9% sure of the gender. This was funny to us because Bella kept her legs crossed during most of the ultrasounds and I never felt the technicians were certain about her gender. 


We brought Bella with us, which was interesting because it was close to her bed time and interrupted her evening play time with Ian. She was pretty well behaved for most of the ultrasound and luckily the technician had young children of her own so she was very understanding. Bella sat next to me on the bed for part of the ultrasound, which was adorable! She even tried to grab the ultrasound wand from the technician! The rest of the time she watched the screen with Ian and ran around the office. When asked what was in mommy's tummy, she replied, "baby" and when asked if she wanted a brother or sister, she also replied, "baby." We told her she would be getting a little sister and she repeated the word sister several times. I am so glad we brought Bella with us and included her in the big gender reveal. Hopefully she's as excited about her little sister when she actually arrives.


We called our parents and texted a few people to let them know the gender. Everyone is very excited for us and can't wait to meet the newest Lasher lady. Needless to say we can't wait to meet her either! I have an anatomy ultrasound next week at my OB's office, so we'll get another sneak peak at her. We will probably schedule our second elective ultrasound when I'm about 30-weeks along. Until then, we have a nursery to paint, furniture to assemble and about a million other things to do. Fortunately, my energy level is slowly increasing and I'm trying to make the most of it. Lots of nesting has been done but there is still so much left to do! 


Here are a few pictures from the ultrasound... just thought I'd share!
A pretty good picture of her lady parts and her little body!
Her first smile? 3-D ultrasounds are amazing!
We are still in awe that we will have another little girl to love. Ian will certainly have his hands full with all of these women in his life! But Bella is definitely a daddy's girl, so I think Ian is pretty happy to have another little girl to love and adore him... and father wouldn't want that?!? 


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby Girl Lasher

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Potty Training 101

We purchased a potty for Bella several months ago, as Bella had expressed an interest in using a potty. Personally, I wasn't ready for potty training, but I figured we'd give it a try. After several futile attempts to get Bella to use the potty, we stopped trying and decided that she'd go when she was ready. Well, apparently the time has come and she is now ready to use the potty.

While at Grandma Ruth's she used the potty several times and even asked Grandma Ruth to use the potty on multiple occasions. My OCD child even asks to wash her hands after she is finished using the potty. Unfortunately, Ian and I were not around to witness Bella using her potty, so we took Grandma Ruth's word for it. Sometimes Bella says or does something while at Grandma Ruth's house and we never witness it for ourselves. We usually take Grandma Ruth's stories with a grain of salt, but apparently there is a lot of truth to Bella using the potty. 

At the suggestion of my mom, we decided to keep with the potty training. I went out last night with my friend Lindsay, so Ian attempted to have Bella use the potty. I guess she has a shy bladder around her daddy because she didn't successfully use the potty while with Ian. This morning, I figured I'd give it a try and asked Bella if she needed to use the potty. She got very excited and ran toward the bathroom, while pulling at her diaper. I stripped her down and sat her on the potty. Being 18-weeks pregnant, I needed to use the potty as well and so I provided Bella with some inspiration (too much information, I know). Apparently there was a method to my madness because within seconds we had SUCCESS! She tinkled in the potty and then told me she was "all done." I yelled to Ian that we had success and he came in to help praise her. She was so excited that she had used the potty and seemed to really enjoy all of the praise she was receiving. She even asked to wash her hands afterwards, using her step stool of course. What a big girl!

She's only 19-months-old and we aren't pushing her to use the potty. I think we're going to take this potty training thing slow. It is a work in progress and I'm certain she will get the hang of this over time. She is making great strides and we are so proud of her. My little girl is growing up so fast. It seems like only yesterday we were changing teeny, tiny little diapers and now Bella is using the potty. She never ceases to amaze me... and I don't think she ever will. I love her more than words can say and I am so lucky to be her mom.

That's enough bathroom talk for one day... I'm sure there will be more potty training stories in the near future, so be prepared. Wish us luck as we continue with "Potty Training 101"! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Friday, November 11, 2011

Photogs

Ever since Bella was born, we have spent more money on pictures than we would probably like to admit. Since the time she was born, we've basically had monthly photo sessions at a local studio. We also take pictures of her all the time using our point and shoot camera and our iPhones. Needless to say, we have a ton of pictures of Bella but I always longed for more. 


Several friends of ours own fancy cameras, like the Canon T2i and the Nikon D5000, so we know what's out there and have been doing research for several months. So, after much deliberation, research and asking random strangers about their cameras... we are now the proud owners of a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera and it is awesome! I've taken a few pictures around the house, using the different lenses and the quality is amazing! 


We did sooooo much research and asked sooooo many people about which DSLR camera they used. We spoke with professional photographers, strangers at Busch Gardens and our friends and family. It was a 50/50 toss up between Canon and Nikon. At the price range we were looking at, the Canon and Nikon models were neck and neck. For us, Nikon out performed Canon in shutter speed, battery life and price. An opportunity presented itself at Best Buy and we were able to buy the camera, a 55-300 mm lens and a bag with a 3-year protection plan for less than we originally anticipated. We also purchased several other accessories, like U/V lens covers and a memory card. We're also within 2-weeks of black Friday, so if the camera happens to go lower, then Best Buy will honor the lower price. At the end of the day, we got a great deal and we're very happy with our purchase. This, along with a new TV for our bedroom will be our gifts for each other. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to us!


We are total amateurs, but we are ready and willing to learn. We'd even like to take a basic photography class together and make this a hobby. Yes, Ian is going to participate in this new endeavor with me. We've never really taken up a hobby together, so this is a first for us. Now we just have to get the hang of it before baby #2 arrives... in April. I know there's a lot to learn and a lot of practice involved, but it'll be easy to practice with the world's cutest child living in our house! 


I'm new to this fancy camera business, so it will be a work in progress. So bear with me, as I will be taking pictures and hopefully uploading them to our blog. Over time the quality and quantity should increase... if I have any bit of talent. Hopefully Ian will be behind the lens more often and I'll actually be in front of the lens (which is a rarity). Wish us luck!


After our shopping excursion this morning, we managed to clean out and organize the bedroom that will be home to baby #2. This bedroom has accumulated EVERYTHING that we didn't know what to do with since Bella was born. My goal was to get rid of as much stuff as possible and we really did some damage. We have a TON of stuff to donate, we have a TON of stuff to give to friends/family and very little left to organize. Thank goodness we accomplished this goal because our deadline was quickly approaching. The room and closet are empty and ready to be painted when my dad arrives in less than 2-weeks. But all of our hard work did a number on my back and I am so sore. A hot bath and some sleep are definitely on my agenda tonight! 


And with that being said... it's time to relax and enjoy a quiet evening at home. Happy Friday, Happy Veteran's Day and Happy 11/11/11!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Busch Gardens

Bella and I love going to Busch Gardens during the week because the park is less crowded, thus meaning better parking and short lines. Since Ian is on vacation, we decided to take a family trip to Busch Gardens today. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the park was empty. We could not have asked for a more perfect day!


We took our time walking around the park, visiting the animals. Busch Gardens has a pretty extensive zoo, which is awesome because it's included in the admission. So not only do you get to go on rides, you get to see some pretty cool animals, too. The new cheetah exhibit is quickly becoming one of our favorites and those cheetahs are pretty darn cute. Ian wanted to ride the new roller coaster and it only had a 10-minute wait. Unfortunately, the silly thing kept breaking down, so the 10-minute wait turned into a 45-minute wait and Ian bailed. Maybe next time, Ian!


On tour de animals and on our way to lunch, Bella fell asleep in the stroller. She's been getting up earlier than usual these days, so she's usually zonked by about noon. We let her sleep and she slept for about an hour. She joined us for lunch and chowed down on some french fries (which were EXTRA delicious today). We were entertained by "Dancin' Don" and Bella danced along with him. It was really cute.


After lunch, we headed to Sesame Street and Bella rode most of the rides. She rode Big Bird's ferris wheel,  Elmo's merry-go-round, Snuffy's flying elephants, Rosita's swings and played in the bounce house. She had a blast! With the exception of the swings and the bounce house, Ian went on the rides with her. I thought she'd be terrified on the swings, but she LOVED it! Don't let the pictures fool you, she really did love it. 










We ended the day with our favorite show, "A is for Africa" starring Elmo (a.k.a. Aldo), Zoe, Grover and Bella's new favorite muppet, Cookie Monster! She's seen this show at least 10 times and she loves it every time. Needless to say, I have the songs memorized and the dance moves, too. 




We walked around the park some more and decided to head home for nap time. Despite her little cat nap at Busch Gardens, Bella slept for nearly 3-hours when we got home. All the fun and excitement must have worn her out. We actually had to wake her up because it was getting so close to bed time. Fortunately, she is a great sleeper and went to bed at normal time after her late nap. I love that about her... among all the other things. We had a wonderful day today and seeing the smiles on Bella's little face all day long made the day even better. 


Tomorrow is another busy day for us. We have our family picture shoot scheduled and will be meeting the photographer at a park near Plant City. The park seems to be very scenic with trees, wide-open green grass and even a little water. We did beach pictures last year, so I'm looking forward to some new scenery. The weather looks beautiful and we will have a sunny morning for pictures! Yay!


That's all I've got to say for today... until next time. Good night y'all!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Funday

It's Sunday, but it sure doesn't feel like Sunday. Ian has another week of vacation and so the hustle and bustle of getting ready for another week is delayed yet again. I could get used to this... but I'd better not because before I know it, Ian will be back at work.


We had a pretty laid back day today. We took care of some things around the house, including numerous loads of laundry and tidying up. I wanted all the laundry put away and the house tidy for tomorrow because the housekeeper is coming! Yay! The poor girl had to have her wisdom teeth pulled last month and so we had to postpone a few visits. I am very thankful she is coming tomorrow because my back could use a break from having to clean this week. 


I really need to devise a better method of keeping up with the laundry. And to be quite honest, it's not all of the laundry, it's just my clothes. I can keep up with linens and Bella's laundry just fine. I run a few loads a week and it's manageable. But, I have a TON of clothes! I'm talking an entire walk-in closet and about 8 dresser drawers worth of clothing. And the sad thing is that I've actually gotten rid of a lot of clothing over the past few years, I just have the bad habit of replacing the things I get rid of... oops! But I digress... my point is that I could go weeks without doing laundry and still have enough clothes to wear. I have gotten into the habit of waiting 2-3 weeks before doing my own laundry so by the time I go to wash clothes, I have 4-5 loads of just my clothes. Not to mention the folding/hanging and putting away of the clothes; it's never ending! And you've probably realized that I didn't include Ian's laundry. It's always been this way and it works for us. Don't you wish your husband did his own laundry?!? 


We managed to have some fun today and met our friends at a local bar to watch football. After Bella's nap, we met up with our friends and watched most of the late afternoon games. It was fun, but it was a totally different experience than past years. Bella was very well-behaved, and I love her for that. She's a kid we can take just about anywhere and not have to worry about her behavior. After the games were over, we headed to the mall to pick up a few things at JC Penney. I love the coupons they send! Today, I had a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon and I even had a $15 off a $15 purchase! I paid $1.06 for a pair of pajamas for Bella and $5.25 for two polo shirts! I love a good deal, or two!


Daylight savings wreaked havoc on our house this morning. Bella was up and at 'em bright and early because of the time change. Her schedule was slightly off today but we managed to keep her awake until her normal bed time in the hope that we can get her back on schedule this week. I remember when daylight savings time meant I got more sleep! Gone are the days of sleeping in... oh well! The lack of sleep is totally worth it these days! But it's been a long day and this pregnant mama needs some sleep. Good night!


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2


P.S. GO RAVENS!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Doxapalooza 2011

Today we attended our favorite fundraiser, which is hosted by DARE, Dachshund Adoption and Rescue Education. We found DARE in 2007, when we were looking to adopt a friend for Kaiser. Little did we know that not only did we adopt a dog, but we joined a family. The same folks organize and run this event every year, including Riley's foster mom, Sharon. It's fun to see familiar faces every year and it's comforting to know that they are doing great things for Dachshunds in need of love, care and a good home. 

We adopted Riley through DARE over 4-years ago and our family wouldn't be complete without him. He's an 8-year-old, red, Mini-Dachshund who has a very interesting personality. He acts like such an old man and is very particular about the company he keeps. He prefers me over everyone else and follows me around the house. When we brought Bella home from the hospital, he acted as if I had abandoned him and didn't leave my side for days. He prefers women over men and is very weary of men. He enjoys eating as soon as his paws hit the floor in the morning and at 5pm every evening. And a condition of adopting him was that he needed to sleep in bed with us... or whomever is watching him. He's a quirky little dog, but we love him.

Kaiser on the other hand... is kind of a pain in the butt. We ended up leaving him at home because he barks and pulls on his leash when he's around other dogs. We felt bad about leaving him behind, but we had a really good time with our one, well-behaved dog. I even helped judge the kissing contest, which is always hilarious to watch. I think it was the first year we didn't buy or bid or anything, and walked out of there having spent a mere $4 on a bottle of delicious "Dachshund Root Beer." 

This was the first year we brought Bella with us and she had a blast! She pointed at all the dogs and referred to them as Kaiser or Riley, no matter the size, color or gender. We also took a quick trip to the playground at the park, which she loved! She went down the slide several times (head first) and even took a few trips down the slide with Ian and me. It was a beautiful day and I think we all really enjoyed being outside. We headed home just before noon so that we could eat a quick lunch and put Bella down for her nap. She must have been exhausted because she slept for over 3 hours! 

Well, Bella is down for the night and Ian and I are about to watch a movie. It's been a fun and laid back Saturday... and I just love days like today! Time to relax and veg out on the couch.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dishing with Dee Dee

Dee Dee, or the woman better known as my mom recently had surgery to repair the rotator cuff in her right shoulder. She's had a lot of free time on her hands and so we've been talking on a regular, almost daily basis. We've had some good conversations recently and today was no different.

While talking with my mom this evening, she remarked that I looked like I was glowing. She even ventured to make a guess that baby #2 is a boy. Obviously she didn't have any concrete information as to why she felt this way, but it made she said I looked like I was having a boy. It made me giggle because I have no idea what we're having and I don't have a feeling one way or the other. My mom doesn't have a preference either, she just had a feeling that this baby may be a boy.

My mom and I then discussed a reoccurring statement that irks me to no end, "I bet Ian hopes it's a boy..." Are you kidding me?!? Neither of us have a preference on gender and contrary to popular belief, Ian isn't hard pressed to have a son to carry on our last name. Simply put, he wants a healthy baby, boy or girl. I obviously feel the same way and couldn't care less about whether or not baby #2 is a boy or a girl. A little boy would be great, but so would another little girl.

We then discussed a question my mother-in-law recently posed, "Can I be in the delivery room?" HELL NO! In all honesty, my mother-in-law is the last person on the face of the Earth that I would ever want in the delivery room. The amount of stress this woman inflicts on our daily lives is often too much to handle and I couldn't imagine the amount of stress she would bring to the delivery room. Ian and I are both certain that she does not belong in the delivery room. We thought maybe giving her a specific, yet very important job (i.e. taking care of Bella) would suffice, but she suggested that my mom take care of Bella because she was in the delivery room the last time. As disappointed as she may be, she needs to understand that I am the one giving birth and therefore, I am the one who gets to decide who is in the delivery room. She will not be allowed in the delivery room and she will just have to understand that... end of story. I asked my mom to be in the delivery room when I had Bella; she never asked or assumed she would be there. I wanted Ian and my mom there for comfort and support, which they both provided quite well. Labor and delivery is not some dog and pony show!!!

It's hard to believe that in just 5 short months, we will be back in labor and delivery. I am looking forward to meeting this little one, but I also have some anxiety about giving birth again. My labor and delivery with Bella was relatively easy, with the exception of me hemorrhaging afterward. I didn't have time to be nervous when I had Bella because my labor was so quick and delivery was a breeze. I think I'm anxious because I fear that labor and delivery will be difficult this time. What if there are complications with the baby? What if I have to have a c-section? There are so many "what ifs" and it's strange because this is my second child. I know it seems silly because this isn't my first rodeo, but I can't fight these anxious feelings. This too shall pass...

Well, it's been a long day and I am one tired mama. Good night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Productive little Tuesday

While Bella spent the day with Grandma Ruth, Ian and I ran errands all day. We left the house around 11am and didn't return home until 6pm. It was a long day, but it was a productive day.


We went to Regions Bank and Bank of America to close out several accounts. We've been meaning to do this for quite some time, but we've never both been available to take care of it during normal business hours. We have been members of a credit union and would like to consolidate our checking and savings accounts. We opened a savings account for Bella, using the money we received when we closed our other accounts. That little girl has a pretty nice chunk of change for only being 18-months-old, what a lucky girl!


We stopped and had lunch at the Italian Kitchen, a favorite restaurant of ours. The food is always delicious and the service is always great. I actually prefer their lunch menu over their dinner menu and we devoured the sandwiches we ordered. It's not that I don't like their dinner menu, it's just that you can't find a decent meatball sub or Italian cold cut sub around here. 


Our afternoon consisted of registering for a few items for Bella and baby #2 at Buy Buy Baby. Normally I wouldn't have registered, but Buy Buy Baby offers a 10% completion coupon which can be used on brands not covered by their normal coupons. The double stroller I want is available at Buy Buy Baby and the normal 20% off coupons exclude the Baby Jogger brand. I registered for the stroller and a few other things we need, which turned out to be a lot of fun. There's something about walking around a store with a tagging gun that is such fun. I don't expect nor do I want a baby shower, but family members will ask what we want or need for baby #2 and it will be nice to have a few necessities on a registry for them to buy.


I was planning on getting a pedicure today, so I took Ian with me and we got pedicures. At first, he wasn't too keen on the idea, but once his feet began soaking in the warm water, he was sold! It was fun having Ian there with me and we both left feeling refreshed and relaxed. I'm not sure if Ian will be returning for a pedicure any time soon, but he seemed to enjoy himself today. He said he liked the massage chair and the foot massage he received. Not to mention, his feet look so much better! It's amazing what a little pampering can do to a person's feet! 


We went shopping after our pedicures. We headed to Pearle Vision to buy a new pair of sunglasses for Ian. He bought an awesome pair of Oakleys, using our insurance and paid only $85! He had LASIK done several years ago, so he doesn't need prescription sunglasses. It's pretty great that our insurance will still cover a percentage of the frames. We love Pearle Vision and love the service we receive there. The ophthalmologist, Dr. Pierce is awesome and the optometrists are also awesome. I have a feeling we will be patients/customers for years to come. We then went to the mall so I could buy a few pairs of new flip flops with a Groupon a purchased a few months ago. Papa needed a new pair of sunglasses and mama needed a new pair (or two) of shoes. 


We had an early dinner at a new Japanese restaurant called "Sakura" in Riverview. They offer an unbeatable happy hour special and since we were Bella-less, we decided to give it a try. It was AWESOME! For $25.95, we each had a crab rangoon appetizer, miso soup, ginger salad and teppanyaki steak with fried rice, noodles and vegetables. The food was plentiful and delicious, and the price was great. We will definitely be going back to "Sakura" in the near future. 


Our day was busy, productive and fun. It's very rare that we actually have fun while running errands. Tomorrow Ian is scheduled to get a massage and I plan to sleep in. Being on vacation (while at home) is so relaxing! We will pick up Bella tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to see that little girl! We spoke with her on the phone several times today and she was so cute! But until then, I'm going to make the most of my toddler-free evening and enjoy some mindless television.


Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2