Friday, June 29, 2012

Moving on up!

The 80+ hour weeks have not been in vain... today Ian learned that he will be promoted to Senior Manager at his firm! He is so excited and I am very happy for him. He has worked his tail off to reach this achievement and it is a huge milestone in his career.

Ian received his undergraduate degree at UF in accounting in 1999. He also attended UF for his "5th year" and received his Master's in accountancy in 2000. He made the decision to attend law school at UF and graduated with his J.D. in 2003 and was admitted to the Florida Bar later that year. Rather than entering the legal field, Ian opted to make the most of both of his degrees and accepted a position at one of the "Big 4" accounting firms. He worked his way up to Manager and left this firm in 2009 to accept a position at a local accounting firm. After a year at the local firm, Ian (and I) decided it was time to go back to a "Big 4" firm. In 2010, Ian returned to public accounting and accepted a position at another "Big 4" firm. This is where Ian has been for almost two years and it's where he has really grown. And the REALLY awesome part is that this promotion is one entire year EARLY! He has only been at this firm for 20-months and this type of promotion usually occurs after three years as a manager at the firm!

The girls and I are VERY proud of Ian. This promotion required a lot of sacrifice, hard work and dedication. This promotion required many long days (we're talking 20-hour days, people), out of town trips and weekends of work instead of fun. Both Ian and I knew these things would be required in order for Ian to advance. We planned for it, we argued about it and we cope with it on a daily basis. And if you're thinking "What the heck did Kim do?" and confused about my role, I will gladly tell you. I stay at home and raise our daughters and often do so on my own. When Ian goes in early, works late, works in weekends or travels out of town, I take care of things at home. The days are often long and the nights are often lonely. Such is the life of an accounting widow. It is amazing to see our efforts (especially Ian's) pay off.

So cheers to Ian's promotion and cheers the weekend. What an awesome way to begin a weekend! Congratulations to my smart, driven, caring, loving, understanding and hard working husband on your promotion... you deserve it! We're all so thankful to have you as my husband and Bella & Cecilia's daddy.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's raining, it's pouring

We have been experiencing drought conditions for several months and the lack of rain has certainly been taking it's toll on us. It's been hot and humid, but up until the last few days we've experienced very little rain. Fortunately, Tropical Storm Debby has come along and is saturating us with tons and tons of rain. It has been raining for over 24-hours and that's quite all right with me. We NEED the rain and since we've no place to go... let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

This morning we headed to the Glazer Children's Museum, but totally forgot to check their hours before going. Unfortunately they were not open until 1pm, so we had to forgo our original plan and make alternate plans. We decided to head to Westshore Mall, since we were already in the area. Oh darn, a trip to the mall, what's a poor mother to do? We were just at the mall yesterday, so I didn't really need anything, but it's always fun to window shop. And yes, I ended up buying a new pair of shoes for Bella at Stride Rite and new bows for Bella since she has been doing such an excellent job keeping bows in lately. Of course we grabbed lunch while we were there, but it wasn't anything exciting, just two really big Greek salads for Ian and myself and chicken strips for Bella. Our trip to the mall was completed with some play time in the indoor playground.

Both girls were passed out by the time we got home and we are currently waiting for them to go back to sleep in their cribs. Ian is currently talking with Bella (via the baby monitor) and the two are in negotiations regarding nap time. I sure hope Bella takes a nap, she was exhausted and could really use the rest. Cecilia is down for the count, bless her little heart. Plus, if both girls take a nap, I can catch a few winks myself!

It's a rainy, laid back Sunday and now that we're home, we can sit back, relax and enjoy the soothing rain. Not much time for relaxation these days, but we make the most of what little time we do have to relax.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

P.S. At lunch today, Ian said to me, "Are we having fun yet?" to which I replied, "Oh yes!" He then reassured me that he is having fun raising our girls and spending time together as a family. I agreed and said, "I couldn't imagine our lives any other way..." - just another blissful moment, shared with my amazing husband. =)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Decisions, decisions...

Over the past week or so, I've been observing and interacting with Bella in order to obtain a better understand of how to foster that every busy little mind of hers. Each day we had really good moments, okay moments and really bad moments, in terms of behavior. We tried some new things and we relied on some old things. We made it through the week, but we reached a major decision: Bella will be attending school this summer.

Through my observations, I learned that Bella often acts out when she is bored. She is very smart and wants to be stimulated constantly. While she plays very well by herself throughout the day, the times when she needs the extra attention from me, she DEMANDS it. From what I've read, it's completely normal for a 2-year-old, especially a 2-year-old with a new baby sister. And taking the two of them out together by myself is such a chore, especially if one (or both) of my children do not want to ride in the stroller. So going to our usual places like the zoo, aquarium or children's museum during the week seems like such a big production. Plus, I don't feel like I'm able to interact with her the way I used to, when it was just the two of us.

We toured several schools this week and decided on one, however she will only be attending this school during the summer. She is registered to go to a different preschool in the fall and we (along with many of our friends and neighbors) absolutely love the preschool. We plan to use this school as a summer school, if it is needed. The school Bella will be attending this summer is great! The curriculum is good (so it's more than a daycare), the school itself is immaculate and very well kept and the staff seem to be very good, too. I think this school will be a perfect fit for Bella this summer. She even has a little friend, whom she's known since before both girls could crawl. Her friend Gia already attends this school so she will know at least one person in her class. And Gia's mom, Carina, has been a huge help to me and I've asked her a ton of questions regarding this important decision.

Now to the mother's guilt... I feel a great amount of guilt because all I've ever wanted to do is be a mother and stay home to raise my children and here I am shipping Bella off to school at the tender young age of 2! I know this decision is best for our family, but I can't help but feel guilty. The financial aspect bothers me, too. If we're going to be spending all this money on Bella's school, should I not return to work? Obviously now is not the time, as I have a newborn, but the thought did cross my mind. Simply because we can afford it, doesn't mean it's absolutely necessary. Sigh. I suppose I should be used to this mother's guilt thing by now, but I'm not. Everyone else seems so excited about Bella starting school next week, but I have mixed emotions about it. I'm confident in the school's ability to challenge Bella, Bella's ability to absorb everything she is being taught, but I'm sad that my little girl will be starting school. This is a great opportunity for her and it is a huge adjustment for our family.

But, the more I think about it, the more excited I become, as I think about Bella bringing home art work from school or sharing with me something she learned in school that day. Luckily her 5-day school week will only be temporary and she will only have 3-day school weeks in the fall, so we have that to look forward to as well. Last, but not least... what will Bella wear on her first day of school?!?

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weight Watchers

Yesterday I made the decision to join Weight Watchers. While I am 10-pounds less than before I got pregnant with Cecilia, I'd still like to lose a few pounds. I joined the online program so I can keep track of what I'm eating every day. I set a goal of 10-pounds... but in all honesty, I'd be happy dropping 15-pounds or even 20-pounds.

For the first 22 years of my life, I never had an issue with my weight. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, never worked out and never gained a pound. It was awesome. After I graduated college my awesome metabolism began to slow down. I gained a few pounds over the years and before I knew it, I was several pounds heavier than when I graduated college. Was I super skinny, back in the day? Sure. Am I super heavy now? Not at all. We all have a weight that we are most comfortable at and I'd really like to get back to that weight.

But alas... I grew older and my metabolism changed. I gained a few pounds each year and before I knew it, I was the "heaviest" that I had ever been. Luckily for me, my heaviest was a whopping 185-pounds when I was pregnant with Bella. I dropped 40-pounds of that weight within 2-weeks of delivering Bella, as much of that was water weight. I've averaged around 140-pounds over the past few years (after/before pregnancies).

I stepped on the scale the other day and weighed myself... I weighed 140-pounds. I then set a realistic goal of shedding at least 10-pounds, but am aiming for 15-pounds. I didn't give myself a deadline or unrealistic expectations. I joined Weight Watchers online and plan to eat healthier. I also plan to hit the gym several times a week to help tone things up, too. No crazy diets or insane workout regiments, just a healthier lifestyle and hopefully dropping a few pounds along the way.

So here's to my first week on Weight Watchers! Woot woot!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

We celebrated Father's Day the same way we celebrated Mother's Day, a laid back day with family. It was the perfect way to celebrate Ian (as a dad) and just how much he does for our family.

The girls and I made Ian a collage to hang in his office. I used a recent picture of just the girl and a poem I found on the Internet. With a little matting, I made a handsome framed gift for Ian to hang in his office. He loves showing off the girls, so this gift is perfect for him. We gave him a few cards and Bella actually wished him a happy father's day on several occasions. She said, "Happy Father's Day, daddy" to him at random moments throughout the day. It was really cute.

Grandma Ruth took Ian out for a kid-free breakfast and a little shopping. And Ian, being the good father that he is, came home with gifts for the girls, rather than himself. Dee-Dee GaGa and I took him to one of his favorite restaurants for a kid-free lunch at Boizao Brazilian Steakhouse. The afternoon included lots of swimming in the pool and naps. It was a such a laid back and relaxing day... the perfect way to celebrate the man who ensures our every need (and wants) are met.

Ian is a devoted father. Other than his career and maybe Gator sports, I've never seen him so dedicated to something. He often gets up with the kids, he feeds the kids, he plays with the kids and a myriad of other duties. I have a lot of friends who say their husbands don't help out with the kids and I sit back and giggle to myself because Ian helps out with the kids each and every day. Ian is the love of Bella's life... she is so attached to him, and wants to be around him all the time. Ian gladly obliges and spends what few hours he actually has at home every day with Bella. They play together, they rough house and they cuddle together. It's amazing what a strong bond those two have. I know Cecilia is just as in love with her daddy as her big sister is.

We love him more than he will ever know and we remind him of that every day, not just today.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Glazer Children's Museum

We headed to one of our favorite places this weekend: the Glazer Children's Museum. We got an early start to make the most of our morning out and we had a blast. Bella loves that place and I'm so glad we decided to become members. It will be the perfect place to go this summer when it's 90+ degrees outside or there's some big thunderstorm. Summers in Florida can be brutal and so I'm planning on spending as much time indoors as possible. Nothing is better than air conditioning when you have two kids in tow.

Bella LOVES the giant water table and always ends up soaking wet. It's totally worth it, to hear those giggles and shrieks from her. She also LOVES the pretend vet clinic, so much in fact, that she cried when it was time to leave. Maybe it's because they have a pretend "Kaisey-Boy" dog that she carried around? It's adorable. She also loves the "dance party" zone as I call it and danced alongside us to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Rick James' "Super-freak." Gotta love it!

Cecilia is way too young to get enjoyment out of the museum, but she enjoyed walking around all morning. It's funny to think that this time next year, I'll be chasing two little girls around. I'll definitely be taking advantage of weekend trips, so that I can enlist the help of Ian. Two parents and two kids is a much better ratio than one parent and two kids. Oy vey! What am I going to do when I have two kids running in opposite directions?!?

I absolutely love the weekend and I love spending time with my family. My only wish is that we had more time to spend together. I love spending as much time as I do with just my girls, but I do cherish the time we spend together, as a family of four.

I wonder what this does?!?
Fog horn, wow! 
Sweet CeCe Rose
Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lots of tears

Today we had a lot of tears. Both Bella and I struggled to cope with various situations, including being pushed by a friend (several times), having toys snatched away and not listening. As a result, there were a lot of tears shed by Bella. It broke my heart and I was on the verge of tears myself, but I knew I had to be loving, strong and consistent for Bella's sake.

While at a play date with some friends, a little friend of ours continues to struggle with inappropriate aggression. When Bella had a toy this little friend wanted, she would try to grab the toy out of Bella's hands and if that didn't work, she hit and pushed Bella. All I could do was comfort my very upset child and wipe her tears away. It happened several times... but we dealt with it. I think the tears were more from hurt feelings than physical pain, but the emotional pain seems so much worse!

Bella struggled this afternoon and evening to listen to us. While Ian was trying to put a movie on for her, Bella grabbed the DVD from him and refused to give it back. After a trip to time out, I thought she had recovered, but damn, I was wrong. She began throwing toys and destroying her play castle for no apparent reason! I ended up disassembling the castle and taking other toys away from her. We ended up giving her a bath and putting her to bed around 7:30PM because her behavior was so poor. She seemed okay with her bed time routine and willingly went to bed. I'm fairly certain she fell asleep before 8:00PM. Apparently she needed the sleep.

This parenting business is difficult stuff! Every day presents new and challenging dilemmas, but we are working through this somewhat difficult stage of toddler-hood. Bella needs boundaries and limits and it's my jobs as her mother to provide her with safe and healthy boundaries. Like I've always said, we're a work in progress. We are by no means perfect but we can both learn from our mistakes and strive to do better tomorrow.

Hopefully there are less tears tomorrow...

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Feeling "bleh"

This weekend was a huge flop. We had several things planned, but we ended up having to cancel all of our plans because Ian and I came down with a stomach bug. Bleh! We laid low and tried to relax as much as possible. The only positive thing about this awful stomach bug was that we each lost about 5-pounds because of all of the gastrointestinal antics! Talk about quick weight loss results.

Bella spent the weekend at Grandma Ruth's house. This was a huge blessing because we really needed to catch up on sleep and relax a little. We ordered pizza (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and watched TV on Friday night, like a couple of bums. We went to bed early (as usual) to maximize our sleep. It was Ian's turn to get up with CeCe at 3:30am, which means he was able to sleep in the following morning. We ran a few errands and took care of a few chores around the house, which included about 12 loads of laundry. 3 loads for Ian, 3 loads for the girls, 3 loads for me and 3 loads of linens. Our washer and dryer received quite the work out! I was out of commission for several days because of the stomach bug and so housework went by the wayside. Oh well, thank goodness for weekends!

So while pizza seemed like a good idea at the time, it didn't quite agree with my stomach. It took until about Sunday afternoon for me to feel 100% better. I took advantage of being sick and took lots of naps. Thursday through Sunday, I napped each day for about 2-hours. My body must have needed the rest because I had absolutely no trouble falling asleep at night. Ugh, being sick is such a drag! Thankfully the girls seem to be unaffected by our stomach bug and hopefully they will be spared from it's wrath.

The overall feeling of this weekend was "bleh." We did a whole lot of nothing and enjoyed every minute of it... when we weren't in the bathroom of course. My house is slowly being put back together and I think I'll be caught up on housework by Wednesday (when the babysitter is here). It's crazy how missing a few days of household chores can turn your house upside down! And y'all know just how much I can't stand a cluttered, unclean house! This week will be a busy week for sure, but we also have a lot of fun things planned. I'm hosting a mom's night in, we have a play date to attend and my mom arrives Thursday. As usual... so little time, so much to do!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cecilia is 2-months-old TODAY!!!

Oh my goodness! Where has the time gone?!? It seems like only yesterday that we were anticipating this little girl's arrival and here we are commentating her 2-month "birthday." Cecilia has been a "dream baby." She is happy... all of the time! Even when she is upset because she's hungry, wet or tired, she is easily soothed. We go for her well check on Monday, but here are some unofficial stats:

Height: about 24 inches (it's so difficult to measure a squirmy baby) / official height 23 inches

Weight: about 11 pounds (gotta love the home scale) / official weight 12 pounds 11 ounces

Sleeping Pattern: CeCe sleeps from about 9pm-3am, wakes up for a feeding and goes back down until 7am.

Eating Pattern: CeCe is nursing or eating expressed breast milk about every 2.5-3 hours.

Milestones: Oh my goodness! CeCe is SMILING like there's no tomorrow. She greets us each morning with the biggest smile and it absolutely melts our hearts. She is also cooing and "talking" up a storm. She has rolled over front to back on several occasions, but I still think it was a fluke. She has discovered her hands and feet and loves to move them all around.

Friends: CeCe's crew of little friends include Zach, Tanner, Tessa and most recently Brynn. These little friends are the younger siblings of Bella's friends. It's so cool that the girls have so a close knit group of friends. 

Current Events: It's been raining cats and dogs in Florida! John Edwards' trial resulted in a mistrial. A small plane crashed in Polk County, killing all six people on board including 4 children. 

Happy 2-Month Birthday, Cecilia Rose!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Leaving a legacy

After attending a retirement party for a dear friend and former colleague today, I began to think, "What kind of legacy will I leave on this world?"

Carol, who I worked with at my last job with the Department of Education, retired after spending many, many years working with individuals with various physical and mental disabilities. The thing that struck me as interesting was the brief hiatus from her career to raise her two sons. She stayed at home to raise we children for only six years and returned to her career once they were both in school.

Maintaining an identity in the professional world is something I struggle with. Will people know me if and when I return to work? Will my skills be outdated? Who would want to hire me? My biggest fear is that no one will want to hire a 30-something woman who has been a stay-at-home-mom for many years. I suppose it's a blessing that I'm relatively young because I have many good years ahead of me, both personally and professionally. I worked hard and dedicated many years to my education and my career. Having a professional identity is something I value, however I felt it was more important to stay at home to raise my family. It was a trade off, a trade off I don't regret, but I sometimes question.

When I was working, I always gave 110%. I gave 110% to the clients I served, to my supervisors and to my colleagues. I truly enjoyed working with clients from the various walks of life. I enjoyed the challenge and I enjoyed the fruits of my labor. If I closed out a case as successful, I felt proud of myself AND my client. It was a really great position to be in. Now don't get me wrong, I had my bad days at work and had to work with very difficult clients, but the good always seemed to outweigh the bad. My "job" today is not that different than the job I left. Every day I relish my family's accomplishments as much as possible and am a proud wife and mama. Every day I am faced with difficult and challenging situations. Again, the good always seem to outweigh the bad.

I may not be in the "working world" however the legacy I will leave on this world will be seen in my beautiful, loving, thoughtful, kind, compassionate and brilliant children... hopefully. That's more than enough for me. And hey, if I do decide to return to the "working world" then hopefully my legacy will continue in other ways.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Monday, June 4, 2012

No tomatoes

We thought we were in the clear, but as it turns out, we are not. Bella is still allergic to tomatoes and the allergist recommended we continue to avoid all things tomato. Bummer. We ruled out a citrus allergy, but Bella does have an intolerance to citrus. Double bummer. The EpiPen will continue to go everywhere Bella does. Triple Bummer.

We went for Bella's semi-annual appointment with the allergist and we all had high hopes that December's severe allergic reaction was just a fluke. The doctor even retested today and her reaction was minimal. However, by the time we arrived home (about 45 minutes after the test) she had broken out in hives. It wasn't severe and she wasn't having difficulty breathing but I called the allergist to be safe. The nurse spoke with the doctor who told me to give her Benadryl for the remainder of the day. I was hoping to do something fun with the girls, but I'd prefer to take it easy with a very drowsy Bella. I'd hate to expose her to heat and humidity with a trip to the zoo or park when she may not be feeling 100%.

All things considered, things could be a hell of a lot worse. We could be sitting the ER with a very sick Bella, but rather we're sitting in the comfort of our home. Bella is playing quietly by herself in the family room and CeCe is napping in her bouncer. It's been a rough few days for Bella... I need to play catch up from the weekend, but yesterday included a face-plant in the parking lot at the aquarium and skinned knees from a walk gone wrong. My poor Bella!

Let's hope the rest of the week goes according to plan... or at least somewhat according to plan. Happy Monday y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia

Friday, June 1, 2012

One day at a time

The other day, I had my first "I can't do this" breakdown... crying included. By the end of the day on Thursday, I was really beginning to question whoever in the hell entrusted me with to care for my two children. I mean, am I really physically and mentally capable of this? Some days I think not....

A fellow blogger posted the other day about how many bloggers, especially mommy bloggers, only post the good stuff. You know the stuff I'm talking about... "My baby poops 24-karat gold nuggets"... "My toddler can recite the entire alphabet... in English, Spanish, French and Mandarin" and blah blah blah! They often fail to mention that they had a crappy day and that all they accomplished for that day was keeping their entire family alive... barely. They fail to mention that they had a fussy baby who wouldn't nap or an "assertive" toddler who did the complete opposite of everything requested that day. Wow, it must be so nice to live in a perfect world... with perfect children... a perfect husband... and be so damn perfect! Would I prefer nothing but rainbows and butterflies all day, every day? Sure. But that's not how life is. Some days, it's just pure survival. The kids and husband are fed, but I haven't eaten all day. The kids and husband are bathed and in clean clothes, but I'm still in my pajamas. It's par for the course... it's motherhood.

Thursday was one of those days when nothing went according to plan. I won't get into the semantics of the entire morning, but just know it felt awful. It included lack of sleep, an assertive toddler and a run in with a contractor who showed up to do some work unannounced. By 10am, I was on the phone with my mother, who was at work, sobbing. I don't think she understood the first 2-minutes of our conversation because I was crying so hard, but that's okay. After discussing what was bothering me, I felt remarkably better and I felt completely ungrateful. The truth is, I was calling my mother while driving to a monthly massage appointment. Yes, I am an utter and total brat. I should be overjoyed that my mother-in-law was generous enough to offer to watch the girls while I had some rest and relaxation. My mother, being ever so kind, reassured me that a massage was exactly what I needed and that I needed to let go. Nothing that had occurred that morning was as awful as I had originally thought and the world would continue to turn. This just goes to show that my stress is self-induced, as it's my reaction to other people's actions. Nonetheless, every mother is entitled to a breakdown every now and then... right? Absolutely!

So after my mommy meltdown, I enjoyed my hour-long massage and returned home to my two loving (and often assertive) girls. My mother-in-law asked what she could do to help before she left and I said "wash the dishes." And without hesitation, my mother-in-law washed a sink full of dishes while I enjoyed playing the girls in the family room. I was able to return to my girls and be "mommy" again, not "Crazy Kim."

I'm also proud to report that Cecilia poops about once a week and that Bella can recite the alphabet in English. I'm no longer waiting for 24-karat gold nuggets in CeCe's diapers or wishing for Bella to be multi-lingual.  No rainbows and butterflies here, folks... just a stay-at-home-mom and her two girls, taking life one day at a time. This is me, this is us.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Cecilia