Thursday, September 24, 2009

our amazing adventure, part 1 {three years ago}

it's fun to think back to where we were...1, 2,3, 5 years ago...that is something that i love about having this blog - it helps me to remember not only the big moments, but the very small, and oh so meaningful moments as well. i wish someone/i had blogged my life starting long ago, because i can't tell you how many times my sisters, mom or a friend will say, "remember when...", and i have NO recollection of that memory! if it was in my blog, i could go back and read the words and see the pictures!

three years ago was a big adventure for that i could never forget, but thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane. it actually started much earlier than three years ago - because the planning and decision making that went in to it was quite extensive. i remember aa and i were in our 29th year and thinking about our lives and what was next. we had started to think about when we might want to have kids and also how we might want to celebrate our 30th birthdays. on the kid front, we both knew we wanted them, although weren't sure when we would quite be ready (are you ever really ready??). at that time, we had been doing some pretty cool travels each year...starting with traveling to japan to visit family and friends in 2003, honeymooning in belize in 2004, exploring peru and hiking machu picchu with family in 2005. we wanted to celebrate our 30th birthdays in a big way and debated between throwing a big bash for both of us (birthdays just 2.5 weeks apart!) with all of our friends/family or taking a big trip. in the end we decided to be selfish and take a trip - but not just any trip - we wanted to go somewhere really amazing, somewhere that we might not be able to do for a long time if we had kids. i don't think it took us very long to decide (this is where it would be nice to have that blog of my life!) and we quickly zeroed in on africa. after meeting with a travel agent specializing in africa, she let us know that if we might only make it to africa one time in our life that we should most definitely go to south africa and botswana, as there were stricter regulations about how many people could be on a game reserve at a time and it would for sure be the best location for the time of year we wanted to go. we looked at several different packages and itineraries and ultimately created a three week itinerary which would have us leaving pdx on sept. 24 and return to pdx on oct. 13 - just in time for me to run the nike women's marathon in san francisco ON my actual 30th birthday!

so indulge in a little walk down memory lane of what was truly a trip of a lifetime for aa and me:

our first stop was at Honeyguide Camp on the Manyeleti Game Reserve in South Africa. we flew directly into Johannesburg from Washington DC and took a small jumper plane to what felt like the middle of nowhere (and really it was!). our guide picked us up in a jeep and drove us to our tent where we crashed out from the long, nearly 2 days of travel. oh and did i mention that my bag did not arrive with us from dc, so i came to camp with only the clothes on my back!! we were up early for breakfast and our first game drive, which was so exciting. amazingly enough, the first animal that we saw was a a rhino - it was our first and only of the entire trip! we stayed three night here and of course, my bag arrived the morning of the day we were leaving.

the rhino, the rhino and me (proof that pic wasn't taken at the zoo!!)

our "tent" - consisted of a real bed, couch, table, lamp and attached, but open air full bathroom!

1st giraffe sighting, aa & the giraffe

a herd of elephants right outside our tent, see the giraffe in the background?

each day we awoke to the sound of beating drums - bright and early to head out for an early morning game drive (which lasted about 3 hours), breakfast and relaxation time, followed by lunch and then an afternoon/early evening game drive (again about 3+ hours) which always included a sundowner. what might you ask is a sundowner? it's where we would stop at a beautiful location, just as the sun was starting to go down and enjoy a full bar and snacks. these sundowners beat any happy hour i've ever been to! we'd then head back to camp to clean up and enjoy a wonderful dinner.

the "bar", enjoying a a sundowner

aa sitting in the tracker seat, our guide, tracker and another couple out on a drive
our next stop was to Zambia, where we would begin our 8 night safari through the country of Botswana. because the flights were limited, we had to overnight in johannesburg. it turned into a bit of an adventure, with our bag containing aa's passport, all of our cash and plane tickets being "lost" or stolen (we believe by the police) in the airport...only to be found by the police. everything was in the bag, except the passport. after about 20 minutes of searching the bag and arguing with the police that we are certain the passport was in the bag, another policeman walked in holding aa's passport and said he "found" it. they tried to get us to buy them a drink, but we somehow escaped the office without having to give them any money and took off for our airport hotel. it wasn't until the next morning did we realize that aa's nike fleece and uo hat were missing! somewhere in south africa, someone is enjoying that fleece and hat! it was quite a scare, but we are so fortunate to have recovered the key items needed to continue on our with our trip!
we had one night on our own prior to joining our safari and we stayed at the zambezi sun hotel, which was conveniently located right next to victoria falls. sadly, we were there during the low season, but it was still quite amazing to see. our pictures don't do it justice.
the next day was one of the highlights of our trip - rafting the zambezi river! while low season was a bummer for the actual creates the best white water rafting experience, because the rapids are more accessible. we don't have any pictures, for obvious reasons...but it was one of the most thrilling, adrenaline-pumping things i've ever done. it consists of mostly class 4 and 5 rapids and they aren't messing around! we only had time to do the half day trip, but after going through "midnight diner" #8 and experiencing our boat not only flip, but getting caught in the hole of "star trek" i was ready to be done! yes, our whole boat ended up going through a class 5 rapid - OUTSIDE of the boat. aa and i both seriously saw our lives flash in front of our eyes. i only remember that each time i'd come up, i'd take the biggest breath of air i could before being thrown about again. each member of our boat ended up getting picked up by other boats and we finally made it to the side of the river to walk around rapid #9 - commercial suicide, which is a class 6 and therefore illegal to ride down. there was one more rapid before lunch and then we were on our way back to the hotel to meet up with our traveling mates for the next 8 nights!

...and with that...i'll conclude this long post and finish up another time!
but i'll leave you with a sneak peek from our next day...

elephant butts!

elephant cruise along the chobe river

Saturday, September 12, 2009


when i first embarked on this journey of parenting, i had done a lot of reading and research about lots of different topics (feeding, sleep, tv, - from a variety of sources (, blogs, parenting magazines, books, talking to other moms, etc.) the more you read, the more conflicting opinions you get. it can all be mind boggling and ultimately, i've figured out that you just have to take it all in and pick and choose what feels right for you as the parent of YOUR child!

one of the topics that you hear about all the time is tv - how much is the right amount, when is your child old enough, what programs are appropriate, etc.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development. "

early on this resonated strongly with me and i was adamant about not having the tv on while kellen was in the room - even at a very young and unaware age! in fact, during my five months of maternity leave i don't think i ever turned on the tv once - even while he was napping in my arms or nursing, which was A LOT. over time, this has eased up a bit - it's hard to convince aa that a sporting event can't be on the tv when kellen is playing in the room and here is where my confession begins.

in the last few months, probably around the time the boy turned 18 months and getting ready for work and school in the morning had become more and more challenging...i started turning on the tv to buy me a few minutes! the first show i turned on for him was little einsteins - i liked the music, the art and the interaction the show has with the children - seemed fairly age approrpriate and didn't creep me out like many of the shows that are out there do! at first he had zero interest...would catch his attention for a minute tops, but because he'd never really had meaningful exposure (is that even possible!) to tv he could care less! after a few times - and i don't do it every morning - he would stay in his little chair watching the show for longer and longer time increments - we're talking 1 minute to 5 minutes...but hey, any amount of time for me to get ready in the am is appreciated! we are now to the point where he will sometimes watch the entire 25 minute show and i admit that it makes me smile to see him interacting along with the characters on the show - like when he pat, pat, pats his lap to help rocket take off - SO CUTE!

now i fear he might like his "shows" a little too much. he will pull out his little chair and ask for a show fairly often and sometimes gets upset if we don't let him watch a show. i can see how it's really easy to get carried away with tv time, so we still are very limited in our show watching. he probably gets to watch a show about 3-4 times a week and doesn't always finish the show. there are two things he will rotate with - little einsteins and a dvd called that baby, which is kid and parent friendly cover music with different visuals that kellen really enjoys (and also happens to feature his seattle cousins in a couple of the videos!). we've tried sesame street, although it's just not capturing his attention...but he does like to watch short elmo videos online! he's also seen handy manny and the mickey mouse club, but again - not super interested.

i'm guessing that once rolo gets here, it will be easy to rely on the tv a little bit more and if that is what happens, i'm going to cut myself some slack...although i'll still ensure that we are selecting good shows and not get too carried away with it. i also want to make sure that we don't use tv as a reward for good behaviour - that is not the way i would like to reinforce the tv in our house. but like all things, my views/opinions could change over time - and i'm sure the professional opinions and recommendations will continue to change, which is why you just have to continue to trust your parental instinct!

so, i'm curious...what are your thoughts on tv for your little ones? if you choose to watch some tv, do you have any favorite shows or recommendations for programs we should check out? how about online sites for the toddler age child?

also - just to opinions are my opinions and not intended to judge in any way. that is why we all get to make our own decisions about what is best for our own children!!! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

moving on up!

it's hard to believe, but my boy has been going to "school" for 1 year now and he's officially moving up to the toddler wing starting next tuesday. while having someone else spend the majority of my boy's weekly waking hours with him is still hard for me to swallow, i'm so thankful that we have this wonderful child development center at work for him to attend. he's made some great friends, created bonds, learned and developed and has had some incredible experiences throughout the year. even better, is that his 8 friends and 4 teachers that he's bonded with over the last year are all moving with the only change is a new classroom that offers many new and exciting experiences throughout the coming school year. there will be adjustments - the napping hours are a bit more strict and there is no longer a separate quiet, dark room to lay out the cots in for naptime. nope...all the children will be napping at the same time, in the main room. not sure how that will go over, but i trust the teachers will work their magic and make it happen. there is also a potty room which contains two very miniature toilets. i don't think they push the potty training on the kids, but at some point i do believe they will start introducing them to the kids - which i'm hoping will help us along with potty training once we decide to go down that path.

a few weeks ago we were given a cd of pictures that were taken of k throughout the school year. amazing to look back at these photos and realize how much he's grown and changed throughout the year. here's a month by month recap:

SEPTEMBER: 1st day of school, basking in the sun, experiencing his first art project, fun in the tunnel

OCTOBER: bubbles w/ friends max and luke, playing at the bo w/ sophia, playing in the cozy cave, another art project

NOVEMBER: pushing sophia in the hallway, naptime on the cot

DECEMBER: day before his 1st birthday (bad haircut, mom and least bad hair day!)

JANUARY: learning to drink from a cup, more fun artwork

FEBRUARY: playing w/ noodles, loving life!

MARCH: loving art again, playing with magnets, puzzles w/ friends max and sophia, mastering the spoon

APRIL: playing in the sand somewhere on campus, creating his masterpiece for the annual art show, modeling next to his masterpiece, fun at the sensory table

MAY: playing outside w/ teddy, w/ his friends at the sensory table, in the rocking chair w/ sophia and harlow, yes...more art, this time w/ animals!

JUNE: family walk around campus, enjoying a popcicle w/ friends, on a walk around the berm, playing outside in the house

JULY: enjoying a stroll w/ sophia, experimenting w/ new mediums in his art, learning to use a squirt bottle to combat the summer heat, outside in the play area - check out those long lashes!

couple things to note: love to see the progression of hair and haircuts (click on any of the pictures to view the enlarged size) and notice the lack of pictures during the winter months. the months of november - february were BRUTAL for sickness and kellen spent the majority of those months excluded for a variety of illness. so glad to be past that and hoping that those immunities were built up so we won't have to deal with that again this winter!