Friday, July 31, 2009

Float Test

It has been a summer of swimming for the Courtrights. We've really been enjoying our pool with all this heat and humidity. Thanks to Jeff for keeping it nice and clean for us all the time!

Earlier this summer, Collin took his certification for lifeguarding and also became a private swim instructor. He is doing great with lessons, and he even taught our neighbor's 4-year-old. After 1 lesson, Christopher is comfortable swimming without his life jacket. Great job, Collin! We considered having him work with Connor but usually lessons are more effective from instructors outside of the family. Now that Connor is finished with his next round of lessons with the Houston Swim Club, we'll probably ask Collin to start working with him on his swim technique.

Side note: Collin will also be getting his driver's license soon and so we are now officially looking for his 1st car. Exciting (and scary)!

Today Connor finished with his 2nd round of swim lessons at the Houston Swim Club. He and Benjamin took the lessons together again this time and worked hard during the 2-week session to prepare for their Float Test. This is wear they put the kids in their clothes and shoes, throw them in the pool, and make sure they can turn on their back and float until they reach the side of the pool. It is a huge safety measure for us since we are surrounded by water with the pool and lake at our house. They have to pass the test 3 days in a row before they get their certificate. Compared to Benjamin, Connor took a little more practicing before he finally was able to turn over on his back without assistance. But this week he passed his Float Test with flying colors, even wearing heavy jeans today. It's amazing to see these little ones swim and float so well. The peace of mind for parents is priceless. We plan to continue reinforcing these skills in our own pool to make sure Connor doesn't lose the progress he's made this summer. In fact, Connor recently started swimming on his own (mostly doggie-paddling) in our pool so we are feeling much more comfortable with his skills these days.

Posted below are pics and videos to show Connor's skills. Enjoy! (For some reason I can't get the videos to show up in better resolution on this site. To see the videos in much better quality, check them out on our YouTube site.)

Here's Connor floating in one of his practice Float Tests.

Here's Ms. Audrey about to drop him in for his 3rd and final Float Test.

Floating away...Connor enjoyed having us watch him at the final lesson.

All 3 boys at the lesson.

Here is Connor's 3rd and final float test. Way to go!
(YouTube link is HERE.)

Here is Connor showing off his skills in our pool.
(YouTube link is HERE.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2 Kids Versus 1

Before Kaitlynn arrived, Jeff tried to tell me more than once how tough it would be to have 2 kids versus the 1 we already had. I, of course, being my stubborn self quickly argued this point and assured Jeff it wouldn't be that much more work because Connor was already pretty self-sufficient. Now that we are more than 6 weeks into having the 2nd kiddo, I'm ready to admit defeat, eat crow, swallow my own words. It is definitely harder having 2 kids versus 1. Jeff was right. There. Happy??

How and why is it so much harder? Well, let me try my best to illustrate.

Sleep: After a long night of being up with Kaitlynn, I can't just sleep in and catch up. I have a 3-year-old who is up at the first sign of daylight no matter how late he goes to bed. Many mornings I've had to give Kaitlynn a feeding at 5 or 6 am and just when my head hits the pillow to return to sleep, I hear a voice from the door calling out... "Mommy?" So then I drag myself out of bed thinking that surely I can get some sleep when Connor takes his afternoon nap. Wrong. After finally getting Connor down for his nap around 1 pm, guess who decides she is wide awake and wanting to interact? I spend some time with Kaitlynn and then give her a bottle in the hopes of stuffing her little tummy. Around 2 or 3 pm, she finally seems like she'll go down for a little snooze. So I swaddle her up, lay her down, and crawl into bed with visions of some much-needed Zs. A few minutes later, I'm well on my way to sleep when suddenly I hear a cry. Oops, Kaitlynn needs a new diaper. OK, I can take care of that. Now she seems wide awake again. I put her in bed with me and try to appease her with her pacifier. After 10-15 minutes of that, she is worked up and mad because she wants the real thing, not a passy. OK, fine. I'm up now. I give her another quick bottle, and this time I'm positive she's OUT! Phew! I lay her down, head to bed, and then... "Mommy?" Yep, Connor's awake now. Which means, so am I.

Errands: I am constantly trying to plan my days around the errands I have to accomplish with 2 kids in tow. I used to be able to get everything done with Connor in a single morning. Traveling with 2 is much harder. First I have to convince Connor of the need to run these particular errands (gas, groceries, Target, whatever). He feels the need for an explanation apparently. Then I have to make sure Kaitlynn is fed and burped before strapping her in the carseat. Usually I also have to give her the pacifier because she isn't too fond of car trips yet. So I pop Kaitlynn's carseat into the base, get Connor all strapped in, and we're off. Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds. It usually takes us at least 15-20 minutes to get out the door with everything we need (purse, diapers, wipes, bottles, burp cloth, etc.) and everytime we make a stop it's another 15-20 minutes to get in and out of the car with both kids all set. And heaven forbid we try to make too many stops or we spend too much time in the car, because Kaitlynn gets mad and will scream at the top of her lungs! I can sometimes reach back to her carseat to give her the pacifier but most of the time she just wants out of there. I've now learned that our threshold for outings is 1-2 stops or a maximum of 3-4 hours before we need to get home. And usually we all need a nap to recover.

Meals: Whether eating at home or eating out, it's a challenge. Having an extremely picky 3-year-old is hard enough. The only thing Connor wants to eat right now is corn dogs or chicken fingers. This kid won't even eat french fries or macaroni and cheese! Is that normal? I think not. Anyway, our first hurdle is finding something he will eat. I try to force him to eat what the rest of us are eating, but usually that ends in a battle of the wills (which in turn ends in time-out and a 2-hour marathon of whining until he finishes the tiny portions on his plate). Add to this a screaming, hungry baby and it's pure chaos. One of us always has to shovel our food to finish quickly so that we can feed Kaitlynn while the rest of us eat. If I try to cook a meal, I have to figure out how to manage with just 1 hand because the other hand is holding the baby. And this always makes me nervous if I'm using the stove or oven because I don't want to risk burning her. So it's a juggling act of putting her down, scrambling to finish a task before she starts wailing to be held, and picking her up again, all while answering Connor's incessant questions and heeding his "Mommy, watch this" episodes. It's a miracle if I can make a PB&J sandwich under these circumstances. If we try to eat out, we have the added complications of loading everyone up in the car and finding a place where everyone will be happy. And the attention span of a toddler and newborn is about 10-15 minutes before the meltdowns commence, which leads to more chaos and shoveling of food. Sound fun?

And let's not forget, half the time we actually have 4 kids under our roof. Mostly the teenagers are really helpful to keep Connor or Kaitlynn occupied. But many times it's like a tornado blows through everytime Collin and Kevin come over. I find socks, crumbs, and water bottles in all crevices of the house. And when the whole family is congregated in the living room, it's a constant barrage of "Dad, look at this" and "Dad, come here" and "Dad! Dad!" to no end.

So let me say again: Jeff was right, I was wrong. Is it hard? Absolutely.

But is it worth it? Without a doubt!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

6 Weeks!

Kaitlynn turns 6 weeks old today! (Wow, really??) She is growing and changing so fast. Here are some of her recent accomplishments:
  • Sweet smiles! We LOVE to see her smile at us. It just warms my heart!
  • When you stick your tongue out at her, she tries really hard to mimic by sticking out her own. Very cute.
  • She is growing like a weed. I have no idea how much she weighs, but she is outgrowing many of her outfits and she is already wearing size 2 diapers.
  • Most people comment that Kaitlynn looks just like Connor did as a baby. Some of us think she has her Daddy's eyes, though.
  • She has developed an umbilical hernia just like Connor had (it's a common condition where the belly button sticks out in infants.) Connor's was HUGE and hers isn't far behind.
  • Her left eye still has a blocked tear duct. I always have to wipe out all the goop after her naps.
  • She still has quite a bit of baby acne but hopefully it'll start to clear up soon.
  • She is much more alert these days and responding to noises and sights around her. Yesterday she was in her papasan swing and I caught her looking straight up into the mirror above her head. She had this expression that said, "Who is that gorgeous thing looking at me? Oh, it's me!" Ha!
  • Sleep... Kaitlynn is sometimes sleeping in longer stretches at night now -- up to 6 hours! It's only happened 2 nights so far but I'm praying it will only get better from here.

Also this week, I was so excited to finally get my new Mommy-mobile (as Connor calls it). I've had my trusty Explorer for years now and still love it but it just won't fit our whole family now that we are 6. So we upgraded to a used Expedition, very nice with low miles. We love it -- so much more roomy and fun to drive!

Here's another round of pics. Enjoy!

Here is Kaitlynn showing off her bikini and her big belly button.Here's Connor's umbilical hernia at about the same age.
Connor poses with his sister. This is a new position she seems to like - on her tummy on the Boppy. First time in her swing.

Look how big she's getting in the crib!

Yep, sound asleep.

Kevin likes the Boppy, too! About to go swimming for the first time. Do you think she'll like the water? It was a little cold but I think she liked it! Sound asleep with Dad.Breakfast at Chickfila. Her serious expression cracked me up. Finally, the new Mommy-mobile!
We love it!
Kaitlynn watches herself in the mirror above her head.
She couldn't take her eyes off herself!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Visit with MeMe and Grand Daddy

Since Jeff is deep into his busy time at work, Connor, Kaitlynn, and I drove up to East Texas for the week to visit MeMe and Grand Daddy. All I have to say is THANK GOODNESS for them, because they helped me out tremendously this week!! I was able to take extended naps most days, and Grand Daddy kept Connor occupied several mornings so he could run off some of that stored up energy he's been carrying around.

During our visit this week Connor was able to spend some time with his cousins. On Monday we made a day trip to the Dallas area to my aunt Tina's house for professional photos of the kids. I can't wait to see how the pics turn out, and I'm also going to be getting a new purse with their pictures. We had a fun day visiting with all the kiddos, but we ended up getting back to White Oak very late. Connor had another one of his awful temper tantrums that night, but I had a stern talk with him and thankfully he's been going to bed without any issues the rest of the week. Who knows how long the good behavior will last! Later in the week, cousins Makenna and Madison came over to visit and they all had a great time playing at the Diary Queen play area (that is one of our frequent stops when we visit the grandparents). We got some cute pictures you'll see below.

While we were in East Texas, Kaitlynn turned 1 month old! It's so hard to believe how fast the summer is flying by. Baby girl is definitely plumping up quickly. She is quite the little eater so I suspect she's well over 10 pounds by now. Her cheeks and legs are really filling out! Her latest accomplishments include many sweet smiles, but none that I've been able to capture on camera yet. She has even begun to "coo" a little bit when you talk really sweet to her. She absolutely LOVED her MeMe last week, giving her the most smiles of anyone! I am noticing that she prefers to be held most of the time, and she seems to have a gassy tummy in the evenings which causes her to grunt and fuss quite a bit. Her baby acne is also really bad right now. I've been putting an olive oil oitment on it which will hopefully help it to clear up soon. Since Kaitlynn loves to be held, I recently purchased a baby carrier (Baby Bjorn) which I am LOVING right now. It makes it so much easier to go places with both kids. It's funny -- I had one of those baby carriers with Connor but I didn't like it and never understood why mothers used them. Now I get it...they are for mothers of more than 1 kid, because it's impossible to chase after a toddler when you have to carry the baby all the time!

Friday morning after Kaitlynn's 3 am feeding, I noticed I was having severe breast pain and soon I was wrapped up in the covers shivering with a bad case of the chills. I began feeling very achy all over and I was so cold that I couldn't get out of bed to ask for help. A few hours later Kaitlynn was awake and wanting her next bottle, so I forced myself out of bed only to realize that I barely had enough strength to walk. I felt so miserable that I woke up MeMe for help (I couldn't even pick up the baby) and then I just started bawling like a baby! Turns out that I had a fever of 101 due to a breast infection (mastitis) which causes flu-like symptoms and terrible breast pain. Luckily my doctor called in a prescription by phone without making me go in for an appointment right away. I spent most of the day Friday in bed -- thank goodness I was at my parents' house so they could keep the kids occupied! I'm feeling much better now but I have to visit my doctor Monday to make sure the infection is under control.

We have another extremely busy week coming up. Connor starts his next round of swim lessons this week; he'll go every day for the next 2 weeks. I have 2 doctor appointments which will be challenging with 2 kids in tow. And then this weekend our great friends Dana and Katherine will be visiting with their kids! I can't wait to see them again and introduce them to Kaitlynn.

Here are a ton of photos from our week visiting MeMe and Grand Daddy. Enjoy!

Kaitlynn's all decked out for church. Love the headband bow!
Aunt Michelle and Ryah hold Kaitlynn.
All the cousins inspect Kaitlynn at Aunt Tina's house.
Here's a quick snapshot of MeMe with her grandkids.Kaitlynn fit perfectly in the basket!
MeMe's favorite baby girl outfit with pink and lace.
Robin and Karlie meet Kaitlynn.
Here's Karlie holding baby Kaitlynn...
And here she is holding Connor 3 years ago!
Connor was worn out after one of our busy days.
And so was his baby sister!
Bathtime for brother and sister.
Kaitlynn watching MeMe and about to smile...
This is the closest to her smile I was able to capture.
Here's Connor's cousin Madison playing at Dairy Queen.
Connor and cousin Makenna played so well together.
Sweet cousins.
They even stopped to share a hug.
Mama and her baby carrier. Kaitlynn loves it, too -- she was OUT!
Grand Daddy and Connor.
Connor shows us his Gig 'Em Aggies!
Grand Daddy feeding Kaitlynn a bottle.
Phew, we're finally home! Time to pass out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July Fun

It is so hard to believe that it's almost mid-July! Of course, one minute outside in this Houston heat is enough to want to wish the summer away already. It's miserable out there these days! Connor, Kaitlynn, and I are trying to find lots of indoor activities to stay busy (and cool). Tomorrow we leave for a week at MeMe and Grand Daddy's house, so that should be a fun visit. I hear it's just as hot in East Texas, though!

One of Connor's new favorite activities this summer is the mid-week dollar movie at Cinemark or AMC Theaters. So far we've watched Madagascar II twice already. And Kaitlynn is a trooper to sleep straight through the movie. We also discovered a cool play area at one of the local malls, and my new sit-and-stand stroller is coming in handy for those mall visits. Connor's best buddy Benjamin just returned from a month vacation in Norway, so we finally were able to catch up with him this week on a play date. Connor was SO excited! We also got to see the Dora the Explorer show today as a special treat (although if you ask me, Connor didn't really deserve to go since he's still being so naughty these days!)

Jeff and I are really struggling to get through to Connor about his naughty behavior. The biggest problem is naptime or bedtime. He just throws a major fit about going to bed. He has begun hitting, kicking, screaming, and even throwing things across the room. We don't even recognize him as our kid when he behaves like this! We've tried time-out, taking away privileges, and even spanking. Nothing seems to get through to him. The latest tactic is taking away his beloved teddy bear and blankie. Now THAT is getting his attention, but no telling how long it'll work. I feel like I need a Supernanny intervention or something. Any suggestions??

Kaitlynn is really plumping up these days. She seems to be feeding more often at night than during the daytime, so we're working on that. She is much more alert these days which is fun. Between her awake periods and my struggles with Connor during our naptime, I'm not getting much sleep these days! I could've sworn Kaitlynn smiled at me this week, but Jeff thinks it was my imagination! She's almost 4 weeks now, and she has developed a bit of the baby acne on her face and neck. Early next week we will be visiting my Aunt Tina in the Dallas area for a photo session with both kiddos, so I'll be sure and share the pictures with you when they're ready. In the meantime, here are some pics from the past week or so.

Connor loves to hug and kiss his baby sister. He tells me all the time that he loves her!
We met Jeff out for lunch earlier this week. Here Kaitlynn gives him a yawn.
One of Connor's newest playtime activities is to pretend he is going to work like Dad and Mom. He has his work table set up with his laptop, work phone, and his wooden spoon. He calls the spoon his "stick" and when asked what it's for, he says it's to make money. Hmmm, can I get one of those money sticks??Connor takes an important call from work. The other day I asked him where he worked and he said "kids dot nick dot com". Can you tell he watches a lot of Nickelodeon?
Connor was very excited to go to work with Dad during a lunch break.
Kaitlynn passed out after her tough day at the office.
Bath time for Kaitlynn in the sink -- wonder how much longer she'll fit in there?
Connor and Benjamin reunite! Benjamin brought back this hat for Connor that says "Norge" which means Norway.
They both rode the merry-go-round at their mall playdate.
Connor loved it.
Connor, Benjamin, and Timothy at the Dora show.
Kaitlynn was there, too...asleep most of the time!
Pictures were strictly forbidden so this was the best shot I could get.
Connor and me with his Rescue Pack.