Monday, November 29, 2010

Halfway There

Kirsten is 3 1/2 years old now! To me that means one thing. . . she's halfway through with the 3's and halfway closer to being 4!!! I always heard that the terrible 2's were nothing compared to the 3's, and now I completely understand why so many people say that. Kirsten was a really sweet 2 year-old, didn't really throw tantrums, shared really well, listened to me when I asked her to do stuff. But ever since she turned 3. . . poof. . . who is this child and what happened to Kirsten??? Sometimes the real Kirsten comes back for brief appearances, but the majority of the time she's either acting naughty, defiant, sneaky, mean to Natalie, whiny, or all of the above. I know it won't magically change when she turns 4, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it will improve!

Don't be fooled by this sweet-looking face. . .
Of course I love this girl to death, and I still have so much fun with her! I mostly use this blog to remember all the good times, but from time to time I want to record the moments when I think I am really going to lose my mind. The times when parenting is really hard. The times when I wonder what happened to my life. So here are just a few examples. . .

~We have this entire house on lock-down. It's insane!!! Kirsten has been sneaking into the pantry to get snacks, going into my bathroom and climbing up the shelves in the closet so she can pull down makeup and medicine, climbing into Natalie's crib and waking her up from naps, and literally getting into everything she's not supposed to have.
She spray-painted the entire tub with sunscreen spray.
She dumped out ALL her bubble bath, shampoo, and detangler.
She emptied a whole bottle of homeopathic teething tablets and was feeding them to Natalie and herself and calling them "treats."
She climbed up to the top shelf next to the computer desk and grabbed scissors and a letter opener!
She took all the steak knives out of a kitchen drawer and was lining them up in front of the TV!
It's seriously scary. Now we have flip locks on most of the doors in our house and we have to remember to keep all the doors closed and locked so she can't get into stuff. But of course, she somehow still manages to find naughty things to do, day in and day out.

~Want to hear about the scariest thing? A couple of weeks ago I was changing Brooke upstairs, and when I came downstairs the front door was wide open and Kirsten was standing in front of the house across the street from us! Not a busy street, thank goodness we live in a cul de sac. I ran outside to get her, shutting the door behind me so that Natalie wouldn't follow us outside. What possessed this girl to go outside in her socks and cross the street on a cold, rainy day in the dark??? What goes through her head??? I carried her back, only to discover she had locked the front door before she went out and we were now locked outside. Natalie and Brooke were locked inside, and we were outside in the freezing cold with no way to get in. Natalie was standing right inside the front door, sobbing, and I was SO upset with Kirsten. It took a visit to the neighbors and about 15 minutes before I was reminded about the keypad outside our garage door that I had never used. The first code I tried worked, and the garage door opened for us. Whew! Natalie and Brooke were both fine, just needed to be calmed down. And we now have a flip lock on the front door as well. Crazy.

~Kirsten also figured out how to climb over the baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. So now I can't even keep her on the same floor that I'm on. Wonderful. Whenever I'm feeding Brooke, she goes upstairs and finds something to get into or make a mess of.
~She's figured out how to be such a sneak. She'll get a piece of chocolate, instantly whip it behind her back, and run the other direction. One of the most frustrating things is the fact that she rarely does what I ask her to do. I know she understands me, but I'll tell her to put something back where it belongs and she just takes it into another room and hides it. Or I ask her to clean up her toys and she makes up a crazy excuse.

Here's the sneak in action:
~Where do kids learn how to hit and push??? The majority of the time, she's really mean to Natalie. She'll push or hit her for no reason, steal toys and snacks from her, and doesn't want her to have anything that she doesn't have herself. I feel so bad for Natalie!

~The defiant and angry attitude she gets really makes me sad. Especially when I try so hard to do fun things with her, and she doesn't appreciate it.

These are only a few of the many examples why she's our most challenging child right now. Much harder than the newborn, believe it or not. I figured if I'm going to write a post about Kirsten being 3 1/2, I better make it realistic and tell it like it is. Of course it's not all bad though! 3 year-olds can also be really funny and entertaining.

~She started going to a cute little preschool this fall, at a local high school that they run for their child development program. It's only for an hour and a half, two days a week, but it's a really great starter for her and something she really needed. She wasn't sure at first about being left there without me, but after making sure I was going to pick her up when it was over she did great! She never cried when I left and is always happy when I come back to get her! This is a HUGE step for the girl who had to have her daddy go to nursery with her at church every single week. Now, because she's gone to preschool by herself, she's fine going to nursery by herself too! Yay!!! She also did an art class and a gymnastics class at the community center.

Here she is right outside the preschool classroom:

~She has a "special drawer" right next to her bed, and any time she likes something she hoards it and puts it in her special drawer. We find the funniest things in there sometimes! She likes really random things, not typical toys.

~When she has to go number 2, she calls it "getting the grossies out." She invented this term completely on her own, I might add. One day she couldn't get them to come out, and she told me, "The grossies are taking a nap." I laughed for about five minutes about that one.

~Here she is wrapping up our cat, Herbie, in a blanket to make him "nice and cozy."

It's so crazy being the mom of a 3 year-old! So many ups and downs! Now please leave me a comment and tell me how normal it is and how I'm not the only mom who feels this way, please? :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fabulous Finds: Holiday Cards from Tiny Prints!

I love receiving Christmas cards! It's that awesome time of the year when our mailboxes hold more than just bills and catalogs. I'm always really excited to get cards from my favorite friends and family who are spread out all around the country. Christmas cards are just a wonderful way to say "I care about you, I'm thinking of you, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas!"

I guess that's why I also love to send out Christmas cards. I have lots of fun planning out my cards each year. We didn't get a family portrait taken this year, but I'm sending out cards anyway with pictures of just my girls. (After all, people really just want to see the kids, right? Stephen and I look the same as we did last year, but the kids change so much from year to year!) I have a goal to send out Christmas cards every year, and never let myself get too busy or too caught up in other things. This year, I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to review some cards from my very favorite card company, Tiny Prints!!!

These cards are SOOOOO gorgeous and stylish! They're printed on top-quality paper, and they have designs to fit every style, whether you like your cards to be more traditional or modern. Personally, I like my cards to be a little bit different and unique, so they don't look like all the other Christmas cards people will be getting. I've got pictures of some of my favorite card designs throughout this post, but I'm not going to tell you which one I chose to use for my family's card. If you're getting one in the mail, I don't want to spoil it for you! It was actually a really hard decision, but I did choose one of these six designs. Anybody want to guess which one?

I love this design. Simple and sweet.

Flashy and pretty. I love these cards that let you choose multiple pictures! I can never choose just one picture to include!

The colors on this card are so unique and beautiful!

If you do have one stunning picture and want to make a statement with it, I'd go with a card like this one:

Or this design is completely adorable!

I love the idea of sending a Christmas card that people can hang on their tree! Aren't these just the coolest?

Tiny Prints provides simple, modern and unique stationery from Christmas cards to personalized greeting cards to thank you cards, and even business cards. Offering exclusive designs from the nation's top designers, easy card personalization, a powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality, their designs have been lauded by numerous television networks, publications, and celebrities. With Tiny Prints by your side the Holidays will be a cinch! They offer perfect party invitations for every occasion and memorable personalized photo gifts like notebooks, photo books, and calendars.

There's just SO much to love about Tiny Prints!!! Here are a few more things I think are real highlights about the company:
*Ordering these cards was a breeze! One of my favorite features is the button that lets you save your favorite designs when you're browsing through all the cards. Then you can view all your favorite designs and personalize each one until you narrow it down to the card you'll order! I haven't seen this feature on any other card site, and it's awesome!
*The customer service is really excellent! If you wait until crunch time, you can choose priority shipping and the cards will come to you fast. You'll definitely pay more for it, but they sent mine with priority shipping and I received the box of cards only two days after I sent the order. I couldn't believe they got to me so quickly!
*Another option is to have Tiny Prints mail out your cards for you. This will really save you a lot of time if you choose this option. Perfect for people who are too busy to send out Christmas cards!
*I'm just so impressed by the beautiful paper and the matte finish. My cards look amazing!

If you have a blog, you can apply to review your own Christmas cards! Selected bloggers will receive 60 cards, and you can go here to apply.

If you want to receive the Veater family Christmas card this year, please send me a message with email or Facebook and let me know your address! I'm also curious about how many of my readers are sending out Christmas cards this year. Leave me a comment and let me know!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our First Two Weeks With Brooke

Here's our beautiful little baby Brooke at two weeks old:

The first few weeks of a newborn's life are so crazy, it's all kind of a blur when I look back on them. So I better write down some things that I never want to forget about Brooke's first two weeks on earth. Here goes. . .

*Just like all my babies have been, Brooke is incredibly cuddly and would be happy to be held ALL the time. She usually gets pretty mad and fusses whenever we put her down. She's been sleeping a lot during the day, and of course it's harder to settle her down at night. It makes it hard to get much sleep and can be really frustrating, but I try to remember that this time won't last very long and I should enjoy it. There's just nothing in the world more snuggly than a newborn baby!
*It's so amazing to watch newborns sleep. I love the little smiles and laughs they do in their sleep. Just so adorable!

*She definitely did not enjoy her first sponge bath. She's had quite a few baths since that one, and so far she always cries during her baths. It's pretty traumatic for her. But one thing about babies with lots of hair. . . you have to bathe them more frequently to keep their hair soft and smelling nice.
*This has been a really good recovery! I've been pretty sore around my hips and lower back, but it's absolutely nothing compared to recoveries I had in the past. I went shopping just a few days after coming home from the hospital (after realizing we had pretty much zero winter clothes in the newborn size and everything was too big for her. I needed some stuff for this baby to wear!), and actually cleaned out and organized the garage within the first week of being home. I probably over-did it a little bit, but I love being able to bounce back so quickly!

*This is now baby number THREE who doesn't like to eat. What is it with my babies and not eating??? She typically does wake up regularly to eat (unlike Natalie who had to be woken up and force-fed as a newborn!), but it's still difficult to get her to eat much at a time. She'll usually take about an hour to eat a 2 or 3-ounce bottle. Feeding her is just a long process.

*I'm so glad she has a pretty quiet cry, just like Kirsten had. Natalie is by far our loudest child, and we knew that from day one. Brooke gets the most upset when we change her diapers or her outfits. She hates to be changed!

*It's so cute when she's awake and looking around at all the new things in her world. The awake times aren't very frequent or very long yet, but they're getting a little longer!

*Brooke's favorite place to fall asleep is in someone's arms, while being rocked. Her second favorite place to fall asleep is in the carseat. Swaddling her seems to work well, just like it did with the other two. Right now we try to get her to fall asleep and then actually stay asleep when we put her in the bassinet by our bed. If she sleeps for a 3-hour block of time at any point during the night, that's a good night for her.

*My mom and grandma stayed at our house to help out for about a week and a half after Brooke was born. They were very appreciated! They entertained the other two kids, cooked us dinners, did the dishes and helped with the laundry, and of course gave the new baby lots of love and cuddle time. We were so fortunate to have so much help!

*Brooke sometimes makes the funniest little squeaky noises while she's sleeping or eating. I just love the sleeping baby face!

*At her 2 week doctor's check-up, Brooke weighed in at 7 pounds 5 ounces. So she's still 4 ounces below her birth weight, and the doctor wants to see her again in another two weeks. Hopefully she gains enough weight by then! She just needs to eat!

*She's my first baby who's not in the 90'th percentile for length. Brooke is in the 50's. Finally, an average-height kid like me and Stephen! :)

*I can't really tell what her eye color will be yet, but her eyes seem darker than Kirsten and Natalie's were. She might turn out to be our first brown-eyed girl!

*Kirsten still isn't too sure about her, and most of the time seems pretty indifferent to her. Sometimes she's sweet and wants to hold her, but not too often. She's always been the reluctant big sister. Being three years old and in an independent, willful streak also doesn't help.

*Natalie, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, loves the new baby to death! She's constantly all over her, right up in her face, saying "Eyes!" and poking Brooke's eyes. Sometimes I really think Brooke's going to get mauled by Natalie. She doesn't quite understand the meaning of "gentle!" yet. We can't leave Brooke in her bouncy seat unless someone is sitting right next to it, or Natalie thinks it's hilarious to go bounce Brooke really hard. I hope we don't have a baby launched across the room one of these days. I have to keep a constant watch on Natalie when she's around Brooke, that's for sure!

*Despite the extreme vigilance, it's just the cutest thing EVER to see how much Natalie loves and is enthralled by her new baby sister. She loves to climb right up in the chair with us when we're feeding her or rocking her, and she helps pat the baby while she says, "Pat, pat." She puts stuffed animals and blankies into the crib when Brooke is sleeping. She also loves to give her hugs and kisses. It's just so sweet!!!

I hope the extreme sister love continues!

Taking care of a newborn is exhausting, crazy, and incredibly time-consuming as well as wonderful, amazing, and completely worth it. We love baby Brooke so much!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adorable Etsy Shops. . . Handmade Jewelry Giveaway!!!

What girl doesn't love beautiful handmade jewelry? It's pretty much a fail-proof Christmas gift for the favorite women in your life. And you can win some amazing jewelry for yourself too! I'm featuring three Etsy shops who are all offering something beautiful for my readers!

Shop #1. . . This is one of those shops that I think I could receive ANY piece from and wear it all the time. I'm loving this gorgeous necklace from Blue Room Gems. . .

Blue Room Gems specializes in unique jewelry made from semi-precious stones, crystals, and pearls. The quality of these pieces blows me away, they are SO stunning! I'm adding these elegant earrings to my Christmas list:

Each piece comes beautifully wrapped, ready for gift giving too! Blue Room Gems is offering one of my readers a $30 gift certificate!!! The hardest part would be deciding what to spend it on. There really are SO many beautiful pieces I'd love to own and wear.

Shop #2. . . Fun, funky, vintage jewelry from Petit Oiseau! I could just eat up this delicious red bracelet. Perfect for the holidays or any time of year!
Petit Oiseau is the only shop I've ever heard of who makes their jewelry from vintage Bakelite dating from the 1940's! SO unique and cool!!!

I chose to review the Bakelite Cherries necklace. I completely love the adorable design! Another winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Petit Oiseau shop!!!

Shop #3. . . Any true Twilight fan will go nuts over the Twilight-inspired jewelry found in Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop. How about some Cullen Eyes Earrings?

Or the Forest Earrings! These would make amazing gifts! A third winner will receive any piece of your choice from Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop!!!

Here's how to enter to win these beautiful designs (there will be 3 separate winners!!!):
*Become a follower of my blog! Or let me know if you already follow me. Either way, leave me a comment and tell me you're a follower! (Just click 'Google Friends Connect' on my sidebar!)

Get extra entries (up to 14 this time!!!) when you:
1. Like me on Facebook! Just click the button on my sidebar to become a Facebook fan!
2. Check out Blue Room Gems and tell me piece is your very favorite!
3. "Heart" the Blue Room Gems Etsy shop.
4. Go here to look around the Petit Oiseau shop and tell me your favorite piece.
5. "Heart" Petit Oiseau on Etsy.
6. Go here and "Like" Petit Oiseau on Facebook, for special sales and fan-only deals.
7. Look around Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop and tell me which piece you'll want if you're the winner.
8. Add Sykin to your "Hearted" shops on Etsy.
9. Go here and "Like" Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop on Facebook.
10. Talk about this giveaway on your Facebook status and link to this post!
11. Tweet about this giveaway and link to me.
12. Mention this giveaway on your blog and link to me!
13. Grab my button off my sidebar and display it somewhere on your blog.
14. Leave a new comment on any of my other recent blog posts (doesn't matter which one, I just love to read your comments!), and let me know you did.

*Please leave a separate comment for EACH entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner! This giveaway will close on December 5'th. Good luck!!!

My Disclaimer: I received some free handmade items in exchange for writing honest reviews. All opinions are totally mine and I was not compensated!

The Wildest of the West. . . Winthrop, Washington!

I never would have guessed that there's a completely adorable little Wild West town only three hours away from where I live. As part of our North Cascades National Park road trip, we headed to Winthrop for some lunch and sight-seeing. I was totally amazed by how cool this place is!
It reminded me of Frontierland at Disneyland. Except it's a real town!!!

There were tons of super cute shops! Of course most of them weren't at ALL kid-friendly (lots of breakables), so we didn't spend much time in them. But Kirsten wanted to look inside each one.
We had a great lunch with the locals at Three-Fingered Jack's Saloon. It's the oldest original saloon in the state!

I think these two have been eating there for a long time. Kirsten was excited to see real live cowboys!

After lunch we found some amazing homemade ice cream at an old-fashioned candy store. The shop had a great outdoor deck, and the weather was perfect! We had such a great time there!

I loved this outdoor ice cream bar, with the western saddles for seats!
There aren't many things I love more than exploring new places with my favorite people! It's the spice of life!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

North Cascades National Park!

Have you ever heard of the North Cascades National Park? Yeah, before the beginning of October I hadn't either. But a few weekends before Brooke was born, I decided we needed to do one last little weekend getaway as a family of 4. So I did some research and found out about this national park and a really nice place to stay for a night. We packed up the car and off we went! We stopped at the pumpkin patch (from a previous post) on our way, and enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous drive on a scenic highway through the park. We got perfect, sunny weather too!

I really love the Pacific Northwest. Check out this amazing scenery, only a couple hours away from where I live!

This is Diablo Lake Overlook. Stunning!

The kids did a good job in the car, for the most part. But it was nice to get out at the overlook and stretch our legs!

October was the perfect time to do this drive. I LOVE all the fall leaves!!!

We stayed overnight at the Freestone Inn. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere, but wow, such a beautiful place to stay!

Nothing like jumping on a giant bed after a long day in the car! The kids went nuts!

This cute little lake was right out the back doors of the Freestone Inn. I love these pictures of the girls!

Someday, can I have a house with a fireplace just like this? Please? It's SO cozy!
I love exploring the beautiful state of Washington! After we checked out, we headed to an actual Wild West town! Who knew there was one only 3 hours from Seattle? I'll do a separate post about that town soon!