Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dances with Horse


Our good friend, Haley, moved back to the Gallatin Valley from Colorado and just HAD to meet our little one. We went out to her wee farm so Ashlinn could meet her horses, cat, dog, and chickens, and had a blast. Of course it helped that Haley is, hands down, the World's Best Photographer and out of only a small handful of candid, impromptu shots, got some amazing gems of the babe. Be sure to check them out, and please check out her other photographs and keep Ms. Poulos in mind for all of your photography needs. She not only takes the most beautifully vivid wedding photographs I've ever seen (it's like her camera lens can stare directly into her subjects' souls and capture the moment without interruption!), but takes some pretty great general event (new baby, cattle auction, senior pics, etc.) and every day ones as well.




http://www.haleypoulosblog.com/2010/11/ashlinn.html (here's Ashlinn)
http://haleypoulos.com/ (Haley's photography page)

Thanks for the great shots, Haley, and keep on truckin'!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ashlinn says "hi" on our Oregon trip

I love this video. I spent 5 hours trying to figure out a new, super deluxe video editing program to cut this clip out, but it was worth it. Every time I watch it, I want to laugh and cry at the same time because my girl is being oh so cute.


video

Monday, October 4, 2010

Current photos

Jen already posted these on Facebook...I haven't figured out a way to show a FB album on our website (maybe it can't be done). Regardless...here is the little girl!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A few older pictures

Since Jen was going through some of Ashlinn's old clothes, I thought it might be appropriate to put up a few pictures that we haven't posted before (Ashlinn was much younger).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Latest Update

It's been far too long since I've posted anything on Ashlinn's blog, so I thought I'd try and write up an update (knowing me, it'll probably go on for paragraphs!!!).

Ashlinn is continuing to develop leaps and bounds. She is such a smart little cookie, and can follow along on several songs, singing along for parts of it. When I sing the ABCs, she will mouth several of the letters with me, and will shout some out at the perfect moment, proudly saying the letter "h" and the letter "y" at the correct point in the song. She is a happy, happy girl, and we try to live by her latest motto where she'll continually exclaim, "Be Happy, Be Happy, Be Happy, Be Happy". I have no idea where she picks these things up sometimes.

Ashlinn is a chatterbox and can say more complex words, such as "thank you" and "butterfly". She is polite most of the time, saying "please", and of course "thank you" when I give her something she really wants such as snack or a fun object to play with. She has mostly gotten over the hitting phase and regardless of her wrongdoing, time-outs are highly effective and she's pretty easy to reason with. We try to use every faux pas as a teachable moment. When she hits me out of frustration, I never lose my temper but instead, try and put myself in her shoes which must be a challenging role. If the outburst requires a timeout, I place her in a designated area and act very stern with her. At the end of the minute, I get down at her level and explain why what she did was wrong and how it hurts mommy, etc., and we always end with a hug and a kiss and the world is well again. I love watching her expressions as you can tell what you are saying is sinking in and she's giving thought to the issue at hand. You can telll she genuinely feels bad and never meant to hurt anyone, but her emotions at this young age often dominate any sense of reason.

At the moment, she loves carrying around odd objects such as the dustpan, her super heavy activity block, and nasal spray. Ash is great at listening too. The other day, unbeknownst to me, Daddy was in the back room and asked Ashlinn to bring me his shoes so they'd go out in the living room where they belonged. Sure enough, here comes my little toddler carrying Daddy's heavy shoes and placing them nicely on my lap. He came out a couple of minutes later, surprised and elated that she had followed through and I had to laugh when I realized the task she'd completed. If I ask her to go and find her ball and bring it to me, even with the ball or other misc. object out of sight, she'll find it every time and bring it to me (unless of course she is distracted by something bigger and better).

Although Ashlinn has her favorite toys, she, above all else, LOVES her books. She constantly finds all of her books and brings them to me, wanting to sit on my lap and read with me. She's patient most of the time and will sit with me for quite some time looking over her "boots" (books) in excitement and in anticipation for the next page. I so love that she loves books. Books can open up a whole world of excitement, wonder, and knowlege for that little girl of mine and I very much look forward to reading longer and more complex texts with her as she gets a little older. Ryan probably has high hopes of starting the "Lord of the Rings" series with her, but I have a feeling he might have wait longer than he thinks before she'll be as excited about them as he is. :)

I'm not sure if I have posted anything about it yet, but Ashlinn started walking almost exactly a month after her 1st birthday on August 15th. We were thrilled and I believe she is happier than ever because of it. Both Susan (the wonderful gal who watches Ashlinn while we're at work) and I agree that she has been wanting to become mobile since she was a month old, and although crawling opened up new avenues for her, it was walking that really allowed her the mobility she'd been craving. She now walks around in patterns each evening, from the living room to the kitchen, picking up objects along the way to share with us, often exclaiming "Wow!" in amazement.

I had a conversation with Ryan the other day about what it was that was truly amazing with having kids, and one the ones that really stuck out to us was the fact that Ashlinn allows for our inner child to escape and explore the world all over again through her eyes. Suddenly an ordinary broomstick becomes something amazing with prickly bristles and a long handle that can move objects from far away, and a cluttered pursed becomes a bag of wonderful and curious objects, giving Ashlinn ample opportunity to pull out one objects at a time, inspect it and question what incredible purpose it must serve, before neatly placing it in an organized pile with everything else.

I have several friends and acquaintances pondering whether or not they should join us in the ranks of parenthood, and being in their shoes at one time, I can say that yes, it not for everyone, but I have to highly recommend it. It is truly the toughest job that I can think of and deserves to far surpass any of Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" for a number of reasons, but it is the most incredible journey I have ever ventured to take. I can't say that I love every aspect of being a mother, but the amazing things I get to experience everyday with my beautiful baby girl far exceed even the worst of the negative ones. She brings me more joy in one afternoon of playing peek-a-boo, reading, playing the "What's that" game for hours, etc., than any of the best books I have read, vacations I have been on, etc.

I swore I would never be one of "those" parents who couldn't bring anything else to adult conversation beyond their kids, but both Ryan and I proudly lay stakes to that claim and talk about our little miracle to anyone willing to listen. She is our favorite topic, especially with each other, and can easily bring a tear to our eyes with the simple recall of silly memory from that day, or reminiscing about how tiny she used to be, etc.

We love that little girl more than anything, and are so happy to have her in our lives. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fun outdoors

Here are some photos taken outdoors, showing Ashlinn romping around with the kitties, riding horseback with Auntie Mindy and her horses, exploring the backyard, and her first trip swimming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ashlinn!



I apologize for the unevenness of sound. Adobe Premier was being flaky so I resorted to a much less powerful program that did not allow me to edit sound.

The first part just past the intro is normal volume, but the rest requires you to crank up the volume (if you actually care to hear). And I know it's cheesy, but those of you who know me know I'm about as cheesy as they come.

Happy birthday to the most beautiful little girl I know.

Scattered thoughts on Ashlinn's 1st birthday... Forever my baby girl

Ashlinn turns one year old today. Happy first birthday, Baby Girl!!! When others are generally elated with their child's first and subsequent birthdays, if for nothing else than to proclaim both they and their child survived a year of firsts, I find myself conflicted and more melancholy than anything. Yes, I feel blessed to have a happy, healthy, bright child, etc., etc., etc., but I feel like with the start of her first whole year, I'm leaving something behind. My baby is growing into a beautiful little girl, and I should be on cloud nine thinking of everything she has learned and accomplished, but it's not as simple as that. Nothing is ever simple as a mother. We think way too much, and often error towards the side of pessimism. What is it about wanting to make everything perfect for your child that often brings about so much imperfection?

I have worked so incredibly hard to make everything right, and the more things that I can't perfect, the harder I try to perfect what I do have control over. I read all of the books, did all of the research to figure out what was best in every circumstance; I breastfed (still am), make all of her food from scratch, have tried to cut out as many chemicals and preservatives as possible, try my darnedest never to yell or lose my temper in front of her (I've failed there once or twice...), mostly cut out television and all that other stuff "They" swear rots your children's brains, taught myself a number of signs (ASL) to communicate with Ashlinn; I cloth diaper her, sew, mend, read to her, sing to her, work on her vocabulary by constantly communicating, I put her to bed every night, and check on her every night before I go to bed. I am a very dedicated mother, but feel as though I'm lacking somehow maternally, perhaps because of the extreme guilt I feel over not being able to stay home with her more, or perhaps it just goes with the territory.

This morning I was dissapointed with myself because I had a super cute wrap dress that I had grand plans of finishing in time for her birthday, but to look at it now would be to see a pile of rags. Is this representative of my life as a mother? An unfinished work in progress? Yes, I'm sure it is in a way. Mothers are continually evolving in an attempt to keep up with their children, and just as they grow comfortable with one era in their life, a new one begins. I feel like as hard as I work during the day, and a hard as I work to make things at least a step closer to that unattainable perfection at home, things will always be in a slight to modest state of disarray. I'm am learning to accept this, though it is a hard pill to swallow, and am trying to rely on Ryan more for help, trampling on the myth of fictional character, Super Mom (created by evil doers everywhere!). Super Mom exists purely to serve her family and the world, getting everything on her list crossed off, having a never-ending supply of energy, and doing it all with a smile on her face, a gleaming reflection from all of the clean hard surfaces in her home, and with a happy, thankful family by her side always. Real people cannot get everything they want accomplished to perfection without 12 hands, continuous pill-popping, chain smoking, a few cocktails, 32 hours in a day, no sleep, and all while crying heavily on the inside, and who wants to achieve that version of "perfection"? The act of growing 10 extra hands alone sounds daunting. Wow, I'm realizing I'm letting my inner wordy self escape again and go off on a tangent. Back wordy self, back! You're hindering my progress.

Anyway, I'm still finding it difficult to accept that Ashlinn is 1 already, but am trying to find peace in what should be a very joyous, celebratory event. Last night after I laid her in her crib, when going through the usual list of songs to sing to her ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "Baby of Mine", "Baby Love", "Smile", etc.), for whatever reason I chose to sing her "You are My Sunshine", except I replaced the word "sunshine" with "Ashlinn". When worrying about losing your baby to time, singing about holding your sweet love in your arms, only to awake to reality is probably not the wisest choice of song.

Then, to end the bedtime routine, I transferred a kiss to my hand, and then massaged it in her temple for safekeeping as I always do, and then she did something she'd never done before. She waived "bye-bye" while staring intensely into my eyes. At first I wanted to cry all over again, looking at it symbolically, as though she were saying good-bye to babyhood, childhood, innocence, and beyond, and saying hello to tricycles, then boys, her first kiss, a driver's license, and finally cutting the cord completely and embracing freedom and adulthood. I then realized something. So many parents tell you to treasure every moment because it all goes by so incredibly fast. I knew those things truly were just around the corner, but was that so bad?

Our ultimate job as a parent is to establish a sense of independence, and with each new stage comes more and more autonomy. It is difficult to watch your child grow, leaving one stage you've just barely begun to grow accustomed to for another, unfamiliar, sometimes scary yet overall rewarding one. Yes, yesterday is in the past and will never be again, but who's to say that tomorrow won't be just as fulfilling, if not more so and come with it new firsts and memories, eventually becoming tomorrow's new yesterday perpetuating the cycle. I am so thrilled to witness what is in store for my precious little girl. Plus, I suppose you're supposed to miss the early days at at least a little bit. This is nature's way of encouraging further procreation, right?

No matter what anyone else says including her, Ashlinn will forever and always be, my baby girl.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ash_walk

We decided to test out the new Kelty baby pack by going for a long walk around the subdivision and trekking around the subdivision pond. Ashlinn loved it!!! It was so beautiful, and despite a little rain, we had a wonderful time. We'll try to make it more of a ritual every weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Playing with friends & Grandma Visit

A few more pictures: First, playing with buddy, Shelby, and the second bunch are at Grandma's house in Billings.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy 9 months!

Ashlinn recently had her 9-month checkup and passed with flying colors. Our tall, skinny girl was in the 90th percentile for height, but only the 20th for weight, meaning fewer than 10% of babies are taller than her at her age, and about 80% of her peers are heavier than her regardless of their height. Here are a few accomplishments we haven't gotten around to posting until now.

Communication:

Speaking:
Since she was about two-months-old, Ashlinn has shown an interest in mimicking sounds, especially those coming from us, her parents. We even have a video of her at 8 weeks old watching me say "Agua" (Spanish for "water") and saying it herself. She has been very keen on studying the way our lips part and jaw moves, etc., putting together sounds that form words. She isn't completely comfortable speaking a whole lot just yet, but will often mouth the movements to words as she watches us talk. It's very cute.

Although she doesn't say a lot just yet, Ashlinn did begin speaking a few words just before her 9th month. They are as follows and in chronological order:

*"Hi"/"Hey" - whenever we'd go to pick her up from Susan (the gal who watches Ashlinn), she'd do a sort of wave and exclaim "Hey!!!". We figured that counted as her first word since she did it repeatedly and seemed to know what it was she was saying.

*"Mama" & "Dada" tied for second. She technically said "Mama" first, but had been putting "Da-Da" sounds together prior to that, without actually knowing what she was saying

*"Uh-Oh" - Yes, considering that was one her first words, I'm sure she's warning us that we're in a world of trouble as she gets older. :o) The first time she said this, I was laying on the couch with her and she was playing with my cell phone. She dropped it on the floor, pointed to it, looked at me and said, "Uh-oh!!!". It was precious.

*"That" - She often points to things she wants or is curious about, squeezes her fingers together as though to grab it, and says, "that!"

She says other partial words and has said things like "Key-ee" (kitty) when pointing at the cat, but I haven't had a lot of luck getting her to repeat it so I haven't officially counted the extra words just yet.

Baby Signs:

I began teaching Ashlinn basic baby signs around 5 months old. At 6 months old, she started making the sign for "milk" (squeezing fingers together as though you're milking a cow). It scared the bejabbers out of me, mainly because I knew this was her first real attempt and comprehensible communication, and the fact that my baby was able to tell me what she wanted/needed at 6 months old was a little scary. She now knows hungry/eat, and is working on "all done" and a few others like kitty.

Spanish:
When naming objects, I try my best to remember their Spanish counterpart and say both. She seems to understand the following:

Gato - Cat
Leche - Milk
Cama - Bed
Toca la guitara - play the guitar
Mano - Hand
Frio/Hace Frio - cold/brrrrrrr / it's cold!
Come - eat
The rest are alluding me right now, but I've probably communicated about 150+ Spanish words and phrases with her on a regular basis. It's amazing to me how much Spanish is coming back to me from my high school days.


Gross Motor Skills (as in movements utilizing her larger muscle groups - not "icky" motor skills):

Ashlinn was born a very strong baby. I was pretty sure she would be as she was a very active baby in utero, constantly stretching out (making me almost pass out when she'd push against my diaphragm and lungs), using my ribs like a xylophone, and trying to kick her way right out of me. She started preferring to stand much of the time over sitting or being held at around 6 weeks. Here are a few things she's done since.

Crawling:
Ashlinn began what we call "scooting" around 6 months. She'd essentially lay flat on her belly, and use her arms and legs to push herself across the floor. She resembles soldier, making his/her way through the brush incognito style, using mainly elbows and knees on the ground to shimmy on by. She'd stealthily get from point A to point B with seemingly no obstacles. Because she started this fairly early on, Ryan and I were convinced "real" crawling would be right around the corner. At nearly 10 months old, she still mostly scoots, but does get on her knees and do a few crawling moves, before resorting to what she knows and is comfortable with.

Walking:
Ashlinn is so close to walking on her own it's scary. She's been able to walk across the floor pretty quickly while holding onto our hands since she was about 5 1/2 months old. Then at about 8 months old, if we stood her up, she was easily able to use furniture as a crutch to stand and maneuver herself around the room. At about 9 months old, she began pulling herself up with no problem and needs less of a crutch than before, now able to use things like the wall, etc., to lean against rather than requiring something tangible and 3-D to hold onto. She can stand without holding onto anything, but upon realizing what she is doing after a few seconds, she gets scared and starts to panic, reaching out for anything close by or opting to fall to the safety of the ground.


Personality:

There are a number of things that make our little girl stand out. Her beautiful smile and contagious laugh, her sparkling blue eyes she used to "smile" (prior to smiling, she seemed to smile with her eyes), her intellect, her precious little sounds and cooing, her expressions, but the attribute that so many comment on above all others is her personality. Oh yeah, she's got one!!! She (we all!) suffered with colic for just over the first three months of her life. After that, she seemed to be a fairly happy-go-lucky kid.

She has few fears, and lights up whenever anyone, especially strangers, pay her any attention. On the flip side, she gets a little irritated when people don't notice her, and does whatever she can to grab their attention, "turning on the charm" as Ryan and I describe it. She waves and makes noise and acts totally silly when others are around. She hasn't had many problems with separation or stranger anxiety except when she's exhausted.

Ashlinn is an utter joy to be around and I now know that it's true what "they" say - that children give their parents wrinkles. Laughter wrinkles! She cracks us up on a constant basis. Her absolutely inquisitive nature that often gets her into trouble is also one of her most endearing qualities. I remember at her one-month checkup, Dr. Fairbanks was trying to listen to her heartbeat but was having difficulty because Ashlinn kept grabbing her stethoscope and bringing it close to her face for a closer inspection. The other day, Ashlinn discovered where we keep her toy bin and was bent way over the side of the couch (I was holding onto her ankle), and picking up toys, excitedly showing each one to me yelling "That!" or "Di-Di!" each time she'd find a new one. She loves to share her findings with anyone willing to participate, holding out pacifiers, toys, and food to the person sitting next to her as though to say, "Look! Isn't this the most amazing thing you've ever seen/smelled/tasted/experienced?! I want to share it with you because I just can't contain my excitement and want you to feel it too!".

Our little girl amazes us each day and Ryan and I both agree that one of the saddest times nowadays is about 8:00pm, when everything has calmed down - baby is fed and in bed, we are fed and winding down, and while we could watch television, read a book, start a project, enjoy our alone time, etc., we miss out little monkey girl and want to play with her. Parenthood is a true adventure and indescribable to anyone who has not yet experienced one of life's truly miraculous wonders.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Testing the new Camera

While Ash is doing Jingle Bells

A actually decided to link to the video since it is widescreen (the blogger template didn't like it).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAcXKGhWOkw

Friday, April 2, 2010

BUNNIES!!!

Long story short, Aunti Mindy went to adopt another rabbit and ended up with nine (procreation is a beautiful thing?). Since it is nearing Easter, she invited us, Sarah, and little Adeline along as well. Normally Ashlinn is all about animals, but she's even more into small children and was quite smitten with 2-year-old Adeline.

It was cute because Adeline is becoming very assertive and autonomous, and kept trying to boss Ashlinn around, while Ashlinn just stared at her in amazement. Adeline didn't realize that Ashlinn was a bit too young to follow direction. It was a fun time, and when we returned home, Grandma and Grandpa Storment were waiting to see Ashlinn. Yay for Easter, bunnies, and wonderful people!!!

(p.s. - As I write this Ashlinn is trying to teach Liam Kitty how to clap, and seems disappointed that he doesn't quite grasp it.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

While Daddy was away on a business trip to Denver (sounds so weird to be saying that!), I got bored and went a little crazy with the camera. This is probably only 21 pictures of about 800 I took with the Nikon! The last bunch on the bench are my favorites because Ashlinn looks so angelic. Eat up the pictures now, because now that we're getting back into the swing of things and don't really have any holidays off from work in the coming months, we'll likely be bad with posting again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

December '09 - February '10

More pictures of our little sweetheart.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another close call

Ashlinn's first illness was fairly memorable to say the least. We have been blessed with a healthy little girl who never been the slightest bit sick until now. She starting displaying symptoms of the flu Friday, acting as though she just couldn't get enough sleep and was somewhat lethargic. By Saturday morning, while at Target, she began vomiting anything and everything that entered her tummy. We got her home pretty quickly, and as soon as we entered the house and set her car seat down, she made a very slight but eerie gasping noise. I peered down at her to see an odd sort of look on her face. She was staring straight ahead, not moving, and her eyes seemed completely empty. I told myself she was just really exhausted from running errands, but I knew something was wrong.

My suspicion was confirmed upon removing her from her car seat. She was completely limp and starting to turn blue. I yelled for Ryan to grab the nasal bulb aspirator (that plunger-looking device you get from the hospital for newborns for sucking out excess mucous, etc.). I began pounding her on the back to try and loosen up whatever it was. Ryan returned quickly with the aspirator and we began sucking out the vomit she'd aspirated into her lungs.

After about 10 seconds pounding on her, cleaning out her airway, etc., she began to respond, trying desperately to cry. She's let out quiet, quick gasps but then would stop breathing again. She was turning more and more blue. We kept at it, reaching our fingers in to clear her throat out a bit, and kept sucking more and more out of her throat and lungs. Finally more signs of life as she'd cry for about 5 seconds at a time and her face and limbs went from blue to purple to red. She was back.

After she was stabilized and breathing normally again, we ran her to Urgent Care where we were quickly sent to the ER. Everything checked out okay, including her chest x-rays, and she even had a blood oxygen rate ranging from 95 - 100 (percentage of oxygen in blood). We were kept there for about 4 hours, we assumed, to make sure she wouldn't take a turn for the worse. The doctor explained that negative aspiration side-effects can take about 6 hours to really show up and in children as young as Ashlinn, can quickly manifest into something serious and deadly.

Ashlinn still wasn't able to keep anything down at this point but I kept nursing her often, hoping she'd at least receive some benefit. The nurse eventually started her on Pedialite to help counteract dehydration and restore some electrolytes, and she started improving quite a bit after that. We were all exhausted at that point, and neither Ryan nor myself had eaten anything for nearly 8 hours, so we were ecstatic when they gave us the go ahead to leave and keep a close eye on our little one. Needless to say, we didn't leave her by herself for even a second the rest of the day, night, and into the next day.

We are truly grateful that our baby girl is such a fighter and is as stubborn as her mama. I am scared to think what would/could have happened if I didn't hear that first little warning sign, or if Ryan wouldn't have been able to find the aspirator, etc. Ashlinn has changed our lives forever and I don't know how we could ever function if we lost her.

In the midst of drama, I try and think of the positives that I can take out of the situation. Here are some I thought of while waiting at the hospital:
(1) We realized once again that we are capable parents and able to do what is necessary in an emergency
(2) We are able to realize all over again just how much we love our baby girl and appreciate everything about her (we'll take the good with the bad!)
(3) Seeing all of the ill people in and out of the ER that day (including a sickly teeny tiny preemie baby) made us truly appreciate our health
(4) Thank God for health insurance and flexible spending accounts!!!
(5) Ryan and I had a great excuse to eat junk food after the whole ordeal - we only eat at unhealthy fast food restaurants once or twice a year, and rarely eat red meat, but we needed quick calories and what better choice than Wendy's?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Merry Christmas 2009


Guess that Photoshop class is still coming in handy. To all of you receiving a card (soon), sorry I was so late this year!!!