Thursday, December 31, 2015

Joy To The World Pt 2

See that? That is concentration and dedication to a drumstick. The glossy eyes, the running nose. All bets are off. 
 Echo meeting Santa was so darling. She pet his lapel and smiled at him, and he assured us he knew just what she wanted for Christmas. Pro tip: Meeting Santa 2 weeks pre Christmas on a Thursday at 4 means no lines at all!

A trip to Disney with The Hills! It was so nice to go to Disney with our flock of children. Slow paced, lots of snacks, E clutching a fry like it's about to run away from her, and of course her little head on Spaceship Earth, snacking on her bonnet string. The thing is, even if people are totally ok with you going at the pace of a snail, parking the stroller, feeding the baby snack after snack, changing bottoms, taking turns on ride, this whole lifestyle of parenting and family and obligation- even if they are 100% at peace with that, I still feel guilty that we are ruining their time. So going with other people who are also shackled to their beautiful children gives everyone peace of mind.

 So while we loved the Jacksonville Historical Society's Gingerbread Extravaganza, some grinchy volunteers soured our experiance a bit. The actual houses were amazing though!

This version of the old Jax downtown library was my favorite. I still remember going to that branch as a child and watching a movie in the little theatre. It seemed like a wondrous place, and seeing this really reminded me that the smallest things can be magical for children. Going on walks, pretending at parks, participating in story time at the library, watching the train table in the lobby - simple little things can be so much  more to a child and can stick with a person their entire life.

Echo's favorite thing is to giddy-up! Whenever she's happy, which is quite frequently, she's positively bouncing and bubbling over. The teeth. The two bottom teeth.

We said goodbye to our dearest Uncle Joel, Echo's favorite mode of transportation, this month. She looks so grown in the photo in her hodge podge jammies. Little rosebud pout.

Favorite Christmas gift alert! Santa DID know what Echo wanted for Christmas, by way of her Cammie :). No baby Mannings were hurt in the production of this photo. I mean--- look at Ben's muscles, he can take it. Ben and Echo have been the same size ever since he turned 4 months and she turned 9 months :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Joy To The World: Pt 1 Echo Update

December.. another month another blog post. First resolution: blog more in 2016.

A little update on Echo, punctuated by the most beautiful family photos by Amanda Lenhardt. And there are a lot of pictures. Warning: abundance of milky fair, ocean-eyed baby may have you clutching your heart and swooning repeatedly. This should take away from the fact that the words are pretty boring to anyone who isn't me, my husband, or Echo's grandparents.

This picture fully embodies Echo's spirit. The bold posture, the bright smile, the come-what-may attitude, all while crushing her mother beneath her feet, dusting her heels on her parents. Just kidding on that last one, but we are truly at her leisure, and what a pleasant way to spend the time.
Echo was 10 months old as of Dec 16. At her 9 month check she clocked in at a hefty 16 lbs 13 oz. She's made it to the 25%! She never ever ever stops. Her main focus right now is crawling from place to place, yelling wildly, swinging and speaking to inanimate objects, climbing onto coffee tables and ottomans, whipping up stairs lickety-split, and STANDING all on her own like a big girl.

The first time she stood up I was in the foyer at church, taking a break from sacrament meeting as you do with a then 9 months old. During the prayer or sacrament, or something or other that was holy and I should have had my eyes closed for, she scrambled up using the side of the arm chair and grabbed my keys with both hands, solidly standing there on two feet for a good 30 seconds. I of course did NOT have my eyes closed, and gasped and shrieked wildly while others cracked their lids to see what the heck was going on. Proud moment.

10 months has brought a little bit of a sleep regression, teething (2 on bottom were joined by 1 shiny top tooth), and finally some sense of decorum when it comes to going to strangers. She loves her Mama, folks. Although I say that, while just a few weeks ago at Disney I had to drag her away from a stranger who was sitting next to me at a show. Echo was desperately flirting with this man and trying to climb in to his lap.

Favorite foods are still savory for the most part: hummus and toast, roasted broccoli and asparagus, eggs with cheese, chicken drumsticks. She still has a hard time with plain fruit, although she loves red apples.

Jared has been hanging out with E all month on his break from school. She cracks up when he pretends to lightsaber duel with her, loves to play hide and seek, and enjoys their daily lunch dates about town.  Her favorite word is Dada. She still has very little interest in clapping or waving or whatever other tricks I try in vain to teach her, but she does occasionally give very toothy kisses,

And with that, I say bring on more pictures. We were running a little late for our shoot, Echo had fallen asleep, and I remember being so stressed heading to get our pictures taken. But I feel like they really capture who we are right now well. A little tired looking, but so very happy flanking our radiant girl.

Her eyes! Her EYES. They really do sparkle and shine.

Her lashes and pointy foot are killing me here. And that smirk.

Classic E smile, she gets it from her daddy.

Friday, November 27, 2015

November where did you go?

Am I becoming a monthly blogger? Maybe. But I ain't quitting! So help me.

We have been dealing with a tiny little pathetic snot queen for the past week or so. Echo spent 20 minutes in a daycare class with 4 other babies and came out with the creeping crud. Ah, childhood. What is it about a baby with a runny nose? It simultaneously makes me want to take a scalding shower and also snuggle the crap out of her. Look at that tender little look in her eye looking at her Sophoe. That's the look of a sleepy, sick kitty. E - 9 month, 16 lbs 13 oz, feisty, 3 teeth, babysass.

We had a full and food filled Thanksgiving. Echo shoveled fist fulls of mashed potatos into her and dog Bo's face.

Earlier in the month we finally made it to Diagon Alley! Universal was so much fun that we didn't even take pictures. I find myself going completely dark on social media and not really documenting things when I'm having a great time. I like to immerse myself in that situation and forget about the rest of it. I suppose that's how thing should be. We had a great time with my family- my brothers are some of me and Jared's best friends.

We road (Dueling) Dragon Tr-Wizard Challenge Duel Rollercoaster thingy at least 6 times, journeyed through the 16 chambers of the Gringott's Bank ride, made it through Knockturn Alley. And Echo became UNHINGED at the taste of ButterBeer. If she spotted anyone drinking a frosty glass she began whining and throwing her body towards them, kicking her legs wildly. Luckily that is a delicacy she can only get one place and she won't be going again for quite some time.

This post is not at all chronological, more just me scrolling through my phone and scratching my head wondering what the heck I did the past 30 days. But LISTEN. I had a spiritual experience at a Sufjan Stevens concert. Echo had a horrible diaper rash and was teething, so the drive down was fraught, then of course I forgot our tickets, THEN forgot them again in the car....yikes.  It took everything out of me to get there but holy cow it was so worth the trials and tribulation. Carrie and Lowell live was so deeply touching and sorrowful. I felt his grief in my core. He also played some of 7 swans, and of course Chicago. A great night in the end. 

A great month in the end!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thank Your Lucky Stars

So besides costumes and pumpkin patches, life has happened as well. I've felt like a huge complainer lately. My sarcasm has turned quite bitter, and I'm trying really hard to just grin and bare it and see the good that is so very abundant. This is a long rambling update, so buckle in.

As of a week ago, my suckling child is no longer being nursed. After the serious drama that was my supply tanking, I dug my heels in and did everything I could think to help it rebound. Staying up late to power pump every night, tea, herbs, oatmeal, gatoraide, everything I could - and it worked! It was a ton of work but it paid off. However, a month or so after that was done, Echo herself decided that biting mama was a heck of a lot more fun then nursing. Five straight days where she would not nurse, only chomp, leaving me to pump while she took a bottle. At 8 months, I called it quits. It has taken me a lot to not go completely ape on my pump like unto Office Space.
Not nursing makes me sad, but its honestly been amazing to not have to worry about pumping, supply, or constantly being on a timer - counting down every 3 hours again and again. I quickly realized that I was my harshest critic when it came to breastfeeding and supplementing. It was good while it lasted, and I look forward to breast feeding my next baby, hopefully without, but maybe inspite of, all the drama.

The next biggest thing on the agenda is Jared, Echo, and I moved to Mandarin. Its a positive change for our little family, and at times a difficult one. But we have a whole lot to be thankful for. Our move drug on for absolutely ever. The entire month of October was transitional, moving here and there, packing things and sorting them and storage units and thrift store runs. Jared basically packed and moved the entire house himself, with me pitching in where I could with the baby strapped to my back.

My health has been a bit wack of late. Allergies like wow. Air purifiers blasting, contacts traded for Grannie glasses. Always kind of a delicate flower, rashes have been plaguing me. Itchy itchy eczema on my legs, abdomen, chest, elbows, and creeping now onto my shoulders. I've been to the dermatologist and at any given time I am slathered in various creams and potions, but I feel covered in it, and sometimes it gets me really down. However I refuse to let it stop me from wearing skirts and dresses and things that I love. So no, it's not contagious, and no, I can't really shave my legs right now. Just TRY and shame me for body hair people, I dare you. If a woman being any less then silky smooth and daring to bare her shins bothers you, you have bigger issues then I do.

And Disney! We cashed in for a pair of season tickets once again and we have been having such a Echo is a road warrior and sleeps like a charm in the stroller, although it does kind of cramp her  always on the move style. I am proud to say her favorite ride is Small World.

Oh and I was in a wedding! My dear friend got married to her sweetheart and had the most amazing wedding. A fantastic time was had by all!

(Depression)Cherry on top:

  •  Jared and I have had BOTH of Beach Houses new albums on blast lately (controversial - I think I like Depression Cherry more then Thank Your Lucky Stars?!) 

  • I am finally seeing my main man, Sufjan Stevens this weekend. *Praise Hands emoji all around* 

  •  I am unabashedly obsessed with little ol Bieber's video for Sorry. Takes me to my happy place and even now I can feel Jared's judgmental eyes boring  into me haha.

Shoot! Well that's October for ya. Over and out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Traveling Circus

Halloween is my favorite holiday for several reason, but the biggest reason is it seems to be the great equalizer of the holiday realm. With a little thrift and imagination you can be whoever you'd like to be, and go out and get a sack full of candy just like everyone else. Halloween, for me, is a holiday about simply having fun, with no other pretense. Its a little spooky, a little magical, and very exciting. I always have such a great time brainstorming up costumes and piecing them together.

A few months back I started getting really stressed at the thought of this Halloween. It was Echo's first, and I wanted so badly to make her costume, but it just didn't seem feasible. I am used to throwing odds and ends together, but how could I do that for a baby?! The very last thing I have in my life right now is spare time, and just thinking about making the ideas I had in my head a reality had me sweating bullets. I can barely sew, y'all. And days spent pouring piece by piece at a thrift store seem to be put on pause for the moment, so I said you know what! I'm buying a costume! It's not worth it! And I found a very cute little strawberry number on Amazon. Now don't ask me why because it's not pride - I have no beef with store bought costumes  - Jared's muscles are courtesy of Target sale rack! but I could not let this costume thing rest. Some people show their love through flowers, or baked goods, or back scratches. I show mine through a hot glue gun, safety pins and strong family theming. I wanted this, gosh darnit. So after a bit more brainstorming and google image searching, I shelved my original plans for something simple- a clown. That was just a quick jump to bearded lady and strong man,and thus the Alexander Family Circus was born.

Raising this child has been a group project since the start, and her costume was just the same. Aunt Lacey spotted the tutu, my grammie helped me sew it down to size and put darts in the collar, and Aunt Danielle helped pick out all the trim and that glorious tulle puff - a puff she kept on her head the whole night mind you! And so my Halloween wish came true. 

Coincidentally our good friends the Hill's happened to be  the parents of a Lion Tamer and his Lioness this Halloween, and the whole troupe of us had a great time trick-or-treating. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpy-umpy-umpkin and an Echo Update

From the dawn of time and throughout history, parents have placed their cherubic young on a pile of gourds and saw that it was good.

Love that one above, surveying her pumpkin kingdom. What is a pumpkin patch for if not baby photoshoots?  My parents, Aunt Paula, and cousins Ashlyn, Ethan, Candice, Parker and Ben all met at the patch for seasonal fun. So many beautiful blue eyed babies in this family.
 Not so sure about these little pumpkin things.

Hey I kinda like this guy!

Does anyone remember this song? It was a meme that caught fire in my high school before a meme was a meme...and I myself had it as my myspace song~~.

Echo is 8 months old. She's crawling like a big girl, pulling up and taking tip toe steps. She likes to grab things and hold them with both her hands and her feet. She is extremely daring, and usually has some kind of battle wound because of it. She  has no fear of strangers, LOVES saying Dada. Her smiles are infectious and huge, completely lighting up her face. Love love love this sweet little girl