Monday, December 31, 2007

Big Day, Big Milestones

Saturday was Chance's 2nd birthday, and it marked some big developments for him! He started going potty, and he started sleeping in his own big bed!

I had attempted to plan a party, but I knew it would be tough with craziness of being in between Christmas and New Year's. I soon realized it'd be better to cancel and postpone. Chuck thought I was a bit weird when I suggested doing "half" birthdays instead, celebrating his birthday in June, when he was first born. But after seeing this party fall through, he gets it now. :) So we'll be celebrating June 29th.

But on the big day, Chuck's parents came to visit, and we had our own little party.

Chance turns 2!

Testing out the cake
[Chance decided to do some quality control and taste test the cake for us.]

Riding with Grandma
[It's not the greatest photo, but I thought it was so sweet when Chance and Grandma rode the horsey!]

Like Father, Like Son
[Chuck's a lot like his dad, can you see the resemblance?! heheh.]

Also, here are a couple of the Christmas gifts the boys have been enjoying:

Adventures in Moonsand
[I thought Moonsand looked so cool, like an improved "Playdoh." But I was wrong. It's kinda just normal sand that's a little sticky..and just as messy. But the boys enjoyed it anyway.]

Little Drummer Boy
[When Aunt Desi gave Charlie a drum set, I was a bit annoyed. Just what they need, more noisemakers ;) I always thought drum sets were a cruel joke on the parents. But actually, once we got it together, it's really kinda cool. I can't believe I just said that! hehe. So Dez, if you read this..."Thanks."]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Photography Monster Strikes Again! (And Christmas recap)

Before I delve into the sweet events of Christmas, and overdosing on toys (if that's possible), I think I need to update my blog from about a week ago. Basically in it, I lament how photography is an expensive hobby/habit. And how I'm never content with what I have, always wanting the next better thing. For example, I was unhappy with the lens I have, wanting a 50mm lens, so I could get more indoor photos. The ironic thing is, as I wrote the blog, I had my younger sister Anna in mind, as she also has a knack with a camera, and I was indirectly warning her of how expensive things get as she ventures further. What I didn't expect, was she told my dad about my latest desire (the new lens), and my dad calls me a few days before Christmas, telling me he's in the third camera store trying to figure out exactly what I wanted!! LOL. So, the photography monster has been satiated for now, as my dad got me the new lens!! Actually, I told him I could pick it up myself, so as soon as I got it, Chuck took this photo of me to show my dad how happy the monster really was:

Angie's New lens!

But, to wrap up the photography stuff, I also found a great article that talks about the dSLR cameras, in simple language, and gives a great comparison of the various brands. Just click here if you want to read it. I highly recommend it if you ever think you want to go up to this level of photography.

So I promptly put the new lens to good use and took about a million photos in the last 5 days. Here are my favorites:

Angie's New lens!

Angie's New lens!

Angie's New lens!
[Kaleb, my nephew, 6 months old]

Angie's New lens!
[William, my nephew, 3 months old]

Angie's New lens!
[Elijah, my nephew, 7 months, with Chuck's mom. I can't take credit for this one, Chuck took it. Good job, babe!]


Christmas also went so well, and we are so blessed! Our boys were inundated with gifts, and we were so thankful to get time with family. We stayed in Austin December 23-27th and it was a nice trip. It definitely beats the quick weekend trips we take, even though it was a bit weird not being in our home for Christmas morning. I'm beginning to cherish each trip, as I know it will be much harder to travel once we have 3 least for a few years.

Villareal Christmas Party
[My cousin Dustin and his baby Tyler.]

Villareal Christmas Party
[My sister Desi, and her boyfriend Jay.]

Villareal Christmas Party
[My dad, the lens-gifter, and William, his youngest grandson.]

Christmas Day
[Elijah made his appearance on Christmas as Santa. Isn't he cute?!]

Christmas Day
[Kaleb obviously just enjoyed having all his grandparents around. His shirt says "Who needs Santa when you have grandparents."]

Christmas Day
[My boys both enjoyed playing in their Aunt Melanie's backyard...something we don't have at home, yet.]

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
[Christmas morning, they looked so cute in their flannel Thomas pj's. Thanks, Aunt Mitsi!]

So, now we're home and changing modes...Getting ready for Chance's birthday in 2 days! I think this will be the last time we celebrate on his birthday, as it's just too close to Christmas. There are so many disadvantages to it. I think his next real birthday party will be "at the half." Chuck thinks I'm weird, but I really want to celebrate his half birthday the next one will be June 2009, when he turns 3 and a half. :)

Photoshop Elements Experiments


One more tidbit to catch up on... One of my favorite bloggers, Pioneer Woman, was featured on CNN for a quick tidbit, click here to see the cute interview.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Productive Day

So somehow I didn't get to bed until nearly 2 am last night. You would think that would mean today would be all about laying on the couch, eating bon-bons and watching soap operas. Not that I do those things, but isn't that the stereotype for a stay-at-home mom?

But actually the lack of sleep gave me a reason to start the day off with Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Coffee ;) What I didn't realize is that even just a cup (and I do mean "cup") would have a great effect since I hadn't consumed much caffeine lately.

So here's what I did today:

~Cleaned out and reorganized 3 closets, one of which is my BIG linen closet.
~Bagged 5 bags of linens we don't use and got them loaded in the car, ready for Goodwill.
~Wrapped presents from Santa while the boys napped.
~Pulled out the entertainment center and cleaned under it, and reorganized a few things (wink, wink).
~Gave the boys an early Christmas present and helped Chuck assemble it
(oh the joy of parenthood when it comes to toy assembly!)
~Put up Christmas lights around the entire porch (I know, it's practically Christmas already...)
~Cleaned out the minivan so we can travel soon.
~Met with a man who's going to put in sprinklers for us.
~Made phone calls, wrote emails, caught up on nearly everything I could possibly think of. Including this blog ;)
~Figured out a way to end world hunger and bring about peace on Earth
(just kidding..although think of what 2 cups of coffee would've done!!).
~...Not to mention the usual, diaper changes, meals cooked, and I even got all of the laundry and dishes done.

Personally, I'd say, caffeine is such a good friend. It was so nice to not take a nap, like I usually do. Or lay on the couch wishing for more motivation or energy, like I usually do. Or look around the room in frustration, because there's so much to do, like I usually do. It was great to be able to think clearly, and even remember common words that are usually lost in my pregnant brain. It was also great to fit in a shower, like I usually don't do...Oh wait! Did I just say that out loud?!

Anyways, enough jesting about my nesting and caffeine combo. But if baby3 comes out looking kinda funny, you'll know why.

So the real news is, last night we had a rockin' time at the Texas Transportation Museum. If you have kids into trains, this place is well worth the visit. And while I don't have all the photos online yet (ok, maybe I didn't catch up on EVERYTHING after all), I do have a few...

Santa's Railroad Wonderland
[Obviously with all of the lights on it, this one was just stationary. But still, how cool is that?!]

Santa's Railroad Wonderland
[As we walked thru that train, Chance looked so studious, but really, he just loved the pictures. He kept saying "Wook, Mommy, Choo Choo!!"]

Santa's Railroad Wonderland
[You may have to click on this one to be able to read it...but please, tell me what you think of this. I think it's kinda funny, to say the least...]

Ok, so hopefully the rest of the pics turn out better of the kids. Sorry to leave you hanging there.

The boys had a blast. We rode one old train for about a quarter mile and back. The boys saw many different model trains running, both indoors and out. Of course, a few times they saw Thomas engines. You should've seen the look on Chance's face the entire time. He was just absolutely in awe of it all. I hope that means he'll be happy when Santa gives him Geotrax trains for Christmas. The boys also got to meet "Choo Choo" Claus (Santa in a train engineer costume), who Charlie promptly ran up to and hugged. It was sweet.

Moments like these make me so grateful for this season in life. I would've never gone to that museum if it hadn't been for 2 little boys who both adore trains. And seeing their reactions is half the fun anyway!

By the way, the "Santa's Railroad Wonderland" exhibit is running through Sunday. If you live near San Antonio and want to check it out, just click here for more info.

And lastly, tomorrow may be my last day of having internet for until then, Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pregnancy Chronicles, Trimester Two

Well, it's that time again... Pregnancy recap time.

28 weeks

1. As I had said at the end of "Pregnancy Chronicles, Trimester One," this could really be more about projects I've done over the last 3 months than anything else. Let's just say a lot of nooks and crannies of our house have been reorganized. You may not be able to tell if you come over to visit, but oh how I can tell! :) One of my favorite projects was recovering my dining room chairs with vinyl, so they're now child-proof. I keep wondering why I didn't do that long ago... Also, I probably take delight in things like baskets and storage bins, and getting things out of sight, more than most people. Or even more than I would if I weren't pregnant, for that matter.

So all that to say, I've definitely been nesting since the day trimester two began! I haven't been as impatient and irritable as I usually get with this nesting thing, but it's also not the third trimester yet... ;)

2. Nesting isn't the only thing about this trimester that's been out of place... Normally the second trimester for me is a fun one. I feel like my old self, only my belly is growing slowly and I start feeling the baby move. Then third trimester kicks in and I feel like a whale (and panic because having the baby is only 3 months away). This time, second trimester has been all about prepping for the baby (or at least getting my house in order), and I went from not showing at all, to looking like I'm already in third trimester! I had lost about 5 pounds the first trimester (normally I should've gained 5 pounds), but the second trimester brought way more weight than normal. I've gained 26 pounds! That's as much as some women gain for the whole 9 months, and I did it in 3! The weight gain was definitely more gradual with my first two.

3. Symptoms: still craving pizza and chocolate, no none aversions really. I did want to note that the heartburn took awhile longer to set in this time. I had my fingers crossed that maybe it would not happen at all, but it came with a vengeance a few weeks ago. I'm back to feeling like I can't even hold water down.

One question that I have is this: Is Pepcid AC bad? When I was pregnant with Chance, it was on the safe list, so I took it daily for heartburn. Is it a coincidence that, while Chance would spit up often, he didn't have reflux (or at least didn't complain about it)? For Charlie, I didn't take any medication while pregnant, just drank chocolate milk by the jug, and he had bad reflux as a baby. I've now learned that there isn't enough evidence to prove if Pepcid is safe or not. No proof that it hurts a baby, but also no evidence to prove it doesn't. Should I stay on it?! Since Chance did ok, I'm quite tempted to...

Photoshop Elements Experiments

4. We found out it's a boy, to Charlie's great disappointment. But I'm relieved, and ready to have 3 boys! :) Also, Charlie has lately started wanting to feel the baby move. He often sits beside me with his hand on my belly, just in case...

5. I've since learned he's a very active boy. He moves and even shakes in utero. I think he'll have plenty of energy to keep up with his older brothers!

28 weeks

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Warning to all Potential Photographers

There was once a day when I had a camera, and was content. I didn't even know it was called "a point-and-shoot" and couldn't care less about how it worked. I was naive to the world of dSLRs, and photography in general.

But then I had a baby. And as soon as he was born, so was "the photography monster" in me. I just couldn't take enough pictures. And I began to wonder if I needed a better camera, one with a faster shutter speed, since I missed so many great moments between clicks (and also a long flash-recharge time). So we upgraded to another point and shoot. This one had a manual mode, where I began to play with making my pictures better. Then Chuck decided he wanted a dSLR when our second was born. For the first year and a half, I told him I didn't want to even touch the thing, it was way too expensive, and I am way too accident-prone. But then, one day, my friends and I wanted to have a photoshoot in the bluebonnets. Chuck couldn't come because he had to work. So I did Eve biting the apple, I borrowed that fancy camera. Here were my results.

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

What I had feared the most came true: I really liked this camera. It's shutter speed was sooo much faster, and the pictures were sooo much better than my point and shoot. Chuck had already informed me I needed to get my own (he has the photography monster in him too, and it doesn't like to share). My birthday was 2 weeks later, and I found the same camera on craigslist and was so excited when my dad told me he wanted to invest in my photography skills...aka addiction. Chuck and I could now share lenses, too. Come to find out, lenses are just as expensive as the camera itself (and even more so!). So Chuck's photography monster starts throwing a fit about wanting a new lens. My monster could now sympathize, and eventually, we "invested" in a new lens. It's called an "investment" not because it increases in value, but because anything that expensive shouldn't be considered "spending." Ha!

Then I found flickr, an online photo-sharing website. And my monster grew as I saw all of the excellent photos out there. So many new ideas on how to do things! I also stalk a few of my favorite photographers (I read their blogs). For your myspacers, be warned: it's even more addicting than myspace!

Then I had to learn about photo editing software, like picasa, bibble, and photoshop. I had the first two and have learned more and more about how to improve my photos, but soon realized that nothing compares to photoshop. But having photoshop meant having a computer that runs Microsoft Windows (which Chuck abhors, but that's another story). Yet my monster began to crave photoshop, and so Chuck lovingly stood in the freezing cold at 2 AM in order to get me a (Windows) laptop, just so I could have photoshop.

So now, I have it, and I have no idea how to use it. ;) There's one technique I have managed though, the eye-pop. Here is an example:

Chance -another eye pop Chance -another eye pop

Oh, and now that I can do this "eye pop" thing, I am longing for photos that can really show eye color better than my zoom lens. And guess what? The photographer monster is craving again! This time it's a 50mm lens, and it's not cheap. It's also wanting a photoshop manual, which is so ironic to me. I have NEVER desired to read a manual of any kind, especially one on how to use software. That's Chuck's department.

There's a moral to this story. You may be thinking photography is fun, and that you might want to further your skills. Let me warn you, as one who is lost down that road...DON'T do it! ;) This hobby is fun, and it's also expensive! It sucks you in and doesn't let go. My dreams of being debt free are now being rivaled by dreams of being a better photographer. And now as I look back on those simple day of naivete, I see photos that are so poor in quality, instead of the beautiful moments with my baby. I also actually take less photos now, because I know they won't turn out very well. The more you learn, the more you know you have so much more to learn, and the monster is never satisfied! If you're still in the ignorant stages, please do yourself a favor, and resist the temptation to move deeper into the world of photography. The fruit tastes sweet, but it comes at a high cost.

And until then, anyone want to donate for a new lens? I may have to go into business, just to keep this monster happy...

Photography Woes and Funny Stories

First of all, thank you so much for praying for us as we weathered the storm this weekend. Charlie's swelling has gone down, he even slept through the night last night for the first time since Wednesday, and we have yet another dentist appointment tomorrow to see about fixing that wretched tooth.

But before the pain, swelling, tylenol and multiple dentist visits, I performed a little photography experiment. With all the lights on in our guest room, can my camera take a photo of quickly moving subjects...without the flash or natural (sun) light? I even added a strong light to the mix to see if it'd work, and for your photography buffs, I set the ISO up to 800 to see if that would help get a faster shutter speed. Did it work well? Not as well as I'd hoped, although I now have an appreciation for people who take photos in studio, and have all that fancy equipment. And I learned that I really hate 800 ISO. Getting the specks out of the photo was no simple task, even for Bibble or Photoshop. But here are my results:



[I know, the white balance is off, and it's blurry...but I loved that foot up in the air!]





Anyhow, the fun times have returned to our house...

~There's a new game around here...the "hiney biter" game. Chance actually started it, where he comes up to a non-suspecting adult and sticks his tush out and says "Hiney! Hiney!" then takes off running. It wasn't long before I started reaching out to pinch that little tush, and the hiney biter game was born. The boys both come up and stick them out, then run before I can reach them. It took me awhile to teach Charlie that he didn't have to drop his pants for this game, little flasher!

~Chance is continually developing his nurturing side. This morning Chuck fell down the stairs with Chance in his arms (what is with that? Why do we keep falling?!) So as I held Chance as he cried, even in his tears, he looked at his stuffed kitty, whom he loves and carries around everywhere, and said "Kitty, you ok?"

~Chance is getting better at sentences. He will come up and say, "Mommy, juice please." Then I'll ask him to go find his cup, and he'll take off looking for it, saying, "Cup, (where) are you?"

~Chance is also becoming quite the pray-er. As we pray, he'll imitate us, then when he hears us say "Thank you for Jesus," or "In Jesus Name" he'll respond with "Amen." It is the cutest thing. I really need to video it...

~Charlie has made me so proud through this teeth incident. Back in June when we cut out all sugar from his diet, I would often catch him sneaking food that was off limits, and also throwing fits about not being able to eat everything. This time he's not only obeyed when I tell him he can't eat something, he doesn't even complain when he sees someone else eating it. He also brings me things and asks me if it has sugar before he eats it.

~Baby3 is still nameless, but it obviously hasn't gotten him down too much. He is at the stage where he can move, and man, does he! Sometimes I wonder if the kid ever sleeps! He even does this shaking thing that's really weird to feel. Chuck said it's probably from all the caffeine I'm subjecting him to. I'm already a terrible mom this time around. As I've mentioned before, I took on this vice in order to survive these energy demanding times...

It's nice to be somewhat back to normal around here, just in time for Christmas! Stay tuned for some eye-popping, photoshop loving experiments. And also, a warning will be served to anyone who dabbles in all things photographic. You won't want to miss it! ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Excess of Abscess

Body aches from sleep deprivation. Waking up every couple of hours to your baby's cries. Lots of holding him, lots of comforting him. Taking frequent short naps. Looking at the sink full of dishes and thinking, "there's no way I'm getting to that." Running to the baby's doctor in fear that something's wrong and you don't know how to fix it.

No, I haven't had baby3 yet! But the last couple of days have felt like it. My oldest baby has an abscessed tooth. If you remember from back in June, the first time I took Charlie to the dentist we were told his teeth were in bad shape. Considering he'd only had them three years of less, it was hard to believe. His two front teeth were near-abscessing so we cut out nearly all sugar until he had the root canals in July. So here we are, 5 months later, and he's never complained about his teeth hurting until this past Tuesday. At first I thought he just had a popcorn seed stuck in them or something. But his complaints became more frequent, and Wednesday night he woke up crying about them. So we went to the dentist Thursday, who said that he could find absolutely nothing wrong with them. But, he said, waking up in the night is a symptom of an abscess that obviously hasn't come to the surface, so start him on antibiotics now. This was the dentist who performed all the work in July, and who I had decided we would not use again due to the financial nightmare of it all. Anyhow, all day yesterday Charlie cried in pain, and even ran a fever while on full doses of both tylenol and ibuprofen. On into the night it went, and by this morning, the entire left side of his face was swollen! So we went to another dentist today, since the infection is showing itself now, and he showed me which tooth is indeed abscessed. He reassured me that the antibiotics will work soon, so not to worry (easy for you to say). So now we play the waiting game, and I try to keep up with his pain management. Charlie's not only feeling the pain, but also disappointed that he doesn't get to eat the strawberries I had just gotten him, among other sugary things.

A pain in the tooth

Please allow me to lament for a minute, and if you have kids, maybe you can learn from my big mistake. I was always careful about Charlie's diet, making sure he didn't eat nuts, honey, or even strawberries until he turned 3. Yet the area I grossly overlooked was sugar. I let the boy drink chocolate milk from sun up to sun down. Somehow it never dawned on me what I was doing to him. He was so strong-willed I just figured this was one battle I wouldn't win (he would really throw a fit when he couldn't have it). But that was wrong of me. I should've put a stop to it long ago. This time it's a molar which will most likely have to be pulled, not just root-canaled. I should have been more careful.

There are things I'm thankful for in all this. One, Chuck and I had to cancel our romantic getaway this weekend to celebrate our anniversary, and luckily it's not going to cost us. Somehow the fear of what Charlie's going through takes the sting out of missing this weekend that I've been so excited about. Two, as if God knew we couldn't handle much more, Chance has been so good the last few days. No tantrums, just sweetness, always happy, very cooperative. Three, I'm so thankful for Chuck's new job, because he could watch Chance while I took Charlie to the dentists the last couple of days.

Anyhow, please pray for us. For peace despite the obvious scariness of the situation (I keep trying to NOT think what it must be like for parents whose children die from having abscessed teeth!), and most of all, for Charlie's swelling to go down, and for God to heal him quickly. Thanks so much!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Time is Craft Time

As I "dumped" my photos onto my computer yesterday, I realized that we have been doing a lot of crafts lately. Here's what I mean:

[When Granny and Bubba were here over Thanksgiving, everyone made a gingerbread house. After about a week of trying to keep the boys away from it, I realized I'd better take a picture before the inevitable. Here's the gingerbread house before too much damage was done.]

The Boys' Creation

[Isn't it a cute little cottage?]

[Then Charlie wanted in the picture. Please pay no attention to the half dead plant in the background. I keep hoping it'll resurrect itself, but the truth is, I don't possess much of a green thumb. Or the ability to "photoshop" it out yet!]

[The next day, I catch the boys doing this...]
"Hey boys, what are you doing?"

[The little monkeys, now that they have figured out how to move chairs and barstools around, nothing is truly safe.]
Little monkeys

[Hey! That's the gingerbread house! *Sigh*, well...I guess y'all can have at it.]
Partners in Crime

[Maybe we need a new craft...let's paint.]
Arts and Crafts

[Hey, Chance, whatcha got there?]
Take a pic of my paint, Mommy!

[Charlie, could you smile for me?]
"Hey Charlie, smile for me!"

[Ok, let's try reverse psychology...Don't you smile at me, boy!!]
"Don't you smile, boy!!"

[So, who likes to paint?]
Who wants ice cream?

[Charlie shows off his handprint.]
Charlie handprint

[Chance just thought the whole experience was funny.]
Overexposed, but way to happy to delete

[Lastly, Charlie and I made one more craft. Chuck gave me a cricut for our anniversary, so I could start making signs and plaques. My first project was making these nameplates. Charlie helped me paint them and get the letters cut out. It was really fun.]
First Cricut project

Whew, building gingerbread houses, painting masterpieces, and making signs has worn me out! At least it gives my nesting hormones something safe to do. ;) Happy holidays!