Happy Birthday, Gabe

Last week, Gabe turned 6!  He was lucky enough to have a birthday that fell on a teacher in service day and on Daddy’s day off so we packed up the fam and a couple of friends and spent the day in Denver at the Lego store!  We had a great time!

Each time one of the kids has a birthday I say this, but it is true every time:  I can’t believe he is 6!  6 just feels so big!!  If feels like he is officially a big boy now.  We are so proud of the boy Gabe is becoming. 

  • He has the most tender heart of anyone I know, and he sympathizes with others so deeply. 
  • He is very neat and orderly.  I very rarely have to remind him to put his things away where they belong, and he often has things lined up neatly.  He reminds me of my brother in that way.  Maybe he will grow up to be an engineer too! 
  • He is very particular about how he dresses.  He has definite opinions about what kind of jeans are acceptable (no elastic waste bands, and they have to be boot cut), which shirts can be worn with a sweater vest (long sleeves only), and when to wear shorts (never, if he can help it!).  He won’t leave the house looking anything but put together!  He is also very specific about how he wears his hair (faux hawk with certain outfits, parted on the side with others). 
  • He is a good student.  He listens and follows instructions well.  He catches on to new things very quickly!
  • He makes friends easily.  He has no trouble socializing and he has already made some new friends at school.  Other kids love our Gabe!
  • He loves to play with his Legos.  He does a good job following the directions to put together a set, and he is also good at using his imagination to build something of his own creation. 
  • So far, I have been unable to capture his attention where books are concerned, but I’m not giving up!  I WILL find something that interests him and encourage him to love reading the way Isabel and I do!
  • He started AWANAS a couple of weeks ago and loves it!  He has already completed his intro book and earned his Sparks uniform!  He is great at memorizing the verses, and he is diligent about studying!

He is a great kid, and we are really enjoying watching him grow up and become his own person.  Happy Birthday, Gabe!  We love you so much!



Before and After


As many of you know we moved at the end of July.  The new house needed a bit of work, and while we are still a long way from being done with our home improvements, we have made some good progress!  It’s amazing what a fresh coat of bright, colorful paint can do!  … and IKEA!   I’ve had several requests for pictures, and since we are having company tonight, and the house is clean I decided that today was a great day to take “after” pictures!

Here is the outside of the house.

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The yellow is NOT our first choice, and we have plans to change that ASAP!  In the meantime we are doing our best to live with it until we can paint it.  As many of you have, no doubt, heard on the news, Colorado has experienced some major rain and flooding this summer.  We had some minor damage as a result, and were hoping that we could make an insurance claim for enough to get the house painted. 

It started out like this…

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Sadly, the claim wasn’t enough to cover the cost to paint, but we were able to repair it and now it looks like this…

2013-09-21 14.02.05  Much better!

And now for the inside:





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Remember this disaster?


We removed the wallpaper and painted everything…


And voila!  We still need to paint the cabinets and decorate, but I think it’s a HUGE improvement already!

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This post doesn’t include the basement (because we haven’t done anything exciting down there), or the playroom (because it may be the most fabulous room of all, and it’s not done yet), but I will post updates on those as they are completed.  Also, I didn’t post any pictures of the backyard – which is AMAZING.  I have no excuse for that – I just plain forgot to take pictures.  We are still working on some little things like hanging curtains and pictures, but most of our decorating is done!  I hope you enjoyed this tour!  Keep checking the blog for more updates!

Look Who’s 2!

(I wrote this post more than 2 months ago – right after Alex actually turned 2 – but I forgot to post it!  Oops!)


This boy is 2! I’ve spent the last few weeks dreading this day.  How can my baby be 2 already?  It seems like only yesterday I was trying to convince Joel that having 3 children would be better than having only 2.  Joel, obviously, gave in  (stubborn is my middle name, after all – he didn’t stand a chance ) and this little guy came into our lives with a big bang! 

These are a few of the things we want to remember about Alex’s 2nd year:

  • He is a love bug – there is nothing quite like a pair of short, chubby arms wrapped around your neck, or a wet, slobbery kiss from a pair of tiny little lips!
  • He is a ham
  • He is a drama king 
  • He throws a wicked temper tantrum
  • He loves to play with his siblings
  • He is independent
  • Daddy and Grandpa are his favorite people
  • He is a daredevil
  • He is a picky eater
  • He loves his tools and his lawn mower
  • If he puts his hands down your shirt, it’s the highest compliment he can pay you – This habit has carried over from his nursing days.  He would always stick his hand down my shirt and wrap up in it while he nursed.  When he is tired or going to sleep he will lay his head down, stick his hand down your shirt, and snuggle in close – but only if he REALLY loves you!
  • He loves to play outside – he’d live out there if I let him
  • He never stops moving
  • He is afraid of the trash truck

New House DIY #1

An art table for the kids!

It pains me to have to face the reality that my kids are growing up,and have come to the place where they have outgrown their current art table.  To add salt to my wound, the art table they are currently using is the same art table that my brother and I used as small children.  I’m now faced with the task of giving my beloved childhood table back to my mom (for Druh’s kids) and trying to find a new table that is suitable for my own growing children.  As I began my search for a bigger and better table, I quickly learned that this task was going to be harder than I thought.  Most art tables are made for preschoolers!   Even the ones that adjust don’t adjust enough to accommodate my long-legged 8 year old.  So I came up with Plan B:  Find an old, small kitchen table and refinish it to make it fun for the kids!  I went to Goodwill and browsed through several yard sales with no luck.  I was starting to think that I would never find what I was looking for.  Then one day I was driving past our new house (does anyone else do that?  Just drive past so you can stare at it and dream about what it will be like when you live there?) and I noticed a yard sale sign for a house around the corner.  We drove by at a snail’s pace so I could see if it was worth getting out, and low and behold they had an old school desk!!  I jumped out and asked if it was for sale and how much?  Yes!  it was for sale for $25!  The more I thought about it, the more excited I became!  It was better than I had imagined it could be!  It was made for two kids, it had those little cubby holes for the kids supplies, and it adjusted about every inch or so all the way up the legs!!!  It was perfect!  I ran to the bank, grabbed some cash, loaded up my amazing new table, and then popped over to Walmart for a can of brightly colored spray paint!  I LOVE how it turned out and with a few amazing accessories from IKEA (my new favorite store) the kids are going to have an awesome craft area in our new house!  I can’t wait to share the finished product! 

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Next up:  find amazing chairs to go with amazing table!

At the Zoo

Summer has been very slow in coming to Colorado this year, but we have managed to take advantage of a couple of very nice days and take the kids to the zoo! 





Grannie even took a day off of work so she and Auntie Mady could have a zoo day too!

It was stormy that day so the animals were very active.  We saw an elephant get a bath, a baby warthog, and the hippos eat their lunch!

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Got (Almond) Milk??

Some of you may be aware (because I’ve vented or complained to you over the last 2 years) that Alex has never been a good sleeper.  The other two kids were relatively easy to sleep train.  We were able to get them sleeping through the night quickly using the die hard tricks that have worked for generations.  Alex was a different story.  When his first birthday came and went and I was still unable to figure out how to get him to sleep soundly I thought I would go crazy.  In fact the first year of his life had been very trying and I found myself feeling guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my baby.  I was tired.  I was frustrated.  I was worried that something was really wrong with him.  I asked the pediatrician about it a couple of times, but her response was often to place blame on me for encouraging his bad habits and she always told me to let him cry it out. Eventually, I started telling her that he was sleeping beautifully whenever she asked just so I wasn’t subjected to her criticism.  I also felt in my gut that his sleep problems ran deeper than just bad habits.  I was a bit bewildered for awhile since I was unable to get any good advice from my doctor.  I didn’t know who else to turn to for sound advice.  We pressed on and hoped that he would just outgrow it and sleep through the night one day soon. 

Constipation was another constant problem we had with him!  I mean he had not pooped regularly pretty much since birth .  (Sorry if that’s TMI.  One day he is going to kill me for blogging about this!) We asked the pediatrician about this as well and they told us to give him Miralax. My first reaction to this advice was NO WAY!  I tried feeding him things that would encourage him to poop, but things only seemed to get worse so we tried the Miralax hoping it would clean him out quickly and get him on track.  That never happened.   It would help him poop, but as soon as we stopped giving it to him he would be constipated again.  We felt very strongly that he should not be on this for any length of time so we stopped giving it to him as soon as we realized that it didn’t do any good.  We also began to do research on Miralax and learned that a person who is on Miralax regularly will eventually lose function of the muscles that tell them they need to use the bathroom.  The Miralax does it for them and then the muscles get lazy and stop working.  WHAT?????  I don’t even want to talk about the guilt I feel for giving it to him at all even though it was only for a very short period of time and don’t get me started on what I want to tell the pediatrician for prescribing this poison to INFANTS!  UGH!

Shortly after this, Alex began to get hives often.  I started to do some research into why this could be or what I could do to help prevent it and I came across an article on milk allergies and sensitivities. I don’t know why this caught my attention or why it stuck with me, but I began to wonder about it.  Alex LOVES milk!  I have to limit his intake because he would drink it all the time if I didn’t.  As I read more about it I learned that cow’s milk can cause constipation, sleeplessness, and irritability (another thing we had been dealing with).  I read one blog post by a mother about her son and I was sure she was talking about Alex.  Her son sounded identical in sleep habits and behavior!   I asked my pediatrician (just to see, but pretty sure I was going to toss her advice out the window) what she thought about the possibility that Alex had a milk sensitivity.  She told us that we should continue giving him the Miralax and see if that worked before we cut out a whole food group.  Ok …. see me roll my eyes and toss her stupid advice out our second story window.  I posted on facebook asking other mothers if they had any experience with this and any advice they could offer.  I received lots of great suggestions and we began to cut out cow’s milk.  My strategy was to try all the alternative milks until I found one he liked..  We started with almond milk.  At first he didn’t like it at all!  I always give him a bottle of milk before nap time and on the first day he grabbed his bottle, took a sip, and handed it back to me saying, “No. No.”  Ok, so he wasn’t going to quit cow’s milk cold turkey.  I started mixing it together and slowly increased the almond milk until it was all almond milk.  The funny thing is, if he saw me pour the almond milk he wouldn’t drink it, but if I let him see me pour the whole milk, he drank it all!  Smart little cookie!!!  It’s been smooth sailing ever since!   Even before he was completely off of cow’s milk, he began to sleep better.  He was pooping regularly!  And his mood improved by leaps and bounds!  We’ve realized that as long as we limit Alex’s dairy intake he is a normal, sleeping, pooping, happy kid.  He can have the occasional piece of cheese or cup of yogurt, but as long as he isn’t eating it all the time, he’s perfect!  So thank you Facebook moms, you’ve helped me solve a mystery the doctor’s were unwilling to consider!! 

One lesson I’ve learned is this:

There is no such thing as right or wrong sleep habits or routines.  I read somewhere that as long as you and your baby are happy with the current routine in your house, then there is no reason to change anything.  I just loved this statement.  I needed to hear that!  I had heard every criticism in the book regarding how we got and kept Alex asleep.  I stopped talking to everybody, friends and strangers alike, about Alex’s sleep problems.  I had one too many people brag about how all of their children were perfect sleepers and then look down their nose at me for not doing things “the right way”.  Yes, I was sleep deprived and desperate and I did things that the parenting books don’t encourage, but I wasn’t hurting anyone in the process and doing those things helped us just to survive.  We were in strict survival mode!  Even though Alex is sleeping through the night and napping well now I still give him a bottle and rock him to sleep before laying him down.  There it is!  In black and white and in the great blogosphere…. I ROCK MY BABY TO SLEEP!!!  GASP!!!  Yes, the authors of those sleep books would have a hay day with that, but I no longer care!  I’m not planning to change a thing!  In just a few short weeks he will be in a big boy bed, and I treasure those sweet moments I have with my last baby before he goes to sleep.  One day very soon I won’t be able to do that anymore.  With Isabel especially I succumbed too much to the pressures of what the books and doctors say is right and good, and it was at the expense of my baby.  I look back and wish I hadn’t taken the world’s view so seriously and had just gone with the flow and listened to her cues instead of forcing her to conform to what the world around me told me was normal.   I wish I could give this advice to all the first-time moms I know.  I wish somebody had given it to me. 

Phew!  That has been on my heart for weeks.  It feels good to get it off my chest!  Thanks for listening!

We’re Moving!

Yep, it’s true.  After renting for 3 years we are more than ready to be homeowners again!  We’ve been slowly looking for a house since February.  And let me tell you, it was slow movin’!  After months of searching and disappointment, we came across a wonderful opportunity.  A friend of a friend had a rental property that they were going to be selling and it was in our ideal neighborhood!!!!  We contacted the owner who let us take a look before he listed it and we decided to go for it!  The house is in a cul-de-sac, across the street from a park and one street over from Joel’s brother and his family!  It’s also MUCH closer to school and work and both sets of parents!!  We close on July 12 and we CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!

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Don’t mind the yellow….that will be going away ASAP!  I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of posts in the future about all the DIY projects I plan on doing!!!!

Catch up!

Why do I always do this?  I neglect my blog for months and then spend a week catching up on things that are no longer important!  I’m sure this time will be no different.  We have some very busy and exciting times coming up!  More on that later, but here are some things that have happened in the recent past that I neglected to blog about!


Easter was at our house this year.  We started our day by looking for Easter baskets.  DSC01376

Isabel’s was in the animal bin in the playroom.


Gabe’s was in the oven.


Alex’s was behind the plant in the living room.  They are getting too smart. I’m going to need to start getting very creative in order to make this a challenge in the future!


I’m thrilled that Alex is beginning to LOVE books!

After church we came home and had a lovely meal and an Easter egg hunt.



And then, of course, there was the obligatory family photos!



This year we added the Resurrection Eggs to our Easter egg hunt (why didn’t I think of this much sooner?).  The kids loved opening the eggs and listening to the resurrection story!


2.)Gabe finished his last year of Preschool.  He will be a Kindergartener next year!!!!!!! 

At the beginning of May, Gabe had his Mother’s Tea!

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The kids answered questions about us and we had to guess who’s was who’s.  I love seeing what he says about me to other people …. well, most of the time!

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Gabe’s lady friend, Gracie.  Seriously, that is what he calls her!  Quite the Casanova from what we hear!

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Last day of Preschool.  Sad smile

3.) Isabel finished 2nd Grade.

Isabel had Around the World Days during her last week of school.  The kids were allowed to dress up as a person from each country and they learned and experiences some really neat stuff about the local culture. 
We were able to borrow this costume from a friend for India Day.

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On the last day of school, Isabel received the award for Obedience and Diligence from her teacher.  She had a rough year with tons of girl drama.  We are so proud of her for persevering and finishing strong!

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4.) Mady finished High School!!!  That’s right, my parents are FINALLY empty-nesters!

Back in April, we attended Mady’s capping ceremony.  A tradition I didn’t know existed having gone to a small, private school.  Each of the kids chose one person to “cap” them and told why this person was so special to them.  Mady chose my mom.


Then, on May 22 she actually did it!  She graduated from high school!!!!! 


Since Isabel is such a big girl now she was allowed to come.  She kept asking, “How many more hours until this is over?”  I asked myself the exact same question …. aren’t graduations the longest, most boring things ever????  Thankfully, they were selling kettle corn and nachos at the arena!  This picture was taken while Candice and Joel went to get us goodies!


We had around 20 family members fly or drive in from various other states to support Mady for her graduation.  We LOVED having them all here!  I did a very poor job of taking pictures, so I don’t have much to post, but here are a few that I had on my camera.  (For those family members who took loads of pictures, please post them on Facebook or email me some!)



Ok, so I guess I only took pictures one day …. That weekend, we spent a lovely day at Fox Run park with the whole family!

5.) And, as always, the cuteness is getting cuter!

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Cheers to 10 Years!

On March 16th Joel and I will have been married for 10 years!  I can’t believe it!!!  Either I was way too young when I got married or I’m really old now! 

We celebrated early by taking an adult only trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico!  It was relaxing and warm and beautiful and we already can’t wait to go back! 

Here’s a montage of our very lovely trip…….


He’s How Old???

At the beginning of January, my baby turned 18 months old!  I’m kind of in a state of shock over this bit of news.  In many ways it seems like he just arrived and we are still adjusting to having a baby and being a family of 5.  In other ways it feels as though he’s always been a part of our family and his birth day seems so long ago.  It’s been a ridiculously long time since I did a post on Alex’s accomplishments … in fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t done one since his first birthday.  Lately, I’ve been having horrible anxiety over the fact that he’s doing so much and I’m not recording any of it!  (I’m talking wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-panic anxiety … totally ridonkulous, I know!) I’m pretty sure it’s going to take me a couple of days (at least) to get through this post, but you all should know how fabulous this little guy is and I need to have it in writing for posterity’s sake!  So, let’s get started:


  • The biggest change we’ve noticed over the last 6 months is his talking.  I was beginning to get concerned that he wasn’t talking.  It seemed like I remembered the other 2 kids saying words before they were a year old, but Alex didn’t say any real words.  He could definitely communicate and get his point across and he seemed to speak his own language.  We even asked the pediatrician about it.  She told us that it was very normal for kids to start talking right at about 18 months.  Sure enough, about a month ago, Alex started talking! Today he has quite a little vocabulary:  Ball , Dadda, Mamma, Gabe (which sounds like “day”), Bapa (Grandpa), Dow (Down – he says this for up and down), Ah Dah (all done), Bow (bottle), Waw (water), hi, bye bye, nigh nigh, Daw (dog – he uses this for all animals), NO (of course), Wah! (his version of yeah or yes), eye, and today he started copying me when I say “I love you”. 
  • He isn’t walking …. he is running!  This kid never stops moving!  I mean NEVER!  Even when he is sick or not feeling well, he is always on the move.  He is always so busy.  We are exhausted from trying to keep up.  A couple of months ago he had his first bout with the stomach flu.  I thought he might sit calmly on the couch for a day and I had this grand idea of snuggling with my babies on the couch and watching movies.  Alex had other plans.  He ran around like a crazy man until he had to throw up.  He’d throw up and then go right back to playing.  (Sorry if that’s TMI) He’s a bundle of energy!

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  • He is so expressive!  His face will tell you everything you need to know about how he is feeling and what he is thinking.  His eyes really are the windows to his soul!  I’m interested to see how this trait plays out as he gets older.  When he was maybe a week old the midwife was over here doing a check up on him and she said to me, “Look at how bright his eyes are!  It seems like he is smiling!” 

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  • He is a ham if ever there was one!  He loves to entertain!  He puts on a good show and if he knows you are watching then it only encourages him to be more dramatic.  We love that about him!  He has us all laughing all of the time.

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  • He adores his big brother and sister.  I mean A.D.O.R.E.S!!  I was worried when he came along that we had waited too long (AHEM- Joel Cutter!!!) and the age gap between the kids would be so great that they wouldn’t really be close.  I’m so happy that this is not the case!  The kids love each other and they love to play together!  Alex and Gabe love to wrestle and Alex packs a pretty good wallup!!  Alex has won more than one wrestling match against Gabe!  He also loves to play house with Isabel.  It’s not uncommon for all 3 kids to play together upstairs while I make dinner.  Alex is usually either the baby or the dog!!  he even barks!  I can always hear giggles and squeals of delight.

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    • Alex is a little bundle of love!  I was pleasantly delighted to discover this.  As a baby he wasn’t one who loved to cuddle.  He never liked to be swaddled and he hated it if he felt smothered.  He never really liked to sleep in our bed with us – that’s was always a guarantee for good sleep with the other two – and he didn’t like to be snuggled close.  Now he is probably the most affectionate of the 3 kids at this age.  He is always giving us hugs and kisses just because.  He puts his fat little hands on my face and plants a big wet kiss on my lips all the time!  He’ll go up to Gabe and hug him around the neck and stroke his hair.  Each morning when he gets up he has a bottle of milk in our bed before we get up and he almost always holds my hand while he drinks.   I hope this affection lasts for awhile.  Nothing fixes a bad mood like some baby love!

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    • He loves his Daddy!  Ever since he stopped nursing, I’m like chopped liver!  If he gets up in the night, he wants Daddy.  If I go in, he has a fit.  He refuses to let me pick him up – the little poop!  If Joel is around, he wants Joel to do everything for him.  I’m not allowed to give him dinner or put him to bed or brush his teeth or even hold him.  It’s all about Daddy!  When Joel comes home from work he gets so excited.  He usually hears the door open and it doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he perks up, and goes running to the door!  Most days he makes a flying leap into Joel’s arms and then hugs him and pats his back for a couple of minutes. 

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    • Another major milestone is Alex stopped nursing.  (I’m sure most of you don’t care about how Alex was weaned, but it was a big deal to me and I want to record it for my own memories.) This happened sooner than expected and was extremely traumatic …… for me.  Since Alex is my last baby I actually spent a lot of time thinking about the day he would stop nursing.  I had plans to travel by myself about a month before he suddenly stopped nursing and was planning to wean him before I went, but honestly, I was dreading it.  I was often brought to tears just thinking of that last time.  Well, one day he suddenly refused to nurse and got so angry at me.  He turned his head away and pushed at me and then cried and cried.  He continued to do this for several days.  I was a complete basket case!  I worried that something was wrong with him.  I worried that I was pregnant – I think I took 2 home pregnancy tests and then went to the doctor and made them do a blood test to be sure!  NEGATIVE – thank Heavens!  I was worried that my milk would dry up while he was on strike.  I was uncomfortable!  And my feelings were very very hurt.  I emailed a doula friend and asked her to give me advice.  She told me about something called a nursing strike – yes, apparently it is a real thing!  I spent a couple of days reading up on it and found out it can be caused by several things: a traumatic nursing experience, hurt feelings, sickness, pregnancy.  One website even suggested you apologize to your baby for whatever you did to hurt his feelings — I had to laugh at this one!  I’m sorry, but that just sounded a bit ridiculous!  Anyway, most babies come around after a couple of days and begin nursing again.  Alex didn’t.  He wanted nothing to do with me for awhile and never nursed again.  My heart was broken.  I literally grieved for a few weeks.  I didn’t tell anyone he wasn’t nursing anymore because I couldn’t even talk about it.  One day Joel made an innocent comment about Alex not nursing and I ran out of the kitchen crying.  I’m pretty sure I sent a not-so-friendly email to my doula friend because she waited a couple of days to answer my plea and I felt like I had lost precious time.  HOLY HORMONES! Well, I eventually learned to accept it and Alex and I were soon on speaking terms again.  I learned some new ways to soothe and settle him and we moved on, but I have to say that was an awful way to wean!
    • Ok!  On to happier things!  Alex has 10 teeth!!  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t even remember when all of his teeth came in (don’t judge me).  I do know that he had his 4 front teeth when he had his birthday.  Shortly after that he cut 2 more front top teeth, but after that we had a dry spell.  Several months went by where he didn’t get any teeth.  I began to worry (again – I’m a worrier and for some reason it’s worse with this one) that he had some condition where his teeth wouldn’t come in.  Well, one day, around Thanksgiving maybe, I was changing his diaper and he opened his mouth wide and low and behold there were 2 molars on the top of his mouth!  WHAT???  When did that happen?  To be honest, I’m kind of glad I missed it!  He wasn’t fussy or sleepless or anything!  About two weeks after that he cut two more bottom molars.  Unfortunately, he was fussy and sleepless when these were coming in.  He is currently working on two more bottom front teeth.  They are slow moving, but I think they’ll be poking up soon. 
    • Boy has a temper!  I’m pleased to say that it is nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  I could tell pretty much from the get-go that he had a short fuse.  It was much worse before he could express himself.  Now that he can communicate it’s much less volatile!  Still, he has been known to throw the occasional temper tantrum.

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But, mostly, he’s a happy little guy!!

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