Friday, December 23, 2011

All Smiles

Our little Eden is already five months old! My goodness, that went fast! But, alot has happened since the wee one blessed our little family.

I'm lucky. I have really good babies. And Eden could very well be the best yet, if that's even possible. The other two were great eaters, slept through the night at six weeks, rarely cried. But Eden, well, she makes Ava and Jax look like little stinkers. She sleeps well, eats great and cries only when I don't feed her fast enough... or when her sister picks her nose. Which happens alot. Not sure why. Better save that for another blog post. Anywho, our baby girl is super sweet and super smiley! She's quite charming. And her giggle, well, I wish I could capture it, lock it up and listen to it anytime I wanted to.

We sure love our Eden!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poor Little Blog

Oh, poor, poor little blog. I'm so sorry I've neglected you! I have much to tell you about, but alas, it is the holiday season and time just doesn't permit. However, I will quickly tell you about the weather as of late. We've been hit with snow like no other. Ava has already had two snow days! The kids love playing out in the fluffy white stuff, even if their hands and feet are slowly headed toward frostbite.

 Jax launching a snowball at Mama

Here are the big kids enjoying some of our snow. Eden hasn't played in it just yet, but she loves to watch her big brother and sister from the big living room window.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cousins Out the Wazoo!

Cousins out the Wazoo. That's how our hilarious Ava describes the ever-expanding brood of Kleinman cousins.

We all got together (minus baby Andrew) at the park for fun and pictures. The big kids ran and wrestled, played with balls and devoured Aunt Courtney's snacks. While the two babies (Eden and Rex) spent most of the time bundled up with their Mamas.

 Jax, Nathan and Konrad

 Little cheeseballs!

 Am I surprised that Jax and Konrad found giant sticks for sword-fighting? Absolutely not.

 Look how big our baby girls is getting!

 Cousins out the wazoo (minus baby Rex and baby Andy)

For those keeping count, there are currently NINE cousins (seven boys and our two girls) with another adorable boy on the way.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Very Harry Halloween

I realize I am a little late with this post. But, I've just finally gotten around to downloading our Halloween pictures.

Well, it finally happened, I can no longer control my children. In the past, I've gotten away with doing a family theme for Halloween. Usually, Ava told me what she wanted to be and I chose Jax's costume accordingly (Mickey & Minnie, Dorothy & Tin Man, Teeny Bopper & Elvis). But this year, I wasn't allowed to choose. nor, were my attempts to "convince" my children to be certain things effective. So, four out of the five members of our family took part in the theme. One, however, chose to be a little different. I'll let you see if you can figure it out ;)

One of these things is not like the other....

Ava and Daddy love to read "Harry Potter" together, so they dressed as Hermione and Harry. I made Eden's Hedwig costume (Harry's white owl) and I went as Professor McGonagall (kinda). And Jax, well, Jax was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Our Halloween week was pretty busy and candy-fueled. The Thursday before the big day, Ava got to wear her costume to school where they had a Halloween party. Saturday, we attended the ward Trunk-or-Treat and Monday I took the kids around a nearby neighborhood for some good-ol'-fashioned trick-or-treating. Despite my kids' general aversion to strangers, they had no issues asking random people for candy.

They got quite the haul and have been good about only having a piece or two a day. Yes, I'm one of those moms. For three days after Halloween, Jax took his candy bucket with him everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Car, bed, bathroom, outside. He wasn't letting that treasure out of his sight. But, he has also been very sweet to share with Mommy, Daddy and cousins. Ava, on the other hand, is much more stingy with her candy, only giving out the ones she doesn't like. But hey, can you blame the kid? She's so candy-deprived she's got to take advantage when she can. She did tell me one day, though, that mommies deserve candy sometimes. I agree.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Upside Down Dinner

I try my best to be a fun mom. I'm constantly worrying that I spend too much of my day reminding my kids to pick up their toys, practice piano or get their fingers out of their noses. So, I try to balance my nagging with fun. Thus, the birth of the upside-down dinner. I had Andy take the kids for a walk to Grandma and Grandpa's while I prepared the fun: Individual chicken pot-pies places on the plate upside down, Capri Suns with straws in the bottoms, upside-down hats, socks for hands and upside-down cupcakes. I was giggling inside imaging the kids' reactions to the dinner I had planned. I envisioned them laughing at the silliness and telling me what a fun mom I was. Ah yes, it would be perfect. Well, things didn't go quite as I imagined. Jax, who is very particular about his clothes was not interested in wearing his hat the wrong way. Although, I did convince him to wear it upside-down for a picture. Ava, loved the idea of the dinner but found eating with socks on her hands a little difficult. Neither kid liked the pre-made, store-bought chicken pot pie, both saying they preferred my homemade version, which is actually very sweet. The cupcakes, however, were a hit.

Despite the upside-down dinner fail, we did chat at dinner and came up with other possible silly dinner themes. I've got a list going in my head, hopefully they'll be more successful!

Friday, October 14, 2011


One of the great things about living back home is being so near family and getting to enjoy some fun times together!

The kids especially love getting to play with cousins! Those of us in town got together at Curtis and Courtney's Tuesday for dinner, playtime and an impromptu dance party.

It makes my heart so happy to see these kids hanging out and laughing together, and they all get along so well. Seriously. It's amazing. Ava and Nathan are the oldest of the bunch and I love listening to them talk and crack each other up with silliness. Jax and Konrad are just five months apart and have bonded over monster trucks.

 Bracken, Jax, Nate and Ava watching a movie

 Dogpile on Nathan!!!

Right now there are eight cousins ranging in age from newborn to five-and-a-half (Ava's the oldest). A friend of mine said the birth of grandkids is like popcorn. First it starts out slow: POP....POP.....POP, then starts to pick up POP..POP..POP, and then POPPOPPOPPOPPOP. Our family is no exception. There are 11 months between Ava and Nathan, then another 11 between Nathan and Konrad. Five months later, Jax was born. Then there was 15 months before Rodney and Bracken were born (three days apart). Then 10 months later, Eden came along, and little Rex joined the bunch two months after that. We've got another boy due any day now, and Nathan and Bracken will welcome a new little sibling in March.

This extended family of ours is growing like crazy. When I think about the close relationship all of the cousins will have growing up, it just makes moving back home that much more worth it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Princess Polka Dot

My children are perfect. I mean that. They're perfect. No, I'm not blind or oblivious to the fact that they make mistakes, throw the occasional fit, make serious messes when they eat and spend way too much time with their fingers up their noses. But their little bodies, their little minds, their little spirits are perfect. They are perfect little creations of our Heavenly Father. I've become so much more grateful for and aware of their perfection since Eden's birth.

On the day Eden was born, I stared at her. And stared. And stared. And stared. I've given birth three times and still it's hard to believe that the little person in my arms was once in my belly. As all mothers do, I looked over (inspected) every inch of her soft skin. Beneath her dark brown hair, I noticed two little dots on her head. And I mean little. Like, grain of rice little. But, they concerned me. The next morning, I asked the pediatrician what they were, he told me they were "stork bites" -- the little red dots most babies have. But, I simply wasn't comforted by that answer. Several years before Eden's birth, even before I was pregnant with Ava I watched a Discovery Channel show about hemangiomas. The children on the show had large masses on their faces that required surgery. Those masses started out as tiny dots. When I saw Eden's, I just had this feeling in my stomach. I knew they were hemangiomas. At her one-month check-up her doctor confirmed what I already knew. Because of the location of one of the hemangiomas, her doctor in Mississippi ordered a CT scan to determine if it was deep-rooted. Fortunately, it wasn't.

Here's what I can tell you about hemangiomas: they're benign tumors. Ten-percent of babies have them in some form. Most of those babies are girls. No one knows why a child develops a hemangioma and there are some treatment options, but more often than not, they aren't necessary. Hemangiomas are fast little buggers. They grow rapidly in the first year of life. At just a month old, Eden's teeny spots had grown to 10 times their original size. Now, at 11-weeks-old, they're at least five times bigger than that (width and height). And she has a new one growing on the back of her neck.

Initially, I struggled with the thought of my little girl having something "wrong" with her. I tortured myself by looking online at pictures of "worst-case-scenario" hemangiomas. Some were as large as grapefruits, others impeded eyesight or left large scars. I cried thinking of mean kids teasing my sweet little girl. Or having to deal with the stares in the grocery store. Or people focusing on what was on the outside, rather than the sweet spirit inside. I'll admit, most of it was superficial. I didn't really worry about her health at the time because hemangiomas will go away on their own. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes it takes nine. Sometimes they get huge, sometimes they don't. I worried about what people would say. I'm so embarrassed to admit that.

In the midst of my pity party for myself and my baby girl, I had a brief moment of clarity and did something I should have done from the beginning, I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I needed comfort. I came away from that prayer ever more grateful for my baby girl. But still, there was something eating at me. So, I asked Andy to give her a blessing. Again, something I should have done from the start. And it was during that blessing that I received not just the comfort I needed, but an important realization: Eden is perfect. She is a blessed daughter of her Heavenly Father. Her "issues" are nothing. She's a little different that's all.  I needed to stop looking at the hemangiomas as something negative and instead recognize the positive impact they could have on our family and others. So, rather than calling them tumors, or "owies" (when kids asked) I started calling them her sweet spots or her polka dots. Ava and Jax, who were very worried about the frightening-looking bright red bumps on their baby sister's head, loved that. Then, from there we started calling her "Princess Polka Dot." Now, when Ava's friends at school or kids at the library ask we tell them that Eden is a little different and that she was born with special polka dots. It's always Ava's job to share Eden's nickname with others, she loves the reaction it gets.

I have used the hemangiomas as a teaching tool with my two older children. They see that even though Eden is different, she doesn't need to be treated differently. When we were in Mississippi, Ava had two special needs children in her class. I was able to explain that like Eden Heavenly Father just made them a little different. So, my sweet Ava did her best to befriend those two children. She always said hi to them, paid them compliments and comforted them when necessary. When we see someone in the store with a disability, as is natural, my kids stare. So, I always ask them if they're curious about that person's condition, and I tell them about it. I don't ever want them to be scared of differences or disabilities. Because, I'll admit that in the beginning I was.

Now, I know that Eden's hemangiomas aren't serious. I am in no way comparing our situation to a much more severe condition or disability. However, I'm a mom and a human. I worried. I felt sorry for my baby and myself. No one has a baby and says, "I really hope she has a physical abnormality" or "Please, let my baby have a disability." Part of it is not knowing how to deal with the difference, but for me, part of it was not knowing how to deal with the guilt that inevitably comes when there's something wrong with your child. No matter how out of  your hands it is, as mothers, we worry. We take on our childrens' pains and ailments and beat ourselves up, wondering what we could have done to prevent it, or wishing we could take it upon  ourselves so our children would never have to experience physical or emotional pain.

But, I'm over all of that now. Eden's hemangiomas aren't painful. They'll go away over time. We had a little scare when the third one popped up on her neck. In some cases, multiple external hemangiomas can be a sign that they're also growing internally and internal hemangiomas can lead to heart failure. I took Eden into a specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital and he said we had nothing to worry about. They'll keep growing for the next year or so and then gradually start to shrink on their own.

So, like I said, my children are perfect. I am so grateful for the things that make them different and I hope I can teach them to embrace everything about them that is unique.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giving It Another Go

Last year, Ava swore off soccer. After a few seasons she decided it just wasn't for her. To be honest, I agreed... reluctantly. I had a hard time accepting the fact that my little girl might not love soccer as much as I did/still do. She liked dressing up in the little uniform, her pink and black cleats and watching butterflies zoom past while she was on the field. But that was about it. When we moved back to Arizona we decided she'd give gymnastics a try. But that changed very quickly once she found out her little friend Anna was playing soccer AND that her team's uniforms were fluorescent yellow. She decided soccer might not be so bad and maybe she'd like to give it another go. My initial reaction was hope... hope that maybe, just maybe she'd be a soccer player yet. But then, I got a little nervous. Nervous that she'd get on the field and be more interested in how much time was left until snacks, than actually playing. But, our family rule is if you sign up for something (team, class, etc.) you stick it out until the end. No matter what. I reminded Ava of this rule and she said she still wanted to play soccer. So, we signed her up to be on the "Yellow Butterflies" with her friend Anna. I took it as a good sign when I saw her soccer number was 5, which happened to be both mine and Andy's first soccer numbers.

Saturday, the whole family joined hundreds of other families for what I like to call, "Soccer Chaos." It's several fields, hundreds of kids, hundreds more families and soccer ALL. DAY. LONG. It was awesome. As Ava warmed up with her team, I was pleasantly surprised. She was giving it her all. Game time was no different. She was aggressive, played defense, threw elbows (she gets that from her Mama) and best of all, SHE SCORED A GOAL! Andy, Jax, my parents and I were all jumping up and down cheering. But, Ava just walked back to the center of the field like it ain't no thang. I'm not sure she even smiled. She was in the zone.

So, I'm glad we gave soccer another go. There's still nine games left in the season and I hope she enjoys it as much at the end as she does now. If nothing else, she got an awesome jersey. But, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she gains a little more... a love for soccer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eden's Blessing

Blessing day is always chaotic. I spend the morning making sure everyone is dressed, groomed, has underwear on (Jax can be sneaky) and that we're out the door on time for church. Then, when we get there, I frantically search the chapel with my eyes making sure all the family is there (especially the men), panic because it's been two hours since the baby last ate which means said baby could potentially cry during the blessing and say a silent prayer that this Sunday isn't the one where my child's diaper can't hold what's dumped in it, leading to a blowout on a beautiful white outfit. That's my morning. But then, we sit. Church starts. Andy takes our beautiful little baby from my arms, then is joined by several priesthood holders to give our precious baby a name and a blessing. Suddenly, the craziness of the morning melts away and I am filled with gratitude. Eden's blessing went as the other two before did: chaos followed by peace. We were blessed to have two of Andy's four brothers, his dad, an uncle and a cousin all take part in the blessing of our little Eden Faith. I felt the Spirit so strongly as she was promised blessings from our Heavenly Father.

 All the Kleinman cousins (at the time). We've since added one more boy, with another on the way next month and one more baby due in March. We don't know what that one is yet.

Afterward, it was a Kleinman party at our house, full of fun for cousins and a lot of catching up. If I could have, I would have kept Eden's dress on her all day, but since we live in the desert, I thought it best to take it off. Oh, but there is nothing more lovely to me than a baby in white. This dress was extra-special for me since I made it myself (pattern and all). Although, not too much attention is paid to the dress when you have a baby as beautiful as our little Eden in it! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Home Again, Home Again!

I haven't blogged in far too long, but I have good reason. We move. Across the country. Again. This time, though, we're back home to Arizona. Back near family, friends and the weather we love. I won't go into details about the move itself except to say it happened quickly. Like, in less than two weeks. And in that two weeks, Ava started kindergarten at her school in MS, I had to pack up the house, recover from a c-section and take care of a three-year-old and a newborn. Challenging? Yes. Worth it? Totally. Besides, this is what we do, we always make our biggest moves when our kids our little, little babies. Ava was three months when we moved from Oregon to Arizona. Jax was six weeks when we made the journey to Utah and now Eden was just five weeks when we loaded in the car and headed from Mississippi to Arizona. So, we've come full circle. We're not done having kids, but hopefully we're done moving.

We were blessed to find a house to rent very quickly. As a matter of fact, we came across it on accident and it just happens to be owned by old Kleinman family friends. It's an older home (wood paneling EVERYWHERE), but it's great! The best part? A good-sized fenced front yard for the kids to just run around in. Even better? NO HUMIDITY, so they can actually go out there and play in the middle of the day! Jax's monster trucks have spent plenty of time in what he calls the "big pool of mud," better known as dirt.


Ava started kindergarten at Andy's alma mater. They offer both half and full-day. We opted for half. She's made some great friends, but I'll admit, I don't love the school as much as her school in Mississippi. But, unfortunately, I think schools like that are a rarity. She was sad to leave, but seems to have moved on. I'm having a harder time letting go of her school and teacher. She and her class in Vicksburg are e-mail penpals, though and her teacher there has told me she hasn't removed any of Ava's things from the classroom because she misses her so much.

Our sweet Eden is seven weeks old today. She's a wonderful baby, full of smiles and sweet sounds. Her brother and sister still adore her. As a matter of fact, most of their fights and arguments tend to revolve around who has spent more time with Eden or held her more.

Check out that cute crooked smile :)

So, there's life in a tight little nutshell. I have more to post about the decision to move, but that blog post is going to require much more time and thought. And with a baby to feed and boxes to pack... well... that post will have to wait.

Monday, August 8, 2011

First Day of School

I started crying when I woke up at 5:30 this morning and the waterworks continued off and on for the next four hours. My little girl started kindergarten today. It's obviously a major milestone that I've had five years to prepare for, yet somehow, I still wasn't ready for her to be gone from 8-3:30 five days a week. But, the day came. I woke up early to get myself ready before waking Ava, but that wasn't necessary. Her excitement had her up and out of bed 20 minutes before she needed to be. She got ready fairly quickly (which is a big deal for our morning dawdler) and took time to prance around the house in her school uniform, and who can blame her? She looked adorable! We were out the door in a timely manner and to school earlier than expected.


Because this was a special day, the whole family took Ava to school. She bounced as she walked up to the doors, her pink Barbie backpack slung across her back, carrying her Scooby Doo lunchbox. I made her stop in front of the school for pictures, after each one she'd say, "Okay, Mom. Let's go inside." I was dreading her walking through those doors and she couldn't get in there fast enough.


Once inside, we sat in the auditorium until they released the kindergarteners to their classrooms. She lined up with her class and made the long walk down the hall to her class, where Ava found her name tag at a seat and sat right down.


At this point, I was expecting her to hesitate a little. I mean, she's never been away from me for very long. But, she didn't. She got to work on the writing sheet at her table and, once again, humored me by posing for pictures.



I looked at the clock: 7:57, which meant it was time for me to go. But how could I. I was about to walk out the doors and leave my little girl for 7.5 hours. Tears welled in my eyes as I gave my best girl a hug and kiss, told her I loved her and reminded her how proud I am of her. When it came time for Andy to say goodbye, I was surprised to see that he too was struggling to keep the tears from falling. Jax, well, Jax was sad to see his best friend go to school. Sunday night, he cried for quite some time. He kept telling us he didn't want Ava to go to school because he would miss her. So, Monday morning, he packed up his backpack and wore it in to Ava's school. I thought he just wanted to be like his big sister. But, when we got into her classroom I realized what he was doing. He was trying to stowaway with Ava. When we put her backpack in her cubby, he placed his in the one next to hers. Then, he commandeered a classmate's seat and worksheet. He was intent on staying at school with Ava. When the time came to actually leave, he handled it pretty well... only attempting to sneak away once.

As for me. Well, to be honest, I was surprised by how quickly the day seemed to pass. Jax and I kept ourselves busy (Eden slept most of the day, as babies do) playing, baking and drawing. But, we were both excited when it came time to pick Ava up.

Jax wrote this ALL BY HIMSELF!! (Obviously, I just told him how to spell the words). He's a good little writer, isn't he?

As expected, Ava came out of school beaming. She loves her teacher and especially enjoyed her music class. She reminded me about 30 times that I needed to check her "take home folder," and couldn't wait to pack her lunch for tomorrow.

So, tomorrow we'll run the whole routine all over again. I'm sure we'll get the hang of things and the mornings will get easier --- now, let's just hope the rest of the day gets easier... for me. I figure if I stop crying by 8:30 tomorrow, it's progress.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pretty Girl

It's hard to believe, but Eden is already nearly three weeks old.

She's a wonderful baby with such a sweet spirit, and oh, she is so loved!