30 December, 2010

Bed-sharing and Why We Do It

I don't have anything against the way people parent their children, unless they are making obviously bad choices or abusing their children. Other than that, any parent is welcome to parent their children any way that they see fit. We have chosen to parent our children a certain way, even though some people may not agree. It's fine if you don't, but this is the way we have decided to raise our children.

Whenever a couple is expecting a baby, there are a few key things that they generally discuss about the upbringing of the child before the baby is born. The rest of it is all just trial and error, and hopefully, some research along the way.

What is most discussed before babies come home? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. Usually its where baby is going to sleep and how baby is going to be fed. More "crunchy" parents will discuss vaccinations, cloth diapering, circumcision...those types of things. Unfortunately, the norm in the United States is baby sleeps in a crib in his/her own room, with disposable diapers and formula.  But we've chosen to raise our kids a different way, and go about things that are "against the norm". Sadly enough, the way we chose to raise our kids USED to be normal, but now...its seen as "weird" or "off the wall".

So I'm doing a couple blogs about the things we do that are "off the wall" and why we do them. Lucky for me, Brad and I are both pretty much on the same page when it comes to parenting. We do disagree on little things. I'm not a big fan of the spankings, but in certain situations, it works. And Brad handles that part of the discipline. And it took awhile for Brad to be okay with the cloth diapers and baby wipes, but we seemed to have crossed that hurdle and now we're all on the same page. There are other things we have and will disagree on, but we both know when to call it quits and just let the other person do what they want (for instance, he stepped aside on the cloth diaper debate and I stepped aside when he told me he didn't want a doula)

First on the agenda is co-sleeping. Or rather, bed-sharing. We bed-share in our house. This actually wasn't really something that came up while I was pregnant. We had talked about co-sleeping and having Ophelia sleep in a play pen in our room. And we bought the play pen. And eventually it will be used. But while I was in the hospital, Ophelia slept with me. The only time she was in her little bassinet was while I was going to the bathroom and was alone. Or while the nurses/doctors were looking at her. Any other time she was sleeping, she was in my arms or in my bed. Surprisingly, the nursing staff never said a word to me about it. Maybe that's because she was sleeping the right way (on her back all swaddled up). Since she's been home, she's slept in our bed, either in between us, or on my side of the bed (with a bed rail in place now that she's going to start rolling soon).

And while I'm on this topic, I'm going to admit to a big no-no that I do. I let my baby sleep on her stomach. I did it with Reilly. I'm doing it with Ophelia. Neither one of my kids have been huge on the swaddling. And while its a nice idea to keep them from startling, my girls just didn't tolerate it well. It was a huge fight and I just wasn't going to be a part of it. So I've let both girls sleep on their stomachs from day one. Call me a bad mom if you must, but I take every precaution that I can to ensure that nothing bad happens to them while we are all sleeping. I have the added bonus of being a light sleeper when either one of my girls is sleeping soundly next to me, and if things aren't right, I wake up.

Back to the topic. Not only do I love bed-sharing, but Brad does too. He likes being able to wake up and cuddle with Ophelia in the morning. And she's such a happy morning baby, anyone who didn't love it would be crazy. And bed-sharing has its benefits too, especially for breastfeeding mommies. Personally, I don't think that getting up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to get up out of bed and grab a baby, sit down, and feed them sounds like much fun. Not that getting up 2-3 times in the middle of the night is fun mind you, but not having to get up, walk around, get the baby, change her, then feed her...well, that just isn't my cup of tea.

There are added benefits to bed-sharing as well. It's been proven that mom's and babies sleep better. Baby can smell mom's scent, hear her breathing, and feel her close. There have also been studies that show that baby's heart rates and breathing patterns are regulated by sleeping close to mom. They share the same sleep patterns making sleep more efficient and beneficial for everyone. It makes breastfeeding much easier. A lot of women have learned the side feeding position (though honestly, I've never been able to master it. I sit up a little bit, get Ophelia latched on, have a pillow on whatever side I'm feeding her on, and lightly doze while feeding her) and sometimes mom and baby feed/eat without ever waking up. Babies naturally drift closer to their parents during sleep. I notice it all the time. Ophelia will start off closer to the middle of the bed, and by the time I wake up in the morning, she's snuggled up close to me. Co-sleeping is especially beneficial to breastfeeding moms. They sleep lighter, which means they wake up when baby starts stirring. For some reason, though I'm not sure exactly why, mom's who formula feed are less likely to be as aware of their babies, but I haven't actually read anything that says why. But we aren't talking about bed-sharing when formula feeding babies. By the time Reilly switched to formula, she was sleeping through the night and even the rare occasion where she did get up in the middle of the night, I was so trained that it didn't even matter.

I understand some parents want their space. I get that sometimes having a baby in the bed with you can make people anxious. They are so obsessed with their babies breathing and all the little noises that babies make that they don't take the time to just relax, calm down, and fall asleep. So they move their baby to another bed, or another room. I'm the exact opposite. I freak if my babies are far away from me sleeping. Hell, I still had a baby monitor in Reilly's room until she turned 4 and Brad had to all but physically force me to take it out of her room. I still make him sleep with the door open, even though he hates it, just in case she wakes up in the middle of the night. I don't handle my girls being far away from me very well. I get anxious and worry and check on them constantly. And eventually Ophelia will move out of our bed. It'll probably be in the next 3 months or so. It worked really well with Reilly, and she was in a crib, in her own room by her first birthday.

Bed-sharing is obviously one of those things that need done correctly. But honestly, its more common sense than anything. Don't have lots of blankets and pillows that can cover or fall on your baby. Don't bed-share when you are taking drugs (prescription or otherwise), or you've been drinking. Problems can be created if you are overweight as well. And honestly, if you know for a fact that you or your spouse are heavy sleepers and won't wake up if you roll on a baby, then you probably shouldn't bed-share. But it can and is done safetly and in a healthy way that benefits mom, dad and baby. 

It's a little more common now to co-sleep (baby in the same room) than it has been. But it's even less common that parents bed share. A lot of parents think and can get stuck with their kids in their beds for years. It happens. It hasn't happened to me...when I decided it was time to move Reilly to her own bed, it happened, and that was that. Some people think they are spoiling their baby by letting them sleep in bed with mom and dad. Simply not true. Some people think that their child will have sleep issues later on in life. Reilly doesn't. Reilly is a perfect sleeper. The only time she wakes is when she has an accident (which is rare) or when she gets scared for one reason or another (also rare. In total, it probably happens 2-3 times a month. At the most). Some people think that their bed is specifically for the parents (ie. sex). But seriously ladies and gents, it's the 21st century. Get creative. Your baby is sleeping in your bed? Well, how many other rooms in the house do you have?! It can be done. A lot of mom's say "I'll never let my baby sleep in my bed"....and then comes that night, where you've been up until 1am, and just when you think the baby is asleep, BAM, it's sad baby island. And you've tried everything, and nothing is working, and you climb into bed with your little one, and magically....it just works.

So to close -- we bed-share because we want to. We have taken the necessary steps to create a safe bed for our baby. There will come a time where we want our bed back, and we both know that and have discussed it. And as long as we are on the same page, we will probably continue to bed-share with our subsequent children. Because that's how we roll. You may not bed-share or co-sleep. You may even think that its dangerous. But shit, our baby is almost 4 months old now, and she's perfect.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

26 December, 2010

Wordless Sunday -- Christmas edition

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! We sure did. Opened presents will all the girls and then had friends over since none of our family was here. I'll be posting more this upcoming week...was taking a break for the holidays, but I have some stuff I was working on. 

My favorite pictures of the girls opening presents

Ophelia wanted that toy SO BAD!

I just love this. The excitement is just flowing!

15 December, 2010

It's an actual update!

Not just me rattling on about my beliefs and how I raise my kids! I feel like I'm getting caught up in the ho-hum of being a birth advocate and a parent. I didn't used to be like this, I swear. Back in my "blogging days" -- which, was just me spewing bullshit from my fingers on livejournal and myspace -- I would write posts that were short, sweet, and very much to the point (along with very rude, judgmental, and littered with dislike). Blogging, to me, used to be about just getting something off of my chest, and as a 18-21 year old, I had a lot of shit that bothered me. In the past I've actually gone back and read my blogs and you can just see my life wasn't going anywhere fun. I tried to be silly and witty, but all I did was come off as a big asshole.

But now that I actually blog for value, I feel like I'm missing out on that care free blogging that I used to do, where I just talked about my day and what's going on in my life. So THAT'S what we're going to do today!

Where to start?! I guess I'll start back in the middle of November. Brad's birthday was November 15th. He got Call of Duty: Black Ops from me. I mean, he actually bought and paid for it himself, because while he was so excited about the game he was practically pissing his pants, I had other things to do, like keep two little girls occupied and shop for breast pads. We didn't really do anything special for his birthday. I'm not even sure I cooked him a nice, fancy, "you're getting so old" birthday dinner. NO! I didn't. I went and got pizza instead. And the only reason I remember that for a fact is because I was sneaky and bought him an ice cream cake at Baskin Robbins that is right next to the pizza place. So I win brownie points for that one. Extra points because the colors on the small (but oh so yummy) ice cream cake were Bengals (orange and black) colors. And as my husband is from Ohio, it was only fitting for his 28th birthday. (See? Old.)

November 16th was our 3 year anniversary. No, we didn't do anything special that day. In fact, the things we did do had nothing to do with us celebrating our anniversary what-so-ever! We took Ophelia to her 2 month check up. We showed the doctor that her skin condition was gone (thank goodness! That was horrible), she weighed in a whooping 12lbs 12oz and 23" long. Now real quick, I'm gonna go ahead and put some information out there. My two kids are completely different. They will always be individuals, blah blah blah. But Reilly...well...she was and still is, a small kid. My "skinny minnie" if you will. I actually went back and found HER two month check up paper work. She weighted 10lbs and 4 oz or so. Ophelia had TWO POUNDS on Reilly and at least an inch and a half. Okay, back to the story...Ophelia was in the 80th percentile for weight and I think 57th for height. My fat baby. (Currently, if I weigh her on my scale with me, she's clocking in at 15lbs!)

Then, Brad went and picked up his mom at the airport. She stayed with us for two weeks so she could visit since..well...there was a baby now. Unfortunately, she got sick in the middle of her trip, which, lets face it, is NEVER fun. I felt bad. We didn't get to go do anything really fun...I mean, we got to go to the beach and Ophelia got to go in the ocean for the first time, which was exciting. We had Thanksgiving here with friends and my mother in law, and it was almost like being home. I love having people in my house for big events....makes me feel all lovey and homey.

So we said goodbye to my mother in law on November 30th. The weekend after that, we went and got our Christmas tree and trimmings and decorated the house! I love Christmas time. And having a tree and lights up makes it feel a little more like back home. Makes me remember cuddling up in the house under a blanket with candles and watchin a movie.

Anyway! So here we are, 9 days before Christmas (YAY!!). Ophelia is officially three months old now. It just seems like time has gone by wayyy too fast. She's holdin her head up, she wants to sit up so bad. I got my first laugh the other day! It's just amazing that the time has gone by so fast. She isn't my little new born anymore, she's my baby. I do miss her sleeping all day though. I think she's getting close to a growth spurt. Trouble sleeping, wanting to nurse almost all day...or maybe her personality is just starting to come out and she isn't the easy baby we thought we had.

After Christmas is my birthday. I'll be 26. (January 20) It'll be the first time that Brad is with me for my birthday since we've been married. So to be blunt, it better be an awesome birthday. Then its tax return time. Which I always love. We never save it, which we probably should, but this year we have to pay our landlord our deposit on our place (which we never did...thankfully, I'm not sure where we would have pulled that $2400 out of), we're buying me a car so I can actually leave the house with the girls during the day, and I don't have to rely on Brad to get off of work and come get us when we need to go somewhere. I'll also be able to get stuff done during the day, like grocery shopping or whatever. I'm pretty excited about that. We're also PLANNING (nothing is set in stone yet) on buying plane tickets to go visit BOTH our families in Washington and Ohio NEXT December. I've been looking at plane tickets, even though I can't look for December, I just plug in October to get an idea of what we're going to have to pay. For all 4 of us (since Ophelia will be a lap baby) it'll cost about $3000 just to fly everywhere. We'd be renting a car in Ohio I'm sure, since *hopefully* my parents would be cool with us using their car for a couple weeks. (But I don't want to assume, so I'll have to ask) so somewhere around $3500. Which, really, doesn't seem that bad. I still haven't decided the order. At first I figured we'd fly to Washington first, but the last Christmas we spent somewhere, was Ohio, and I haven't spent Christmas with my family since then....so we'll see. One of my only stipulations though is that I want a connecting flight from the west coast to Ohio so we don't have to have the girls on the plane for a ridiculous amount of time. Granted, Ophelia will be one already, and that should be a little easier than flying with her as an infant, and Reilly will be 5 and a half.

Ohhhhh shit. Reilly will be 5 and a half and IN SCHOOL. Well, just something we'll have to work around. Maybe we'll just have to make visits before school starts. Fuck.

So, that's a long update. But it's been awhile. I just haven't really thought about making an actual life update! I've been so busy thinking about other stuff and busy with the kids.

More to come soon. <3

12 December, 2010

09 December, 2010

I Am Advocate, Hear Me Roar!

As I've mentioned, Ophelia's birth has changed me. I took an entirely different approach to my pregnancy, labor, and delivery with her and it's changed my views on pregnancy and labor/delivery. I am an advocate. I am an advocate for natural, normal, intervention free childbirth. Some of my friends are hard core into politics. Some of my friends, including my bestie, are all about living the super green life and begin vegan/vegetarian. I am hard core into childbirth.

I wasn't always this way. I have always been passionate about woman's rights, and I've always felt that we, as women, should be able to have a say in what happens to our body, but I wasn't like that with pregnancy and childbirth. With Reilly, I didn't inform myself very much. I was scared to death of the pain and while I said "I'm going to try to go natural", I'm very aware that in the back of my mind I knew I was going to end up getting an epidural. My biggest fear was (and still is) having a c-section with one of my babies.

Please note that I do understand that intervention is sometimes necessary, and so are c-sections. But I am talking about a very normal, no to low-risk pregnancy and birth. 

 The more I read, and hear about women who make uninformed choices, the more I want to do something. And since I am not in a position to really DO anything right now other than write on my blog and direct people to good resources, the one thing I really want to do is shake women and tell them that they need to advocate for themselves and BE INFORMED about their pregnancies and the birth of their children. They need to know that our bodies are made to give birth. They were made to labor. Yes its painful. It's nothing even close to comfortable. Rainbows and unicorns don't come barreling out of your vagina when you have a baby. But the fact of the matter is, most women fear childbirth. The pain, the unknown, the after math...it's all scary. Every pregnancy and every birth is scary and worrisome at some point, and that's normal. But doctors pound into our heads that everything we are doing is wrong, and they know what's going on. Some doctors have never seen a fully natural childbirth, with no interventions, no surgery, no medication. Most doctors only see a few in their practicing years. That's scary! The national c-section rate is 32% (as of March 2010, according to the CDC website.) That's the highest its ever been. A lot of the time it's because a woman goes into the hospital, uneducated, and doctors spew "word vomit" (if I may take a quote from Mean Girls) about the baby being "too big to fit" or "failure to progress". And women listen to them because they are "all knowing" doctors, when in reality, rarely is it ever the case that a woman cannot have a baby naturally because of these reasons. I recently posted on  my facebook a link to a website called My OB Said WHAT!?! and how much it irritates me. (Except for their Thoughtful Thursdays) Some of the things that are on this website are ridiculous. Here, let me indulge you:

“Well, if you want me to be your doctor, you will schedule your cesarean right now.” – OB to mother at a prenatal early in the a VBAC pregnancy.  (Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals have now banned VBAC's - vaginal birth after cesarean)

“We’ll just make sure you deliver by 40 weeks! Don’t worry, almost *EVERY* woman gives birth before her due date!” – OB to mother. (Due dates are JUST estimates. Unless you know the EXACT DATE you ovulated, it is very rare that your due date is actually 40 weeks. And no, not EVERY woman gives birth before her due date. Especially first time moms.)

“If you don’t let me break your water, the baby won’t have a way to get out.” – OB to mother being induced. (The baby can come out IN the bag of water. Its called being born in the caul -- caution, actual birth pictures at that link. It's rare, but it happens.)

“Babies over 40 weeks get ‘sick’ (inside the womb.)” – OB to mother at a prenatal appointment. (Wrong again doc. Babies are perfectly fine over 40 weeks)

“You can refuse, but you’ll kill your baby.” – Nurse to mother during her 32 week prenatal, who stated she wanted to refuse an induction. (Wrong again! Refusing induction will NOT kill your baby.)

“You have only a 20% chance of birthing this baby vaginally. You might as well have your epidural now for your cesarean section later.” – OB to mother. (Blah blah blah.)

“Your baby will die if you don’t have a cesarean by 40 weeks.” – OB to mother who had refused the three hour Gestational Diabetes test. (No. No no no.)

Isn't that scary? Don't you want to run away from childbirth RIGHT THIS SECOND?! This is what women hear every day from their doctors and nurses...and hell, even some midwives. But then you watch something like this: (Yes it is a video of a natural childbirth. Yes there are vagina shots. You've been warned.)

And yes...she's in pain, but listen to the encouragement she's getting from her (I assume) midwives. Don't even look at the video...just close your eyes AND LISTEN. THIS is how childbirth should be the majority of the time.

Not like this (which, while funny, is sadly what childbirth is getting towards):

So ladies, please educate yourselves about childbirth. The doctors are not always right. Gain knowledge about yourself, your body and your baby. Please.

I am a natural childbirth advocate. Here me fucking roar!!

Note: Again, I understand that interventions are sometimes necessary. I don't judge a woman based on how she decides to have her own child. It is her body, her choice. I just want women to understand that our bodies were made for this, no matter what.

05 December, 2010

Wordless Sunday

We set up our Christmas tree and lights this weekend!

My ladies. Ophelia's first Christmas!

03 December, 2010

Its Christmas Time...

We do all the normal Christmas family things. We put up a Christmas tree and let Reilly help decorate. We put up lights and little things here and there. We fill stockings. We wake up early (sorta?) on Christmas morning and unwrap gifts. We hang around in our jammies for hours. We listen to Christmas music. We do ALL those things.

What we don't do, is push Santa on the kids. I know a lot of families do the Santa thing, and for them, that's okay. I don't want Reilly and Ophelia to grow up thinking that some magical man comes into our house early in the morning on Christmas and leaves us all presents. That's not how it works. Mommy and daddy (well, mostly mommy this year) spend time trying to pick out the perfect gifts for our girls, frantically wrapping them at the last minute because I forgot, or was too lazy, or didn't have time before hand, and nicely placing them under the Christmas tree for them to tear into on Christmas morning.

I don't know where I got the notion to tell my kids that Santa isn't real. I was told he was...I figured out for myself that he wasn't one year when I woke up at night, only to hear my parents talking and wrapping presents. I remember being not heart broken, but a little upset. I wasn't devastated, but I wasn't exactly happy about my discovery. When I was pregnant with Reilly, I figured I'd do all the normal things that parents normally do...Santa, the Easter bunny, etc. But when she got to the age of understanding Christmas, and being excited about it, I decided against Santa. And the Easter bunny. I decided that I wouldn't lie to my kids about that. I'll tell them little white lies all through their lives...like "No, sorry, we can't go to the store right now. It's closed" (at noon). "Boys are icky, they have cooties"...ya know, things that they WANT to do, but I really don't want to do and well...to keep icky boys away from my baby girls until they are 30. But telling my kids that this magic guy brings them presents every year until they figure it out themselves or are told the truth on the play ground? No thanks.

And this isn't to say that I don't think that other parents shouldn't let their kids believe in Santa. It's okay. It's a magical belief...it really is. It's fun! I just don't think its for my kids and my family.

Plus. Dude, I spent all my valuable time shopping for these presents that my kids are going to love. I should TOTALLY get credit for it. ;)

02 December, 2010


So I know I'm late for my Thanksgiving Day post, but sue me...its been a long week. (Okay, not really, but sheesh...give me a break please!)

So Thanksgiving is the time of year when we're supposed to be thankful for the things we have in our lives. And year after year, I find things to be even more thankful for than the previous year. This year was full of wonderful surprises. 2010 was really a good year for me, and our family. (I hope...I mean, I know it was for me, but I can't speak for everyone in our family).

In January of 2010, just two days after Brad left for Maldives for work, I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying for 7 months when I got pregnant, but I didn't find out I was pregnant until I was about 5 weeks along (like Reilly). I got to celebrate my birthday 3 days early with that positive pregnancy test. Both Brad and I were ecstatic, even though he was half way across the world. He got to come home 2 months later to my bulging belly and no morning sickness!

Shortly after he came home, we celebrated Reilly's fourth birthday with our closest friends and family. I enjoyed so much watching my little girl go from a toddler to a pre-schooler...even though she wanted to be 3 for just a couple more days after she turned 4. (We obliged her with that one).

In April we found out that our little bundle of joy was going to be another daughter to add to our growing family. Despite being upset that it wasn't a boy, Brad was ridiculously happy with that. I saw it in his eyes.

In June, we got to say goodbye to our friends and family and July 3rd, we started a new chapter in our lives by moving to Hawaii for the next three years. Unfortunately, we also lost a friend of ours in Afghanistan. I think about him every once in awhile, and I still tear up. But he fought strong and proud for his country, and I am very thankful to have known him. (RIP AJ) Also in July, I had a total breakdown about moving to Hawaii. But I got over it.

In September, two days before my scheduled due date, we went to the hospital, and I gave birth, naturally, to our beautiful daughter Ophelia. My daughters complete my life. I am so thankful that we had friends who took Reilly over night for us when our families weren't here. I'm thankful that Ophelia decided to come as fast as she did (because if you'll recall from this post I had asked for an epidural during my transition phase) and I am thankful that I got the natural birth I wanted. I'm thankful for my amazing husband who supported me in birth when he had never been through it before.

During my pregnancy, I questioned everything, even if it was just to myself, and my pregnancy with Ophelia helped me decide on what I ultimately want to do in my life, when before I had no clue. And I'm thankful that I have a supportive husband who will stand behind me on my journey to become a doula and a midwife.

In October we got to visit with my parents, who came out to visit for a little over a week to see us and their new granddaughter. In October, we got to dress up the girls and go trick or treating, and celebrated Halloween as a family.

In November, we celebrated Brad's 28th birthday and our 3 year anniversary. We also got to visit with my mother in law, who came out for two weeks to see her new (and first biological) granddaughter. We got to celebrate Thanksgiving with a fantastic group of friends because our families don't live here. I'm thankful that we have such amazing people in our lives. And I'm thankful that I get along with Brad's friends so well!

December has just started, but after getting almost all my Christmas shopping done, I can honestly say that I'm thankful that we can provide things for our daughters. I'm thankful that we can get them presents for Christmas, and their birthdays, and spoil them...because I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm so thankful for my daughters. I'm thankful for my loving husband. Without them, I don't know what I would do. I'm also thankful that my girls have such an amazing father. Not every child needs a daddy (because lets face it, there are a ton of single moms doing it and doing an AMAZING job), but every child who has a daddy in their life DESERVES an amazing man to look after them. And my girls have that. I'm so thankful for my family. My birth family and my extended families...including my best friend and her husband and kids and my in-laws. Brooklyn is like my sister, her kids are my kids, her husband...not my husband...but he's like a brother (in law. Otherwise that would be creepy). My in-laws are basically an extension of my parents and brother/sister-in-law. I miss them all so much living in Hawaii and away from them. There are days when all I want to do is call Brooklyn up and have her come over for coffee while the kids are in school so we can gossip and be in the company of each other. And I hope one day that I can do that again. And even if I can't, I am happy for the fact that no matter how far apart we live, she is still my best friend and I love her to bits. And another person I am very thankful for is Rob. Though he lives thousands of miles away, and though we've never actually met in person, I have known him for many, many years. He is one of the only men (besides Brad) who I trust fully in my life and I love him to pieces. He's been there for me through everything, sharing my happy times and my sad times. And I don't know what I'd do without him either.

I'm thankful for my husbands job. And I am doubly thankful in this economy. He has a steady paycheck that we can depend on. We have health insurance. We have money to put gas in our car and food in our fridge, and I know a lot of people struggle to do even that. And I'm thankful that we can afford for me to stay home with our girls and it doesn't kill us financially. I'm thankful that we are all happy and healthy.

I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I think this year, I am thankful to close the chapter on 2010 and see what 2011 brings us. Its been a roller coaster of a year. Brad and I have had our ups and downs like any married couple, but we've made it through the last couple years relatively unscathed. We've grown as individuals, as a couple and as parents.

A *virtual* toast to the end of this year and all that I am thankful for. And to a fantastic 2011. To Reilly starting kindergarten. To Ophelia turning 1. To me turning 25 (again ;) just kidding, I'm turning 26). To Brad being one year closer to 30 (and him being a good sport when I poke fun at him about it). To our 4 year anniversary. To being on year closer to moving out of Hawaii. (HA!) To all our friends and family who we love dearly.

Readers: What are you thankful for? Let me know! Even though I relatively dislike the holiday season, tis the season to be thankful and enjoy what you have, even in the most stressful of times.