Aunt Stacie Comes to Visit!

We've been having lots of fun over here with my sister Stacie, who flew in to meet Carter and spend some time with the rest of us!  It didn't take her long to get her hands on her new nephew :) 
Because the weather turned so cold this weekend, we were all feeling the need to get out of the house!  Probably no one more than me  :) So, we went to Mall of America for the afternoon and took Ava on some rides!
We've never taken her on anything because she's always been too little, but there are a few things she can do now and we thought she might like.  
Trav took her on this Blue's Clues ride and she liked it!  She didn't want to get off in fact.
My Dad took her on a Big Rigs ride...
...and Stacie took her on the carousel. 
She totally loved that and we got a kick out of how little she looked on her camel :) 
I also took her on a ride, Diego's Magic Bus, but of course she didn't like that one!  
In her defense, it was quite a bit faster than I remembered and I think it scared her a little!  She was more than ready to get off when it was over!
It's been great to have some extra hands around to hold Carter...
...or monitor Ava while she climbs on Carter's things :) 
I've been waiting to see if Ava would play with her baby while I held mine, but so far it hasn't crossed her mind.  This night however, she wanted to climb up with Stacie in this chair and get in her lap, which she's also tried to do with me, usually while I'm trying to feed Carter.  But I went to her room and retrieved her baby and that seemed to distract her and thrill her for the moment!  
A little mother in the making :) 
And Carter stayed safe :) 
My biggest job these days!
We were eating him up in those little jeans!!  
And this little nut was also keeping everyone entertained!
Aunt Stacie brought Ava some stickers to play with...
...and a box of crayons for her new coloring book!  
I can't believe she's old enough for this stuff, but she LOVES it and I am excited to be able to do those things with her now.  In fact, Stacie and I were both coloring in that book at various times this weekend! I hope Ava likes to do crafts as much as her Mother does :) 

It's been such a fun week and it's not over yet!  One of the best things about having a new baby is the way it brings your family together.  We are thankful to have Stacie here and excited to be with all of my family this weekend!  It's been a wild couple of weekends, but super fun too.  
These are great memories and I'm making sure to cherish them all...


The Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat

 Just so Carter understands how we roll in this family, we've had a long weekend of non-stop sporting events, centered around our favorite teams.  There have been highs.  There have been lows.  There have been big disappointments, followed by big cheers.  It's been great and equally tragic.  
And in many ways, just another weekend in the Armstrong house!  My Dad and sister Stacie have been with us, which has also been great!  
We're raising up 2 little sports fans and it's serious business :)
On Thursday night of last week, after Ava went to bed, Carter got his first taste of baseball while watching the Ranger's/Yankee's game with Trav and I.  Just to be clear, baseball is the only sport I don't like.  At all.  I think it's terribly long and boring and I honestly don't care one thing about it.  Travis is also not a huge baseball fan, thank goodness.  He doesn't pay much attention to it until the playoffs start. Then he'll watch a few games here and there.  I still fight it, but usually I can deal with 5 or 6 games a year!
However, both of us LOVE to see the Yankees lose and we quickly got caught up in the Ranger fever that struck most of America last week!  My Texan husband was in touch with his "roots" in no time flat and we were both glued to the game, hoping that the Rangers would pull it off!  
And they did!!  
Carter was witness to the big win!!  Can't you tell??  
He is all caught up in the excitement, that's his "thrilled" face  :) 
We were so excited to see the Ranger's prevail and will be cheering them on in their first ever world series!  
Thursday marked the first late night game Carter watched with his Daddy, but I'm sure it wasn't the last. 
I just hope Baseball doesn't become his favorite sport...  
On Saturday, we got to pick up Aunt Stacie from the airport after my Dad got to our house. We were so excited to see her and we came right back home so we could watch our Hawkeyes play Wisconsin together.  Someday we'll tell Ava and Carter about the serious sports fan that their Aunt Stacie really is.  We might also tell them about her famous trip to the ER, after throwing her shoulder out of socket, while cheering for the Hawks during a game!  But not too soon, as it might scare them.  When it comes to football, don't mess with Aunt Stacie... 
3 Generations of Hawkeyes, all decked out in our Iowa gear!
Of course Aunt Stacie, Aunt Jennie and I all inherited our love/devotion for the Hawkeyes from our Dad.  He worked hard to turn us into Iowa fans and now he's working hard to train Ava and Carter too.  So far it's working :) Ava is just now learning to cheer for the "awks" as she likes to call them!
I'm not sure who is more proud, her Grandpa or her Mother.  Probably both.  
Unfortunately for all of us, Iowa's kicking game was non-existant and the last 20 seconds were a series of bad decisions and bad play calling.  We lost.  And we shouldn't have.  
But, such is the life of a sports fan.  
Some days you win and some days you lose.  

The rest of the weekend was also spent watching some key games.  On Sunday night, we watched the rivalry between the Vikings and the Packer's with the drama that is Brett Favre thrown in for added entertainment.  Considering that I was raised to be a Packer fan, it was a great night for Green Bay.  Considering that I now live in Minnesota, it was not a great night for the many Vikings around us.  Now we get to live with endless hours of commentary on Brett Favre and his ability to still play, his relationship with the coaching staff and his new scandal, on every local news station. Fun times.  

Anyway, we were hoping to forget it all by watching the Cowboys win during Monday Night Football last night, but sadly, that was an even bigger disaster!  Poor Travis, this whole season has been terrible.  And with the loss of Tony Romo, it just crossed over into hopeless.  It's a good thing we have the Rangers as a great distraction!  

So there you have it.  Proof that we watched a lot of TV this weekend  :) 
And maybe had a little good family time too!


A Week in Pictures

I can barely believe that it's Friday already!  Today marks the end of the first "real week" we've had as a family of four :) Last week, we were just coming home from the hospital and in the fog of Carter's delivery and Ava was still at my parents.  This week, reality hit!  Ava came home, my Mom left and Travis went back to work.  And amazingly, we made it!  Here are some of the things that unfolded this week...
A few weeks ago, we made the "official" jump from a single stroller to a double stroller!  
I knew it would be my ticket to freedom if I wanted to be out and about with both kids for the next year or so.  Ava is still too young to walk with me or hold my hand voluntarily, so a double stroller became our best option.  We laughed when it arrived at our door and I put it together because it's about the size of a suburban.  In fact, that's how we now refer to it :) 
On Monday, we took it for its' inaugural ride when my Mom and I took both kiddos to the pediatrician.  
Carter had to go in for his 1 week appt., so we could make sure he was gaining weight and showed no signs of jaundice.  Thankfully, he passed every check with flying colors!  When we left the hospital on Thursday, he weighed 7lbs, 10oz., down from his birth weight of 8lbs, 4oz.  On Monday, just 4 days later, he was back up to 8lbs, 2oz, which was great!  I knew he was a good nurser, but that proved it :) 
Ava also had to go in for her 18 mo. check.  It was a good thing my Mom came with us, because 2 kids, for 2 back to back appts. is a circus!  Ava has reached the age where she knows what's coming and she doesn't particularly like any part of the appt.  She starts crying when they want her to get on the scale :) Fun times!  In keeping with her trend for the last year, we barely cracked the 9th percentile again for weight!  At 18 months, Ava weighs 21lbs and 4oz and she's 32" tall.  In the words of her doctor, "She's going to be tall and lean."  Just like her parents were as little kids :) 
The bad news about the back to back appts. is that both kids had to have shots.  
Not. Fun.
Ava had to get 2 and Carter had to get 1.  
For about 2 or 3 minutes, there was plural screaming and crying coming from our exam room :) 
When we got home, I was holding Carter on the floor, changing his diaper and Ava wanted to climb on my lap too.  I love this picture with their little leggies and their band-aids on their thighs!  
It's still so shocking to me when I see pictures of me with both kids and I realize their both mine :) 
For the most part, Ava has handled the arrival of her little brother pretty well.  For the last few months, we've slowly seen her independence come out in several ways and we've encouraged it, knowing she was about to become a big sister.
EVERYONE told me this would happen, but from the minute I saw her in the hospital, I swear she aged about 5 years.  I cannot look at her now without seeing a little girl :)  My baby has grown up!  Carter coming home has changed her little world, but she is adjusting well and we are doing all we can to make it easier for her.  
She has started some "new" behavior that is making us laugh...
When my parents had her last week, she started taking the clothes off of her little baby dolls at each nap and every morning.  
Apparently that's not enough of a challenge, as now she's begun taking her own clothes off while trying to un-do her diaper as well.  It's an adventure everyday when we go get her from her bed!  Thankfully, she is still sleeping so well every day.  She's napping for 2-3 hours every afternoon and sleeping at least 12 hours at  night.  That is making my life so much easier.  It's a beautiful thing to have that break in the afternoon and to count on a good night of sleep each night from her.  We've been putting her to bed a little bit later so that she'll sleep in a little later in the morning and so far she's rolling with it :)  
We're very thankful...
This little guy has also been a champ with all that we've thrown at him this week!  
He is such a sweet baby, so mellow and so laid back.  
He has been doing a lot of this, but he's also really started to "wake up" this week and each day he has longer and longer stretches of being alert and awake.  
Of course it doesn't help that his big sister likes to bang on her piano, just inches from where he is sleeping or resting :) 
Raise your hand if you love to wake your little brother up.  
Uh huh.  
We thought so.  
At any given time, we find Ava trying to climb in the bouncy seat with Carter, pushing him in the swing, or wiping his head with one of her wipes.  Poor little guy.  Only a few days old and already his sister is letting him know who's in charge :) 
Right now Carter is nursing about every 2 hours during the day and thus sleeping in 4-5 hour stretches at night.  We are thankful for him for a million reasons.  He is such a precious addition to our lives and although we are not sleeping as much as normal, we are enjoying him so very much.  Perhaps the second time around, one of the big differences is that I am cherishing my nursing time with him so much more than I ever did with Ava.  During the day, I always had time to spend with Ava because she was the only one who needed me :) Now, I just can't spend every minute with Carter, so when I get to feed him, I love putting my feet up and holding him close.  When Ava goes to bed at night, we both love the time we get with Carter.  He's often awake for several hours with us before we all go to bed and it's time that we cherish with our little guy.   He is really starting to stare into our eyes now and turns his head when he hears our voices.  He is so handsome and we are deeply in love with him.  We also had his newborn pictures taken this week and I can't wait to share them with you! He is good lookin', just like his Daddy!
Now unfortunately, he is the second child and he's following a big sister with lots of pink around here.  
No one tell him that this happened today, ok?  
All of his blue blankets were in the wash this afternoon and I had no choice.  
I'm sure it won't be the last time, but for now it's our little secret :) 
I can't even begin to express all that I've thought or experienced this week, now that I am a Mom of 2.  
It's been tiring.  
There have been moments when my patience has been tested and found lacking.
But more than any long day or hard moment, my heart has been overflowing...

Overflowing with love for 2 little blessings.  
Life will never be what it was just a few days ago, but in many ways, it's so much better already.  
We did it!  We made it through our first week :) 
Tomorrow my sister Stacie flies in and I can't wait!  We'll get lots of time with my family over the next week and then Trav's Mom comes and we'll get some good time with her too.  I love that part of having a baby!  It's such a gift to have all of these memories with our families and our babies.  

Happy Friday!  
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!


For Comparison's Sake

For days now, we have been scratching our heads, trying to decide who Carter looks like, if he reminds us of Ava or if he's totally got his own thing going on :)  So, to answer the burning question in our minds, I dug up a few pictures of both kids, at about the same time, to see what we think...
You know, for comparison's sake.

Here's what I discovered...
I was overwhelmed with love for Ava...
...and I'm overwhelmed with love for Carter.
 She stole our hearts the first time...
...He made them double in size the second time.
I was exhausted after labor with her...
...But I never knew true exhaustion until I was in labor with him :)
Ava was the apple of her Daddy's eye immediately....
...And so was Carter.
She had the love of an adoring Father for the first time...
...And he has the love of an adoring Father for the second time.
This was the day I knew my heart could not be any more joyful than it was.  
Ava awakened something in me that I never knew existed...
...But this was the day that I knew God had given me double the joy!
Carter drew more joy out of me than I ever knew was possible.
This was our 6 lb, 11oz girl, on the day we brought her home...
...And this was our 7lb, 10oz boy, on the day we brought him home.
She wore pink with a flower on her head.
He wore blue with a hat on his head.
A little splash of pink, peeked out of the car seat when Travis carried Ava down the hall...
...And a little splash of blue peeked out of that same car seat, when Travis carried Carter down the hall...
After we got home, it didn't take long for the soft pink blankets to come out...
...Just like it didn't take long for the soft blue blankets to come out.
This little beauty made us fall in love...
...And this handsome little mr. made us remember the feeling all over again.

Although their hair color is different and they each have distinct features that set them apart, when it's all said and done, I think it's safe to say that they are related!  

Now I know what you're thinking, "they" say it's not wise or loving to compare your children, but I don't know...
It seems like a healthy dose of comparison every now and then can't be that bad :)