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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Catching Up

I was much better at keeping up with this blog before Stephen arrived!  I had plenty of time to write down my thoughts and feelings while waiting for his arrival.  Now, my days are filled with changing diapers, feeding this growing boy, and trying to keep up with the laundry…and I love every minute of it!

Stephen is growing and changing every day.  He loves playing on his Mr. Ladybug playmat, looking in the mirror, playing with Ollie Octopus, watching shadows, walking around the neighborhood in his stroller, and listening to music.  He’s not a huge fan of tummy time, nap time, or watching the rest of us eat.

I returned to work after Labor Day.  It was very difficult to leave Stephen, but he’s in good hands.  He hasn’t cried when I’ve dropped him off yet, and he’s always smiling when I pick him up.  His babysitter, Ms. Debbie, is spoiling him rotten!  There are about five other kids at her house during the day, but Stephen is the only baby there!  Stephen goes to daycare almost every day, unless we have a special event planned.
We’ve kept him out of daycare a few times, mostly for travel.  Even though he’s only three months old, Stephen has flown on an airplane twice, and visited four different states!  We’ve been to Virginia for a weekend, Illinois to visit Shawn’s family, a family reunion in Oklahoma, and Connecticut for the Apple Harvest Festival.  He’s a great traveler; he sleeps most of the way!  On the way home from Connecticut, he was awake on the plane, but was content.  I’m so glad he wasn’t one of “those” babies…you know, the ones that cry for the entire flight!  Stephen has met most members of our families, and of course, they just love him!

We’ve been taking pictures of Stephen each month, and it is bittersweet to see each picture.  I love watching him grow up, but I hate how fast it goes!  Just look:
Halloween is coming up, and Stephen is already getting ready!  He has three costumes this year (and I always swore I’d never turn into one of “those” mothers….You know, the ones that go overboard for holidays when the kids are too young to realize it…..Yup, I’m one of “those” now.)  He wore his Tigger costume when we decorated the house.  We’re hoping to get to the Pumpkin Patch soon, too.  He’ll stay at home with me when Shawn takes Abi trick-or-treating, but he’ll have a cute costume for that, too. 
We’re coming up on the holiday season soon, and it will be so magical with Stephen here this year.  He’ll sit at the Thanksgiving table with us (and maybe even eat some “food”, too!).  He loves watching lights, so I can’t wait to see him when we light the Christmas tree.  With all the excitement, we’re enjoying every minute of our time with him. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just a Few Pictures

I've had a request for more pictures, so here are a few!  (You're welcome, Dad!!)
The teether made Stephen feel better.

They won't stop taking my picture!!

I'm so darn cute!

Stephen loves to play on his activity mat.

Still smilin'!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Family Ties Us Together

Stephen has been very busy for the past few weeks.  He’s had the chance to meet and spend time with several family members.  He still has many more to meet, but we’re off to a good start.
Stephen’s Aunt Kayla came with her family, Sue and Julie one afternoon.  That same day, Stephen’s cousin, Braxton and Aunt Emily came, too.  We had a great time spending the day with everyone.  Kayla laughed at Stephen when he cried out or made funny noises, and the boys showed they’re going to be life-long friends.  I can’t wait for them to be able to grow up together….I’m looking forward to the sleepovers, campfires, Family Torture Days, and everything that comes along with cousins.

Aunt Kayla loves to watch Stephen

Making faces

Cousins are friends for life!

Two weeks ago, Stephen went on his first road trip!  Along with Abi and Aunt Katie, we drove to Winchester, VA to meet Mom, Dad, and Grandma.  Abi is going to Camp Sloper again this year, so we decided to meet half-way to drop her off.  This was the first time Grandma was able to meet Stephen, and (of course!) she just loved him!  He was a great traveler (he slept most of the way) and even behaved when we went out to dinner and breakfast.  The best part?  Stephen actually slept through the night when we returned to North Carolina.  (He hasn’t made a habit of that, though, but it was exciting to see him get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I did not get that much sleep, though, as I kept getting up to make sure he was breathing!)

Stephen is Great-Grandma's sixth great-grandchild!  No wonder she looks like a natural!

Four Generations
One week later, Stephen made another road trip…this one much longer!  We drove to Illinois to visit Shawn’s family.  On the way up there, we broke the trip into two days;  we stopped in Kentucky to spend the night, and got into Mt. Erie, IL on Friday afternoon.  Stephen was, again, a great traveler.  I think the fresh air (or maybe all the corn?) was good for him; he slept great while we were there.  Stephen was a popular little guy in IL, and had fun with his family.  Next year, we think he’ll be running around with the “big kids” on the Slip and Slide!

Stephen can't wait to play with his cousin, Mitchell

Maybe a little jealous that he can't play on the Slip-n-Slide with Malcolm?

Getting kisses from Grandma Williams

Stephen was the center of attention!
Needless to say, Stephen has had a busy summer.  We’re going to test out Stephen’s true travel skills by flying to Oklahoma in September for a family reunion.  We’re also hoping to get to Connecticut in October (around Apple Harvest-time…can’t resist those fritters!).  Of course, we’re always happy to have family visit us, too!  Later today, Mom, Dad, and Uncle Paul will be here.  They’re spending the week, though I wish they could stay longer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Say Cheese

Two weeks ago, Samantha from Two Little Monkeys Photography spent a few hours at our house taking pictures of Stephen.  Needless to say, I was so excited to find the CD of the pictures we ordered in our mailbox this afternoon!  These pictures are amazing, and I would love to share them with you:

Stephen was laying on a bean bag chair covered in this lime green blanket.  He was so squishy during the photo session, and let us pose him in so many different ways.

We thought the owl hat would be perfect, since Stephen's room has owls in it, too.  Doesn't he look cute?

I wasn't sure if I would like this picture when our photographer showed us the hat.  But, as soon as I saw him in it, I knew I would love it!  I'm thinking he needs a stocking cap like this one for winter!

This was on the "must-have" list of photos Shawn wanted.  I just love the curly tail!

This is one of my favorites, although it is definately difficult to pick a favorite since they're all so wonderful!  Stephen is sleeping in the cradle made by my great-uncle, and in the background you can see the quilt my aunt made using my wedding gown and Abi's junior bridesmaid gown.

Another one sleeping with the wedding quilt.

This is another one of my favorites.  He is still in the cradle, but this time with a blanket and pillow that my friend, Michele, crocheted for him.  The set looks perfect in the cradle!

Here's one of Shawn's favorites, although he had a hard time deciding if he liked this one, or the same shot in black and white better.  We ordered a print of the black and white one, and I have a feeling both of these will be hanging in the Man Cave very soon.

I just love Abi's face in this picture!  Stephen was crying, and Abi was afraid to hold him without his diaper on.  We had already had a few accidents that day, and she was not excited about the possibility of being a part of another one.  I love that this picture doesn't look posed...its just a natural shot.

The two boys that have stolen my heart.

I am so in love.  I had no idea it would be possible to love him this much.

And, finally, our first family photo.
"The love of a family is life's greatest blessing."  ~Unknown

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Big Boy is Three Weeks Old Today!

Wow!  It has been three weeks since Stephen made his grand appearance!  It has flown by, and it makes me realize how fast time will go.
When we left the hospital, Stephen weighed 7lbs, 14oz.  At his check-up today, he’s tipping the scales at 10lbs, 10oz and he’s grown a inch for a total length of 21 inches.  What a big boy!  In the past week, he’s grown out of his Newborn diapers and clothes, and we’ve had to adjust the straps on his car seat already!  While it is exciting to see him get bigger and stronger, it is scary to look at how fast he’s growing.
Stephen is developing his own personality.  He loves getting a sponge bath, watching the monkeys on his pack & play, listening to any kind of music, walking around the neighborhood, and riding in the car.  He is not a fan of going to sleep, getting his clothes changed, or shopping at Wal-Mart.  He has the most heartwarming smile, and I see it every time he eats, and right before he falls asleep.  While it is still too early to figure out all of his habits, he’s sleeping for about 3 hours at a time during the night.  He naps in the mornings and afternoons, but fights sleep in the evening and around 4:30am. 
We’ve had lots of things going on since we came home.  Stephen has had plenty of visitors, and everyone has fallen in love with him.  On Monday of last week, we had a session with Samantha from Two Little Monkeys Photography.  She was amazing, and stayed for about four hours taking picture after picture of our beautiful little man.  She has posted a few sneak peeks on Facebook, so if you’re on the social networking site, “like” her page and you can see some amazing shots!  Samantha posted the gallery of all of the pictures online yesterday.  I have no idea how we will choose which pictures to order.  I thought it would be a quick process, but seeing all of these pictures makes me realize I was SO WRONG!  Once I make a decision, I will post them on here so you can enjoy them, too.
Stephen has a busy summer planned for him already!  Next weekend, we’re heading to Virginia to meet my mother and grandmother.  Abi will be coming with us, and she’ll head up to Connecticut with them for a two-week session at Camp Sloper.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Stephen will be a good traveler, since we’ll be on the road more often than not!  I’m so excited for Stephen to meet Great-Grandma DiVito, and I just know she’s going to love him!  The following weekend, we’re heading to visit Shawn’s family in IL.  That will be a longer drive for Stephen, so I’m double-crossing my fingers that he is content in our travels.
Since we’ve come home, I’ve found it difficult to keep up with the blog, but I’m going to do my best to continue to post pictures and stories to share!  He’s already growing so fast, so I need to make sure to keep up with every milestone.
After meeting Shawn, I never thought I’d fall in love again.  Stephen has proven me wrong; I just love this little guy!

Despite the look on his face, he really does like bath time!

Trying to get warm after bath time!

Relaxing during nap time

Stephen loves to go for a walk...he's usually awake when we go!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

He's Here!!

Wow!  What a ride the past few days have been!  Stephen arrived on Friday, July 1st at 3:17am.  However, it seemed that there was a long road to get there….
Not long after my spill in the front yard, I had another appointment with my doctor.  During that appointment, he ordered a growth ultrasound, as he thought we were measuring big for being 39 weeks pregnant.  He also ordered a Non-Stress Test (NST) because of my high blood pressure.  We headed to the hospital for the NST, and everything looked good.  My blood pressure went down, and Baby Q’s heart rate was still perfect.  We then headed to the ultrasound lab.  The tech was wonderful, and we got lots of pictures of our Little One, including a few more 3D pictures.  At the end of the appointment, she informed me that Baby Q was estimated to be 9 pounds, 1 ounce!  WHAT?!?! 
We went back to the doctor’s office, and discussed our options.  After some research, discussion with the doctor, and a long heart-felt talk with Shawn, we decided that our best and safest option was to schedule a c-section.  We were scheduled to check into the hospital on July 5th at 6:30am to prep for our c-section.  And then it hit us….we had a date that Baby Q was going to join us!  WOW!!  At this appointment, the doctor also put me on modified bed rest.  We were given permission to go out to dinner that night, but until Tuesday I was ordered to stick to bed rest rules.
Shawn and I ran to the store to pick up some things I would need while on bed rest, and then went to dinner at Logan’s.  We then headed home to watch a few movies on our “last date night” before baby.  During our first movie, I got off the couch, and started to wonder if my water had broken.  However, since we’ve had a few “false alarms” and too many visits to the hospital recently, I sat in denial!  Shawn and I went back and forth over whether or not to go check on things, and after two hours, Shawn won the argument and we headed back to Labor and Delivery.
At 1:35, the nurses on duty confirmed that my water was broken.  Since we were already scheduled for a c-section the following week, they decided to go ahead with the surgery.  The next hour went by SO fast, and I don’t really remember all of the details.  I do know that I was terrified of so many things:  the spinal block, major surgery, a different doctor performing the surgery, and everything that could go wrong.  Shawn was scared, too, but did a wonderful job of trying to keep me calm. 
At 2:30, Shawn dressed in his scrubs, and I was wheeled off to surgery.  He had to stay in the hallway during the prep process, and came into the room right before the doctor began the surgery.  He was able to sit right next to me throughout the entire surgery, though it was slightly difficult for him to get around, since he’s still in his boot!  At 3:17, I heard the doctor say, “Look at that blond hair!”  Not long after that, I heard the most beautiful sound in the entire world:  my baby’s cry.  To say that “I lost it” would be an understatement.  I cried at the beauty of that sound.  Stephen was whisked off to get cleaned off and assessed, but we were able to see him.  His Apgar Scores were 7 and 9, and he was just perfect!  After giving him a quick kiss, Shawn took him to the newborn nursery while the doctor completed my surgery.
Stephen is just perfect.  He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long.  He has a head full of blond hair, and the most beautiful slate blue eyes I have ever seen.  He has 10 fingers and 10 toes (over-achiever….remember Mom only asked for five fingers and five toes!)  We are debating over who he looks like….I think he has my mouth, but Shawn’s nose and ears. 
I am so in love.  Stephen Belden Quinlan is just perfect!  And while he has big shoes to fill, I have all the faith in the world in this little boy.  His name is a tribute to two very special men:  Stephen is in honor of Shawn’s father, and Belden is in honor of my grandfather, who we called Poppa.  I think the name fits him perfectly, and I know that our special angels are smiling over him. 

Prepping for Surgery

Stephen Belden, Born July 1st, 3:17am

Proud Papa

See...I told you he was perfect!

Bonding while Mommy is in Recovery

Getting ready to come home!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wrapped in Memories (Though we Need Bubble Wrap!)

I had planned to post yesterday about our new baby blanket, but the best laid plans never work out!  I ended up in the hospital yesterday and wasn't able to write the post.  So....I'll combine both events to update you on Baby Q.

After yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that Shawn and I should probably think about living in a bubble for the next few weeks!  We make quite a pair right now.  We found out this weekend that Shawn has a severe case of tendonitis in his right ankle, making the use of crutches essential and seriously limiting his mobility.  He saw a specialist yesterday, and will be participating in physical therapy for the next two weeks.  We're hoping that he'll be able to get off of the crutches and at least use a walking boot within the next week or so, but so far, we just have to keep our fingers crossed.
After his appointment yesterday, we ran home to grab a bite to eat before he had to return to work.  I tried to take the dog out when we got here.  One of the neighborhood dogs was loose, and Riley wanted to play.  Unfortunately, I couldn't let go of her leash fast enough, and she ended up pulling me down the hill in our front yard.  I couldn't keep up with her, and ended up face and belly first on the ground.  When I got up, I had dirt in my mouth, a bloody nose, and scrapes and burns on my arms, legs, and face.  (Poor should have seen his face when I walked in the house like that!)  Naturally, I was terrified that I had hurt the baby.  I wasn't feeling any movement, even after trying to drink a Coke, so Shawn called the doctor, who sent us directly to the hospital.
The good news is:  Baby Q is fine!  The nurse said he is "perfectly responsive" to all stimuli, and they were happy with his heart rate.  When I got to Labor & Delivery, they immediately hooked me up to the monitors.  The nurse found Baby Q's heartbeat right away, and I was finally able to calm down.  Because we are 38 weeks along, the on-call doctor wanted to monitor his movements and heart rate for four hours.  So, I was hooked up to the machines for the better part of the afternoon.  I loved hearing his heartbeat (I could listen to that all day!) and it was interesting to watch the print-out of his heart rate and my contraction activity.  The monitor recorded some small contractions, or "disturbances", as the nurse called them, but there was no pattern, so we were finally sent home.
Now that we've calmed down, and I know the baby is okay, I've started to realize how sore the rest of my body is from my fall.  But, again, Baby Q is fine, so I can't complain at all.  But, I'm seriously considering wrapping myself in bubble wrap for the next few weeks...just to be safe!

Wrapping myself in bubble wrap would not be as beautiful, though, as the new blanket we have for Baby Q. I am in love with this blanket!
When we found out we were expecting, and we had told our families, I asked my father's sister, Auntie Darlene, if she would be willing to make Baby Q a quilt.  I wanted to use the material from my wedding gown as some of the patches in the quilt.  Auntie Darlene agreed to make the blanket for us.  It took me awhile to work up the courage to attack my wedding gown with a pair of scissors, but I finally did it!  Abi saw me working on it one day, and asked if we could use her junior bridesmaid material in the blanket, too.  I was so excited that she wanted to use her dress for the baby, too!  So, we cut apart her dress, boxed everything up, and shipped it to Auntie Darlene.
Making the first cut

Shawn offered to help cut the dress, too!

Shawn is enjoying this too much!  Throwing away the inner lining of my wedding gown....

Two weeks ago, a package arrived at my door.  I saw the writing on the address label, and knew right away that it was Baby Q's new quilt.  I was SO excited!  I waited for Shawn to get home, and we opened it together.  As soon as I broke the seal on the box and moved the tissue paper, I burst into tears.  This is the most beautiful blanket I have ever seen!  (I couldn't even call Auntie Darlene right away to thank her...every time I started to dial her number, I started crying all over again!  I didn't want her to answer her phone to hear me like that!)  This is such a special blanket....not only does it have pieces of the day Shawn and I took our vows, but it was made with love by family.  I am so excited to wrap Baby Q up in this blanket.  Its one he'll be able to keep forever, and maybe even pass down to his children one day.... 

Our gorgeous Baby Quilt!  The white patches are from my gown, and the navy patches are from Abi's gown.  The border is my sash.  You can also see the back (folded over) of soft fleece in Carolina Blue!  I LOVE THIS BLANKET! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Sweet Home for Baby Q

We are ready for Baby Q!  (Well, as ready as anyone can be for a newborn!) 

Shawn had the day off yesterday, and we were able to dedicate some time to finishing the nursery.  We were able to hang the canvas paintings that Abi painted, and arrange some of the final details in the room.  So now, the nursery is ready!  While Baby Q will sleep in a cradle in our room for awhile, its so exciting to know his room is ready for him!

You may remember that Shawn and I made our pregnancy announcement around the holidays.  We went to Connecticut, and went to my grandmother's house right away to share our news.  Grandma DiVito surprised us both when she guessed before I could even say anything!  After our hugs and celebrations, she asked if we wanted the cradle for Baby Q.  Shawn and I were so happy to be able to use a family heirloom; the cradle was made by my great-uncle, Uncle Bill, when my aunt was born.  It was used for my aunt, uncle, and mother, and my cousins and I also slept in it.  I feel so honored to have Baby Q use this cradle as well.  Mom and Dad shipped it to North Carolina for us, and we purchased a new mattress and sheets.  The cradle has been set up in our room for a few months, and luckily, the animals have left it alone!  I think it will be a perfect place for Baby Q.

Tigger from Uncle Adam...and can you tell who picked out the blanket?
And now, for a tour of the nursery!  First, I'll start with a sneak peek....Shawn and I have chosen to keep Baby Q's name a secret until he arrives.  But, take a peek at his door, and you can at least get a hint about his name...

First Initial!  We purchased this at Hobby Lobby months ago, and finally hung it yesterday.
I love walking into the nursery.  The color is perfect, the theme is perfect, and everything is perfect!  I must admit, I walk in daily, just to look around.  Sometimes, Shawn comes home from work to find me sitting in the room rocking in our glider, or just staring at everything. 

The view of Baby Q's room from the door.  I love our sun light and how it fits so perfectly with our theme.
 We chose the Leksvik Crib from Ikea.  Since the drop-down cribs are no longer safe, I was worried about finding a crib that I could reach into to pick up Baby Q!  On a girl's trip to Ikea, I found this crib, and knew it would be perfect!  I love, too, that we can remove the rails and turn it into a toddler's bed as Baby Q gets older.  Our Tree Tops rug, blanket, mobile, and sheet set came from our registry at Babies R Us, as did the breathable bumper.  Inside the crib is the Little Brother Teddy Bear that Abi made a few weeks ago.  I received the Rainforest Waterfall Soother as a shower gift, and everyone at the shower raved about its soothing powers!  I can't wait for Baby Q to fall asleep to the music or nature sounds. I also ordered a pillow from sweet*dreams*my*love on Ebay.  She also made our light switch cover, and a sign that will be hung once Baby Q comes home.  (Its personalized!) 

Take a look at Baby Q's closet!  He has some adorable clothes already.  Shawn is convinced I'll be changing his outfit multiple times a day because I have such a hard time picking favorites!  (I am convinced I'll be changing him multiple times a day for messes!)  We hung Newborn and 0-3 month clothes on the left side, and bigger clothes on the right.  In the middle of the closet, we hung our organizer that holds towels, washclothes, blankets, receiving blankets, and burp clothes.  You can also see a purple table in the closet...that was my old night stand.  My grandfather made it for me when I was a young girl, and it has followed me since then.  It started off pink, and since then has been painted at least ten times to match the variety of color schemes I've used in decorating my room.  When Shawn and I moved in together, Abi used the night stand.  Since we redecorated her room, we decided to use the nightstand for Baby Q.  Once he gets a bit older, we'll paint it (again!) and use it in the room.  For now, though, its holding random baby products, like diaper bag fillers and bath items.

On the wall opposite the crib, we've set up Baby Q's bookshelf.  His bookshelf is another piece that our family has had for a long time, and seen a variety of purposes!  My grandfather made it for my parents when I was younger, and we used it as a "chuck box" when we went camping.  It had doors on it at the time, and held our food and paper products.  When I moved to NC, I used it as a bookshelf and entry table.  I'm very excited to have this to use for Baby Q's books.  And look at all of those books!  We've already started reading to him, and we will continue to read to him once he arrives.  I ordered his night light from debgriz59 on Ebay, and the fox matches our theme perfectly!

Abi is very proud that we've hung her canvas paintings above the bookshelf.  She can't wait for her brother to stand up in his crib and look at the paintings.  She and Shawn did a great job, and I'm very happy with the results.

I'm so happy with the result of these paintings!  I think the hooks are perfect, too.
You can also see Baby Q's first piggy bank, or owl bank.  Shawn took me to Unique Designs Paint-Your-Own Pottery Studio the week before Mother's Day, and we picked out his bank and painted it together.  We've already started putting extra coins in there, so he'll probably have more money than we do in no time!  Shawn was very excited to find a Disney Exclusive Nursery Mickey, so we've added that.  The frame was a shower gift, and I can't wait to fill it with his professional newborn photos from Two Little Monkeys Photography!  She does amazing work, and I know I'll love all of our pictures.  Baby Q also has plenty of toys to keep him entertained!
In the corner of the room, we've set up Baby Q's changing table.  The diaper stacker, baskets, cushion and cover, and racoon on the shelf are from Babies R Us.  The changing table/dresser combo is also the Leksvik model from Ikea.  Just like the crib, we'll be able to use this for years.  Once Baby Q is potty trained and we no longer need a changing table, we can remove the extension and simply use it as a dresser.  His drawers are already filled with adorable clothes and shoes!  The baskets hold diaper-changing supplies and bibs that match his outfits.  On the shelf above the table (also Leksvik from Ikea) we've put up some frames (from Hobby Lobby), as well as the candle favor from my CT shower and the Stork cake topper.

In the other corner, next to the window, is my glider.  This is the most comfortable glider I've ever sat in!  I know the purpose will be to rock Baby Q to sleep, but I *may* have used it already to rock myself to sleep.  I love the pillow that Mom found for the chair, too.  Its perfect, but makes me tear up every time I read it.

Love this saying......

I think Riley will keep us company while we're rocking....
 I konw this has been a lengthy post, but THANK YOU for hanging in there and looking!  I'm so excited about the nursery, and couldn't wait to share it with everyone!  I can't wait for Baby Q to arrive and enjoy it with me.