we need pink cigars!

She came!  I'm sure most of you are well aware of this by now, but last Thursday, our little bundle decided to come into this world a full week early.  We are so proud to welcome Lillian Estelle Franks, "Stella", to our little family.  We just knew it'd be a girl!  She's been an absolute blessing and joy to us all.  I haven't decided yet if she's just an "easy" baby or she's waiting to reveal her true, wild Franks/Hindman heritage (haha), but so far she's been quite a delight!

A brief synopsis:
I started having contractions last Wednesday night, just before my Aqua Zumba class- they were mild, just regular and frequent.  After class I came home and Michael and I furiously finished all relevant to do lists, just in case.  After making a call to the doctor, we all decided it probably wasn't real labor- so I settled my mind, put the boys to bed and grabbed a few hours of sleep.  

When I woke up, the contractions came back and they were stronger.  So, Michael stayed home from work, I took Caz to school, and we waited for them to get a little more intense.  I decided once I couldn't talk through them, we should probably call family to head up from Tyler and finish packing the hospital bag.  This was around 9am.

Less than 5 hours later, our little pink bundle was in our arms!  Stella was born at 1:43pm weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.  She scored 9's on her Apgar tests (woot! woot! for those who even know what that means).  Labor was swift, natural and drug-free (we just won't say pain or primitive-grunting free...check back for detailed blog with TMI on that subject in the near future).

Well...duty calls!  Here are some quick pics, including some we didn't post on Facebook:

Sweet big brother - he's done amazingly well!

 First visit

 Adoring boys


With Grandad (and a big hat)

First nap together- Caz in bed (right) and Stella in crib (left)



the real countdown

It's Week 38, folks!  Exactly two weeks from today, I'll be officially due.  How do I feel?  Fantastically diverted!  I've been able to distract myself by creating daily to-do lists that never get completed and seem to grow by the hour.  And furthermore, I've been signing up to sub as many fitness classes as possible.  A Zumba-induced labor.... why not?!   Last week the doctor said the baby is "measuring for the 21st" (5 days early).  On Tuesday, the doctor said the baby's dropped a tiny bit, but not fully... Months ago, my Lubbock practitioner was pretty convinced it'd be the 30th from early calculations.  And the suspense builds (insert dramatic musical interlude)...

I think Michael  and I are both in that state of limbo where we're incredibly impatient and anxious one moment- anticipating every strong kick as a possible contraction-starter, wondering if this will be our last ___ (fill in the blank: night, dinner, shower, etc.) before the little bundle arrives, and being absolutely overjoyed and overwhelmed by love for what is to come... countered by feelings of hesitation and reluctance the next moment- wondering if we're really ready for this, if we've crossed enough things off the perpetual checklist, and even feeling the sting of the bittersweet realization that we'll never again be our little trio of Franks'- for lack of a better metaphor- this is just "all we know", you know?  But we're confident that our lives are only going to get better, fuller and more abundantly laden with love.

Of course, any self-doubt or fear (specifically coming from the constant "advice-from-anyone-who-sees-me-big-and-pregnant", which is most commonly the doom-impending warning: "Get ready!  Two is a lot different than one.") is all put to rest when we remind ourselves that: 1) We at least have an idea of what to expect in caring for a newborn, 2) We are surrounded by loving friends and family who would do anything for us, and 3) As my wise friend Laura says, "it is what it is".  We'll just have to figure it out.

That all being said, we're trying to savor each moment we have together in these last few weeks.  We've had some great extended family visits (for the last 3 weeks in a row, actually) and have been going on some fun small-family dates; the latter of which, has been to go fishing at an awesome park we found near our casa.  I've posted a few pics from one of our recent trips.  As a side note, Caz actually fell into the water that day.  I didn't get any action shots, but you can tell he's half-soaked in his cheesin' pic (that's not a shadow on the left side of his body...).  No tears though- he still wanted to play on the playground afterward.  And... there's a belly pic (as requested)- yeesh!

Until next time! 


holy ga-moly!! long time no blog!

Well, I felt inspired today to sit and type a bit... you know, just shy of 2 years after I made my last post!  Hehe- well.... the Franks Fam got a little busy.  Literally days after that last post, I started back to some "part-time" (but oh so often full-time-ish) work at the B-dub.  And it was a fantastic journey into the world of Zumba...where I, Zumba Coordinator, tried to help build a team of wonderful, inspiring ladies and create a little Zumba mark on the plains of west Texas.  It was fun and exciting and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.  Two years, some 25+ hires and many, many classes later...I've moved on.  Literally.  

It was a bittersweet goodbye, but one we were ready to make in light of the excitement ahead.  Most of you know we left the wild west when Michael graduated with a bagful of Master's Degrees in hand last December and headed out to the Metroplex this year.  We're just about settled in these parts and in no too soon a time frame, mind you.  Franks baby #2 is headed our way in about 5 weeks!  

So here I am, large and in charge of our new little abode.  I've decided to stay home with the babes (such a lucky, pleasant choice) and only plan to take on a few more group fitness classes for my "work fix".  It may be a pipe dream, but I thought perhaps I could log onto here more often and update friends and fam on our weekly adventures (though I hear the transition from one to two children is quite the roller coaster).  

Nonetheless, I should have a solid month to at least update things on this site, like some hilarious 3-year-old "Cazisms".  I've been pressed for pictures, but this belly feels less than photogenic these days.  I'll do it though!  Stay tuned... (and I'll try not to leave you hangin' for another 23 months)!


potty time

And thus it begins... the potty diaries.  Who ever knew a mother could be so enveloped, so enthralled, so invested in some dirty porcelain?   Well, I didn't.  But alas, it is time to start this toilet training business and I come to the battle unarmed, but with determination.  Caz, on the other hand, is very well armed with some intimidating...nay, deadly, weaponry.  And he knows how to use it with brute force.
We're going Euro-style, so our house has become a veritable mine field of puddles and the occasional stink bomb... praise ye, oh carpet-less floors.  Okay, let me not be overly dramatic, and have everyone think I've let the apartment turn into a cesspool. But we have made the un-American choice to go diaperless several hours of each day.  Supposedly it will help Boogs become more aware of his bodily functions and it definitely keeps Mommy's awareness of all-things-potty at a constant high.  In other countries, almost all children potty train between 18 and 24 months with this method, as opposed to our 36+ month trend here.  Of course, this choice does result in more cleaning on Mommy's part, in some ways at least.  But let me assure you, scooping #2 off of a hardwood floor is actually much easier, and less involved than scraping off mashed implosions on a mini-behind.

And, so far we've had several accomplishments on the field.  First- a little background: almost since he could sit up, we've been sitting him on the potty seat when we catch him in the act (and there's only one act that's easy to catch).  So, going potty in the potty is nothing new- it's the self-initiation and consistency we're shooting for here.  Anyway...

Victory #1- Two weeks ago Caz came up to me and said "teetee" (which prior to this instance wasn't in his vocabulary) and he pointed to show me the puddle of teetee he'd just created in the living room floor.  I was overjoyed.

Victory #2- A couple of days ago after waking from a nap, I asked "Caz, do you need to go potty?" and without hesitation, he marched into the bathroom and stood by the toilet.  Overly excited, I sat him on  his little seat and then watched (with tears in my eyes, mind you) as he teeteed in the potty.

I won't bother listing any "setbacks" or "regressions" like being pooped on yesterday... we'll just keep our minds sunny and our heads up.  And so, our plight continues...onward ho Potty Warriors, onward ho!


a few of my favorite things - baby edition

Following the recent birth of sweet munchkins from several of my dearest friends, I started thinking about all of the wonderful support, advice and tips that I was given in those first few months of motherhood (we'll not ponder on the un-wonderful, un-solicited, horrendous advice that was also thrown our way by any stranger, by-stander or fellow shopper in those days).  Thankfully, we received some great information from loved ones and even made a few fantastic choices on our own.  So I thought today I'd list some of the great products that we found or were referred to...those "cant-live-without", "life-saving" staples of parenthood that we will definitely not fail to use with our second child (years and years from now when we decide to have one- haha).  Anyway, hopefully this will be helpful/enlightening/interesting to someone.

1. The Bouncer (by Baby Bjorn) - $99

We searched far and wide for just the right one of these.  We didn't want anything too mechanized with flashing lights, endless battery requirements or cheesy music.  We also wanted something monochromatic, modern and void of any cartoon animals or geometric patterns.  It was a large bill to fit, but we finally found it in the Baby Bjorn Babysitter.  This fit all of our needs, including the ability to provide a more natural, kinesthetic experience in bouncing for Caz- something self-propelled that would encourage coordination and balance.  The biggest bonus: he STILL uses it at almost 17 months.  It's the coolest recliner, bouncy jungle gym, ball catcher ever!

2. The Carrier (by Baby Bjorn) - $99

Again, a pricier item from Baby Bjorn, but WELL worth the ticket.  We made sure to get something "Daddy-friendly" sans colorful patterns or gender-specific wearability (i.e. slings).  I've put Caz in it as recently as two weeks ago (it has a 30 pound weight limit)!  It took some getting used to, as the straps and buckles seemed overwhelmingly complicated at first.  But, a little gusto and a few practices later, we were in good shape.  During the first 6 months (before grabbing, reaching and flailing really set in), this thing helped me reclaim my sanity and get housework done.  Almost every night, I strapped Boogs in, picked up toys, did the dishes, danced to music and lulled him to sleep with this carrier.  A true gem!

3. The Playmat (by Tiny Love) - $45
Once more, we looked everywhere to find something that fit all of our needs- including aesthetic, pattern and color requirements.  We didn't want a lot of sound, toys or colors, which can be over-stimulating for newborns (and annoying for parents).  So, we found something in red, black and white- the colors proven to be most-distinguishable by tiny babies and better for vision development and shape recognition.  This one did the trick.  And the great news again?  He still uses it.  Lying on his back, pulling at hangy toys?  No.  But add a blanket on top and you have a rockin' tent!

Other notable items: Munckin teething bags (thank you Amy Hyatt) to put frozen fruit or even ice cubes in, the Chicco playyard and California Baby All Natural Shampoo and Body Wash (concentrated- one $20 bottle lasted us 7 months).



Quickly- I've added a new feature to the blog: "Cazisms" (you'll notice it in the left margin).  It's just a copy of the handwritten log I keep of all of Bubba's little milestones.  Actually, it's an abbreviated copy.  I've been keeping it since birth, but decided posting from February on would be sufficient, and I didn't include every single entry...especially since it's mostly seemingly insignificant occurences (at least to the average onlooker).  But to Mommy, these are serious steps here, folks.  I mean, the first time he "pretended" to do something, you would've thought he'd won an Olympic gold medal.  We were very excited to say the least.  So...highly-anticipated, enthralling script or not, there they are...Cazisms.  I know the grandmommies will be excited! 

Oh, and as a screen-prize* for reading this far, here's a cute picture from my friend Sarah.  This is our trip to the feed store a few weeks ago and Caz's first look at baby chicks.  You can just feel the excitement from the look on his face, can't you?  :)
(*Get it?  Screen-prize?  Like door prize, but you're on a computer instead of at my house.  Ha!  Where do I come up with this stuff?!?)


a sign of the times

Somehow it's already Wednesday, but here I sit still relishing in the wonderful weekend we had.  Our dear Mama Nelly came to visit and we had oodles of fun with her!  We tried to make good use of every moment we had together, so we packed in quite an event-load.  We took her to the pool and showed off our swimming skills (we're now jumping in all by ourself- belly-flopping and fully submerging with a smile).  We went to the Arts Festival and saw giant Lego creations and danced to live music.  We went to Daddy's convocation for his Architecture Scholarship (which is why we were blessed with Mama Nelly's presence in the first place). *See picture below of Caz's smashing convocation ensemble- I thought he looked quite debonair...and convocational. 

Sidenote: By "we went" to the convocation, I should really clarify.  Although all four of us went to it, Caz and Mommy didn't actually attend the ceremony.  You see, we're experiencing a marvelous stage of exploration, wonderment, independence and general busy-bodiness at present.  So, sitting in a lap or chair for an hour is ABSOLUTELY out of the question, regardless of fancy iPhone Baby Einstein antics or the availability of any other piece of handheld entertainment, for that matter.  Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun playing around Jones Stadium with dandelions and then crashing the convocation's reception afterward...and boy did we crash it.  A wise mother once told me to always smile and laugh in public as a reaction to any and every behavior displayed by your child.  It shows a sense of confidence and control that makes people think you know exactly what you're doing and that you're not the least bit embarassed or stressed....I'm still working on it.

Alas, I've gotten far off-course- back to our weekend activities.  We also paid a visit to the park and practiced our monkey skills- running, climbing, swinging, yelling at others and picking up poo (actually that was last week).  We watched "Up" (thank you Joanne Baumgardner, silent "j") AND part of "Planet Earth".  We went to the grocery store for a big shop.  And what visit wouldn't be complete without not one, but TWO, trips to Wally World- fantastic!  So all in all, it was a grand ole time and we can't wait to do it again soon.

Other exciting updates: we very intentionally repeated "Guck, guck" today when we visited Auntie Joli's duck.  And we're also signing more words: "outside" and "book" are recent additions.  A recent read has actually encouraged me to really continue with the sign language even as verbal language begins to develop.  Apparently signing will not only continue to advance cognitive learning abilities, but it will also be a big help to Mommy and Daddy during the terrible twos (I gather that signs are often displayed during tantrums when words have ceased to be sufficient or audible).  So, onward we go!