Monday, December 12, 2011

2 1/2 Years

Kayla is officially 2 1/2 years old! We have loved watching her grow and learn. These past several months she has figured out how to express herself a lot better. She uses complete sentences and can articulate her emotions. Grammar is a bit of an issue, but we'll work on that later. (example: "I want a please sucker pink.")
Kayla has a very tender heart and always makes sure that people around her are "ok". When we cough she always asks, "Are you ok?" and we have to respond promptly otherwise she will just keep asking. Tonight one of her friends who is already gone for the holidays called. Her friend had to get stitches on her chin from an accident she had and was telling Kayla about it. Kayla asked her, "You have an owie? Are you ok? I'll kiss it better." and attempted to kiss the phone. Pretty cute.
She also loves going to nursery on Sundays. Almost every day Kayla asks if she gets to go to nursery. Today she loaded up some little dolls in her toys car and said they were headed to nursery.
Logan loves smiling at Kayla and she gets very excited when he does. She shouts, "Baby's smiling!" She holds his hand and gives him kisses. One day I saw her reading stories to him. When he is crying she tries to give him his binky. She sings to him and rocks him in his little bed. Kayla is a great big sister.
As far as size goes, Kayla is still fairly little. She is only 29 lbs. and still wears pajamas she got for Christmas last year. Being little is helpful for her because one of her favorite activities is being tossed around by Daddy when he comes home from school. She lays down on the ground and sticks her hands and feet in the air for Braden to hold on to so he can swing her above his head. When he stops she shouts "HIGHER!" and giggles with joy. I love watching them play together.
Kayla is a handful at times and is too smart for her own good. She loves to get on the computer and open up her movies to watch. Since we don't encourage constant movie-watching, we removed the itunes icon from the computer. Kayla, however, figured out how to go into the applications folder, find itunes, open it, and get her movies. She also knows she can pull a chair over to the refrigerator so she can reach the freezer where her frozen go-gurts are. It's good to know she won't starve if I can't get her a snack right away.
We love our little girl and are so happy she is part of our family.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On My Own

With Braden gone to Illinois for career stuff this weekend, I'm on my own with the kids. I decided to be brave and go to the ward Christmas party tonight. Everything was going well until someone started sawing wood on the other side of the room. Kayla doesn't particularly like the sound of an electric saw (I think it was a chop saw??). For the rest of the evening she plugged her ears, which made eating dinner interesting...
Last weekend there was a holiday party with our apartment complex. It was a lot of fun, but we found out the hard way that Kayla does NOT like Santa. Knowing that Santa was coming tonight to the party, all week long I had her watch some Christmas shows with Santa in them. Today we talked about how nice Santa is and that we don't need to be afraid of him. She was excited to see him when we left home, but when Santa finally arrived it was a different story. Maybe next year she'll enjoy taking pictures with him. Logan woke up just as we were about to leave so I decided to plop him on Santa's lap. At least one kid cooperated!

Santa tried to make Kayla happy by letting her ring the bell. It was a nice gesture.

On a side note, Kayla woke up from her nap this afternoon to a creepy little friend crawling in her bed. One would think with all the "Charlotte's Web" she's been watching lately she wouldn't be terrified of spiders. Normally when she wakes up she just comes out of her room. When I heard her screaming in there I ran in and saw our terrified little girl sitting paralyzed on her bed. I saw the spider and swiped it away. When I found it again I smashed it and showed Kayla that it was dead and wouldn't get her anymore. It took another 10 minutes before she would get off my lap. Maybe two traumatizing experiences in one day was just too much for her, which is why she wouldn't stay in bed tonight until after 10:00. Hopefully she'll forget all about scary spiders and Santa for tomorrow night and go to bed at a decent hour.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Thanksgiving this year was spent amongst friends here in Cambridge. Braden started the day with a "Turkey Bowl" while I started making cranberry bars and my mom's delicious rolls. Braden also made a ham and scrumptious mustard sauce to go with it, but we don't have pictures of that unfortunately.

Kayla organized my nail polish and picked out some colors to wear (pink on her toes and green on one hand).

Braden showed Kayla how awesome the Wii is. They played tennis and she was able to hit a few of the balls!

I put Kayla's hair in braids the night before so it would be wavy on Thanksgiving (which is why she has cornrows in most of the pictures). Here she is giving loves to her little brother.

We hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Halloween 2011

For Halloween we decorated sugar cookies with friends,

picked out pumpkins,

carved pumpkins,

(attempted to carve a pumpkin),

and colored the pumpkin instead.

The finished product!

We went to Spooky Sloan again this year and had a lot of fun!

Cinderella and Bedtime Bear visited us this year. Cinderella didn't want to wear her gloves and crown though...

Kayla went trick-or-treating around the apartment complex and met up with some of her friends.

Kayla got quite a haul! (Although most of it is gone already thanks to help from Daddy!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Month Young

Logan recently achieved the one-month status. He is growing, eating, pooping, and sleeping well. Here are his stats:

Weight: 10lbs. 6oz. (58%ile)
Length: 21 5/8 in. (45%ile)
Head Circumference: 39.3 cm. (69%ile)

He consistently sleeps for a 6-hour stretch at night, which has been a HUGE blessing. It is amazing how much difference getting good sleep can make for me.

Kayla loves her little brother. She holds his hand or foot and tries to give him his binkie when he is crying. When we first brought him home from the hospital and he started crying, Kayla ran to get him a blanky and binkie because she knows that those things help her when she is crying (although they didn't really work for Logan). She is very sweet with him. We do, however, need to get some bumper-pads for the crib since she likes to poke things through the bars. His eyes have only been poked at once or twice. Mostly she leaves him alone, but there was one time that Kayla "helped" by bringing him to me when he was fussing and I was on the phone. I heard her say, "Here Mom!" and I turned around to see her holding Logan. Such a helper!

A note about labor: going natural hurts. A lot. The contractions were getting progressively more painful while we were at home. We had to stop walking from the car to the labor unit at the hospital four or five times because I couldn't move during the contractions. The nurses started asking me questions and I couldn't answer them. Luckily Braden was very calm and was able to help me with different ideas for breathing. He answered all the questions the nurses asked and helped get us checked in. After my water broke it was a whole new level of pain during contractions. We had a very good nurse who reminded me that "the bed rails aren't going anywhere", so I just held on for dear life to those. Would I deliver sans-epidural again? Yes. The recovery is much faster. I was able to be much more alert after he was born and feel like I could enjoy the whole after-delivery experience more because of it. Is going natural for everyone? No. You never know how a labor is going to go. But now I know that since I did it once, I'll probably be able to do it again. For me, the idea of the big needle going into my back scares me much more than natural childbirth. I loved not having an IV. I hate those.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baby Logan!

Early morning.  Very early morning, and Tiffany was going into labor. Realizing there was some regularity to her contractions, we began to wonder if baby Logan was going to arrive before class, and I opened up the stopwatch app on my phone.  Like clockwork, every two minutes or so she had a one-minute contraction, about 60 of which were dutifully timed by a husband unable to think of anything else helpful to do.  Being a man of action, watching Tiffany do all of the work through labor and delivery makes me feel incredibly pathetic.  To try to be useful I gave her encouragement and whatever emotional support I’m capable of giving (not what I would consider my greatest strength, but Tiffany says she loves me anyway), and did the only measurable thing I could think of to help – timed contractions with my stopwatch.

After much anticipation and thinking we would need to head to the hospital at any second, they stopped.  Saying it was discouraging to go back to bed at 5 am to get some rest is an understatement, but I had to go to class if we weren’t at the hospital, and soon-to-be big sister would wake up around 7 wanting to play.

As the day progressed, Tiffany continued having irregular contractions, and I anxiously went to class with my phone on silent, expecting any second that my phone would vibrate and I would have to run the mile between the business school campus and our apartment in record time. I made it through Business Law without a phone call, though only partly able to concentrate on how people get sued for stealing trade secrets when they leave a company and start up a new business.  Key lesson learned: stealing the Coca-Cola recipe = a very large lawsuit.  It lacks the nuances of the actual basis of law, but I think it will work in a pinch. After class I ran back to our place to check up on the family – still no baby.  However, our apartment was scheduled to get the heating repaired that day, so Tiffany was hanging out at a friend’s place while the workers finished up.  Luckily I had a long enough break to get our place put back together after the workers left, and then it was back to campus for a trading-room simulation for Finance with my phone at the ready.  During the exercise, we traded imaginary stocks to see how the market behaves to determine stock prices.  Key lesson learned – there’s a lot more to making money in the stock market than guessing when a stock will go up or down, and the market (everyone that buys and sells stock) is really smart.

Still no baby.

Back home, we were hoping that our lost sleep in the morning wasn’t all for naught, and waiting for Tiffany’s mom to arrive from California, and it started.  I pulled out my phone, opened the stopwatch app, and began anew my contribution to the process.  Tiffany bent over the couch and began her concentrated breathing.  These contractions were stronger than those in the morning but didn’t come quite as quickly.  She wanted to labor at home as much as she could (the hospital really isn’t that comfortable), but we called the hospital to let them know that we would probably be arriving that evening.  Realizing I was measuring and recording something, and no longer groggy from the early morning, my primal instincts to track, monitor, and improve a process kicked in.  A control chart seemed appropriate, so I switched from jotting down times on a notecard to recording them in Excel.  Giving the urgency of the adrenalin-fueled situation, identifying proper upper and lower bounds for contraction times wasn’t very realistic, but I was at least able to track the labor process in real-time, and visually see any changes or patterns.  The chart below is what Tiffany was going through.  Plotted are contraction duration, the break after each contraction, and the total of the two.  The y-axis is the time in seconds, and the x-axis represents each sequential contraction.  For some people labor is most vivid when seen and lived through in person, but for others, the following chart will be even more enlightening.

As you can see, the contractions (blue line) were fairly consistent up until about number 16, where things began to get more intense.  Once the lines for “Duration” and “Break” crossed, I knew it was time for action.  This was an obvious visual cue that it was time to get to the hospital, and data collection has never been so exciting in the history of man.  As well, it was fortunate that we had the charts so that I knew what to do, because at this point Tiffany was too focused on breathing and not having a baby in the living room to be able to answer me when I asked, “is it time to go to the hospital?”

Tiffany’s mom had arrived a while earlier, and was returning from the playground with Kayla as we passed her on the stairs and told her we were on our way to increase the size of our family by 33%.  It took one contraction on the stairs and one on the sidewalk to get to the car, but we were on our way.

Once on the road, we began to navigate the tricky Cambridge traffic.  As you may know, Cambridge existed during the time of the revolution; in fact George Washington’s troops were camped out at the battle of Boston in what is essentially our modern-day backyard.  This is only relevant because it means that roads were set up to handle things like horses and pedestrians, so with the proliferation of the automobile during the 1900’s, the only option for traffic in Cambridge and Boston was to become terrible.  The hospital was only 2 miles away, but traffic levels could be the difference between a leisurely hospital delivery and a historic delivery on the banks of the Charles River.  Luckily we planned the best route before hand, snuck through traffic with Tiffany realizing just how uncomfortable a seatbelt can be during active labor, and arrived at the Hospital a little after 8 pm.

After getting Tiffany set in the room, I ran down to move the car and grab the camera.  The doctor and nurse said we probably had about 20 minutes before they would break her water, and the baby would arrive in under an hour.  When I got back to Labor and Delivery the nurse said, “Okay Dad, her water just broke and the baby’s coming!” 

Me - “Wait, you broke her water without me?!?”

Nurse - “No, it broke on its own!”

In the ensuing minutes, Tiffany demonstrated her heart of a champion, endured a few excruciating contractions, and then pushed baby Logan out in 2 pushes! No epidural, no pain medication whatsoever.  The baby was born at 8:40 pm, and Tiffany was happy to no longer be pregnant.  And to no longer be pushing.  And to have our new baby! She’s amazing!

Logan’s Stats:

Weight – 7 lbs. 5 oz.
Length – 21 inches

Both Tiffany and Logan are doing fantastic recovering from the ordeal.  We should be able to go home tomorrow and begin our lives as a family of four!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


We were looking at baby names for our little bundle of masculinity and we came across this list of most popular names in the 2000's.

# 171 on the list for boys: Braden
# 171 on the list for girls: Tiffany

Interpret it however you want, but the only logical conclusion I can think of is that if your name ranking doesn't match that of your spouse on the list of most popular names 2 decades after your birth, then you might have made a mistake...

Also, any suggestions for awesome middle names are welcome, but be aware that "Eriberto" has already been shot down numerous times, as has almost anything with only one syllable.

***5-minute update***
We just checked again and verified my previous assertion - our friends Audrey and Steve also both showed up on the list at #79.  My suggestion for everyone else? Find some esoteric connection between your name and that of your spouse, or else you're hosed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First stop: Idaho

We took off from Seattle on Friday at 6:30 pm. Braden plowed through the night (we took a break just outside of Bliss, ID at a rest stop for a 2-hour nap) and got to Grandma Balls's house at 9:30 am. There we enjoyed picking raspberries from Grandma's raspberry patch, followed by a long afternoon nap, and finally we headed up to the hills for some huckleberry-ing. Although everyone seemed to be convinced that there would be no huckleberries, we were able to find a good patch and within a half-hour of picking we were able to get a surprisingly good haul! Kayla loved picking and eating berries all day. It was wonderful to spend some time with Grandma Balls.
Kayla tried to figure out which berries were ripe. Sometimes she got ones that weren't quite ready...

The spiders liked the raspberries too!

Daddy showing Kayla what to do in a raspberry patch.

Picking a huckleberry.

A sample of the huckleberry patch.


Berry pickin' with Grandma!

Reaching for the perfect berry.

Grandma, grandson, and great-gradaughter.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

All in 9 Days

It's been a while.  A lot has been happening though - we've been finishing up our time in Seattle, my internship with Amazon has been winding down (meaning things have been getting busier and busier up until last week), Tiffany's been incubating our unborn son, we provided fruit for over a thousand people, and we packed up all out stuff for  our summertime highway inspection back to Cambridge.  So here are the highlights, in no particular order:

Our Garden

Gardening out of an apartment isn't the easiest thing to pull off.  At least for us.  Really I don't know if our single tomato plant in a biodegradable pot can be called a "garden" in the classical sense - but it's what we could pull off on a 2nd floor apartment.  I'm not sure if it was the people smoking on their patio below us, the lack of natural sunlight available in the Seattle area, or the lack of any type of attention during our 4th of July vacation in Tahoe... but we didn't have what would be considered a "bumper crop" - 4 tiny tomatoes on a dead vine.  But hey, it's a start.

New Tenant
As soon as we cleared off things from our balcony, this little guy decided to move in.

The intricacies of the web built over night was incredible.  A veritable wonder of natural engineering, a suspension bridge built of spider sputum. Unfortunately for our creepy little eight-legged friend - not a lot  of bugs on our balcony.  After 24 hours he was still in the same spot, his web had started to fray, and only a few tiny gnats had been captured in the web.  Not quite the all-you-can-eat buffet I'm sure he was imagining as he poured all of his efforts into creating his web.  Not at all unlike some people with a tomato plant I know...

The reason the neighborhood arachnid probably thought our balcony would be a great place to stuff his face was that all of this was in our living room up until the night he built his web:

As a result, there were about a billion fruit flies in and around our apartment.  We were partly in charge of getting all of the fruit for the summertime Hawaiian Luau/Picnic for the church.  This was about 1/4 of the total fruit outlay, as we fed 1000 people or so kalua pork, rice, fruit, cupcakes, and snow-cones.  Cutting it all up so it was fresh for everyone worked like an assembly line, with all of the people that volunteered to help working like a fine-tuned assembly line of knives, cutting boards, watermelon rinds, and pineapple juice.  It was a successful operation, with no reportable injuries, everyone getting plenty of food, and only 2 watermelons and a few bananas left over after it was all said and done.


The day prior to this event, we packed all our stuff into a moving container for our move back to Cambridge.  Luckily my brother Randy came over to help so we could get everything in - it was like a real life game of Tetris.  All of those hours playing video games as a kid finally paid off, as we got everything into the container with everything stable and room to spare.  Kayla was the task-master with here favorite big stick, and then had a seat in the mud.

And she loved playing in all of the newfound playspace... inside the cupboards.

Since we've moved out of our apartment, but are still in Seattle, we're vagabonding it for two weeks.  Thanks Randy and Mel and Gavin and Amanda for letting us crash in your homes while we're homeless!

Finally, this weekend we had one final adventure in the Pacific Northwest and went to Canada with our friends the Ripps.  We put the little girls in the back seat of the pilot, and it was surprisingly comfortable for the four adults.  Honda Pilot = Awesome Vehicle.  Seating for eight, four-wheel drive, and a comfortable drive.  What more could you want?

We went to the Granville Island Market, saw a totem-pole workshop, visited the famous Stanley Park and took a walk along the sea-wall and checked out the totem poles, and got awesome Canadian Slurpees.  My Canadian friends at BYU always claimed that their Slurpees were better than ours - I always dismissed them as crazy and figured that all of the flannel somehow affected their logical reasoning.  It turns out I was wrong - Canadian Slurpees are awesome!!! Why you ask - a whole lot thicker, and somehow they stay frozen longer.  After an hour my Slurpee was still mushy and delicious.  The only problem was that the spout of Slurpee-dispensing goodness was too big, so you couldn't fill the Slurpee with the lid in-place.  As a result you had to mound the frozen goodness above the top of the rim and then place the cap, but that was a small price to pay.  Canada - you have awesome Slurpees.  Unfortunately I was so busy enjoying mine that I forgot to take a photo, but I think you can imagine the goodness.

Soon to be a Totem-Pole

Actual Totem poles

Little Friends

Big Friends

The Fam

The Float-Plane

Tiffany has a deep-seated love for ice-cream

Walking on the Seawall

A Sea lion and her pup in the harbor

And we'll soon be on to our next adventure - Cross-country road trip with a recently potty-trained toddler and a pregnant Tifferoo!