Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Video of Brinleigh rolling over

6 Months Old!!!

As of January 28th, Brinleigh is officially SIX MONTHS OLD!!!!  Also, Gunner turned 2 years old that day as well.  Oh man, my kids are growing so fast.  Other big news in the Foreman household..... Brinleigh started rolling herself over from her back to her tummy a little over a week ago.  Now anytime we lay her down on her back she immediately flips herself over.  I have a hard time even changing her diaper these days.  She has also grasped the concept of holding her own bottle and keeping it tipped so that the milk flows out.  It's crazy how much she has grown and learned in just the last month.  

Tuesday we had Brinleigh's six month well baby check up.  She weighs 15 lbs. 6oz. and is 25 1/2 inches long.  The doctor was very happy with her progress and growth and kept complimenting what a calm and content little thing she is.  *Proud Momma moment*  Brinleigh received an oral vaccine, which she sucked down like a champ, and then two shots, which of course pissed her off and made her cry.  On the bright side, she did calm down fairly quickly afterwards and didn't seem bothered, cranky, or bruised for the rest of the evening like she normally does after getting her shots.

She is absolutely loving her new exersaucer and has figured out how to jump up and down in it and turn herself around to play with all the toys.  I have also started reading some of her new books to her during the day and she seems pretty entertained by that as well.  For Christmas her Aunt Paula bought her a whole baby einstein library with books that make noises and play music and so we read some of those and she actually sits and listens to the story or the noises.  She also tries to grab the books from me so she can chew on them so for the time being we are playing it safe and only reading the board books so she can't rip the pages out.   

Over this last weekend we got a few inches of snow and decided to bundle Brinleigh up and take her out to play for a few minutes.  She of course, was more entertained by Gunner who was prancing through the snow like a fairy and trying to catch the snow in his mouth that Daddy threw at him.  We only stayed out for a few minutes because it was really cold and I didn't want her to get uncomfortable.  


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Holding Her Own Bottle

Brinleigh's First Time Eating Baby Food

Brinleigh Update!

Brinleigh is now 5 1/2 months old and we are still amazed everyday by this beautiful little Angel that we created.  She is still developing her own personality and we are having so much fun watching her grow.  Her latest obsession is her feet and toes.  She is fascinated with them.  She is constantly touching them, holding them, watching them, or sucking on them.  Yes.  My daughter sucks on her own feet.  Don't judge her.  She is starting to recognize her senses and so she is fascinated with touching the things she sees or looking at the things she hears.  She loves being talked to and if she is facing us and can reach, she likes to put her hands on our faces.  She is learning how to control her hands more and she can grab things intentionally now.  You can see how focused she gets when she wants something and she is trying to get it in her tiny hands.  She reaches out and tries to grab or touch anything she can see withing arms reach.  This has made eating and drinking much more interesting for me when I'm holding her.

She absolutely LOVES Gunner.  She is obsessed with him to say the least.  If he comes within eyesight of her, she stares and watches him until he either leaves the room or until she gets bored with him laying still.  She is amazed by him and gets so excited when he comes close enough for her to touch.  When he licks or sniffs her hands she laughs and if she can pet him it makes her giggle.  Gunner, however, wants nothing to do with her for the most part.  I try so hard to get him to give her attention but he only cares about getting loved on from Kolt and I.  We will continue working on this.

Her favorite toys at the moment consist of her new jungle exersaucer, which I promptly ordered upon returning home from our Christmas vacation (and put together all by myself, Thank you very much), her taggies elephant that was bought with one of her Christmas gift cards, any type of cloth (washcloth, towel, burp rag, sock, shirt, etc.) and tags of any sort.  

Brinleigh is starting to hold her bottle on her own now, with a little help from us still.  She doesn't fully understand that she needs to keep it tilted for the milk to flow but she can put her hands on it and hold it still for the most part.  It is quite a cute sight to see.

And for the BIGGEST and most exciting news in the Foreman household ::insert drum roll here::
We have officially started feeding Brinleigh baby food!  While insistently waiting until her six month well baby check up, I had an epiphany.  Come to find out, I'm actually a little behind the curve. 
While grocery shopping a couple weeks ago, I decided to buy a box of baby oatmeal.  I knew that once we had her six month appointment we would be starting solids and the baby rice and oatmeal are usually the first.  The night we bought it, I got adventurous and made a bowl according to the directions.  We attempted to feed her the soup like oatmeal (that's how it is supposed to be at first) which turned into a hot mess.  I ended up just giving her a bottle after a few bites sips.  I again, decided to wait for the doctors go ahead to start baby food.  Brinleigh has been a lot fussier than normal, which I chalked up to her teething.  She has also been nursing A LOT more than she was before we left for Christmas.  I assumed this was because going to Arizona for three weeks threw her off schedule and sleeping in the bed with us got her attached to me.  I started to think the other day that maybe she is fussy and trying to nurse so often because she is hungry and the milk isn't cutting it anymore.  So again, we attempted the baby oatmeal, this time I made it a little thicker.  She grabbed a hold of that spoon like it was nobody's business and began scarfing down every bit of oatmeal that went into her mouth.  She grunted and moaned in between bites like I wasn't feeding her fast enough.  After she finished the oatmeal I decided to try something else.  Recently, I have been putting pieces of banana into her fresh food teether and she gums them into mush and then sucks it out like it's her job.  Soooo, after she finished the oatmeal I decided to mash up part of a banana and mix it with some oatmeal.  She absolutely loved it!  This of course, was all done before I read or researched anything about introducing baby to solids.  I started reading through some books I have and realized that she is showing ALL of the signs that she is ready to start eating baby food, including reaching and grabbing for our food.  A friend of mine then told me that usually the baby rice is the first food because it is thinner and easier for a baby to eat and oatmeal is the second, however, the oatmeal is healthier and better for them.  Then my sister, Dana, told me to feed Brinleigh vegetables before fruits.  I guess sometimes if a baby eats fruits first, they like the sweet taste and then refuse vegetables after.  Ooops!   So, as of now we are feeding her oatmeal twice a day and I am still nursing her like normal.  This has seemed to help with her fussiness and I have also noticed that she doesn't act like she is always hungry now.  It has helped improve her nap times so she sleeps longer and I'm hoping it will help her to start sleeping longer periods throughout the night without needing to nurse as often.  (Our trip to Arizona really messed up our schedules, routines, and habits.)  Needless to say, I don't think her gums have been bothering her as much as I initially thought they were.  My growing little chunk of sunshine was just hungrier than I knew.   

While on the topic of baby food, I think Kolt and I have decided that since I am staying home with Brinleigh and I have the time, that I will try to make her baby food.  I just have to get the pure`e equipment to make and store the baby food.  I'm also still looking into how to do this since I am a beginner.

That's all of our baby news for the time being.  Brinleigh is still the happiest and most photogenic baby I have ever seen and she is still entertaining herself by hanging upside down any chance that she gets.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

For Our Devoted Blog Readers

I have added a new option to our blog.  Readers can now subscribe to email delivery when I publish a post.  If you scroll to the top of the most recent post, on the right hand side there is a white box where you can enter your email address.  Hope this might make it easier for some of our followers to keep up with us.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Change of plans.....

Before we left for Arizona, Kolt was informed of two different C-schools that he needed to attend in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  Each school is four weeks long and they would be back to back with a week long break in between.  Nine weeks total would be spent in North Carolina.  We decided that Brinleigh and I would go with him, nine weeks was just too long for me to be left by myself in Sitka, with a baby, during the winter time when it's dark and cold.  Brinleigh and I could stay with our cousins KC and Tyler just like I did when Kolt went to his five month long A-school in Elizabeth City.  

So the plan was to leave at the beginning of February, Kolt would have a week long break in between schools, he wanted to take a week of leave after the second school, and then we would return to Sitka in the middle of April.  On the way there, Kolt and I would be flying separately.  He has to fly into Virginia and drive to E-city and since it is work related, he had to book his ticket through SATO.  I can book my ticket as normal and would fly into Raleigh.  However, on the trip back to Sitka, he will fly out of Raleigh with Brinleigh and I so we can book our tickets together through Alaska Airlines. (SATO will then reimburse us for this ticket.  This is because SATO will not book a ticket for him to return since he wants to take leave after the schools.)

Anyways..... In the last two weeks of being home, this plan has changed.  Shocking, I know!

Kolt went to the doctor about a bump on his back that has been bothering him.  Turns out, the "bump" is a fairly large cyst and it's around the bottom of his spinal cord.  He was referred to a surgeon who advised him to have it removed immediately.  After it is removed, he will be out of work for a week and he cannot travel until it is completely healed.  Therefore, the schools he was going to attend are out of the question now.  He cancelled his orders with SATO, scheduled his outpatient surgery for Monday morning, and will be off work all of next week.  

We don't know for sure, but he might be able to attend the next set of c-schools in April & May.  If so, we will stick to the original plans but with the new dates.

As much as we were looking forward to only being home from Arizona for six weeks and then leaving again for the rest of the winter, we are not disappointed about the change of plans.  We actually have a list of things that we have to get done before leaving again.  The cancellation of schools gives us a lot more time so I can stop stressing about getting everything done.   And surprisingly, this winter has not been bad at all and I have even enjoyed the snow.  It really hasn't snowed much at all, especially compared to last year and I'm kinda sad about it.  I think last winter was just really hard for me because I was pregnant, experiencing the dark and cold Alaska winter for the first time, and we didn't go home for Christmas.    

On another note, I've recently been contemplating about making our blog private.  This means that anyone who wants to keep up with us or read our posts would have to sign up as a follower.  I know for most people this can be a hassle to have to create a username and password and then log on when you want to read our updates, but my thoughts about this are only related to the privacy and protection of my family.  Since I do choose to use names and I write about when and where we travel and where we live, I think I would just feel better if the blog wasn't open for the entire world to read.  I'm still debating though.  Feel free to give me your input on the matter.

Friday, January 11, 2013

All the people you'll meet...

Obviously this post was meant to be written sooner, but as you can tell from the previous posts that between readjusting to being home and unpacking, the earthquake/tsunami, Brinleigh teething, and a few other things that need to be taken care of this month, I'm a little behind with my posting.  Please forgive me. 

After Brinleigh was born, only a handful of people were able to come visit us in Alaska.  My sister Mandy, my mom, Kolt's mom and step-dad, and then my dad.  So for the majority of our family, this trip home was going to be their first time meeting our little love bug.  We were excited to show her off and introduce her to everyone.

The first person she got to meet was probably one of the most excited out of everyone who was anxiously awaiting her arrival.  Her Papa.  Cordale wasn't able to come up to Alaska with my mom so he has been waiting for the day he could hold his new grand baby.  Cordale and my mom picked us up from the airport so of course he scooped Brinleigh up right away.  Kolt and my mom were left to load all six of our bags into the truck while I was trying to figure out how to adjust the car seat they had (we didn't bring ours since they had one for us).  I guessed that Cordale would cry when he met her........ he held back the tears but his eyes were a little watery. 

Our first day in town Brinleigh also got to meet her Grandpa Jim and all three of us got to meet his new girlfriend, Lidia.  Her Grandpa thought she was the cutest thing and Lidia absolutely adored Brinleigh.  Brinleigh seemed to really like Lidia as well.  They spoiled her with lots of compliments and cuddles.  We also got to meet Lidia's two daughters, Amanda and Jessica, who also seemed to enjoy Brinleigh and she also got to meet her Uncle AJ.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of Brinleigh with AJ, Amanda, or Jessica. 

Brinleigh got to meet her Great Grandma Phyllis (my dad's mom) and my Grandma seemed to really enjoy that.  I was the first Grandchild on that side of my family and Brinleigh was the first Great Grand Baby, which I thought was really special.  I absolutely adore this picture of them together. 

Kolt's Grandma Lurie, better known as Nannie, was excited to meet her newest Great Grand Baby.  She especially enjoyed us visiting her at home when she didn't have to share the baby with anyone else.  Brinleigh enjoyed playing with her Great Grandma and made sure to give her lots of smiles.

Brinleigh got to meet her Great Grandpa Dwight and Great Grandma Carolyn.  She is their seventh Great Grand Baby and the tie breaker(for the time being) between the number of boys and girls.  Her Great Grandpa Dwight will be the only Great Grandfather that she will get to meet, which makes this picture very special. 

Brinleigh not only got to meet her Great Grandma Patti, but also all three of her sisters, some of which who came from out of town.  Kolt was the first Grandchild on his dad's side of the family and Brinleigh is the first Great Grand Baby.   

We all knew Brinleigh's Aunt Rayne would cry when she finally got to meet her first niece, but we were not prepared for the hysterical sobbing that ensued.  It seriously got Kolt and I teary eyed just seeing how emotional Rayne was about meeting our sweet baby girl.  Aunt Rayne was very exited to say the least and could not wait to get her hands on this adorable little chunk of happiness.  Aunt Rayne's husband, Brinleigh's Uncle Kenny, was also excited about meeting Brinleigh and she seemed to be quite fond of him as well.  It just about broke my heart seeing how sad Rayne was when it came time to say Bye.

Brinleigh also loved hanging out with her Auntie Paula!  She made sure to flash her lots of gummy little grins and even giggled a little.  Unfortunately, Paula had to share the baby every time she got to see her so next time we go home to visit, Auntie Paula gets extra baby holding time.

Brinleigh not only got to meet her Aunt Dana, but also Dana's new husband Clay and their brand new baby girl, Peyton.  As of right now, Peyton is the only cousin that Brinleigh has and she was only about four weeks old when they met.  Even though they are four months apart in age, Peyton has a LOT more hair than our little bald one.  

Brinleigh got to meet her Uncle Taylor and his girlfriend, Meghan.  Taylor is one of my two brothers, but unfortunately, she did not get to meet her Uncle Keith.  He is currently studying abroad in Russia and so she will get to meet him next Christmas when we go home again.

Of course Brinleigh met a lot more people, almost ALL of our families minus the Ruey's in North Carolina.  This was just our immediate family and again, there are a lot more pictures of everyone else she met on my facebook album December 2012.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holy Tsunami

Friday night Kolt had got off work early, (he is still on nights) which I was super excited about.  I had just gone to the grocery store and was craving chicken tacos, but I don't know how to turn on our grill (someone broke the starter).  Soooo..... Kolt coming home early (it was around 6 pm) was awesome because he could grill the chicken for our tacos.  (It's the simple things in life that get me so excited.)  Usually, he doesn't get off work until about midnight and is home by 12:15 am.  So this night we were able to sit down and enjoy a delicious dinner together before relaxing for the evening.  Kolt had plans to go hunting the next morning so he went to bed early, probably around 10 pm.  I stayed downstairs with the baby and played on the computer while she slept in her swing.  

Kolt woke up a little before midnight and came downstairs to get a drink and go to the bathroom, which he would normally do upstairs.  A few minutes later the house started shaking from side to side.  As I jumped off the couch, Kolt ran out of the bathroom, completely naked with his underwear in one hand and covering himself with his other hand.  I looked at him and cried out "what the F*ck is that?"  His eyes got big as he yelled "earthquake.  get outside."  I ran to the baby's swing and while trying to keep my balance snatched her up, of course waking her in the process.  Once I had a death grip on the baby with both arms I ran to the front door as Kolt was still screaming to get outside....... he was still naked.  I got in the door way that leads from the mudroom into the front hallway and stared at him, he was on the front porch now...... still naked.  I was fine in this doorway since I knew it was probably the sturdiest in the house.  This door used to be the front door to the house before they added on the mudroom sometime in the last few years.  I was also skeptical about going outside during an earthquake.  Kolt on the other hand, runs for dear life to the nearest exit because he refuses to be inside a building for fear of it collapsing.  (He experienced several while stationed in San Diego.  Each one had him sprinting to the nearest door in sight)  Anyways, back to the naked one........ as he is yelling to get outside, I started yelling for him to put his damn underwear on.  He looked at his hand holding the underwear like he had completely forgotten that he was naked.  The shaking had stopped.  I'm still frozen in the doorway, feet spread to keep my balance, baby secured in both of my arms, as Kolt came back in the mudroom to put on his underwear.  Then we ventured outside, for what I'm not sure.  The neighbor two doors down in our building was outside with his lab so Gunner went and ran around with her while Kolt and the neighbor exchanged a few sentences about the quake and then we went back inside.  Now the baby is awake, Kolt is trying to calm down, I'm shaking out of fear, and Gunner has no idea what all the ruckus is about.  So I did what any normal Sitkan would do after an earthquake...... updated my facebook status to inform the world, or at least all of my friends, of the huge tremor we just felt.  The computer was already open, turned on, and logged onto facebook anyways.  Five of my friends had already beat me to it so don't judge me.  I decide to change Brinleigh's diaper when my next door neighbor, Meghan, texts me.  She says her husband, Nick, wants to get off Japonski.  (Remember, Japonski is our tiny island that only really consists of the airport, Coast Guard base, Coast Guard housing, Coast Guard Cutter Maple boat station, the college and the boarding school.)  I told Kolt that Nick wanted to at least get off Japonski and he agreed, we should too.  At least if we were in town on Baranoff Island (the main island), we would be safer if there was a Tsunami warning.  Then the emergency message came on the tv notifying us of the earthquake and possible tsunami warning.  Kolt went upstairs to get dressed while I checked the facebook notifications I had, one of which was from Kolt's friend telling me the earthquake was a 7.7 and another from a different friend asking if Kolt was awake.  Of course his phone is going nuts as I ran upstairs to tell him how big the earthquake was.  He was on the phone telling a friend that we were going to get off Japonski for a while, just in case.  As soon as he hung up the phone we heard sirens, which I initially thought was an ambulance.  We locked eyes and realized it was the tsunami alarms going off.  
In a panic stricken state, we ran downstairs, I remember grabbing the diaper bag and my jacket, threw some slippers on my feet and ran out the front door with Brinleigh in my arms.  I was standing on the front porch as Kolt ran back and forth from the house to the truck to the shed to the truck to the house.  I was frozen, I didn't know what to do.  I heard the tsunami alarms going off, Kolt screaming at me to get in the truck, I'm seeing ALL of our neighbors running in and out of their houses loading their vehicles up and other neighbors who were already leaving housing.  With all of the chaos I couldn't think straight, I couldn't think about what I NEEDED to grab.  I tried getting Gunner outside and he would not come out of the house, which is abnormal for him, he usually beats us out the front door.  I cried out to Kolt that Gunner wouldn't come outside, he yelled at me to get in the truck and that he would get Gunner.  Then I started crying "but I don't have a car seat"......."GET IN THE TRUCK," Kolt yelled yet again.  So I ran back in the house, grabbed the car seat, and ran to the truck.  Kolt was putting the car seat base in the truck, thankfully at light speed since he had done it so many times.  (We didn't get a 2nd car seat base until we went home for Christmas so for the last 4 months we have been switching the base out between the two vehicles.)  He grabbed the car seat from me, slammed it into the base and I strapped Brinleigh in so fast that I barely remember even doing it.  I climbed into the front seat of the truck and watched our neighbors still running around loading vehicles as I waited for Kolt.  He got Gunner into the back, jumped in the drivers seat and took off, speeding through housing.  As we drove towards town and over the bridge I was shaking.  I tried to think about what I needed to do, who should I call, nobody can help us, its after 2am in Arizona, nobody will be awake.  As we followed a line of cars to the evacuation route, I started dialing........ First Kolt's mom.  I didn't think she slept with her cell phone near her so I called the house phone.  No answer.  Then I called her cell phone.  No answer.  So I decided to call my mom..... I knew she rarely answered the house phone so I called her cell phone.  No answer.  So then I tried her house phone.  No answer.  I just needed to let someone... anyone.... in our family know what was going on and where we were going to be just in case the worst case scenario happened.  I called my sister, Mandy.  She was sleeping but she answered.  I told her what was going on and hung up.  Next, I called Kolt's dad, and surprisingly he answered as well.  I told him the situation and hung up with him.  Now what?  I had told at least one person from each of our families and knew that if need be, they would spread the word.  As we headed down one of the main roads in our town we followed other cars to the evacuation route.  As soon as we turned down the side street which took us up a slight incline I knew we were close to the high school, our tsunami evacuation site.  As we rounded a corner we came to a complete stop.  There was a line of cars all the way down the road leading up to the school.  We knew how big that school parking lot was and if it wasn't already full it was definitely going to be by the time we got there.  An ambulance was leaving the school and turned down another side street.  I yelled at Kolt to follow that ambulance.  He swerved into the other lane of traffic (there were no other cars coming after the ambulance) and followed the ambulance down the side street.  We were headed to the next school a couple minutes away.  As Kolt drove I kept up with the phone calls and text messages that were coming in on both phones.  Friends asking where we were at, where were we going, letting us know where they were at or where they were going.  We pulled into the elementary school parking lot and there were still quite a few empty parking spaces.  There was an ambulance in the parking lot with lights on and everyone was heading inside the school.  We waited for our friends, Cooper and Kate, to arrive and once they did we all decided to head inside.  We didn't know at the time that we were allowed to bring the dogs in so we had left them all in the trucks.  All I had was the baby in her car seat, still wide awake, and the diaper bag.  Kolt had grabbed a rubbermaid tote full of blankets and a box of MRE's from the shed but we left them in the truck for the time being.  We went inside the school and found a spot to hang out until further notice.  
There were a lot of firemen walking around, answering questions, giving out what little information they had.  The earthquake had hit 90 miles north of us and was downgraded to a 7.5 due to the depth it had occurred at.  After a couple hours we were informed that the tsunami warning had been downgraded to an advisory.  A tsunami warning means that an area is likely to be hit by a wave, while an advisory means that there may be strong currents but that widespread inundation is not expected.  People flooded out of the doors of the school and into their vehicles.  We were stuck in traffic trying to get home for close to thirty minutes.

When we got home I was terrified to go upstairs.  It was around 3am and we had not felt an aftershock yet so I insisted on sleeping downstairs.  Even though Kolt hates sleeping on the couch, he camped out downstairs with Brinleigh and I.  He was still planning on going hunting that morning so of course he passed out right away.  I finally got Brinleigh back to sleep with me on the other couch and then kept myself awake because I was so paranoid about feeling the aftershock.  I swear I felt movement a few times but convinced myself it was all in my head.  Until I read the NY times article about the events the next day.  The earthquake was followed by SIX aftershocks, the strongest registering at a magnitude of 5.1 and occurring about 4 hours after the initial quake.  So the movements I thought were all in my head could very well have been the aftershocks.    

New York Times article about Alaska earthquake/ Tsunami     

I was kicking myself in the ass for not putting together our "Tsunami Evacuation List" and packing an emergency bag, which I had fully intended on doing after our minor tsunami scare in October.  This time I started working on it the next day.  It's still not all done, but I am determined to finish our "Bug out bin" by this weekend and I pray that we will never have to use it.  It's only been a few days but I am still shaken up about the events.  Last night the neighbors were stomping around the house and it made my house shake/vibrate, my heart stopped because I thought it was an earthquake.  I can't go to sleep upstairs with the baby unless Kolt is with us and I make him sleep on the couch downstairs with us until I am ready to go upstairs at night.  Last night I couldn't get to sleep because my anxiety was so bad about the whole situation.  I'm hoping this didn't traumatize me and that the fear will subside within a couple weeks, otherwise I'm gonna have to get my Xanax refilled.  In the meantime, I'm trying to keep myself busy while Kolt is at work so that I don't send myself into a panic attack when the wind picks up.   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Our New Years Eve was spent lounging around the house in pajamas, watching a movie and ordering pizza for dinner.  We were still adjusting to being back home, still unpacking things and getting organized again.  Kolt also had holiday rotation duty on New Years Day so he had to be at work at 7am, stay overnight and didn't come home until the following afternoon.  Needless to say, when midnight rolled around, Kolt was fast asleep in bed, Brinleigh was passed out in her swing, and I was catching up on my recorded shows as I heard fireworks going off.  Happy New Year!  I was not at all disappointed about spending the night in my pj's celebrating Brinleigh's very first New Years with just our little family.  

Baby Update:  On New Years Eve we noticed that Brinleigh can sit on her own somewhat now.  We don't have to support her as much and she can even go about a minute sitting on her own with no help at all from Daddy or Mommy.

P.S.  Before we left for our Christmas vacation, I developed somewhat of a penguin obsession for Brinleigh and became completely occupied with buying her anything and everything penguin.  Note the New Years Eve pj's.  Of course, Brinleigh's Grandma D happily contributed to the penguin addiction with half of her Christmas presents.    


Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Re-cap

Our three week vacation in Arizona was awesome.  The flight to and from went very smooth for our first time flying together as a family.  Brinleigh did amazing and I'm sure the other passengers were grateful for that.  The flight attendants loved her and we got so many compliments about how cute and happy she was.  While we were home we got to see just about everyone we wanted to at least once.  Brinleigh got to meet so many new people and she was such a cute little thing.  Everyone was so impressed with how happy, calm, and content she was.  We did tons of shopping, visited lots of friends and family, and were able to take Brinleigh out to do things that we haven't been able to do in Alaska.  We had some family pictures done, took Brinleigh to have her Christmas portraits taken, and visited Santa Claus and of course got her picture taken with him too.  Needless to say, TONS of pictures were taken.  She got a kick out of Santa talking to her and complimenting her and she smiled big for the camera.  The best shots had the photographers hand in the picture so of course we couldn't order those.  We went to the Zoo one night and walked around for the annual Christmas Zoo Lights event.  Brinleigh got to see a mall for the first time and of course Mommy just had to introduce her to Target every other day a few times.  

We also got to discover how much fun Christmas is when you have children.  We were so excited to get Brinleigh dressed up in her Christmas outfits and take her with us on our Christmas routine.  Kolt and I have a Christmas tradition of going to Winterhaven's Festival of Lights every year on Christmas night and riding through on my second dad's wagon.  This year we were extremely excited to have Brinleigh with us and make it a family tradition.  Opening her Christmas presents, watching her play with wrapping paper and chew on bows never gets old.  I personally was more excited about opening the baby's Christmas presents rather than my own.  And let me just say, Brinleigh is one spoiled little gal.  She had more presents than she will ever know what to do with.  Packing to go home was an all day event which consisted of a trip to the u-haul store to buy a large box.  We went to Tucson with six bags, one which was full of diapers that we planned to use while we were there so that suitcase would be available to use for items bought or received while there, and another was Kolt's RC car that he took home to keep at his dad's house, so that freed up another bag to come home with.  We ended up coming home with two extra boxes, which we were able to check at the airport and only had to pay one extra baggage fee of $20 for one of the boxes.  I am a member of  Alaska Airlines Club 49 for Alaska residents which allows me two free checked bags up to 50 lbs and Kolt is allowed five free bags up to 70 lbs for being military.  Thank God, because that saved us a lot of money.

After three weeks of constant running around, shopping, eating out, and daily visits with people, we were more than ready to return to our calm quiet life in Sitka.  The amount of money we spent on this trip has cost me my online shopping hobby for probably the entire year of 2013 :/  looks like I need to find other things to occupy my time this year.  

Here are a few pics from our vacation.  I wish I could post more but there are so many.  To see all of our pictures you can look on my Facebook in the December 2012 Album.