Monday, May 30, 2011

Goose Lake Park

I can't believe that I've lived in Anchorage for almost four years and have never visited Goose Lake Park. It's literally about eight minutes from my home and is the perfect hang out spot for a beautiful summer day!

It was my day off, the sun was shining, and Lucas and I desperately needed to get out of the house! I didn't have any intentions of getting in the water, but as a parent I know you can never be too prepared. I brought Lucas a pair of swim trunks, his beach toys, and a towel. Thankfully so because I couldn't keep this boy out of the lake!

Of course my little big lover was ecstatic when he found himself a beetle! He even found a crazy worm like creature swimming in the water.

When we arrived there were three geese that were very interested in us. Shortly before we left a mother duck and her seven adorable little babies swam right in front of us! I love Alaskan summers more than I know how to express. The weather is great, the views are priceless and the wildlife is always showing themselves. I can't wait to explore more of Anchorage this summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

August: welcoming change

August is going to be a month of great change for the Cecil Family! Two extremely big events are scheduled to take place:

1- We will be welcoming our second baby boy into this world, and
2- Lucas is scheduled to begin Preschool!

I am excited, yet skeptical at the same time. It's as if to say our lives are never going to be the same after this August. Which, in all reality, is completely true!

I have quite a few mixed emotions about these upcoming events, but I am excited nonetheless. I feel somewhat if we are replacing Lucas because he is no longer a baby. I know that is not the case at all, but I'm still in disbelief that my first born son is entering into the world of school!

As I mentioned before, Lucas missed the cut-off requirement for nearly every preschool in Anchorage. And believe me...I called them all. I met the lady in charge of registration for Anchorage Cooperative Preschool recently and she gave me her personal contact information because she really wanted to help. Low and behold, she came through!!

They are completely working with me to ensure Lucas can attend school during this 2011-2012 school year. Classes begin in August and I will be required to attend with him every day until he physically turns three in November. That way, they can't get in trouble for not following protocol. Although this is going to be a bit of a challenge with a new baby, it is only 2 days a week and they are completely fine with me bringing baby along! I couldn't ask for more!

The philosophy of this school is different than most that I looked into. Family involvement and commitment is mandatory. It is for parents who wish to be an active part of their children's preschool experience and who are willing to work together to make it a success. Basically, the families are the owners of the school. It's a non-profit organization in which the families help educate, manage and raise funds for the school. Although the teacher is in charge of the curriculum, parental input is completely encouraged!

And best yet...a summer play group is now in affect for all students to meet weekly and get to know each other before the school year begins! The families strive to have a close connection with each other and do many activities outside of the classroom. They even coordinated a big camping trip for Memorial Day weekend. How awesome is that?

So, August - although I am excited for you to come, I am fine with you taking your time. We can't wait to meet our little baby boy, but I still have so much prep to do! And even though I am beyond thrilled to have found a great school for Lucas, I am not exactly prepared to consider him a big kid. He will forever be my baby.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pirate Lucas

Over the past few months, Lucas has found himself a love for pirates. And when I say love, I really mean obsession! He runs around playing pirates for what seems like all day...every day.

My mom introduced him to the new Disney Channel show, Jake and the Never Land Pirates. As you can imagine, it which was an instant hit. The cartoon is like a perfect mix of Peter Pan and Dora...very cute! It truly feels like this show was made with him in mind! He used to cover up one eye and run around yelling, Arg Maytee! but now he sings, "Yo Ho, Let's Go!"

We ran into Party Craft just to pass some time this weekend and he was in awe of the pirate birthday party selection. I'm tempted to throw a "Just Because Pirate Party" for the sake of having one! I let him pick out a pair of swords for him and his daddy and I'm not exaggerating when I say that he never puts them down.

Lucas is the most imaginative little guy I know. Levi and I just laugh because we know he is going to be the class clown when he gets older. He can make a scene out of any props...even his fingers!

He loves to play in the front yard and wave his new sword at all the passing cars. Fate must have been working in our favor yesterday because a teenage boy rode by on his bike wearing a red bandanna. I've never seen Lucas' eyes light up so big! He ran over to me as fast as he could and yelled "Mom! I saw a pirate on a bicycle!" Of course, I played along :)

I love little boys! How could you not?!

Friday, May 20, 2011

"We're having a homebirth!!"

It's no big announcement that we are planning a homebirth with this little munchkin, so I recently purchased a kid friendly book to explain the process to Lucas. It is a short book, but covers all of the important topics; such as the role of a midwife, the importance of being a good labor support to mommy (while ensuring to give her lots of space, too!), noises that mom might make, the delivery of the baby and the placenta, cord cutting, and breastfeeding.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a toddler that they want present for their siblings birth. Although the book is rated for children ages 3-8, Lucas really enjoyed it. And more importantly, I feel that he comprehended it very well. I asked him about the book the following morning and he reiterated that the mommy had a baby in her belly...and that she has to push really hard to get it out! It was actually pretty funny listening to his account of childbirth.

He was also very intrigued by the cutting of the cord. I asked him who gets to cut the cord and he immediately answered, "daddy!" But then after a moment of thought he said "I wanna cut the cord with my baby scissors!" Watching him imitate scissors with his fingers and then run off to find his plastic play-doh pair was absolutely priceless! I can totally picture him attempting this task when the day comes, too. Oh geez!

There are two parts to this book that I particularly like. The first is how it explains that mommy is going to make lots of noises when pushing out the baby...kind of like an elephant! It's great that they try to relate the birth process to something familiar to a child. (Although I barely made a peep during my whole first labor!) The second was that it mentioned how daddy will cut the cord a short while after the placenta comes out. I am very adamant about delaying the cutting of the cord, and I'm glad this book believes in that same approach.

I am going to continue reading this book to him frequently, and then once again on the actual day. I labored so well with him, so I pray that this second time is just as simple...if not easier. I want him to be present to see, and hold, his baby brother as soon as he possibly can. I think he's half as excited as we are!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


After looking back through a few of my mom's old photos for some of my Great Grandmother and myself, I couldn't help but set aside some adorable pictures of me and my sisters. My sister Amber and I are just a little over three years apart...fairly similar to what my boys will be. Pictures sure bring back memories and I just love reminiscing about my childhood! Weren't we just adorable?!

Growing up in a household of girls has me very excited and anxious to parent on the opposite spectrum. It'll be interesting to compare how different my boys' childhood will differ from my own. I hear boys are easier, so we shall see! As young children, Amber and I were night and day. I was the girly girl and she was the tom boy who loved tonka trucks and dirt! We didn't always get along, but we sure loved each other.

After my mom married, we became a trio! Life was definitely interesting with a house full of girls...especially as we all became pre-teens and had to fight over one bathroom!

I miss my sisters like crazy and realize how much so each time I return home. Amber recently moved back in with our mom, so we got to spend lots of quality time with her. Lucas really opened up and continuously asked me where Amber was and what she was doing. He especially liked sleeping in her bed, too! We also had a nice little dinner over at Amanda's new apartment where Lucas got to play with her pups and watch her gecko eat some worms. (Boy did he like that!) I hate living so far away, especially now that I am a mother. My boys deserve to spend time with their Aunties...and vise versa. I'm even more excited to move to Washington now knowing that we'll only be a short and inexpensive plane ride away. I love you sisters!

Looking back through these pictures has me really wanting a girl now! Lucas sure looks just like his daddy...I wonder if a daughter would look just like me?!

Great Grandma, Reba!

My Great Grandmother passed away on October 20, 2007...a day that I will always remember. Losing her was difficult for everyone in my family and I sometimes wonder how life goes on without her. She was such an amazing woman with a pure heart of gold. So many of my childhood memories revolve around her and it breaks my heart that my children will never have the opportunity to know her as I did.

I mentioned before that Mother's Day was extra special this year because I actually got to spend it with my family. But what I didn't tell you was that I was surprised with something entirely unexpected.

My Grandmother handed me the card that she had gotten me for Mother's Day and then handed me a small stack of handmade cards with a very delicate look on her face. I immediately recognized the handwriting on the envelopes as my Great Grandmothers and stood in shock for a moment. Apparently my Grandma had found these cards addressed to me in my Great Grandma's belongings. I was almost too nervous to open them, but the excitement of holding something that she intended for me to have was somewhat overwhelming.

I was taken back by so many emotions and couldn't keep the tears from flowing. I was reminded just how much I miss her and how special she always made me feel. I immediately flew home when her health declined, but her ceremony was not held until after I had already departed. I have always felt guilty for not being able to attend her funeral, so I took advantage of this recent trip to visit her resting place and say my good byes. I feel like it was a form of closure that I never received, although I will never stop thinking of her and missing her as I do now.

There are so many subtle activities that I do in my current life that instantly bring back memories of her. I can never eat french bread without remembering our Sunday afternoon lunch tradition, or see a hummingbird without instantly being reminded of her. I love you Great Grandma and you will forever be in my heart. Thank you for being such a strong impact in my life and showing me the value of love. RIP

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strawberry Festival

Lucas really enjoyed spending quality time with my family while we were back home for a short visit. I was a little nervous leaving him for 3 days to attend my class, but he did wonderful! My mom and sister took him to the Strawberry Festival and he got to ride a pony for the first time!

Me on the left, Lucas on the right!

She took me to the exact same festival when I was a child and I remember riding the same strawberry spinner! It's amazing how different things are nowadays, but as a parent, it is so fun to see him experience something that I did as a little girl!

I wish I could have gone with them, but I know my mom truly cherished this alone time with her first grandson. She just melted every time he called out to her and she sure took advantage of his cuddles! I'm thrilled that he bonded with everyone so easily and I cannot wait until they come up to visit in September!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Safari West

For my little brother's 4th birthday we went to Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA. This was one of the most amazing places I have ever been! I love giraffes and have always dreamed of going on an African Safari. Although we decided not to do the 3 hour tour ride with the young boys (and because I am already 6 months pregnant), we had a blast walking around looking at the animals...and had a delicious BBQ lunch. You must make a reservation to enter the premises, so we chose to make an inexpensive lunch reservation as opposed to taking the guided tour. It was well worth the two hour drive.

My favorite thing to do with Lucas when we travel is to expose him to elements and activities that drastically differ from home. I often forget that he was born in Alaska and doesn't get to see many of the simple things that I seem to take for granted. He was sure impressed with the squirrel digging outside of my moms house and it dawned on me that he hadn't ever seen one before! We also can't see giraffe, monkeys, flamingos, and many of these other animals back he was in absolute heaven! Here are a few pics from our day:

This is a must do event for anyone in the California area! I look forward to taking the vehicle tour as soon as Lucas is a tad bit older and I don't have a baby pressing on my bladder :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm now a Doula!

This past weekend I attended a DONA approved workshop to become a Birth Doula! It was so amazing and empowering to be around other like minded individuals who love the birth process as much as myself. I was taught a number of non-medical techniques to help a laboring woman get through the pain, and how to effectively enhance the overall labor situation for all parties involved. I am really looking forward to joining families as they embark on the wonderful path to parenthood. The birth of a child is one of the most memorable events for a couple and my presence can assure they get the most out of their experience. I cannot think of a more rewarding position for myself as I work towards my ultimate goal of becoming a Nurse-Midwife!

I have successfully completed a majority of the requirements for my international DONA certification. Now that I have the workshop under my belt, I am required to attend three births as the primary Doula before I can submit my final paperwork. I am currently looking for women nearing their due date who would like to receive the wonderful benefits of a Doula, free of charge. Please recommend my services if you have any family or friends in need!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I am so thrilled to be able to spend Mother's Day with my Mom and Grandma this year! I believe this is the first time I have been able to do this in 5 years or so. I spent all morning finishing up my Doula training and my mom got to have Lucas all to herself for the third day in a row. They went to the Strawberry festival (which if you known Lucas, strawberry's are his favorite!)

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mamas out there! I hope you enjoy this day with your loved ones and remember to thank that special person who brought you into this world!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fetus Viability

This week marks a very important part in my pregnancy. At 24 weeks, a fetus is said to be able to survive outside of the womb, with extensive medical intervention of course. These next few weeks truly make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. 20-30% of babies born at 23 weeks will survive, while 50-70% can survive if born at 24 or 25 weeks. And an astonishing 90% of babies born at 26 to 27 weeks survive given the proper care.

This is not to say I want my son making his debut any time soon, but it is reassuring to know that he stands a fighting chance if he did. The first weeks of pregnancy are emotional, and reaching the 12 week point where the risk of miscarriage significantly drops down is such a relief. This is that feeling all over again.

My son is so unbelievably active already and is developing wonderfully! I love taking time out of my busy day to just hold my belly. I feel as if I can play with him already...he sure loves to kick me back when I try to poke him! The whole concept of creating a new life never seizes to amaze me and I thank God every day for being able to do this all over again.

24 weeks also marks the start of month 6! I can't believe how unprepared I am for this little guy. By six months I had nearly everything prepped and ready to go for Lucas. I have honestly not done a single thing for this baby. It's amazing how different your priorities are the second time around, and how drastically your excitement levels drop off. I suppose knowing what to expect really changes your perspective on things. I'm a procrastinator in every other aspect of my life, so I guess planning for this second baby should be no exception :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I survived!

These last few months have pushed and challenged me in all aspects of my life. I took on a class load that was insane for a normal person to do, all while juggling my duties as a wife, mother, & daycare provider. Not to mention the weeks on end that I could barely function because of awful morning sickness. I have been exhausted, stressed, and continuously pushing myself to keep up with children's activities and mingling with friends.

My hard work has all paid off and I am pleased to say that this semester is over! Grades have not been officially posted onto our transcripts yet, but I got straight A's and was able to maintain my 4.0 GPA! This semester was the largest struggle to date, but I have never been more proud of myself. Sure makes me feel like I can accomplish anything I put my mind to!

I have two courses to take this summer- Biomedical Ethics and Child Development. After this summer semester I will have successfully completed my Psychology Minor, and taken every course I possibly can towards my Bachelors, with the exception of Nursing School. I'm so happy I did this because I will now have a smaller class load than most of the other nursing students...which means more time at home with my boys!

And technically, I graduated this weekend with my Associates! I decided not to participate in the ceremony since I am still working diligently towards a higher degree, but it still feels nice to be considered a college graduate! The Office of the Registrar informed me that I can pick up my degree/diploma in a few short weeks. I'm curious to see what Honors I received, too!

I now have two weeks to myself where I don't have to think about school! I'm using this time to focus on my Doula certification and will be attending my 3-day workshop this weekend in Sacramento. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My first "ME" weekend!

Since Levi's birthday was last Friday he decided that he wanted to go and visit with his Grandpa George in Port Allsworth for the weekend. We've been trying to take a trip up to visit for quite some time (considering its just a tiny plane ride away), but life has sure kept us busy this past year. I was shocked when Levi told me that he was taking Lucas along for the weekend, too! This was their first ever guys weekend, and my first extended time alone since Lucas has been born. Can you believe it?

I didn't get to talk to them much while they were gone, but they sure seemed to have lots of fun! They got to travel on a tiny little plane, ride 4-wheelers, throw rocks into the lake, roast marshmallows by the fire, sleep in a lodge, and play pool! Speaking with Lucas on the phone just blew my mind. He spoke so well and enthusiastically that I felt as if I were talking to a kid! Where did my baby go?!

I had from Friday evening to Monday morning all to myself! I didn't get a pedicure like I planned, but I did...
*Finish a book
*Catch up on all of my shows
*Got my hair done & eyebrows waxed
*Completed a bit of shopping
*Attended the Baby & Toddler Fair
*Backed up my iPhone
*Organized pictures
*Watched a sappy love story
*Ate Red Robin (which Levi never lets us do)
*Talked to my mom for hours
*Chatted with my sister for a bit
*Started my Father's Day project
*Took a final
*Slept in!
Now many of these things may not seem like a luxury to most, but as a busy mom and full time student...finding a peaceful and quiet moment to complete some of these tasks was great! I am so happy my boys had such a great time together and that I was given an opportunity to focus on myself for a few short days. Lucas and I are leaving for California on Wednesday, so this break couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I survived the semester and got to rejoice in quiet as a celebration! Not to mention the boys got some good quality time in together before I have to separate them for two weeks. I hope everyone else had a great weekend, too!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alaska Baby & Toddler Fair

Yesterday was the annual Alaska Baby & Toddler Fair, and since I'm about to have one of each here in a few months, I figured I'd better attend! I almost didn't go considering I didn't have my little man in tow, but I'm very thankful that I did. It didn't differ much from last year and most of the same vendors were present, but this time around I actually got something out of attending.

I was able to speak one-on-one with a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and I'm convinced more than ever that my back needs some adjusting. I used to be seen by a chiropractor religiously back in California, and even through the first half of my pregnancy with Lucas. It makes it difficult that this service is purely an out of pocket cost (which sure adds up!) but I know that it helps my body perform at its best. The lady was super sweet and very knowledgeable. I'm excited to show Levi all my paperwork and make a consultation.

And most importantly...I found Lucas a school!! Anchorage Cooperative Preschool. I saw the booth with a big "now enrolling" sign and was skeptical to even approach. I was immediately discouraged when they informed me that they follow the Anchorage School District schedule and enrollment guidelines, but went ahead and told them my situation anyways. It must have been my lucky day because the lady in charge of enrollment was right there at the table! They told me that they'd be more than happy to work with me in trying to get Lucas in this year. As mentioned before, the state requires the child to be three on or before September 1st. Unfortunately, Lucas doesn't turn three until November 8th. So as a means around this rule, they said that I could attend class with him from the start of the school year until he turns 3! Plus, for me attending with him, I will not have to pay any tuition because they would view us more as "observers" rather than an attending student.

This isn't the exact situation I wanted, but I think it'll be a great experience for him. The preschool program is only two days a week from 9-12 so I think this will be a nice transition for him away from home. I'm not ready to fully give him up just yet, so this is a nice little compromise! They said that I'm more than welcome to bring my baby in arms along to class as well, and that having an infant would in no way keep me/us from attending. She also reminded me that being potty trained is a requirement, but reassured me that if I am present while he is still learning, that is perfectly acceptable!

The last thing that I really liked about this school was the payment schedule. I knew we'd be paying for Lucas to go to preschool, but this place was very reasonable. Granted he will only be going twice a week, but I wont have to start paying tuition until he starts going solely on his own. There were three tiers of tuition and I was so thrilled to see that the cost for each student varies based on the amount of parental participation. For those who commit to volunteering in the classroom a certain number of hours a month, they receive tuition that is nearly half as cheap as those who don't. I am glad to have found a school that wants the parents to be involved and that was so kind and willing to work with me. I think this will be a wonderful transition for my son and I am excited to start preschool this August...with both my boys!