Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The Balvanz's are adjusting to mommy going back to work full-time.  And after 6 weeks, I am happy to report that everyone-including mommy-is just fine!  A lot has happened too...Chase started walking 2 days before his 1st birthday, we had his party, started to look for daycare/preschool centers to take the kids and of course my 1st full week at work.  After researching 3 daycares, I put each up to the challenge of meeting the needs of a firefighter family.  With Shannon only working 10-12 days a month, we do not need full-time daycare and we didn't want the children to HAVE to go full-time.  The daycare that met all our criteria was Sunshine Learning Center!  It was the first place we visited, I loved the director from the start, which was over the phone!  When you walked in it was bright, fun, and truly felt like an in-home daycare.  The teachers did NOT look overwhelmed and the children looked happy as well.  Sunshine has a Christian based curriculum (which we both felt was VERY important), there is outside play time 2x's a day (which in Colorado and with our kids is VERY important), and it was a smaller center with pre-school and pre-K teachers as well.  And the best part is they can go everyday for a 1/2 day and then when Shannon works they are there for a full day.  (It averages out to 7 full days a month!) 
The first day was hard of course, Ava was already use to going to pre-school so she couldn't wait to get off her coat and meet new friends!  And Chase was very excited to play with new toys and friends as well.  So really it was only hard on the Mommy, but isn't it always!! ; )  The week went fast, but by Friday I was overwhelmed and couldn't wait to see the kiddos for a whole 2 days! : (  So then you start to quantify the actual time you spend with them as opposed to what it use to be like (together 24/7) and then you start beating yourself up over what you did!!  The next week was a little easier on me and I stopped beating myself up and of course adjusting to working everyday again! 
Then.....it starts!  Chase-Fevers, coughing, runny noses, thinking its teething, but only to find out it is DOUBLE ear infection.  Then I really started beating myself up!  Then Ava gets sick.  I have only been at work for 4 weeks!  ....
  Now everyone is back to being healthy, thank goodness.

 A week ago I wanted to thank the kids' teachers for truly helping them adjust and get through this transition.  I just got them some gift cards to Starbucks, but wanted them to know how greatful I was to them for taking care of my babies.  I always feel good dropping them off for the day. 

 It is so fun when I pick them up to hear about Ava's day, since Chase can't exactly tell me, though he does jibber-jabber about it!  The center has weekly themes, projects, etc. Ava is always excited to talk about her many art projects!!! Chase gets a daily report with what books they read, what activity toys they worked with, and always the heart breaker for me is the art projects he gets to do too! I am starting a portfolio of the things they have done, just to remember that feeling of "the kids are just fine."


Monday, February 28, 2011


I hate change.  I avoid it like the plague.  But a few months ago, I started thinking that things needed to change.  I am a good mom and I love my children so much, but I started to notice a change in me when I worked 3 days a week as opposed to none.  I was much calmer, nicer, and excited to be home when I worked more!  I know it makes no sense!!  So I fought the little voice in my head that said "what if?", until I finally talked to Shannon and said "I think it's time for me to return to the working world full time."  An opportunity came open at the company that I have been working part time for 3 yrs and had started full time with in January of 2007.  So with enthusiasm I took it and I start tomorrow.  But it has been a LONG week of trying to get the house ready and kids ready to go to daycare.  Chase can't have a bottle, pacifier, baby food, high chair or crib in the toddler 1 rm he will be in.  And Ava will have to change preshools and now will go everyday!  I really started to think is this worth it, to turn my family upside down so 1. we can have a little more income and 2. for my career?  Well it all came together today.  I finally relaxed, which relaxed the kids; I put them back on the schedule I have always had them on, they will only be at daycare for a 85 full days a yr; and I enjoyed my children for the last day as a stay at home mom.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The first time, ever, I saw your face...

Last year at this time I was preparing to go in for an induction, to make sure baby came when Grandma Rita was here to watch Ava.  I called the hospital the night of Feb 18th to see if a bed was available, and of course they were jam packed with pregos.  (This happens when a snow storm hits.)  Shannon is on his way to Denver to pick up Rita from the Airport, with Ava in a snow storm!  My friend Karen sat with me at home incase a bed opened up at the hospital later that evening.  But it would be one more night at home.  The night nurse called the next morning at 6 am to tell us we could come in whenever we wanted.  I believe Shannon dragged his feet and we finally left by 7:45 am. ; )  I was so ready to meet this little baby boy. 
As I am being hooked up to the baby monitor, we discover that in fact I started labor on my own, however we would also learn that the contractions were not producing any RESULTS!  I did not eat that morning, and I did not eat that evening in hopes that we might see a baby.  By 9 pm I was STARVING, cranky, and quite frustrated at how the doctor chose to keep the petocin levels at a minimum.  But, I had amazing nurses the whole time I was in labor.  They were angels-checking on me, getting me a sandwich, and keeping me motivated.  By 7 am on February 20th, a new nurse came on and she was tough, the kind that says lets have a baby today!!!  She made me get up and walk for an hour until the Dr. ok'd to up my petocin, no more messin' around!  9 am lots 'o petocin, 9:45 "I need an epidural, now!!!!", the contractions progressed and I rested for about an hr and a half, and at 11:30 am the nurse broke my water, 11:35 am I say to Shannon-"Ummm, I feel lots of pressure....." , he gets the nurse who checks and sees the baby's head and immediately calls the Dr. who thankfully lived only 5 minutes away.  By 11:55 am everyone was scrubbed in and ready to catch this baby boy!  12:00 pm I started the 3 sets of 3 pushes that at 12:15 pm produced a beautiful, crying baby Balvanz!!!  Now when Ava was born there was no crying, it was very quiet ..., but this little boy was mad, cold and wanted to tell us all about how he felt.  : ( 
From the moment I saw his face and held him close, my heart was taken.  I thought there was no way I could love a 2nd child like the 1st, boy was I wrong!   
Now after he was checked, cleaned, weighed/measured (7 lbs. 11 oz., 20 1/4 in. long), they ask what his name will be.  Shannon and I look at each other because the previous day I told him I was not sure about this baby being an "August" (Shannon's great-grandfather's name).  So we decided we needed to meet this baby to decide.  Well it took a phone call to let Grandma Rita and Ava know that baby Balvanz was here, to get the answer!  Rita says, "Why not Chase Lee?"  Chase was the middle name I had chosen and loved so much, August was Shannon's first choice, but we had never put Chase and Lee together!!!  Bells go off, we love it!!  This quiet, cuddly, tiny little boy now had the perfect name. 

Chase Lee, you are the peas to Ava's carrots, the yin to her yang.  What a miracle that you chose us to be your family!  We are now complete because of you. XO

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"My birthday is October 20th"

The story of Ava as emailed to my aunt Cindy who is a nurse-
"Well we have a beautiful baby girl born 10/20 at 7:39 am. Ava Marie Balvanz. She is an angel, with light brown hair. She was 21", 8 lb 4 oz. Needless to say labor and delivery was very hard, but isn't it for every one? I went into "pre-labor" on Thursday (10/18) only dialated at 1 cm, 90% eface. Mom happen to call when we were there. Mother's intuition?  Told her they might want to start heading this way sometime today. Missie and Mom left around 4 pm CST. I went back to hospital at midnight when I was having 3 contractions in a row. Still only at 1 cm. Mom and Missie get here at 4 am MST (10/19). We go home and rest. I slept for about 4 hours on Ambien. Tried to rest all day. Took a bath, walked a lot. Around 5 pm contractions started picking up in intensity and went from 12 min to 7 min. by 8 pm. By 11 pm they were 2 min apart and unbearable. Mom said better go to hospital before I can't get into car. (Sidebar-as I am in labor Pamela and Missie were watching Sinbad and cracking up as I am trying to breath thru my contracts!!!)  We hesitated because we had been there 2 times already! By 12 am I was 5 cm and 100% eface. 10/20 I was admitted and started Fentenal at 1 am. It would last about 20 min, but I could only take every hour. By 3 am at 7 cm, Dr. broke water. 5 am so unbearable I am exhausted. Decide to do interfetal epidural. Took a nap from 6 am to 6 :30am. Start pushing at 6:55 am, Ava arrived at 7:39 am.  I had some trouble nursing at first and with the pain they decided to keep me for 3 days. Ava is doing wonderful. She was 7 lb 10 oz on 10/23 (my original due date!) and when weighed on 10/26 weighed 8 lb 2 oz."
I remember when I looked out the window the day we were to go home and saw that we had a beautiful fall sprinkling of snow and I could not help but think that Octobers would be better now.

When we brought Ava home on 10/23, Mom and Missie had set everything up.  The pack and play and rocking chair were in our room, the changing table was organized and ready to go, the house had been cleaned and I was so greatful to have them there! 

Happy 3rd Birthday Ava Marie...we love you so much!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A REAL Pumpkin Patch!

  On Thursday, 9/30 we went to Happy Apple Orchard near Penrose, CO, about 45 minutes from our house.  There is no admission, you just pick what you want and pay when you are done.  It started off being a cool day so I dressed everyone in layers and their boots (Daddy and Ava needed to official break theirs in), just in case.  Good thing because about 1/2 hr into searching for pumpkins, we all had to shed our sweaters...that's CO weather for ya!  Daddy was the search team for the biggest and best pumpkins.  He pretty much searched the whole field.  I had to insist that we found the best and could we please move on to the raspberries! (Who does that sound like?...)

The apples, pears and blackberries were all done for the season, but there were some raspberries left to pick.  We had so much fun searching and picking raspberries!  I told Ava we were searching just like bears would for the sweetest and reddest berries.  So then she started calling us Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Sister and Brother bear (from the Berenstein Bear books!).  It was so cute.  We picked about 4 pints of raspberries, almost 1 1/2 hrs later we were tired, hungry, and satisfied.

 Bubby was so good!  I carried him in the front carrier, which was a mistake because the kid has to weigh 20 lbs!  He kicked and talked and loved seeing Sissy's reaction to finding our bounty of yummy goodness!  I made 1 quart of raspberry jam and the pumpkins we got cost us 40 bucks (24, 17, 10, 7 pounds !), but the experience was priceless!!!
After we stashed our bounty in the car it was now time for lunch.  And after a morning like that who could stop and eat fast food?  So I suggested going into town to find a small town cafe, they always have the best home cooked food!  We found a little cafe called the Gooseberry and took our time eating delicious food and giggling about the day.

Autumn in Colorado

It's kind of like the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  We have been in Colorado for 9 1/2 years and only one other time driven up into the mountains to see the aspens change color.  I always thought "What's the big deal?  In IA the leaves change in our back yard."  Well that's just the thing, aspens are as beautiful as the mountainsand it is quite spectacular to see.  So this year I said we ARE going to see the onset of autumn in Colorado and enjoy a beautiful drive in the mountains.

 September 28th we hopped in the car after lunch hoping to escape the 90 degree weather on the front range, but it was still 78 in the mountains.  Talk about an Indian summer.  We happened upon the Heritage Museum on Hwy 67 at the end of our drive west and took a look around.  It is so fun to see the interest that Ava takes in EVERYTHING!  She loved walking around pressing the buttons on the interactive displays, discovering, and learning.  (Perhaps she has a lot of papa Rick in her, that reminds me maybe I should purchase a set of encyclopedias so she can read them like he used too!!!)
The drive did not disappoint, neither did the leaves.  We had such a fun day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chase at 6 months

Look at those lips...so cute!
Chase and his fire pajamas I bought before he was born.  They are size 12 month, but isn't size relative?  ; )
We took Chase to his 6 month appt. on 8/30. Both Ava and Chase did very well waiting for the Dr. We were there for an hour they were so busy! Per the Dr., Chase is a blue ribbon winner. He is 28.5 inches long (92%) and 18.5 lbs. (66%). He wears 12-18 month clothes and is developmentally right on: rolling everywhere, babbling, grabbing an object and moving from hand to hand, sleeping thru the night and eating solids like a champ. 4 squares a day! He really likes bananas and oatmeal for breakfast and anything orange. I have to sneak peas or green beans in every other spoon when I feed him lunch!! Chase can now start eating meat with his meals for extra protein. And of course his sounds while he eats are adorable. HMMMMMMM! with eat bite! He does have little eczema patches all over but not bad. Dr. Lubbert was not concerned that he could not sit up on his own. He said with his size it is hard to get into a sitting position and that he might just move from rolling everywhere straight to walking. Nothing to worry about. GREAT! I thought. Chase smiles almost all the time except when he hears a loud noise, then he cries and it is sooo cute to see because he rarely cries. He loves to kick and now lies on his back and lifts his butt off the floor with his feet in a rhythm. Chase now has two little teeth on the bottom and looks like he is working on about 4 on the top right now. He adores big sissy so much. Ava talks and plays with him and even gets toys for him to play with. His next appt will be at 9 months in Nov.

Ava loves to play dress up. 
Just look at our perfect princess!
True to life bunker gear pajamas...complete with air pack.