Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's a Jolly Holiday with Devin

When Mickey is your boss, taking Christmas off is generally not an option, so Christmas 2015 was anything but traditional at the Cottle house. On top of the timing and company being atypical, it was also above 80 degrees and the kids were outside having a water balloon fight. Don't get me wrong, I love warm winters. But Christmas is the one day it seems like there should be snow.

I definitely missed Utah, Christmas Eve nativity reenactments, my family, Christmas jam sessions, and the snow (seriously, that part was unexpected). But as long as we're in Florida I hope this Christmas was the beginning of a few new traditions.

Brad was scheduled for afternoon shifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, so we made the most of our time together. On Wednesday evening we made one last trip to the Magic Kingdom to get some pictures with Devin in front of the castle. I just wanted to soak in the magic of the Christmas lights one more time. We had a hard time finding a window of time when the castle was lit to get pictures, so we didn't get a great one of all three of us, but we were there. That's what matters. And Brad captured a few pictures with Devin and I that made my heart melt.

We opened presents Christmas Eve morning (luckily Devin didn't know the difference) with just the three of us. It was ridiculous how many presents had piled up for one little boy, although many were from loving aunts, uncles, and grandparents (I also wrapped up a few clothes I bought for him individually to add to the pile. I just like how pretty it looks to have presents under the tree). After a nice morning together Brad went off to work and Devin and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and buying a few essentials for Christmas dinner.
Christmas morning we had reservations at 1900 Park Fare, a restaurant at the Grand Floridian, a beautiful Victorian style resort on Disney property. We decided this was a fun way to celebrate together, and we could make it happen around Brad's schedule each year. Rita, our Florida mom/grandma came with us, and we had a lovely visit from Mary Poppins, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Alice, and the Mad Hatter. Devin had a pretty great time, and even had a kiss from Mary Poppins to show for it!

We left breakfast and headed north to have Christmas dinner with the Krause family. They are definitely family we've adopted (they've taken us in on holidays so maybe it's the other way around). We love them so much and it was awesome being able to enjoy some time with them! 
Before dinner started Brad and I logged into Google hangout so we could celebrate with the Randalls from coast to coast, and even in Ireland. I love that my family still finds a way to connect, even when we are states and oceans apart. 
While all the family, friends, food, and celebrating was wonderful, we are most grateful this Christmas that we have a Savior. It is because he was born into this world that we truly have a reason to celebrate. It is through his sacrifice that our little family will be together for eternity. And it is because of him that our hearts and lives have been forever changed, and that we find the joy and peace of Christmas each and every day. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Two Months

Hey Buddy!

Some days I am still amazed that you are part of our forever family, even though it's been nearly 3 months since you were born. Since I'm almost a month behind I figured it's time to update you on your 2nd month of life.

At your 2 month check up you had gained over 4 pounds! 11 lbs 12 oz, and 100% healthy! You are such a joy to us. At about 6 weeks you started smiling, and your smiles make even the hardest of days so worth it!  

You love to listen to Daddy and I sing to you. You especially love it when Daddy sings with me. You stare at him in amazement, smile and "sing" along. You sure love him, and you laugh when he does his bird sounds. It's adorable!

You have also discovered your hand and you love to suck on it.

You have an incredibly sweet disposition, and only get upset when you need food, sleep, or a diaper change... oh and also when I make you do tummy time. Not only do you hate tummy time, but you make sure the whiny cries go on long enough to ensure you've got the point across that you hate it! I have to admit I think it's kind of cute. In fact, I think everything you do is cute. It has to be love when even your cries are cute.

On your two month birthday we did a little photo shoot to make sure we got your measurements with Walter, and to capture all your cuteness at each stage of this first year. I had a hard time getting smiles, but your pictures make my heart melt anyway.



All the Christmas Things

Devin may not remember his first Christmas, but since Florida lacks winter, Brad and I did our best to seek out festive activities to share as a family that helped bring in the Christmas spirit. Naturally most of them were Disney related. Several resorts deck their halls (and lobbies) with boughs of holly, and this year the Osborne Festival of Dancing Lights was at Hollywood Studios for the last time. While it may have all been a bit intense for our little big guy, he did his best to enjoy it, and humor his parents.

Some of our pictures were taken specifically with Christmas cards in mind, but since that never happened, we'll just appreciate that Devin's first Christmas was very well documented.
Christmas Tree at Fort Wilderness Lodge
Christmas Tree at Grand Floridian 
Grand Floridian Gingerbread house. Made out of actual gingerbread
Afton and Devin at Grand Floridian
One of the highlights was going to meet Santa Claus. Initially I wasn't planning on it, but I saw my niece and nephew on Santa's lap and decided maybe it was worth it. We decided on meeting Santa at the EPCOT American Pavilion, and caught an amazing moment of Devin and Santa taking a snooze together. Priceless. Once again, Disney found a way to do it right.

Devin and Santa snoozing
Another highlight was the Osborne lights. Brad and I have spent a LOT of time at Disney, but neither of us have every seen the Hollywood Studios display. It was so fun to share it together and to have Devin there with us.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


My sister Tricia is 18 months older than me, and one of my very best friends. We grew up sharing everything, and one of the most special weeks since Devin was born was when Tricia was here to share in my first experience as a mother.

Trish and I haven't lived together since we were both in high school, and although we get to see each other several times a year, there are usually lots of kids, family, work, errands, etc. going on during our visits. This was the first time we've been together since I can remember with no agenda, other than spending time together and taking care of Devin. Trish brought her oldest daughter Libby with her and it was so fun to share Devin, Florida life, and Disneyworld with both of them.

Trish was a rockstar at making sure we were taken care of and Libby was a great helper. However, the most amazing thing about having them here was just having them here. I loved sharing our life with them, and being able to spend all day talking to my sister for a week, regardless of what we were doing. We took Libby and Devin to Disneyworld, and while Devin did lots of sleeping, I think he had a good time. While Libby had a great time at Disney, I think she actually enjoyed going to the pool in our complex and calling everyone she could think of from our home phone (apparently an actual landline is quite a phenomenon to an 8 year old) the most.

As an added bonus, the week Trish came my cousin Nancy and her oldest son Joshua came up from South Florida one night to visit. Nancy is like another sister to me, and it felt like being "home" having them both here with me. I did a terrible job getting pictures of the three of us girls together, but we did get some other fun photos that week.

Trish and Nancy are both amazing moms and they were such an incredible support and calming influence to me as I adjust to my new role. I'm so grateful and blessed to have them in my life and am grateful I had some time to share the world of motherhood with them.

Libby helping with bath time
Libby and Joshua playing together
Brad and Libby at EPCOT
All of us at the Castle together. Our "photographer" didn't realize he cut Devin's head out of the picture
Libby, Devin, and me at EPCOT
Libby and Devin

Your First Month

Hey Little Big Guy,

I am slowly but surely catching up so I can keep things posted AS they happen instead of two months later. :)

Your first month was an eventful one. Dad and I (as all parents do) jumped in with both feet and started the adventure of parenting. You slept in your bassinet in our room and occasionally in our bed until I discovered I could only be a good mommy if I got some sleep too! I could never explain the amount of worry I felt when you were so tiny and new, and every sound and movement woke me thinking you stopped breathing or you needed to be fed. We weaned ourselves slowly, starting with the bassinet right outside our door, and eventually moved you to your own room when I got over the worst of my mommy paranoia.

After Mimi's visit those first weeks, Grandma Jean came down for a few days to help out and get in some snuggle time. Aunt Tiffany came down with a friend and since their lodging arrangements didn't work out, they crashed with us as well. Tiffany was a little nervous about holding such a tiny baby, but she sure loved getting to know you and learning how to snuggle with you.

Grandma and her boy

Aunt Tiff and her nephew
The doctor was a little nervous you weren't gaining enough weight in your first two weeks, but sometime before you hit the month mark you went from itty bitty newborn to my little big guy and it felt like it happened overnight! People say to cherish each moment because it goes fast and I felt the impact of that as I saw you suddenly growing out of your little newborn clothes!

I have loved being home with you and sharing walks, snuggles, naps, and giving you tubbies. You are a delightful boy, and I think you must have gotten your sweet disposition from your dad! Your stubbornness only comes out when you've been on tummy time longer than you'd like and you want to make sure mama knows you hate it.

Aunt Trish had a brilliant idea, and we took some pictures with Walter to have a fun way to see how you're growing. We didn't get a great comparison when we first brought you home, but we'll still get the idea.


Mom and Dad

Your One Month Photo Shoot:

You and your buddy Walter:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How it all went down...

Hey there Little Big Guy!

Time has been flying by, but for your sake (and mine) I wanted to make sure I captured a few things before the little moments fade away...

Two weeks before my due date my water broke in the middle of the night. When we got to the hospital we learned that when mother nature acts up, our bodies respond. I was one of 15 women who showed up that morning with broken water after the lunar eclipse the night before. As excited as I was to meet you, I knew we were in for a long wait. since my body wasn't quite ready for delivery.

While we waited for you, Dad bought me a puzzle to keep me busy. I did most of the work, while Dad, visitors, and even some nurses helped out! It was a fun conversation piece, and it helped keep me distracted while Dad massaged my back during the early contractions.

Putting together the puzzle with a little help from Grandpa Dean
Lots of loved ones stayed in touch during our wait. Andrea texted and called making sure I was taken care of throughout Monday and Tuesday. Mimi and I talked often so she could check on my progress and help encourage me, and Dustin (my boss and our good friend) even sent chocolates up from the gift shop after I posted a particularly discouraging text on Facebook Tuesday morning. Grandma Jean and Grandpa Dean got into town Monday night and stopped in from time to time to check on us and make sure we had what we needed to get through.

After about 26 hours in the hospital my contractions were intense enough to be wheeled down to the delivery room. It was about an hour later I decided to get the epidural, and we didn't think you'd be born until close to 9pm that night. Andrea stopped by with Grayson and Weston a few hours later, and it just so happened they got there right as you were ready to come! They were so excited to be there right in time so they hung out in the lobby during the delivery.

I must say, once you were ready, you definitely decided not to dilly dally, and your mama is grateful for that! After just a few pushes I heard you cry and the next thing I knew there you were right on my chest! It was one of the most incredible and unforgettable moments of my life, and nothing felt more right than having you in my arms with your Dad right there beside us!

We spent a few minutes alone with just the three of us. Andrea, Weston and Grayson were the first to meet you, and shortly after there were grandparents there to meet you as well! You even waited long enough to deliver that Mimi met you just a few hours after you were born. The next day I think the hospital wasn't sure what to do with all of your visitors! Suzanne, ReRe (Rita), Mimi, Grandma and Grandpa Cottle, and Andrea and kids were all there to see you and spend time with you. At one point there were 14 people in our little hotel room! We loved every second of being with our loved ones and sharing your "birthday party" with them.

Just a glimpse into our room and visitors
Grandma Jean
With Andrea and Grayson just after you were born
Grandpa Dean 
So little and new!!
After you were born Dad had a few extra days off to be with us. Mimi stayed with us for 10 days to help me adjust to life as a mommy, and help out around the house so we didn't have to worry about anything but you! It was awesome to have some time with my mom while I snuggled and loved you. I just loved sharing you with her, especially since I know she didn't get to share her babies with her mom. I never appreciated how hard it was for her to lose her mom so young until I got old enough to realize that sometimes a girl needs her mom the most when she's all grown up.

Devin and Mimi
One night while Mimi was here Dad and I went on a date. I knew we needed to enjoy some time alone, but I was still so emotional that I cried as soon as we left the house and couldn't figure out what we could do that would be gentle enough on my tender soul. I suggested we walk around the temple grounds for a bit and he agreed that was a good idea. I felt an amazing peace fill up my soul as we pulled into the parking lot, and I felt the heaviness lift away. I am so happy to be your mom, but I worried so much about you every second of every day after you were born, and it was hard to take it all in. Being at the temple reminded me that you are ours forever, and that no matter what happens the Lord is with us and we are sealed beyond just this life. I also felt my Savior's love for our family, and I knew it was all going to be okay, even if I'm not always the perfect mom. We weren't quite dressed to go to the temple, but we decided to go in anyway and we spent a few minutes sealing other families together. I can think of nothing more precious we could have done that night than to be reminded of the covenants we made to each other, and the covenants that have sealed you to us. We love you little big guy so very much and can't wait to see what life has in store for you!


Mom and Dad

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blessing Day

We had many friends and family in town a few weeks ago to celebrate Devin's first small step as a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was blessed by his Dad, along with both grandpas, a cousin who happened to be in town, and a few other dear friends. This blessing is a prayer signifying the addition of his name to the records of the church (even though he won't be officially baptized and confirmed a member until he is 8 years old), along with a sweet words of counsel and love as he begins his journey in this life.

The day was hectic but we did manage to get some fun photos of some of our loved ones here that day. Grandma Jean also did a photo shoot with just Devin in the amazing blessing outfit she made for his special day. I feel so blessed that Devin is surrounded by so much love.

Mimi and Papa
Four generations of Cottles
Mom and Dad with Devin
All of the Cottles that traveled down to be with us
Dad and Brad taking advantage of a little downtime
The Krause family.
This is our Florida family and we couldn't have captured a
more perfect shot. We love them so much!
One of my favorites pictures of the day. Devin so content with his Mimi
Devin's cute smile.