January 5th, 2014

We had a big year in 2013 and 2014 is looking to be just as busy and promising!  Here is a quick recap of what our year looked like.


We spent a lot of our January hanging as a family of three, growing a baby and playing with some awesome Christmas toys.  Mikayla played princess soccer quite a bit this month.LOW 6 and 7 and spider 012


February marked our first official visitors with a visit from Ben’s cousin Jana and her friend Olivia.  We had a blast showing them around our neck of the woods and prepping for our March visitors (Ben’s parents).  I also celebrated the big 30!

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Ben took a trip to Ethiopia for work and Mikayla and I hung back at St. Philips.  We had fun learning about Dr. Seuss and prepping some more for Ben’s parents.  We spent a couple of weeks hosting his parents and showing them around Swaziland and South Africa.  We also had a pig roast in honor of Sr. Diane’s birthday (70), my birthday (30) and Mikayla’s birthday (4).  We even threw in a princess theme for Mikayla!

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In April we dyed Easter eggs with some friends and went on a hunt around the yard with the eggs.  We also celebrated a very special girls fourth birthday.  Since we had her party when Ben’s parents were here we just had a mini celebration at the house.  She was very excited about her big present which was her first bike!

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In May we worked on making the final preparations for Baby Kickert.  Mikayla also got creative in the kitchen and made a very special birthday cake for her daddy who turned 31 this year.

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June was pretty quiet and I was pretty large!  We laid low this month and did a lot of creative play at the house.  You can see Mikayla hanging out in the laundry baskets pretending to be a animals in a cage!  That girl has some serious imagination!!  We spent this month anticipating and guessing when Baby Kickert would make his grand debut.

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This was probably the biggest month for us as a family as we welcomed Maxwell Simo Kickert into the world on July 4!  Mikayla was so excited to be a big sister.

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We didn’t do much of anything in August except snuggle with our kiddos and try to get some sleep here and there between feeding and wake cycles!  It went by so fast and so slow all at the same time.

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We took Max on his first hike up Execution Rock this month.  He slept most of the time so not sure how impressed he was.  Mikayla continue to amaze us with her ability to hike to the top and bottom all by herself.  She is getting so big!!  Speaking of Mikayla, she also started her second year of preschool at home this month.  It took us awhile to get back in the school routine once Max was born.  Mikayla, Max and I took advantage of a holiday with Katie, Bravo and his boys and took a walk to the river for a picnic one day.  Everyone had a blast.

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Mikayla practiced her photography skills this month by shooting some pictures of her brother and taking a special walk with daddy to take pictures in the bush.  We also busted out the pool because we had some hot spells.  Max was not so impressed with the pool!  And of course there were lots of snuggle sessions with Max!

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We hosted another Thanksgiving meal with some of the Cabrini staff members.  This year we had maintenance and transportation staff over for the big holiday.  The picture below was the highlight of my day.  Fodo, a maintenance staff member, took Max and was really engaging with him. This is unusual for a Swazi man to take interest in a young child.  Typically, the father won’t really look at the baby until they are around six months old.  So this was huge!!

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We took a family vacation, with Katie in tow, to Nelspruit for a week.  We spent the week eating lots of food, shopping and enjoying some time away from work.  And of course, we had a great Christmas.  We spent this year at our house, which was a bit unusual for us!  Typically we are away or traveling during Christmas day.  We also had another pig roast on Christmas Eve which was a lot of fun. 

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There you have it folks, a quick look back at our year!  Like I said earlier, it was a busy one! 

Tags: | Posted in Life |
January 5th, 2014

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our Christmas at home, including our annual family photo shoot (we were very tired so we didn’t take as many pictures  as we usually do)!

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Tags: , | Posted in Life, Parenting |
January 5th, 2014

December went by in a blur, partly because I think we stayed so busy! 

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Ben won the daddy of the year award when he played in the rain with Mikayla this month. She had so much fun getting messy with her daddy.

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I spent the first week or two prepping for camp and helping out with it while Ben finished up last minute reports and end of the year work stuff.  Max even made his debut as baby Jesus during the camp play.  He was not so thrilled about this and cried through the whole thing!  After the staff Christmas party we hit the road for a week of fun and relaxation in Nelspruit.

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Decorating sugar cookies at camp.  Both students and staff had a blast with this!!

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Simo and Simo hanging out at the Christmas party

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Max as baby Jesus

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Jabu and Max

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Max hanging out with Bravo

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Max hanging around while we decorated the Christmas tree.

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Max "placing an ornament on the tree".

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Hanging with Katie and Max at the Christmas party.

We spent a few days just the four of us hanging out in Nelspruit eating junk food, shopping and not cooking!  We actually went to the grocery our first day and spent over $100 bucks on junk food and candy.  Totally spoiling ourselves.  Then Katie joined us and we continued the trend.  We ate at some really fancy and yummy restaurants like Orange and Saffron.  You can read an article about both of them here.  We were also able to start and finish all of our Christmas shopping (nothing like a little last minute shopping)!  And of course we took a couple trips to Kruger National Park to "see the animals".  I am hoping to post some of those pictures soon.  Mikayla and Ben even hit up a water park that is in Nelspruit one afternoon while Katie and I shopped.  She had so much fun and that was all she could talk about that evening.  Ben said she was really brave and went down the big slides all by herself.  That kid never ceases to amaze me! 

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Sibling bath time fun!

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Don’t you wish you were this flexible?

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Max wasn’t sure what to think about the rhinos at Kruger.

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Family photo time!

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Max’s first dip in the pool.  He was not a big fan, but to be fair the water was freezing!

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Mikayla loves jumping in the pool!

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On the 22nd we headed back to our house to start prepping for our Christmas festivities.  I spent the 23rd making the annual batch of cinnamon rolls and even made a gluten free batch for Katie.  I also cleaned the house because over the next few days we would have a houseful!  Ben had some friends come in that evening, Chris and Kara, and they stayed through the 26th.  There were also a few other random visitors hanging around the mission that joined us over the next few days.

On the 24th we had a pig roast to celebrate Christmas Eve.  It was a hot day, not sure I will ever get used to it being hot over Christmas.  We had a lovely time and invited pretty much anyone who was still around the mission for the Christmas season.  I think we had between 15-20 folks over for lunch/dinner that day.  Plus I think of all the pig roasts we have had, this was the best cooked pig.  It was so tasty!!

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The next morning was Christmas, so of course Mikayla woke up extra early ready to start the fun.  We had our annual family photo shoot and then opened up packages.  Mikayla was so much fun this year.  She was so excited and appreciative of each and every gift.  She would exclaim things like, "this is brilliant" or "marvelous" each time she opened something new.  We spent the rest of the morning playing with gifts and then hosted a big breakfast for Joe, Katie, Chris and Kara.  It was a fun and relaxing day.  We also managed to play a little Settler’s of Catan that evening. 

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Mikayla talking to Lylah on her brand new Doc McStuffins cell phone.  She thinks she is big time now!!

And that pretty much wraps up our December and our 2013!  January and February will be busy months of traveling (we head to the US in just two weeks)! 

December 8th, 2013

Max continues to grow and change everyday.  Just when we think we have him figured out, he throws us a curveball and we have to regroup! 

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Mikayla still very much loves her brother and is always trying to love on him, hold him, kiss him, and blow raspberries on his belly.  She is so cute when she talks to him because she sounds just like Ben and I do when we converse with him.  So sweet.

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Sleep still continues to be an issue for this big eyed boy!  Seriously, this past month has been a hot mess for us!  One week he is waking every hour and refusing to nap during the day.  One day he went the entire day, until 3:00, with only half an hour of sleep.  Needless to say we were both ready to be crying at that point because he was so grumpy.  Luckily, he took an hour nap at that point and was ready for bed by 7:00.  I guess he just doesn’t want to miss out on anything, even at night time!  One day maybe…

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This kid is a mover and a shaker!  He is constantly rolling around and reaching for objects.  Once he grasps ahold of something it immediately goes into his mouth, no matter what it is!  The other day he got ahold of some paper and in it went.  We quickly scooped it out though, so no worries.  Mikayla has gotten really good at watching out for this and yelling at us if he is about to grab something he shouldn’t have.  His little legs are getting so strong too.  The other day we were at a meeting at the hostel and he was pushing his legs against a heavy wood table and actually pushing it forward.  The staff were cracking up at him.  One staff member even said, "He is active"!

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He has this funny way of moving about on his back.  We refer to it as the reverse inchworm.  Mikayla used to inch along on her belly and look just like an inchworm.  Max chooses to complete this action on his back.  He arches his back and then pushes off with his feet in such a way that he is able to scoot along the floor fairly quickly.  You really have to watch this kid.  You can get a little glimpse of this movement in the picture below.  I am still trying to capture a good video of it.

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Max has started to sit up on his own more and more.  You still have to really watch him because he can go very quickly from sitting to falling on his head!  And let’s just say he is not very happy when his head smashes on the floor!  He loves to be sitting up though.  We took a trip this month to a little play place that is in town.  He loved sitting in the ball pit and playing with the balls.  He actually got mad when I tried to take him out to play with another toy. 

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Photo credit to Mikayla.

Max has also gotten extra chatty this month.  Once he gets going "talking" it is hard to stop him.  And he has also found his "voice", meaning he can get really loud when chatting.

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I love the face he is making here!

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Max with his "Grow With Me Owl".

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Chilling with his big sis!  He seriously loves this girl!

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Ben decided he had enough of Max’s crazy hair and trimmed it up a bit this past month.  He snipped a little off the top and around the bottom (most of the dark hair).  It has already grown back out though!  He keeps joking he wants to give him a buzz cut, but so far I have been able to persuade him otherwise!

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We didn’t start Mikayla with solid foods until she was six months old, but as much as this boy eats I think we will be starting him sooner rather that later.  I am sure that will be a messy and fun adventure with this kid!

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Photo credit to Mikayla.

Tags: , , | Posted in Parenting |
December 1st, 2013

I am not sure where November went, but it flew past!  One day it was October and it seems like the next November was finishing up.  It won’t be long now before our big trip in January.  December is already shaping up to be a busy month with the hostel’s Christmas camp/party, mini holiday getaway with friends, Christmas and New Years!!

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I love this "selfie" of me and my girl!

Since we missed out on Halloween in October we trick or treated in November.  You can read all about the kids costumes and evening here.  It was a fun night and I loved watching Mikayla share her candy with all her friends.

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Hanging out with some friends, watching a movie on the porch.

Speaking of holidays, we celebrated Thanksgiving with some of our staff members again.  You can read about our first year here.  This year we invited the maintenance and transport departments to the feast.  And once again, a feast was had!  There was so much food.  Of course it all quickly disappeared and everyone got to take home a hearty take away pack!

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The feast!

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Feast continuted.

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Dessert spread

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Some guests

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Katie hanging with Mikayla

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Staff member from maintenance department holding Simo.  One of the highlights from the day.  Traditionally Swazi men have little to do with young children, so this was huge that he wanted to play and hold Simo.


Post Thanksgiving snuggle session on the porch while watching a storm roll in.

And since we are on the topic of food, Mikayla had a first in the food department this month.  One morning she wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast, but she wanted to make them all on her own.  She did everything but turn on the stove and scoop the eggs on her plate.  She was so proud, and I think she did an awesome job!  She really is growing up way too fast.

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Max had a first this month too…his first overnight!  Oh dear, it was a bit of a mess.  I will leave it at there were four kids, all 4 and under (two under the age of 1) and not a one of them wanted to sleep that night!  The babies took turns crying throughout the night.  If one wasn’t going the other was!  And the two older kiddos also had a little trouble sleeping and had some bad dreams.  Needless to say we were all exhausted the next day, but still had a lot of fun playing!  We took part of our trip into town to go to a local play place called Neverland.  Mikayla and Max actually had the whole place to themselves so they played and played and loved every minute of it.  You can actually drop the kids there and come back to get them, so I left Mikayla to play and Max and I went to the grocery store.  It was much easier to shop without having to keep up with Mikayla!  All in all it was a great couple of days away from the mission, and despite the lack of sleep, everyone had a great time!



Unfortunately, November was not kind to the Kickert’s tummies.  We all three came down with some sort of stomach bug at the end of the month.  Ben had it the worst, but Mikayla was not her usual peppy self for a couple of days after.  Luckily, we were feeling mostly better in time for our annual Thanksgiving feast.

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Max was not quite sure what to make of all the picture taking while he was sitting on his own.

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Sibling Love

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She wanted to wear the towels like mommy does after her shower one night.

Tags: , , | Posted in Life |
November 28th, 2013

The Adkins side of my family has a tradition with taking pictures in trees (You may have caught on to this from past posts).  Max is still a little young to be sitting in a tree on his own, but we tried our luck last night and came up with a couple of decent shots. 

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Look mom, I’m flying!

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And a little scared!

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What, you don’t hang out in a tree everyday?

Tags: , , , | Posted in Life, Parenting |
November 27th, 2013

We have been a little obsessed with playing Boggle as a family lately.  Ben and I have even been keeping track of score totals and how many games we have each won.  (I won’t brag here about who is winning that contest though!)  But I do want to take the time to brag on Mikayla a little bit. 

She loves to play Boggle with us, but never really writes down words.  It started with her just writing down any letter that she knew how to write.  Gradually we were able to convince her to write down letters she saw on the board.  Then over time, she took it upon herself to write actual words using some of the letters she saw.  Here is her most recent attempt at writing some of those words.  We were both very proud of her attempts!

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November 27th, 2013

We have been a little obsessed with playing Boggle as a family lately.  Ben and I have even been keeping track of score totals and how many games we have each won.  (I won’t brag here about who is winning that contest though!)  But I do want to take the time to brag on Mikayla a little bit. 

She loves to play Boggle with us, but never really writes down words.  It started with her just writing down any letter that she knew how to write.  Gradually we were able to convince her to write down letters she saw on the board.  Then over time, she took it upon herself to write actual words using some of the letters she saw.  Here is her most recent attempt at writing some of those words.  We were both very proud of her attempts!

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November 11th, 2013

I realize that we are a little late on this, but my philosophy is better late than never!  Since we live in Swaziland, and the Swazi’s don’t celebrate Halloween we did not have a problem with pushing our Halloween date back a couple of weeks.  On Halloween, Ben was in town at a meeting and both sisters were in the US.  There are only a limited number of people we can ask to Trick or Treat with, and with the three of them being gone it took away about half of those options!  So, we just went trick or treating last night. 

Last year Mikayla was a princess and all year long she had talked about wanting to be Santa Clause for Halloween.  At the beginning of October we asked her what she wanted to be again just to clarify and she suddenly switched to princess!  I didn’t want to push the Santa thing because frankly I wasn’t very excited about making that costume.  I also wasn’t very excited about her being a princess again so I subtly suggested that she be a wild thing from the book Where the Wild Things Are and that Max be Max King of the Wild Things.  She immediately agreed and we got to work on brainstorming costume ideas.

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Max was easy.  He just needed a white outfit, a crown and a tail.  Done!  I also referenced this picture of Bella (read here to see the importance of Bella in our naming of Max) for inspiration.


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Mikayla was a little bit trickier.  She looked through the book and chose which wild thing she wanted to be.  From there we started brainstorming ideas on how to make it happen.  Of course we "brainstormed" up until the week of our trick or treating  and did most of the costume work on Saturday and Sunday (we went trick or treating on Sunday)!  Ha!  Nothing like last minute preparations.  To make her costume I cut out felt in the shape of fish scales and then roughly sewed them onto a pair of leggings.  We attached a piece of fabric that looked like animal fur to the butt to look like a tail.  Next we chose one of her striped dresses so she could be a mommy wild thing! 

The hardest part was the head, but thanks to team work between Ben and I we were able to make it happen.  We had a broken fan laying around the house so we took it apart and used one side of it for the face.  We used paper mache to outline the face, leaving a large mouth opening for Mikayla to see through.  Ben also attached some string so the face would sit nicely on her head.  On Sunday morning I painted the face brown and attached eyes and nose made from felt.  Ben made some horns from cardboard and those got glued on next.  The final touch was adding yarn all around the edges for his hair.  I think we did a pretty good job and she was very excited about it.  The only unfortunate thing was that we spent all this time putting together her costume for 15 minutes of fun!  Oh well, I think she really appreciated it and her mask is now hanging in her room!

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She doesn’t look thrilled here, but trust me she was so giddy and excited.  She just didn’t want to stop to take pictures, she wanted the candy!  She did make sure to roar her terrible roar and show her terrible claws at each and every door.

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Here she is showing off her tail.  She wanted to make sure everyone knew that she had one.

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Showing off her candy stash.  This is one of the only pictures we got of her by herself.  She was really not excited about pictures!

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Max wanted a turn with the mask.  I think it was a little big for him though…

Tags: | Posted in Life, Parenting |
November 10th, 2013

It amazes me how much Max is growing and changing each day!  He is getting more of a personality.  Ben said just yesterday that he seems much happier than Mikayla was, but when he is upset he is really upset!  He isn’t usually just chill like she was.  He is either smiling or screaming! 😉 But when you get him going he can really be a charmer with his intoxicating smile and giggle! He is also getting so chunky in the face that he is getting some dimples which are super adorable.

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Evidence of the screaming monster!

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His face is really scrunched up here, but you get the general idea!  You can see a little of the dimples here.

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Weight – 6.9 kg / Just over 15 pounds

Height – 26 inches long

Head Circumference – 16.5 inches

At about 3.5 months he started rolling over from back to belly.  He is much more content on his belly now that he can roll in both directions and put himself there.  Plus his little arms and neck are strong enough to prop himself up so he can fully see everything around him.  He is very observant!  He can sit up unassisted for a few seconds!! This morning he was able to prop himself up like in the picture below and sit for a couple of minutes.  His sitting unassisted time is increasing each time.  But he does love to hold onto your fingers and be standing.  His legs seem very strong!

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This morning he actually sat like this for a couple of minutes by propping himself up with his hands.

Sleep is still hit or miss.  We are still up 3-4 times a night for nursing.  Luckily most of the time he eats and goes right back to sleep so I suppose things could be worse.  Naptimes are still inconsistent.  He seems to be much more of a cat napper than a long napper.  Very rarely will he sleep longer than a 45 minute stretch during the day. 

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For the last two weeks Max has been a little more irritable than usual.  We think he might be teething, but so far no teeth.  In addition to being irritable he chews on everything in sight.  And if he can get your fingers in his mouth he really goes to town!

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Mikayla took this picture of Max with his "grow with me" owl!

Max has also started showing some interest in holding on and playing with his toys.  He has always enjoyed his play mat, but is just now starting to interact and play with the toys.

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Speaking of playing, the kids at the hostel are still in love with Max.  Even the boys are starting to come and take him to hold and play with.  I love it!  Mikayla still very much loves her brother and spending time with him.  And I would say that Max feels the same way based upon the reaction he makes when she lays next to him to play.  Mikayla is such a good big sister and I love watching the two of them interact and play with each other.

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Max loves sitting and playing/chatting with his daddy!

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I can’t remember if I ever posted this picture or not, but wanted to make sure it got posted.  This is Simo’s (the twin and Max’s namesake) mom.  She was at the guardian’s meeting we had at the hostel back in September.

Tags: , | Posted in Parenting |