Monday, December 31, 2012

Elizabeth-6 months

Elizabeth turned 1/2 a year one week ago and I’m still in denial.

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These past few weeks have been busy celebrating Christmas and visiting family and Elizabeth has been quite the trooper. The time is flying by and we’ve been busy soaking in as many moments as we can with our little girl. I’ve been trying to just enjoy each day and not rush (though hard with the holidays) in an attempt to soak up this quickly vanishing babyhood.

She LOVED Christmas. More about that in its own post, but seriously this girl LOVED opening presents:) I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but it made for a very fun and eventful Holiday.

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Everyday is a new adventure with this girl who constantly amazes us with her low-key, easygoing demeanor. We’re finally finding our way back to normal after lots of go-with-the-flow. Settling into a somewhat constant pattern is good for me and it seems, good for Elizabeth as well.

Month 6 has been quite the month for our little one. As of today, her top four teeth are soon to be arriving which just amazes me. Our little one seems ahead of the curve on some things and right on track or behind with others. Amazing how each child is completely different! She also began solids (around 5 1/2 months) and to date her favorite seems to be squash. She loves eating…big surprise and gets very excited when we put her into her high chair. Must take after her momma!

As far as development, she’s sitting up and loves to sit in the bathtub. No more laying back for this one. We’ve also found that we can communicate better…when we ask her to do something like put her head back to wash the shampoo out somehow she seems to know what we are talking about and does it most of the time. Obviously not with everything, but it’s quite amazing…to us! She is also on the verge of crawling and we’ve seen her army crawl a handful of times. Not sure we are ready for a mobile baby!

Our days are filled with bouncing, playing, errand running, sleeping, and lots of talking. Still Elizabeth’s favorite sound is that of her sucking in air but she’s added a few new sounds to her repertoire. The latest one is lip-smacking. It’s the sound you make if you are imitating eating to a baby. It’s really cute and she mimics us after we do it. That has been so much fun!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review “God Gave us Christmas”

In all the anticipation of Christmas, I managed to make sure to find some great books that point to the birth of Jesus for Elizabeth to enjoy in the years to come. Like most families, courtesy of Pinterest of course, we’re starting a tradition of giving Elizabeth a Christmas book and jammies on Christmas Eve. This year she received “Song of the Stars” by Sally Lloyd Jones (same author of our favorite children’s bible) but this book would’ve been a great option as well.

When I chose this book to review through this awesome program (any blogger can do this for free) I was anxious to get it and read the story. Incidentally Elizabeth received it as well from her Grandma so we now have 2 copies. May be good for a giveaway soon:)

This is a great book. As I mentioned before, Santa won’t be visiting our house but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk about him, watch movies about him, and read about him. This book takes both Santa and Jesus and gives justice to each one without spoiling the surprise just in case Santa’s comin’ to your house!

Our favorite polar bears go on an adventure to find Jesus in the everyday because God can be felt, seen, heard, and experienced in everyday life. It’s really a neat way for little kids and adults to remember that God is everywhere. While the book doesn’t explicitly go through the story of Jesus’ birth it does a great job building anticipation for the day of His birth by reminding us all how near Jesus is and how special His birth is.

As we continue to build our library of Christmas books to use throughout advent and the Christmas season, I’m glad I found this one. It will be a great addition to our library and so fun to read as we anticipate the birth of Jesus!

(Disclaimer: I was given this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas filled with the hope, joy, and love only a tiny baby born in Bethlehem can bring!

 

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Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

I’ve mentioned here or there before that we’re not huge on gift giving in our house. The last time we actually exchanged gifts was over 7 years ago before we were married. We ended up giving things that weren’t quite right (we were just dating) and besides, who knew that a wallet was such a personal item! So from that point on we just bought each other a new to-go coffee mug together and called it a day. Well now that Elizabeth is here Alex and I had to brainstorm what we would do from here on out. Obviously we want to give her gifts:) But we wondered what she might think if we didn’t receive anything. So we’re starting out as we hope to go on and it can only get better (we hope!) Obviously the focus is not on the gifts, but we’re envisioning that it will be a fun addition to our Christmas traditions. We’re still not certain if we’ll adapt a 3 or 4 gift tradition, we probably will, but for this year we’re just getting our feet wet and relying on our amazon lists to help us through.

Enough about us, I’m here to bring some ideas to the table for great gifts. As of today almost all the gifts are bought and most are wrapped…feeling quite amazed myself, but it took some early brainstorming to come up with some good things. So without further ado, here are some gift ideas for guys, gals, and babes!

For the Guys:

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1. Personalized game / 2. Under Armour Long Underwear / 3. Slippers

4. Smartwool Smartphone Gloves / 5. Flashlight / 6. Personalized mug

7. Portable Speaker / 8. Magazine Subscriptions / 9. Smartwool socks

 

For the gals:

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1. Cold Beverage To-Go Mug / 2. Cookbooks / 3. Personalized Necklace

4. Books / 5. New Slippers / 6. Personalized Address Stamp

7. Xyron Machine / 8. Cute Teacup / 9. Home keeping Handbook

 

For the Babes:

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1. Leopard Rocker / 2. Baby legs / 3. Playskool Little People

4. Skwish / 5. Board books / 6. Personalized Great Day Plate

7. Puzzles / 8. Ring Stacker / 9. Blocks

 

What are some great gift ideas you’ve come up with?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Much ado about Santa

Dear Elizabeth,

One day you will have questions for your Daddy and I, I am sure of it. There will come a day when you will, in quiet breath, ask why the man in red does not come to our house. And we will have to answer, honestly.

Every year, you will see, that with quiet anticipation we will ready ourselves for the day when gifts are found under the tree. We will pin our hand sewn characters upon the felt tree, reading in earnest the story of Christmas, all while we wait the 24 days until THE day. And along the way there will be carols sung, gifts given, cookies made; all trying to celebrate the most wonderful time of year. But because you are smart, you will notice that there is no big to do about clatter on the roof and a grand entrance through our missing fireplace.

Before you are even that old, you will realize that something is missing. Around you as we wait you will watch movies of a man in a big red suit, sing songs about a reindeer with a bright red nose, and you will read of the train that takes you to the most magical place in hopes that one can hear the twinkle of a bell. People will ask if you’ve been good, if you deserve presents under the tree. They will tell you that he’s watching, to make sure that you’ve been good. Coal would be the consequence, they will whisper, for boys and girls who have been bad.

And I’m sure you will wonder, as I have, why no little boys or girls actually get coal. Because you will remember the times that you have not been good. Even if nobody has noticed. What you will witness around you is what has evolved into the greatest time of year and greatest time of indulgence. And we hope for you it is. But in different ways.

Because this is the greatest time of year.

Thousands of years ago, in a place not so far away, a baby was born. And His life has changed everything. You know of Him of course, and we pray one day you will have Him as your best and closest confidant. And during this time of year, we will celebrate His birth. When you get older, I’m not sure if mangers will decorate lawns, or if the true story of Christmas will be told. But in our house, you will know…how the donkey led the way, with Mary on its back. How a woman with your name, rejoiced over the baby in Mary's tummy, and whose son proclaimed His worth. You will know, there were shepherds and angels and the magi who came with shouts of acclimation to see this tiny baby.

You will know and will have heard that this little baby, well He does know everything. All the good, all the bad, all the sorrow and all the joy. And when the day comes when you ask about the man in red, we will say “there has been much ado about santa but honey, the story started way before him.” And we will tell you that he is just like Dora, or Mickey Mouse, or Caillou. Pretend.

Because that’s the truth. And more than anything momma and daddy want to be honest with you so you know you can be honest with us.

And there will be some, I’m sure, with whom you let this news slip. Who truly believe that the man in red really does keep score. And they might not believe you or may be upset that you spoiled the fun. And when you ask why we’ll tell you again the truth.

Momma and daddy have been changed to the core by the One who was born at Christmastime. He has held our hands as tears flowed, He has rejoiced with us and mourned, He has given and taken, He is our life. And because He asks us to teach you about Himself (Deut. 6:6-9), to tell you of the stories of long ago, to be truthful and honest…we will obey. and though I’m sure we will often fail, we are always going to try to make much of Him. Even when the world thinks otherwise.

So at Christmastime, we will celebrate this amazing birth, that has changed the whole world and we will sing happy birthday to the one whose day it is. And along the way we will sing of the reindeer with the red nose, and watch the elves set up shop up north, and we will read of the clatter on the roof. But most of all we will stand in awe of Jesus, the baby born in the manger, and we will sing of His birth and read the accounts that tell THE story.

And there will be presents under the tree, for you, whether you have been good or bad. There will be presents because at His birth, the magi brought gifts to celebrate the most wonderful birth that ever was. There will be gifts because gifts are a part of celebrating. And more than that, there will be gifts given to those who long for necessities, for those who need, and we want you to rejoice in giving. Gratefulness, we pray, will be on our hearts, generosity will flow from our hands, and love will extend from one another.

And if you get bigger, Elizabeth, and you wonder or you are frustrated that your family was such a downer during the greatest time of year, just celebrating this baby and downplaying the man in red, then we will tell you that we are sorry. That we never meant to disappoint or steal the “fun” of the season. And we will mean it, because your disappointment will be breaking our hearts. But we hope that when you are older, you will, with eager hands and excitement in your heart, revel in giving generously, singing joyfully about the babe in the manger, and with anticipation and thankfulness, open gifts that have been wrapped under the tree.

We hope and pray that one day this babe will change your whole life. And that, Elizabeth, is why we make much ado about Jesus.

love you baby girl,

your momma

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Celebrating Together

Last week marked another year older for me. And when I say week, I mean it. When we were younger my step-mother started something we in our family call “birthday week”. You are celebrated the whole week long leading up to your birthday. There is nothing really special about it except that the birthday person is given deference. Basically you are just made to feel special all week long which for those of us with birthdays around the holidays, it’s extra special!

Turning 32 didn’t even faze me and I’ve come to realize that my 30’s just might be my favorite decade. Kinda like pulling on your favorite jeans, I feel like my 30’s have me in that spot of life. Worn-in, comfortable in my own skin, cozy. And now that Elizabeth is here, life just seems a bit sweeter, even if it means my days of being footloose and fancy free are over (for the time being.)

Last year I started my own little tradition of making my own birthday cake. I don’t really like to bake, especially when neither Alex nor I really want to eat an entire cake, but I’ve decided that on birthdays I will go all out. And for our MN family celebration I spent the day making this cake and it was quite delicious!

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Almost every year of our marriage we have spent Thanksgiving in Wisconsin with my family. This year we gathered with my Aunt and Uncle, cousins, and siblings to devour our share of turkey and other Thanksgiving delicacies, like raspberry jello. So delicious! And of course, to top it off Elizabeth got to meet her second cousin Graham who is just 4 months younger than her. She looks huge in comparison:) Having babies again in the midst of our family is so much fun!

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The rest of our time in WI was spent hanging out with family. My little brother was back from college and my nephews and niece are always fun to be with. Alex helped Jack build this gigantic robot that actually walked! And Elizabeth had fun playing with Uncle Matt.

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Fun fact, my sister and I have the same birthday. I was born on her 8th birthday and often have overshadowed the day; my 16th fell on her golden birthday, etc. But this year, I was happy to hand over the shadow. Since I let you know how old I turned, add 8 and you’ll know it was a BIG birthday for her! We celebrated by heading out to dinner with my siblings, my sister-in-law, and dad and step-mom. We are never a quiet crew while we were out…we had a LOT of fun together and even made my little brother squirm a bit. He just headed off to college this year!

IMG_0309IMG_0313IMG_0316IMG_0334 This also marked a new experience for Elizabeth as well as she was left with a stranger for the first time ever. My Step-mom’s niece watched her (so no stranger to us) and it was so liberating! Seriously I made Sara tell me over and over again that she was not lying when she said Elizabeth did great and that made me feel like we just won the lottery. Given a bottle and put to bed by someone she didn’t know and she didn’t even waver. Gotta love that!

All in all it was a great Thanksgiving…it goes without saying that we have MUCH to be thankful for this year! A house, clothes on our back, money in the bank, food to eat, a daughter, each other, good health, saving faith…basics are all met and for us, that’s more than enough!

Hoping you and yours had a great Thanksgiving…

now I’m off to finish putting up the Christmas decorations!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

5 Months Old

To say these 5 months have been the easiest 5 months of my life would be a lie, it’s been hard, but they have definitely been some of the best. I can’t imagine our lives without Elizabeth in them, even if it has meant giving up some prior conceived liberties and so-called necessities.

I never would have imagined a few years ago that on my 32 birthday (in a few days) I would have a 5 month old. When you are in the midst of infertility and the thought of having babies seems so unlikely, the hope of children slowly diminishes. To say we are thankful this Thanksgiving is an understatement. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t offer up thanks for this little girl who has so innocently stolen our hearts. We just keep praying for many, many days with her; to watch her grow and mature. Hard to believe that she’s already beginning her 6th month of life. Can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

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All that aside, our baby girl no longer seems like a baby. She’s a little girl now! She’s rolling over, sitting up for short amounts of time, has broken in 2 teeth, and has such a personality!

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The past month has been anything but easy but then again if I were getting teeth I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the happiest camper either. This month marked the beginning of teething and mid-month those stubborn bottom teeth popped through the surface. Guess that was why her sleep was so wonky. She’s still not back to normal in the sleep department but I’m not worried as we’re headed out of state for the holidays and I know that will mess her all up anyways. So once things get back to normal we’ll work on sleep again. Until then we’ll just take what we can get.

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Our days remain pretty consistently the same; 2 long naps, 1 short nap. She’s eating 5 times a day with one feeding during the night (usually). She’s mastered rolling over both ways especially when in the woombie. One night Alex and I just stared at her on the monitor rolling from one side of the crib to the other, wailing all the while. It seems she doesn’t fully understand how to stop and start:)

We love watching her learn new things and experience new places. She loves playing with her toys and scooting around. She can almost sit up unassisted for long periods of time so we know that milestone is around the corner. She has the silliest personality…she loves to be tickled and jump in her doorway jumper. She could spend hours there! When daddy gets home she gets the biggest grin on her face, it’s pretty cute.

As far as solids go, I’m using the car ride to read up on Baby Led Weaning. Our pediatrician really recommended waiting until 6 months so we’re not in any hurry to begin. I’m sure I will do a hybrid version as I want to add fortified oatmeal to her menu to get all the vitamins, etc. Although Elizabeth has been sitting at the table with us in her new high chair. We love how straight the back is, how inexpensive it was, and the fact that it’s really easy to clean. She seems very interested in what is going on and enjoys sucking on ice while watching us in her new feeder.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bless Someone’s Day

For free!

You know when it’s your birthday and someone sends you a card in the mail how excited your heart gets? Or maybe when you’ve been down and someone sends you a card to cheer you up? I don’t know about you but I love getting cards in the mail. In fact, my mom just sent me the sweetest card about being mothers…seriously brought tears to my eyes.

Well if you are feeling like there is someone that you would like to bless, Shutterfly has you covered. They just launched their new brand of greeting cards called Treat and today and tomorrow (Nov. 19-20) you can send a card for FREE!

They have some of the cutest cards…

This one would be perfect for any of our friends that just had a baby

Or this one is perfect for my little brother…we actually say this to one another because in our case it’s true…same dad, different moms.

 

Or maybe you want to send something to say thanks for just about anything

So are you ready to take a look and send out a free one-of-a-kind card? Just head here and enter the code TREATBLOGR upon checkout.

Friday, November 16, 2012

{Book Review} Breaking Free from Fear

I love to read.

I especially love to read things that give me hope and bring me nearer to the One who has cleansed me from within. Every fall I am giddy to sign up for Bible study. And then I’m giddy again in January when I do it all over again. For me, consistent, regular time in the Word is absolutely necessary for my life. The first food we should feast on.

Over the past 3 years I’ve done different studies, but mainly I’ve done Precept Upon Precept by Kay Arthur. They are incredible and allow you to dig deep in the word. There is plenty of underlining and circling and use of colored pencils, which I, of course, love.

So when Kay came to speak at last years women’s conference at our church I was ecstatic. When I was in college I studied Covenant by Kay and it was life changing for me. So when the opportunity came about to review one of her 40 minute, 6 week studies, I was all over it. I chose “Breaking Free from Fear” because really, who doesn’t struggle with that from time to time.

It’s excellent. The study by Kay is composed as a 6-week, no-homework study meant for groups. Although I did not do this in a group, I felt that it was definitely still worth while to complete on your own. Each week is broken down into Observe & Discuss portions. These would be perfect for small groups. You walk through a portion of scripture, observing and marking the text in true Precept form, and then she poses questions pertaining to the text you just observed. I can see how in a group the questions would be great for discussion although again, there is something here even for the individual student.

As far as the topic of fear, Kay does a great job walking through the different aspects of fear while giving encouragement through the scriptures. Fear is all around us taking on many different forms and through the study she touches on many of the areas and allows for personal reflection.

I would definitely recommend the study for groups of individuals and those studying on their own. It is a great tool for studying the Bible and diving deeper into Scripture.

Have you done any of Kay’s studies? If not, I’d highly recommend it!

 

Disclosure: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last night’s crazy

Some would call the four of us crazy for what we did last night. Others will wish they were there. And still others will wonder why we did what we did.

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Anne, Dana, baby Lewis and I ventured out into the crisp air to go and see some of our favorite bloggers, Young House Love. We’ve all been keeping up on their blog for awhile now and I love *them*. This is the crazy thing behind blogging…you always feel like you know them even when you don’t.

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I started blogging and reading blogs right around the time Alex and I got married. First I started a family blog, then I started food blogging, and then both of those gave way to this blog. So for over 6 years I’ve been immersed in blogdom. Crazy. And through blogging I’ve met some very dear friends, ministered to many people or so they’ve told me, and shared our life through words. I love blogging whether people read our blog or not:)

Which brings me back to Young House Love. I’ve been reading their blog almost since the beginning when they were This Young House. I remember some of their earliest projects, was their through their pregnancy and birth of their daughter, watched as their friendship grew with fellow blogger Katie Bower, and have sent hundreds of emails to my husband asking if “we could just do this” in our house!

So last night, we bundled up, parked nearby and waited in line for 3 hours to meet them and have them sign our books. And even though the line was long and we grew weary, by the time we got up there we smiled like silly little schoolgirls excited beyond belief that we were meeting them in person.

Somehow, it’s the little things that make us the giddiest. And a special thanks to my husband and in-laws for watching Elizabeth and forcing bottles so that I could get out with friends for a special night of crazy. I may or may not have called home a few times to check in and after the second time was told firmly by my husband to stop calling and enjoy myself. Sometimes us mommas need someone to tell us to let go. And from then on, I did just that!

Thanks Anne and Dana for joining me in the fun!

Have you ever gone out for a book signing?

Last night’s crazy

Some would call the four of us crazy for what we did last night. Others will wish they were there. And still others will wonder why we did what we did.

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Anne, Dana, baby Lewis and I ventured out into the crisp air to go and see some of our favorite bloggers, Young House Love. We’ve all been keeping up on their blog for awhile now and I love *them*. This is the crazy thing behind blogging…you always feel like you know them even when you don’t.

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I started blogging and reading blogs right around the time Alex and I got married. First I started a family blog, then I started food blogging, and then both of those gave way to this blog. So for over 6 years I’ve been immersed in blogdom. Crazy. And through blogging I’ve met some very dear friends, ministered to many people or so they’ve told me, and shared our life through words. I love blogging whether people read our blog or not:)

Which brings me back to Young House Love. I’ve been reading their blog almost since the beginning when they were This Young House. I remember some of their earliest projects, was their through their pregnancy and birth of their daughter, watched as their friendship grew with fellow blogger Katie Bower, and have sent hundreds of emails to my husband asking if “we could just do this” in our house!

So last night, we bundled up, parked nearby and waited in line for 3 hours to meet them and have them sign our books. And even though the line was long and we grew weary, by the time we got up there we smiled like silly little schoolgirls excited beyond belief that we were meeting them in person.

Somehow, it’s the little things that make us the giddiest. And a special thanks to my husband and in-laws for watching Elizabeth and forcing bottles so that I could get out with friends for a special night of crazy. I may or may not have called home a few times to check in and after the second time was told firmly by my husband to stop calling and enjoy myself. Sometimes us mommas need someone to tell us to let go. And from then on, I did just that!

Thanks Anne and Dana for joining me in the fun!

Have you ever gone out for a book signing?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thank the Troops

This past Tuesday we were able to exercise the right to vote.

That right did not come about freely or without a fight. By men and women.

We live in a country that allows us the freedom to say what we want, believe what we want, think as we want, elect as we wish, and more.

Freedom is ours. And we owe much to the millions of men and women that have fought on the lines, cared behind the scenes, ministered, aided, and protected.

This Sunday is Veteran’s Day and Shutterfly has a great opportunity to anyone who would like to bless a soldier. Take a moment today to go here and create a card for the troops.

We are truly blessed with Freedom so let’s extend our thanks together!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For love of sleep

Something had to give around here.

We were all sleep deprived. For the first time that I can remember, visible circles were forming under my eyes and my ability to complete ordinary tasks was slowly dwindling. I used to pride myself on the fact that I could go without having or needing much sleep. Those days are over. All the while, I kept thinking that I would take the newborn days all over again if it just meant we could sleep.

We got ourselves into come bad habits. It was either pacifier abuse, growth spurts, regression due to new skills, or just a stand-off between parent and child. If I’m honest it was probably all of the above.

It all started almost a month ago. I know for sure because unlike my non-type A self I’ve been tracking E’s sleep since she was 5 weeks old. Around October 12th everything went hay wire. Elizabeth started rolling over and at the same time waking up every two hours. It wasn’t every two hours like it was when she was a newborn, wake, eat, back to sleep…it was more wake every 2 hours, put in pacifier or feed, spit out pacifier, cry, which equaled 4 trips to the nursery every two hours.

It all started around her dedication weekend and now looking back, I’m not surprised that she was absolutely intolerant of the 20+ people who suddenly took over our house. But what started out as a few nights of disrupted sleep continued on for weeks. Every once and awhile we would catch a break but more often than not this every two hour thing was status quo. The difficult part was figuring out what on earth was behind it. So I did what any mother would; I started googling.

(PS…most of my parenting knowledge comes from google, forums, and great websites like this one, this one, this one and this one.)

Along with cozying up with google I also checked out books.

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1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child / 2. The Sleep easy Solution / 3. The Baby Whisperer Solves all Your Problems

Not shown but also skimmed: The Wonder Weeks

First step in our eyes, try to figure out what is going on. First thing we realized, we were unintentionally promoting a sleep prop. Pacifiers…love to hate them! I love that E takes a pacifier and over the last month I’ve hated it. I must also mention here that just a couple of weeks prior to the regression we stopped swaddling. Well, that was not ideal. With her newfound dexterity, Elizabeth would pull out the pacifier and throw it across the crib and then scream. It wasn’t a game, she didn’t realize what she was doing, it was just a reality.

While I was proud of her newfound skills I was not so fond of grappling to find the paci in the middle of the night only to slide back under the covers and realize we were starting all over again. Vicious cycle. After 3 weeks I couldn’t take it. Not only that but she learned to roll over. Only from back to front. Alex and I looked at each other in bewilderment and did what we thought we would never let her do. We let her cry. We knew she had to figure out how to sleep on her stomach or we would never sleep again.

And learn she did. That part only took one day before she re-figured out how to sleep on her tummy. But we were still up all night due to that darn pacifier and agile reflexes. So this past weekend we started sleep training.

We took our cues from the Baby Whisperer and started instituting the 4 S’s before bedtime, the shush-pat, and Pick up/Put down. The 4 S’s include swaddling, sitting quietly, winding down, and the shush pat. I read that we should sit with her for ~5 minutes on our lap right before putting her down. I laughed. Alex laughed. There was no way that would work. Well we were wrong. First time, we sat for 3 minutes tops and she was almost asleep. Crazy! If only it all went so easily. Talk about needing a backbone. I’ve heard it said that to train Navy seals they make them listen to babies crying for hours on end. Well we’re that much closer to Navy Seal designation!

So many tears on both ends but we held it together and it only took a few nights. In fact, I felt like we were reaping the reward last night when she woke a few times but babbled her way back to sleep. You see, we still give her the pacifier initially but over the past week she’s learned to fall back asleep without it. We’re calling that success and patting ourselves on the back. I’m sure it’s just because the wonder week is over and soon enough we’ll be doing this again, but here’s to hoping our sleep has been momentarily reclaimed.

It was excruciatingly horrible. I do not wish that on anyone. But if it creates a good sleeper those hard days and weeks were not for naught.

And that is the end. I hope.

So tell me, sleep tips? Have you had to sleep train, cry-it-out, etc?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankfulness continued

I’m more than a few days behind in my record of thanks. I’ve thought of things each and every day and yet haven’t had the energy to get them recorded.

These past few weeks have been crazy and just this weekend, after weeks of disrupted sleep, we began sleep training Elizabeth by way of the Baby Whisperer. So far the past 2 nights she’s slept through with one little wake up that was solved through “pick-up/put-down”. We can’t tell you how freeing this has been but it hasn’t been without a LOT of work and many tears on Elizabeth’s end. I’m hoping if today’s nap is any indication, that she’s on her way to better sleep!

So back to my record of thanks as we make our way through November:

November 2: Thankful for mothers who drive over to visit and do not put down your efforts in parenting but encourage you through the really hard moments. Who pray for you, help you, make the coffee, and offer to play all day long! We love you Mom!

November 3: Thankful for my other half. The part that walks through this rollercoaster of life with me. Working hard to provide, hard to keep our house up, and who loves me for me more than I could ever ask or imagine.

November 4: Thankful that Elizabeth was not affected by the change in time but instead blessed us by sleeping through the night for the first time in weeks. Was a precious gift of grace!

November 5: Thankful for snuggles with my baby girl and lots of book reading. So very thankful that God have her to us…

I’d attach pictures from our weekend but somehow I misplaced the camera cord in my sleepless zombie state. Stay tuned:)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Making a list

 

 

Every year someone asks us for a list of gift ideas, either for Christmas or our birthdays. For years, I would scramble last minute to try and figure out what on earth I should ask for. It was pure craziness. What ended up on my list were things in the aftermath I would look at quizzically and wonder what I was thinking. So for the past few years we’ve been taking a different approach.

I know so many people still make hand written lists, don’t give gifts, make a board on pinterest, etc. but we utilize the list feature on Amazon. Each one of us in our little family of 3 have a list. And all year long I add to them things that we think would be good ideas for gifts. I love that I can delete and add at my discretion and it definitely makes giving gifts easier.

You might wonder, but what if something I like is not offered by Amazon? Well, I downloaded their “Universal Wish List” feature to my browser bar. With the click of a button I can add things to any of our lists from any website. That makes things so much easier. I also have the Amazon app on my phone so I can scan things in the store, see if Amazon carries them, and if they do add them to the list. If they do not carry it, I just snap a quick picture to add online later. And if I didn’t have the app, then like I did for years on end, I just snap pictures in any store of the items I want to remember and then come home and manually add them to the list. I do this all the time with books I want to reserve at the library!

Amazon is not giving me anything to talk about this…I just love it! Plus I love how almost everything is cheaper on Amazon than in the store. So we can give great gifts and save money. My parent’s love it too because they can get us things we like and have them shipped usually for free. When you send so many gifts to those out of state, postage can add up quickly!

Living far from family, I wish everyone made Amazon lists. It would make it so much easier to buy gifts that need to be sent and it would help ensure that the recipient would not receive duplicates. That’s a bonus to…when someone buys something, it gets removed from your list. How great is that!

So I’m curious as Christmas gets nearer by the day, how do you try and stay organized with gift giving? Do you use Amazon lists?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On being thankful

Several of my friends have decided to make their way through November marking what they are thankful for. I think it’s a great idea, especially since my birthday lies towards the end of the month. So I’m jumping on the bandwagon and every day I will add something I’m thankful for.

November 1st:

Thankful that though we lack much we have someone who never lacks,

Jehovah-Jireh, provider.

And for caffeine:)

Elizabeth’s 1st Halloween!

Halloween was very low key around here. I mean, I can’t in right mind, take my 4 month old trick or treating. Seriously, I’m not sure anyone would give us candy:)

So although we didn’t go out door to door, we still celebrated and made it a fun night around our house. We don’t have strong convictions on Halloween at our house and treat it as a fun night to dress up and get candy. Plus we love carving pumpkins and eating the seeds! That being said, I happen to be one of those people who has a “bah humbug” attitude toward costumes. Not for Elizabeth but for myself.

Halloween always caused me great anxiety as thinking of a costume sent me into a people pleasing coma. Seriously I lack the witty ability to come up with something uniquely comical and full of pun worthiness so I take this approach:

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But for Elizabeth…well we went all out. Meet our Sweet Pea in a Pod.

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Doesn’t she look like she loves Halloween already? Hilarious.

Here are some more from the day:

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And to top the night off, we only had 2 sets of trick or treaters…

more candy for us!

How was your night…did you dress up?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To the woman in black

You sat behind us on Sunday.

Coat worn, a scent of smoke lingering. Humbled, I sat aware of your presence.

Here I came, clothes cleaned, pride adorning. Smugly aware of how your voice, your presence, was invading upon me.

And as the hymns began to play and mouths opened in praise, your voice, strong and out of key rang out. And the Spirit stopped me. I could not sing. Instead I cried out. My heart humbled, begging forgiveness. And then my heart poured out in prayer for you.

Thankful that you sat behind us. Praying for your heart, that the One True God had overturned stone within. Authentic you came, with little to give, and little did you know how much you gave. To me. Brought me face to face with reality. Those with little inherit the kingdom. You brought yourself humbly, with nothing, and here I came with everything, proud and vain. You a picture of the risen Christ…

And slowly my heart drew close, as we sang, your voice blended perfectly, our lips singing out …

“Filled with wonder,
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power…”

Your voice cried out “Yes, Lord…Yes, Lord…your name is power.” And the spirit within me cried out YES! You brought me nearer to Jehovah that day, dying to self, to the auras we wear.

Nothing. We need nothing but Jesus, like the woman who gave all she had.

Emptied.

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44

Poverty that goes beyond our daily bread. Internal poverty, of the heart.

Needing only Jesus.

To the woman in black…thank you.

Thank you for bringing me low to see more of Creator God. My need for Him.

I hope to see you again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to

Kaylen!!

You’ve won the $50 gift to Shutterfly!

I’ll contact you today to let you know how to claim your prize:)

 

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

4 Months old

Another month flew by!

Elizabeth turned 4 months old on Monday and I cannot imagine life without her. I have no idea where the past 4 months have gone but I can say that so many minutes have been spent staring at this cute little face.

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She’s growing up right before our eyes. I know I’ve said it before but this time I really mean it. Within the past 2 weeks we have seen quite the change in Elizabeth’s personality. She has awaken. She giggles nonstop, likes to be tickled, laughs at herself in the mirror, babbles back to us, and cracks me up all day long. Her favorite toys are Sophie the giraffe and cheap pink teething ring we have. She’s no longer a newborn but a full fledged “big girl” baby!

These past couple of weeks haven't been easy, not gonna sugarcoat it, with the sleep regression and pretty cranky behavior BUT…the hard things in life are so worth it because usually some sort of reward awaits you…like a giggly face:)

Stats at 4 months:

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Her weight and height are just a guess…her official Doctor’s appt. is this afternoon but I’m thinking that’s right about where she is.

Major accomplishment this past week was rolling over. She’s been moving to her side for the past month and she’s always working on her core, moving her legs up and down and doing crunches in the car seat so we knew rolling was on the horizon. Whenever she rolls she gets so proud of herself and starts smiling like crazy especially if we start cheering!

Looking ahead, we’re excited to meet with her pediatrician today to talk solids and ask a few other questions. We are pretty certain we are going to go the Baby Led Weaning route as far as food is concerned which makes me happy as I’ll have at least 2 more months to wrap my mind around how it all works.

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So there you have it, 4 months old and ready to conquer the world:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Musings from the week

This past week was nothing short of intense, joy-filled, sleep deprived, & worth every second. From starting it off with a house full of 21 people to ending it in the company of good friends it was a busy one to say the least.

Elizabeth turns 4 months old today and this past week was evidence that our little girl is growing up.

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Last Sunday all of our immediate families joined us in dedicating Elizabeth at our church. It was a joyous yet sobering event as we “surrendered all worldly claims upon our daughter in the hope that she will one day belong wholly to Jesus.” Elizabeth didn’t make a peep during the dedication but instead waited until we were home and everyone wanted to see her to make her dismay known. It was her party and she wanted to cry! The picture of her with Alex in the collage is a perfect depiction of how she felt once everyone left. Note how she’s hanging on to his arm for dear life:)

And then the week happened. Elizabeth is in a major sleep regression. I’m not entirely surprised given that this week she mastered rolling over, she may have a tooth coming in, and she is in a growth spurt. I’m so glad caffeine doesn’t bother her because I have needed a lot to function. We’ve been really lucky that this hasn’t been her status quo because I’m fairly certain I would not have survived:) Needless to say we’ve all been a little tired over here!

But despite the sleepiness, life goes on. Highlights of the week included:

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1. Decorating our walls. They’ve been bare for far too long and with the help of our friend Anne they are looking so much better!

2. Buying a new car seat. We went with this one knowing that we will eventually upgrade to this one. She isn’t using it yet but she had fun testing it out!

3. Playing with friends. The boys I nannied for are entirely smitten with Elizabeth. It might be the most precious thing I have ever witnessed!

4. Raking leaves. I can’t wait to cut down some of our trees. We bagged 14 bags and our lawn looks like we never raked. UGH!

5. Elizabeth does not like the leaves:) Again evidence of her personality this past week. oh my!

6. Sleeping while mamma enjoyed some girl time at my homemaking group. After 5 years we don’t learn homemaking anymore we just socialize! Note how she loves to sleep with blankie over the head…help me!

7. Picking pumpkins in the parking lot patch. Saturday night “get us out of the house” featured takeout, red box, and a trip to the mall.

8. Mercy Triumphs. Bible study for the fall and the only way I’ve been able to make it through October. I look forward to waking up early every morning just to do this study.

9. In an attempt to beautify our house, I broke out the sewing machine on Sunday and whipped up this little valence for our kitchen window. So proud of myself and my novice sewing skills!

So there you have it a glimpse into our home. This week can only be described as intense. But hearing the giggles, embracing new mercies, capturing smiles, and having a husband who keeps me laughing make the days worth enduring.

How eventful or eventless was your week? Intense?

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for $50 to SHUTTERFLY HERE!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Christmas in October (& Shutterfly GIVEAWAY!)

Christmas is everywhere. Already. DO you feel that it’s too soon?
I’m not sure what I think about it. In some ways it makes me sad that Halloween, Autumn and Thanksgiving don’t get their fair share of holiday propaganda and hoopla but in other ways it makes me more on top of my game. With holiday d├ęcor in my face it’s really hard to forget to order Christmas cards and start buying gifts.
Do you send Christmas cards? I love receiving them and sending them. Every year I love to start browsing card designs in late October/early November. Looking at cards helps me make sure we are not running around like crazy trying to get all the pieces together for our card. Another benefit of shopping cards early, there usually happens to be great deals for those who do things earlier. In fact, Shutterfly has some great deals going on right now…check them out:
I’m also finding as a mother the more ahead of the game I am, the less stressed I am. If I can get the card all situated and saved online I’m good. Inserting the picture later will be easy peasy. The picture is the hard part:)
I’m really loving the new line of Christmas Cards from Shutterfly this year. They have some great new designs…how cute are these:
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STATIONERYCARD_5x7-23017-6139-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1344015789000118398\
STATIONERYCARD_FOLDED_5x7-27137-4495-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1313123690000116869
Do you want to send cards this year? As part of the blogging promotion with Shutterfly, I’m doing a giveaway!
Shutterfly is giving away $50 to be used towards anything on their site to one lucky reader.
(does not include shipping & cannot be combined with any other promos)
To enter you must:
Leave a comment stating your favorite Christmas card design from Shutterfly!
Giveaway ends 10/29.
I’ll be announcing the winner on Tuesday, October 30th!

*Disclosure: this is a sponsored post by Shutterfly.*

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday’s Musings

Did everyone have a great weekend?

Ours was one of the most interesting we’ve had in quite some time. No reason really, it’s just that interesting is about as well as I can describe it. Friday was spent recuperating from vacation; which really means Alex worked all day and night catching up and I unburied myself from 9 loads of laundry. In case you are wondering why there was so much…last week our washer broke and we had to wait a few days for the new one to arrive. We go through a lot of laundry.

And Saturday, well we wrote our own If you give a mouse a cookie book. If I wrote it the title would be If Alex gets an idea, then… We started out the morning staring at our 2 page long home to-do list wondering what on earth we could get done without having to step outside into the blustery 30 degree morning air. Top of our list, hang pictures. We’ve lived here almost a year and nary a picture is up. We have commitment issues.

Once we unearthed our photos, Alex realized we needed more. Not one to argue when he’s willing to spend some money decorating our house, I did what any good wife would. I encouraged him. And at 8:00 that night I wondered what I did; I encouraged a picture monster. Digging out our frames turned into hanging pictures. Hanging pictures turned into shopping for frames. Shopping for frames turned into a full day of Ikea, Home Goods, World Market and more. Thank goodness it was a good day for Elizabeth. She just crashed in the Ergo. Now we’re swimming in frames and have to figure out what to put in them (note: some of these below we owned and over half need to go back but we decided to buy and then sort.) I’m almost certain they will live on our walls art-less until we get it all figured out.

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Call us crazy but to add to the mix we chose Saturday night to cut the swaddle cold turkey. Elizabeth has always been one to bust out of the swaddle but she has ninja reflexes and startles herself once her arms are out. That being said, the past few weeks she’s gotten out in the mornings and has stayed asleep for a few hours. So I figured “what the heck” and threw caution to the wind. Verdict: she did great and slept unswaddled from 7pm – 6am. Then we tried it again on Sunday for naps and she did great again. Looks like we’re saying goodbye to the swaddle!

Sunday. Tell me again why naps and church services are always simultaneous? Every Sunday we adapt. But this Sunday, everything was askew. Again, good thing she’s adaptable and rolled with it.  Her late nap had her waking at 6:30pm. Bedtime starts around 6:45. She was up until 9:00. I didn’t really notice that much though because I was shoving this deliciousness into my mouth which helped me forget the late bedtime and what might await us. I’m hoping next Sunday goes just as smoothly as its her dedication at the 9:00 service and our families will be here for it. Praying she doesn’t melt up front. I don’t think I have it in me to make more caramel corn to take the edge off:)

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Seriously make this caramel corn. NOW. SO GOOD.

So there you have it, musings of our weekend. So was yours interesting?

Friday, October 5, 2012

getting away {part 2}

we’re back & we had a great time.

Our little red cabin did not disappoint. The weather was delightfully crisp, fall in the air and our days were spent enjoying time without any restraints. In fact, we unplugged for the entire three day trip…no cell phones, no computers, no work. Have you ever done that? I kept remarking how liberating it was; apparently I need to do that more often!

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We loaded up our car early Tuesday morning and headed up north. Upon arriving we were able to check in 3 hours early and while Alex played golf, I got life situated in our little cabin while Elizabeth napped. Last year on our trip to Brainerd we were praying I was pregnant, this year we have Elizabeth. We kept remarking how much can change in a year. And, of course, our time up there looked a little different with a 3 month old in tow, but we were still able to unwind and relax which is why we love going up there. Our swanky cabin was just as the pictures depicted. The gas fireplace, gorgeous view, and cute interior made us want to linger inside.

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We spent our days enjoying the view, walking the grounds, doing crosswords, drinking gallons of coffee, playing with Elizabeth, watching the news, & eating delicious food. It was a welcome change from reality…slowing down and enjoying life. Elizabeth seemed to love it; she would stare out the window at the lake and giggle. Her neck strained while we walked to take in the rustling leaves and change in colors…we’re convinced she loves going up north as much as we do. In fact, she’s still sleeping, over 12 hours, recuperating from the fresh air and vacation in general.

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Tuesday night we ventured out to Nisswa and enjoyed pizza at Rafferty’s. Elizabeth has a new hidden talent that she’s been working on for the past week or so…she can do stomach crunches. In fact, either in her car seat or stroller, she always starts to do crunches…we’re convinced she just wants to be more grown up than she is!

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Wednesday we spent enjoying the view and relaxing in our home away from home. We made chili in our cabin for dinner, headed to the Chocolate Ox for dessert, and went for a walk. Thursday we awoke to a very windy and cold morning so we cranked up the fire, drew up the blankets and snuggled inside. We ventured out for breakfast and then packed up the car. We were all so sad to go. But to make the transition home easier, on our way home we stopped at the apple orchard for some photos and a delicious caramel apple. All in all, operation getting away was a success and we can’t wait for next year. We already have visions of our little red cabin in our heads with a one year old in tow.

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