Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Reviews - Kiddie Style

We went through a phase where our nighttime and nap-time routines did not include book reading mostly because we didn't have the energy for it. Getting Ethan in bed was tough enough, but getting him to stay in bed was an even bigger ordeal. As I cross all my fingers and toes...I'm declaring that we are now on the other side of that and thankfully reading has re-emerged. 

When Ethan was a baby we read him story books. As he grew bigger and his attention span grew smaller, we switched to what I'd like to call the "What's that?" books. I have now hidden all of those from him because if I'm forced to answer "what's that?" or "find baby's (fill in the blank)" one more time, I might just lose it. There is definitely a great age range for those books, but now that we have surpassed it, I don't find them quite as cute. 

Thankfully now, we are back in story book land and while I do get the "What's that?" question still from time to time, I at least get to read charming stories. And let's face it, as the one reading these things a million times over, they better have cute stories, pretty pictures or fun activities.

Above, is the picture of one of our current favorite books, Steam Train, Dream Train . It is the follow up book to another favorite that I'm sure you have probably heard of by now,  Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site . (I could make a whole post about truck books in itself, but I'll refrain in favor of variety.) Steam Train, Dream Train is perfect for bedtime as it easily lends itself to winding down overly excited toddlers. It has beautiful pictures to look at and allows kids to point things out if they aren't exactly into storytime itself. I also use the pictures as an opportunity to work on counting. How many monkeys? How many dump trucks? (Yes, this book still has some trucks which is a major win for us.) What colors do you see?

Ethan has always been fascinated with pop-up books, but Sounds of the Wild: Forest  goes a step further with, you guessed it, animal sounds. This book has beautiful real life looking animal pop-up pages. You can use it as a seek and find and talk about all the different animals. It's a great book for kids to look at alone as well once they are old enough to do so. When I was looking for the link for this book, I discovered they had a whole series, so I will have to check some more out soon!

We don't personally own this next book, but Ethan comes home from my mom's talking about it all the time. My mom first bought If You Give a Pig a Pancake and of course, after its success she returned to buy If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . Both of these stories take you on a fun little "If/then" imaginative journey. It also has fun pictures with lots of objects to point out...I think you can tell by now we are big into the "Can you find..." game. Both of these books are great and will have your kid giggling in no time.

As I keep culling books that I deem too baby-ish for Ethan, I find myself constantly on the search for new reads. I'm not one to enjoy reading the same thing again and again so I like to keep fresh books on hand for both of our enjoyment. Hopefully this children's book review topic will become a regular-ish post around here...but if the past has any indication...the fact that I just made that statement probably just sent those aspirations into the land of no return so we will just have to wait and see what happens. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oh, hello there, trying threes.

Apparently my child is an overachiever and likes to reach life stages ahead of the norm. By this, I mean at age 2.5 we officially left the terrible twos and entered into the world of trying threes or as I'd like to call it "The year mommy's sanity goes to die.". 


I said it wouldn't happen. 2.5 was going to be my hallelujah moment. In some ways it totally was. The unreasonableness dissipated, we started speaking the same language, he understands discipline...we made progress! Then...then...the questions started and I WANTED TO GAUGE MY EYES OUT.

We are currently in the days of the never ending questioning, mostly regarding things you have already answered with the dreaded "No." or "We'll see" which is really just the more hopeful version of "No.". Answering the same question over and over again begins to wear on one, say around 9AM. In reality, I just want to answer "Yes! You can have it, take whatever you want from me. Just give me a moment of peace!". But, apparently I'd rather torture myself for my child's well-being (I'm a saint like that) and enter into the next phase called toddler bargaining. 

The toddler bargain goes something like this:

"Mama, I want 2 pop-pops!" (Mind you, he's holding up at least 5 fingers.)

I say no. Not until after nap. This is when I've decided organic sugar sticks are acceptable. I feel good about this for some reason. 

"Nooooooooo, I need pop-pop now!"

"Two pop-pops mama?" "Pwease." (Insert irresistibly cute toddler smile.)

I repeat myself.

He repeats himself.

I repeat myself.

At this point, he suddenly loses his ability to hear and starts the "Huh?"  shenanigan that gets my blood literally boiling!

We go on like this until I distract him with something shiny and then approximately 2 minutes later he starts again and I cave because 

"Fine. You get one! No more." 

See, the toddler bargain starts irrationally high and ends with him getting at least something out of it.

This is a game, it's called he wins. 

But, I'm on to him.

We've also entered the "No, I do it myself." phase which turns out to be a mixed bag. 

I love that he is learning how to do things that I will no longer have to do for him. I vividly remember the day he suddenly came out of the bathroom with his underwear and shorts back on! For the love, the nakedness might be over

But apparently, this only happens on happy accidents. The majority of the time I spend what feels like an eternity reminding him that the tag goes in the back (which gets tricky if there is one of those side seam tags...toddlers do not like exceptions to the rules.) and that you can only put one leg in each hole. I can audibly hear the minutes of my life ticking by as I plaster a smile on my face and give my best encouragement, while my insides are screaming "Just let me do it already!".

As crazy as it sounds I am enjoying "this year". Ground rules have been established. He understands more. He needs me just a touch less, which admittedly, also scares the -ish out of me. He's learning to dress himself and I'm learning patience. As excruciating as it is to watch him do things at snails pace, I'm also extremely proud of him for wanting to take the reins. 

Oh trying three's, you are only going to make me a better person. By the end of this, I completely expect to have mastered deep breathing, patience and standing my ground. Bah! I'm pretty sure those lessons will be never ending.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life

The other day I was in Barnes and Noble killing some time when I happened to overhear two elderly ladies discussing how old age made for some very scary driving. I immediately rolled my eyes thinking "Great, these two irresponsible, old fogies are going to cause a wreck any day now!". As I was walking away the lady with the cane said something that resonated with me, she said "I just can't be scared to live my life.". 

Bam! It was exactly what I had been needing to hear. It's funny how things happen like that sometimes. Something said in passing can speak volumes and the speaker doesn't even know the impact they had. I'm fairly certain it is God speaking.

You see, I've been worried more than I should be lately. Our hometown has had several young lives lost this year that has really shaken my sense of mortality. Young people with bright futures, wives, children and lots of life ahead of them had their life suddenly cut short. Young death is so very hard for me to understand. I can't say I know how those left behind feel, but I can imagine and it brings tears to my eyes. Unfortunate events like these always make me think about what things would look like for our family if x,y,z tragedy happened to us as if, in some odd way, I could prepare for them. The past few months I have spent too much time worrying about the what if's and the uncertainty of life and I've realized that it is silly to do so. I'm wasting precious days spending time thinking about things that will probably (and hopefully) never happen.

That one sentence changed my view on life. Instead of cautiously going about life, I'd rather live it. I want to remember that each day is a gift and I shouldn't squander it. The world is not going to stop if I leave the laundry unfolded on the floor one more day so I can play with my children. My children aren't going to be scarred for life if I take some time to myself to do the things I want to do. My life is beautiful and wonderful and so very blessed. I should be ashamed for ever thinking otherwise. There are so many out there suffering that it makes my little problems seem so insignificant. 

Sometimes unexpected death is a time for us to check ourselves. Are we worrying about things we shouldn't? Are we using our days as we should? Have we taken the necessary measures to take care of our loved ones should the worst happen? Are we being smart and safe about the things we choose to do? Are we taking the life God has blessed us with for granted?

Philippians 4:6-9 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the peace of God will be with you." 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A little shout-out to the one who makes all my dreams come true...

This upcoming weekend is a big weekend for our family. Tomorrow is our 5th anniversary as husband and wife and of course, Sunday is Father's day. All of that had led me to think a lot about my husband and the impact he has on my life, our kids lives, how lucky we are to have him and how we couldn't survive without him.

(for more wedding pictures (if you are into that sort of thing) click here, here or here.)

If our sons were to turn out to be a carbon copy of my husband, I would be over the moon. He is the most genuine person I know. He is a God-loving, God-fearing man. He stands up for what he believes in. He's an extremely hard worker who is great at what he does and is always ready for new challenges. He's a do-it-his-selfer. He's my handy-man, my bug squasher and trash taker-outer. More importantly he is a hands-on Dad from diaper changes to middle of the night wake-ups...he's involved, he's there and for the most part he does it as happily as one can. 

I've spent 9 years of my life with this man and I can honestly say he has made me a better person in every way. I love that he treats me as an equal, that he doesn't make us have defined roles and that we are able to call each other out when need be. There is no one else that I would want to share life with or parent with. I look forward to growing old with him and I'm confident that with him, we will get through all of life's up's and down's together.

Cheers to the best husband and father around!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Go Forth with Confidence

I remember the very first time I took Ethan to the grocery store by myself. I was terrified. It wasn't so much that I was afraid that he would cry in public (and believe me, I was afraid of that), but I was even more afraid that I would look inexperienced. That people would know I secretly had no clue what I was doing. All the other mommies were going to stare at me. They were going to judge me. They would know that I was a newbie.

I wanted to waltz into that grocery store looking like I had gotten 8 hours of solid sleep while gracefully balancing the baby carrier on my arm. I would zip through the store like a pro only momentarily stopping to accept the "ohh's" and "ahh's" of passerby's. My baby would be giggling and happy as we chatted to each other throughout the store. 

I'll pause here for your laughter.

After I had lugged what felt like a 50 pound carrier into the store with my yet untrained upper arm muscles I came face to face with my second challenge...the cart. I suddenly realized I had somehow forgotten to take note of how a baby carrier actually fit into the cart during my 9 month observation period. With all my might I hoisted the carrier towards the front part of the cart. At first, the carrier looked too precarious. I adjusted, too far forward? I tried again...too far back? I could feel the eyes of store employees boring into me. I broke into a sweat...from nerves?...from lifting that beast of a carrier multiple times?...I'm not sure.

Defeated, I placed the carrier into the basket of the cart. It rocked back and forth with every step I took as my baby seemed to scream out "SAVE ME! She doesn't know what she's doing!" to everyone we passed.

It wasn't until Jackson's arrival that I began to feel more confident in my role as a mother. Maybe it's because having two gives you less time to worry about silly things like people looking at you. Maybe it's because my first son has given me enough embarrassing experiences already to numb my care factor. Or maybe, it's because I now realize that every mother has these moments. 

So yesterday, when my second born decided to pee all over the church bathroom mid diaper change while I was chatting to a church friend, I was able to confidently laugh it off. I didn't berate myself for being dumb enough to give him the opportunity or not pack a spare outfit (okay...maybe I shook my head at myself a tad bit for not having a spare). Instead, I realized that being a mom means you are going to have these moments. Children are wild, untrained and unpredictable creatures. Our job is to teach them the ways of the world. They are going to do things that aren't socially acceptable. It's unavoidable. And, the only people judging are those who haven't had children yet or those too old and senile to remember what having them was actually like. So, go forth with confidence my friends because every other mom and dad out there has been in your shoes at one point and is surely laughing with you...not at you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five on Friday

- H2O -
I am the worst when it comes to drinking fluids of any kind. I often don't even have a drink with meals at home. If I do, I usually take a sip or two when I'm done eating. My weakness is Mickey D's sweet tea (I'm in the slow painstaking process of switching to unsweetened, but my southern soul is just calling foul on that goal). I can make a large sweet tea last all day long. Drinking water...yeah...doesn't happen so much around here. However, I have found a new love....sparkling water! Something about the cold fizziness just calls my name. I don't know if it's true love or if I am just revisiting days of the past when a certain ice cold caffeinated beverage would bounce across my tongue. you can tell I don't miss it one bit.

This particular can of sparkling water is my favorite. Unfortunately it's expensive for a can of water. I have severe issues with most flavored waters. It's something I'm working on. Currently I'm trying out all different flavors of La Croix (a much more affordable option), but I'm a tough sale. 

- Getting Back to Nature -
One of the best parts about living in East Tennessee again is being near the mountains. We don't go as often as we should, but this weekend we will be visiting North Carolina to hike with Michael's cousin. She hiked the entire Appalachian Trail last year so I'm partially scared of what trail she will be having us do. I keep reminding Michael to make sure he tells her we will be CARRYING two children on our bodies. We might love to hike, but we are no experts. Hopefully I won't die of exhaustion.

- Fresh is Best -
Way back in the day when Michael and I were just dating, I got this strong craving for a fresh fruit salad. Being an experienced shopper, I probably bought everything off season and very true to self, I went overboard. Our fresh fruit salad for two ended up costing us $50. Just in case you were wondering we haven't had fruit salad since. The other day while I was shopping for our weekly supplies I chuckled to myself just thinking about how our shopping habits have changed. A good 50% (if not more) of our groceries now come from the produce section. No, I didn't tally exactly how much all that fresh goodness cost, but it probably puts our $50 to shame. Between homemade baby food, salad ingredients and E's constant fruit snacking we buy a heck of a lot of produce. Thankfully, summer means it's time for me to get back to the Farmers Market and save some money although I really feel no shame in spending mad money in the produce section. Fresh is best after all. 

- Boo, Hiss - 
Our last house was in an overcrowded neighborhood, so when Michael got transferred we used that opportunity to move to the country. It's nice and quiet but we do have our fair share of wildlife...cows, lizards, squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks are seen on a daily basis. The other day, Ethan was looking for a rogue golf ball on the opposite side of the deck and called me over for help. Much to my surprise, unbeknownst to him, Ethan was standing beside a fairly sizeable Garter snake. Snakes terrify me. TERRIFY ME! So we scurried up to the deck, I of course went to grab my phone to send a picture to my husband, but when I came back was gone. My mom is insisting that it probably has babies and it more than likely does since everything else seems to be procreating like mad these days, but I haven't seen any evidence. I had almost convinced myself that it was just a one time thing until yesterday when my husband found it's skin in the exact same spot I had originally spotted the snake. I just know it and it's 30 babies (the average for garter snakes) are living under my deck ready to attack at any moment. I'm thinking the city might be a nice place to try next time.

- Just Call Me Jerseylicious - 
I may be slow to join this movement, but I have become a spray tan addict. I self spray and am fairly happy with the Loreal Sublime spray I have been using. It's a nice color, no orange tone or sparkle, but I am far from being a pro at using it. The tan looks fantastic in the house light, but get me outside and I spy streaks and missed areas. The worst part is that for some reason it seems to collect on my heals (where I don't even spray) and the bottoms of my feet are ridiculously brown. I think it's time for me to google You Tube videos for spray tanning. What did we do with out video tutorials in the past?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Second Borns are Lucky

Oh the "poor second child!" syndrome. You hear about it all the time. There isn't enough one-on-one attention. There aren't as many pictures. Milestones aren't as celebrated. As much as all of that is 100% true, I do think being a second child is a pretty sweet gig. 

I'm a first-born myself, so I don't know exactly how it feels to be the second child and believe me...when I was pregnant with Jackson, I worried. I made silly promises that I knew I couldn't keep. He wouldn't be treated any differently than Ethan. He would not fall victim to the second child syndrome. Then baby number two actually arrived and I realized how time (or lack thereof) takes away some of those opportunities you had with the first born and momentarily I felt bad. 

Then, just as soon as I was feeling bad for not taking 1000 pictures the very first month like I did with Ethan, I realized Jackson had it made. The first born is totally an experiment (read: no one knows what the heck they are doing with their first child). I was scared of everything with Ethan. I was a blind woman feeling my way through every phase. With Jackson, I'm a little more skilled. Things aren't as stressful. Problems aren't so mind boggling. And the 200 pictures I did take of Jack that first month were actually in focus unlike most of Ethan's. Practice does pay off after all. 

I remember Ethan's first six months when he wasn't able to sit or doing anything too exciting, life was so mundane for him. I bounced him back and forth from holding him, to the jumper, to the swing and I could tell...he was bored. Jackson never has a dull moment. He always has a tiny entertainer to hold his attention. He has a big brother who can show him what life has in store for him and how to do it. Ethan rushes in his room every morning when he wakes up, climbs in his crib and entertains him for a good 5-10 minutes. How lucky is he?

I do miss having more one on one time, but that's something we are working on. Honestly though, when we do get it...Jackson is completely out of sorts. He's needy and whiny. He misses his big brother. I am nowhere near as entertaining. 

The brotherly love between these two melts my heart.

Each birth order position has it's own wins and losses. Maybe one day I'll write about why it's awesome to be a first born (because it totally is), but I will no longer feel bad for the second borns. They have a pretty sweet gig themselves. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Way Overdue 5 Month Post for One of My Favorite Little Guys!


You are technically 5 months and 3 weeks old at the moment, although I'm sure you want nothing more than to just be two and a half already just like your brother. Everyday you watch your big brother and your face just screams "I want to do what he's doing!!!". Even though things don't seem to be progressing fast enough for you, developmentally, you are taking off! 

Much to my dismay, you are in the beginning stages of crawling. You creep forward by pulling yourself with your arms and sometimes you make it up to your knees and for some reason use your head instead of your arms in what I like to call the tripod position. As soon as you make it to all fours, I have no doubt that you will be officially mobile. Hold me. 

You began eating solids last month and boy are you a big eater! For a little guy, you can sure put away the food. I'm constantly giving you new things to try and you have yet to just absolutely refuse anything. I'm having so much fun making you new combinations to try and I love that you eat everything right up. You stare at our plates of "real food" longingly, but don't worry, I'm sure you will be eating just like us in no time. Also, you are still mostly breastfed, but we do use formula as well. It works for us and seems to be a good mix. Your dairy allergy seems to have gone away and I even switched you to a milk based formula earlier this week and so far no problems. 

We had our weight check on the 30th and thankfully you had gained enough weight (3 whole pounds!) where no other testing was needed. You now weigh 14 pounds 11 ounces which puts you into the 9th percentile. Woo-hoo! You are still a short little guy at 23.5 inches (1st percentile) but hopefully you will catch up there this coming month. You are currently wearing a size 2 diaper and 3-6 month clothing with a few 6 month outfits thrown in there (obviously length is an issue here)

You have begun chatting quite a bit and just the other day you busted out your first word (although I'm sure you have no idea what it actually means just yet) and of course it was "da-da". And here I was thinking I was your favorite? I'm positive you are going to be my little "Chatty Cathy". 

Sleep-wise things are going fairly well. You take a long morning nap in your crib. In the afternoons you are either sleeping in the crib or the swing. Most of the time your brother has a hard time letting you just sleep in your room so the swing is a better bet. Last week we finally kicked you out of our room as it became blatantly obvious that you had outgrown the rock-n-play when I woke up and found you sleeping on your tummy with your bottom half dangling down. I think everyone is sleeping better with you in your own crib. You love being able to sleep on your tummy and spread out. You still wake up at 11 and 4:30AM but you are pretty easy to get back down after a quick feeding. I'm hoping the 4:30 feeding gets dropped soon though as you are back up ready to go by 6AM.

You are still my happy little guy. Very easy to please and very little grumpiness unless your gums are hurting you. Sophie the giraffe has become your new best friend and I've ordered you a wooden teether that I hope will also alleviate some of your pain. Your favorite person is still your big brother and besides Sophie, I think your favorite new toy is the jumper. I love you so much little guy! I can't believe how fast this first year is already passing us by. 

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