Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

1. We welcomed Lena Kay on January 23, almost exactly a year after my last miscarriage.

2. I finally achieved my dream of  becoming a full time stay at home mom. It has not been without its challenges, but it sure is nice to not have to go to work every day! :-)

3. We packed up our entire house in one week and moved in with my parents!

4. Lucy and I worked our way through the alphabet, doing crafts and activities along the way.

5. Lucy had her second trip to the ER. Diagnosis: nursemaid's elbow.
6. I went on my first official diet and lost 9 pounds, then gave up. I also started a running plan and gave up after 2 weeks.

7. We took Lucy's binkies away when she turned 3. 
It was rough.
8. We made and completed a summer bucket list.

9. Justin and I celebrated our 8th anniversary!

10. Discovered Lucy is allergic to soybean oil (through trial and error - not legitimate allergy testing).

11. I signed up for daily emails from Proverbs 31 ministries and have loved so many of the devotionals. Here is an excerpt from one of my favorites. I have this saved in a word file on my computer and read it often:
Sometimes I do this because I'm in a desperate place. I pray, "God, I am here and I need You right now. I'm feeling attacked, invaded, pressed and stressed. Please meet me here and help me process what I'm facing using Your truth. I don't want this thing I'm facing to be processed through my selfishness and insecurity. I will surely act in a displeasing and dishonoring way if I'm left to face this on my own. Block my natural reaction and fill me with Your Spirit. Please handle this for me. You speak what needs to be spoken and give me the power to hold my tongue for what needs to be left in silence." http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/the-secret-place/
12. Lucy learned her first Bible verses.

13. Justin got baptized.

14. Lena and I were featured in an Artprize Piece by my friend Bethany!

15. An article I wrote for Bethany got published on Life News!

16. Lucy stopped napping. :-(

17. We visited Justin's sister, Kaley, in Chicago. 

18. Justin and I attended our 10 year class reunion.

My New Year's Resolutions are to lose some weight and read through the Bible - for real this time. My first step to losing weight is to give up Dr Pepper for the month of January. Boo. I'm gonna be ornery. 

Here's to a great 2014!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. I had a rough weekend last weekend. On Saturday after Lena's afternoon feeding, I started to feel some intense pain. I was practically writhing on the couch because I was hurting so much. After some online research, I decided it had to be thrush. Lucky for me, the prescription most often prescribed for thrush is Nyastatin. I happened to have some on hand from a while ago when Lucy had a diaper rash. So I've been using that and it's feeling tons better. By Sunday, however, my Paxil withdrawals started. I wanted to die. Chills, nausea, the shakes, exhaustion, dizziness. We had our family Christmas with Justin's side of the family that day, and I spent most of it on the couch. Stupid drug dependence. I finally got it refilled on Monday and was feeling good withing hours of taking that beautiful little pill. Haha. I sound like such an addict. 

2. Our final advent activities included introducing Lucy to the movie Elf (she liked it for the first hour, then got bored - her favorite part was when Buddy says, "Look at these toilets! They're ginormous!" Lol), mailing a hug to Aunt Stacey (like this), and making treats for our poor overworked UPS man and mail lady.
This all came in one day last week.
We made Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies. I may have taste-tested a couple of them. Yummmmm!

3. We had a wonderful Christmas. My sister and her family came over on Christmas Eve for a big delicious dinner of chicken wings and a million sides. We had a near-emergency when the deep fryer overflowed and boiling oil spilled all over the kitchen, but no one was hurt! We all went to church reeking of grease, but enjoyed the Christmas Eve service. Niki and the boys spent the night as per tradition. The boys all slept on Lucy's floor, which apparently was way too exciting for her. She woke up at 4:30 am and bothered them for 3 hours before I even realized she was awake! Lol. Sorry, boys! She was shocked and amazed to come down the stairs to this:
My dad read us some verses about our need for a Savior and how important Christmas is, and Lucy told us the Christmas story. Then we spent 4 hours unwrapping all those presents. Lena had fun unwrapping and playing with her toys, but she had to go take a nap part-way through. Lucy loved helping pass out the presents and tearing hers open. When we were all done, I realized I had forgotten to bring down a whole stack of presents I had wrapped and hidden in my closet after Black Friday! So Lucy and Lena got to have round 2 of opening presents. Haha. I actually saved a couple of Lena's for her birthday because both of my girls got ridiculously spoiled as usual.

4. We spent all day on Christmas playing games and eating amazing food. I made a super easy, super yummy toffee apple dip
Photo credit
5. Justin spoiled me with a bunch of cute new clothes. I'm one of the lucky few women who trusts her husband to shop for her. He's much more fashionable than I am. Anytime I ever get complimented on my clothes it's something he's bought for me. Haha. And I got him a kayak. Actually, he got it for himself on Black Friday because I didn't know how to tie it to my van, but I approved the purchase. Haha. 

6. Since Christmas, Lucy and I have been spending a lot of time playing Barbies and tea parties and legos. And today, I spent 2 solid hours purging and re-organizing the girls' closet to make room for their new clothes. While I was at it, I hauled up the 12 month bin for Lena and sorted through all that stuff. It's a never ending project.

7. Last night, we celebrated our 10 year class reunion! Justin and I were two of a tiny little class in a tiny little school. Here's our senior class picture:
Can you find us?  Do we look the same? ;-)
I'm so mad I forgot to take a picture last night! But we had a great time. Only 9 of us made it, but we got to catch up with a few people that we haven't seen in a long time. It was so fun to see who's married, who has kids, who just got their doctorate (!), and to hear all about everyone's families. It's amazing how much can happen in 10 years!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lena: 11 Months

Quick picture snapped after the Christmas Eve service at church.
Lena is 11 months old. I can't believe she's going to be one next month! By the time Lucy was 11 months old, I had spent weeks researching and planning her first birthday party. Sorry, second child. I think you might just get a cake and some balloons. Lol. 

Anyway! Here's what's up this month:

We've really started to nail down a good routine. (Which will change as soon as I hit "submit" on this entry.) It usually looks something like this:
7:30 Wake up, nurse.
8:30 Eat breakfast: waffle and half a banana. (She rarely eats much of the waffle.)
9:30 Nap
11:30 Up, play for a while
12:00 Lunch, play
1:30 Nurse, nap
3:30 Up, snack
5:30 Dinner
7:00 Nurse, bedtime

For a while, I was stressing about how to drop a feeding during the day. Finally, I just decided to worry less about how many hours it had been since she'd nursed, and just feed her 3 meals a day, snacks when she acted hungry, and nurse her once at my leisure. It has worked out well to nurse her before her afternoon nap, but I think we'll drop that soon.

She's a good eater and loves most foods. Some of her favorites include: bananas, peas, carrots, peaches, pears (canned - she chokes on fresh ones because they're too hard - same with apples), mac n' cheese, lasagna, pasta of any kind, bread of any kind, chicken nuggets (I peel the coating off, so she just gets the chicken), cheese roll-ups, goldfish, puffs, and anything sugary. If she ever sees anyone eating anything, she will be at their side in seconds begging for a bite. She's recently started to say "om om om" when she sees food. It's adorable. :-)

She's become a pro at drinking out of a cup. She tips her head back and guzzles it. Right now she's just drinking water with a splash of apple juice. In a couple weeks I'll start introducing cow's milk.

Last night for the first time in her entire life, Lena slept through the night. And there was much rejoicing!! We celebrated Christmas at Justin's parents' all day and got home late, so I didn't feed her/put her to bed 'til 8:30. She didn't wake up 'til 7:30 am!! Woohoo!!

Her sudden ability to sleep through the night wasn't a total fluke. I've been working with her for a week. We started CIO last Sunday. I fed her at 8 and midnight, then made her cry it out at 4. She was actually much easier than Lucy was (probably because she's older). She only cried about half an hour for the first few nights, then just kind of fussed by day 4 or 5. Last night was day 7. So we'll see if it continues!

She's a great napper. I don't even rock/sing to her anymore. I bring her upstairs, turn on the fan, lay her down on her back with an "Ellie" on each side of her. (Her lovies.) She grabs onto them, usually covers her face with one or both of them, I cover her with a blanket and she goes to sleep. She sleeps with one binky. (Lucy had 3 by this age. Haha.) She usually sleeps for 2 hours like clockwork.

But she's a very light sleeper. If I ever try to sneak in my room (where she sleeps) during her nap, she automatically senses me and bolts upright. If I turn off the fan, she wakes up immediately. For a while, at night when Justin went to bed, she'd wake up every single time he took off his belt. The clanging of the metal woke her up. Ridiculous. Once I have her consistently sleeping through the night, my next challenge is going to be transitioning her to the crib in Lucy's room. I am majorly dreading it. She's getting this sound machine for Christmas though, so hopefully that will help somehow!

Walking and Words
She's getting so close to walking! She pulls up on everything and cruises around furniture with ease. She lets go of furniture all the time and stands alone - especially if she's distracted and doesn't realize she's doing it. Haha. She can get down to sitting/crawling from a standing position, but I haven't seen her stand up in the middle of the room without holding onto anything yet. 

As for words, she definitely says uh-oh. I'm declaring that her first word. She whispers "wow" (usually at the Christmas tree or my mom - haha, Grandmas are amazing). She says "om om" for food. And I'm pretty sure she means "mama" when she says it now.

Milestones and Personality
The fun stuff! In no particular order:
  • She hates baths. She loves to stand by the tub while the water is running, but as soon as I put her in the water she starts screaming. I've gotten good at giving speedy baths. 
  • She loves music. And she knows the word "dance." If I say, "Dance, Lena!" she starts bopping her head and bouncing up and down. So cute.
  • In the past week, she has mastered climbing stairs. She did it for the first time at Justin's grandparents'. I was standing upstairs and she was downstairs with Justin. She caught sight of me and booked it all the way up. (It's not a short flight of stairs!) The next day she figured out the steep, wooden stairs at home. It's actually kind of a pain. I have to remember to close the door to the stairs or I'll find her halfway up them. Haha.
  • She suddenly turned the corner and has gotten so much better at playing by herself. I think it really started once she became so mobile. She loves crawling around the house getting into stuff. When she's hungry or tired, she'll start to climb on me and whine, but for the most part she's content to play with her toys. Woohoo!
  • She's starting to get an attitude. She screams when she doesn't get her way. She's obsessed with my camera/computer/Luke's iPad. Every time I take them from her, she screeches. Naughty. 
  • When she sees someone she recognizes, she makes this hilarious face (that I've yet to capture on camera) - she kind of tilts her head back and does this thing with her mouth that makes her look scared. Lol. I obviously can't explain it. Take my word for it. It's hilarious.
  • She loves "touch and feel" books, but still won't really let me read to her. She likes to look at books on her own terms. Lucy was the same way and loves to read now, so hopefully Lena will come around.
  • Still no teeth. Although I've seen her chomping on her fingers a lot lately so I'm starting to wonder if they're in sight!
  • She's not a very consistent clapper/waver. She does it on her own terms. Haha.
  • She loves her tongue. She's a little lizard.
  • She loves seeing how many things she can hold at once. Again, something I can't really explain. For instance, she loves Lucy's dominoes because she likes to see how many she can cram in her little hands. When we went to the Children's Museum, she did it with screws:
  • She loves animals. She's not at all scared like Lucy is. She gets so excited every time she sees Lola or any dog anywhere. 
Ok, this has gotten ridiculously long. You get the point. She's totally adorable and hilarious and awesome. We love her so much!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. Here's my "mother of the year" moment of the week: Lucy sleeps with a lamp on all night long. The lamp is on the floor and one morning this week, Lena crawled over to it and grabbed the light bulb. She cried for a few seconds, so I figured it must have been hot. I didn't notice til hours later that she had blisters on 2 of her fingers. The blisters have since gotten red and scabby. Yikes. Worst mom ever.

2. Our advent activity for Monday was decorating cookies with friends:
I'm pretty sure more candy/cookies/chocolate chips were eaten than cookies were decorated, but that's half the fun! ;-)
Our friends stayed and played for a few hours afterward. Lucy adores having friends to play with. I can't wait for Lena to be old enough for them to really play together.

3. We also made Christmas tree pizzas this week (which Lucy loved making, but refused to eat), watched Elf as a family, and saw the Christmas trees at Frederik Meijer Gardens.
I'm pretty sure Lena thinks trees are called "wows" because we always say "wow" when we show her our tree at home. She whispered "wow" to every tree she saw at the gardens. Lol.
This is the best video I could get. She stopped every time she saw the camera.

4. My brother bought himself an iPad during Wal-Mart's Black Friday sales, but he said I can use it anytime I want, so I set myself up an Instagram account. If you're on Instagram be prepared to be inundated by pictures of my kids and ridiculous amounts of hashtags. Ha!

5. Lena is over her cold, so I decided this week was the time to start CIO for real. Justin slept on the couch for 3 nights so she wouldn't keep him awake all night, but she actually did really well! She hasn't cried for more than half an hour since we started! That's way better than Lucy ever did. So I nurse her at 7 or 8 when she goes to bed, again at midnight, make her cry it out for the 4 am feeding, then nurse her when she wakes up at 7 or 8. Next step: get rid of the midnight feeding. 

6. I'm ridiculously excited for Christmas. I only have one more present to buy. Everything is wrapped. I have all the stocking stuff bought. This is the first year in many years that we've bought presents for our family members. Usually we're too broke. But Justin has been working two jobs to bring in some extra cash so I could go crazy with the Christmas shopping. I can't wait for everyone to open their gifts! 4 more days!

7. Merry Christmas to you all! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. It was really cold this week. Like highs in the teens cold. I realized that I'm going to save on gas this winter, because I abhor the cold - especially when I have to get 2 kids in and out of the van. And especially when said van's heat doesn't work. Grrr. I see cabin fever in my future . . .

2. I don't know why I bother putting my planned Christmas activities in a specific order on the advent calendar, because they always change. I'm glad Lucy can't read yet, because I pretend the calendar says something different than it actually says every day. Haha. Here's what we did this week: we forgot to do anything on Sunday, so on Monday we made 2 different ornaments. Scrabble ornaments:
We couldn't find 2 m's, so "mom" is actually "wow." Haha.
And a cupcake ornament in honor of Jesus' birthday:
I cut a squiggly line out of blue painter's tape and wrapped it around a clear glass ornament, let Lucy paint Elmer's glue above the tape, then go to town with the glitter. We used hot glue for the cherry on top and to get the ornament in the cupcake wrapper.

3. On Tuesday, we made dinner and a snack for Aunt Libby who is having finals this week. Lucy loves helping me in the kitchen. I hope she'll always be so interested and will actually stand a chance at being able to cook when she leaves the house. When I got married, I had to call my sister to ask her how to brown ground beef and cook chicken. Lucy already knows how to make macaroni and cheese by herself, so she's off to a good start. :-)

4. We also checked out Christmas books from the library, bought Lena a Christmas present (an adorable baby doll), and went to the Live Nativity at church. Today, we're going to attempt these:
Those top hats and scarves might stretch my craftiness limits. We'll see. Haha.
5. I tried to cut out one of Lena's feedings this week. She wasn't a fan, and I immediately got a ginormous clog. I never had the physical difficulties with Lucy that I've had with Lena. I still crack and bleed sometimes, and get clogged at least once a month. I weaned Lucy with no problem. By 11 months, Lucy was only nursing in the morning and at night. Lena will be 11 months in 9 days and still nurses 4 times a day and once or twice at night. So basically, I might be nursing her til she's 4. Which would be ok, because then I don't have to go on a diet. I decided that I either need to breastfeed forever or get pregnant again because as soon as I stop breastfeeding I'm going to gain a quick 20 pounds thanks to my atrocious eating habits and sedentary lifestyle.

6. I'm thinking about chopping my hair and attempting to make it look like this:
But I have no skills, so I'll probably end up looking like this:
Photo Credit

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. In the past week, I've noticed that Lena is crawling full time now instead of scooching on her belly. I'm pretty sure Lucy started full-time crawling at almost exactly the same age. They've been so similar all along that I could probably start predicting when Lena will walk, get teeth, etc.

2. We're getting excited for Christmas around here! We got our tree up and I decorated the whole house. I've been listening to Christmas music non-stop, and even got all my gifts wrapped! (I still have more to buy. I'm not totally done.) Lucy and I are have been doing our Advent Activities and changing the number on our chalkboard countdown every day. 
We made a card for our Compassion child, Christmas tree cinnamon rolls,  and painted Lucy's nails red and green. The last picture is to show how each envelope has baby Jesus getting a little closer to the stable. Every day I tell Lucy, "Jesus is getting close! It's almost Christmas!"
3. Justin had the week off, so we decided to take a couple days to go see his sister Kaley in Chicago. She just moved into a bigger apartment, so we could all fit. It's still a studio apartment, but she had a couch for Justin, we could fit Lena's pack n' play in the closet, and Lucy got a new inflatabed that I snagged for $10 on Black Friday, so it was perfect. :-) We went to Shedd's Aquarium and the Chicago Children's Museum, plus filled up with gas, and ate out a few times for the price of one night at a hotel in the Chicago area. Thanks, Kaley, for putting us up! (Or maybe putting up with us. ;-) ) 

4. The drive down to Chicago was a breeze. Lucy was entertained by the DVD player and Kindle, Lena slept a good portion, and then was happy to look out the window or play with the few toys I brought. We didn't hit any traffic, and made it in 3.5 hours. The way back, however, was a different story. We hit rush hour traffic in the city, Lena was sick and miserable, Lucy's bladder suddenly shrunk, and I was anxious and irritable. Poor Justin. Haha. It took us almost 6 hours to get home (including a puking incident all over the floor of Taco Bell) and I swore off road trips of any kind for a long time!!

5. I'm as bad as the kids in the car and need constant entertainment. It was dark on the way home, so I couldn't read the paper books I brought myself, so I read a book on my mom's Kindle. The only thing I could find that was already downloaded (so didn't require the Internet) was John Grisham's The Firm. It was intense. And old. Haha. I was so confused at first about why they didn't have cell phones, and what a dictaphone was. Then I finally realized the book was written in the 80s - which seems like should be 15 years ago, but was actually 30 years ago!  (Man, I'm getting old . . .) Anyway, now that I've finally done it, I can give an educated opinion about electronic readers. Verdict: I'm not a fan. I hate not being able to gauge how much farther I have to go. Yes, it tells me I'm at 64% or whatever, but that doesn't mean much to me. I want to see the thickness of the pages I have yet to read. I also hate having to worry about the battery dying, and then sitting plugged into the wall when it does inevitably give out. Paper books don't die. I guess the pros are that I could read it in the dark, it's more portable, and it doubles as a tablet to use for facebook and Lucy's games. But I think I'll stick with the old fashioned readers for now.

6. Remember when I wrote about my new Bible Study method and how I'm going to study a Psalm a day? I just went back to see when that was - October 19. So it's been almost 2 months and I'm on Psalm . . . 18. :-( I'm not the most faithful. Something I'm working on. Anyway, I loved this verse that I came across this week: Psalm 18:19 "He [God] brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me." First of all, let me say that I have new appreciation for "spacious places" after being in Chicago (I'm such a country bumpkin. Those big buildings and busy streets stressed me out.) But the part I love the most of that verse is that God rescued me because he delighted in me. I think I was raised being taught that I'm a wretched, wretched sinner and I need to be forever grateful that God had mercy on me and spared my soul. Those are all right and true things. But I still kind of feel like God disapproves of me, but withholds his punishment because I prayed a prayer so he has to hold up his end of the bargain - not because he loves me and certainly not because he likes me or delights in me. And yet, I have verse after verse underlined in my Bible that shows he does. (Zephaniah 3:17 is another of my favorites.) 

7. Only 6 today because Lena is standing next to me with tears and snot streaming down her face, and we're hosting small group in an hour and a half so I have to get cooking! Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. Sorry this is so late. It's been a crazy day. Today is the one day of the year that I work outside the home. Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, Niki and I work at the family-owned dollar store. Our second cousins own it, and this is their family day to get their Christmas tree and have a day of fun together. So we run the store. It's always an adventure! Haha.

2. My van is dying. The transmission is going out so it has trouble making it into first gear. It has 241,000 miles on it, so we're not going to put any more money into it. I was really hoping it'd hit 250,000 but it's not looking too hopeful. Every time I put gas in it, I hope it doesn't die the next day, taking that expensive gas with it to the grave!

3. We had a very nice Thanksgiving with Justin's side of the family this year. I feel bad that we pretty much ate and ran, but it was naptime and Lena was melting down. Plus, I had shopping to do . . .

4. I am one of those horrible people who shopped on Thanksgiving. I had to get the deals while they were still available! This year, Luke's girlfriend, Esther, joined Niki and I. We had such a blast! It was a great year, and we got everything we wanted (and more)! I actually kind of liked doing it Thursday night. We got to Wal-Mart at 6 and were done with our shopping by 11 pm. I was in bed by my normal time! 

5. A miracle occurred while we were out shopping: Lena took a bottle for Justin. I seriously think it was the first time ever. She woke up at 9 pm, chugged down a bottle, and went right back to sleep! I was so relieved! And then today, I fed her at 8:00 am before I left for work. Justin successfully gave her another bottle around noon, and when I tried to feed her at 3:15, she wasn't even interested! Who is this child?!

6. I've decided that one of my favorite times of the day is 4:00. It's usually one of the most hectic times of my day, trying to get dinner ready with the girls at my feet, but I kind of thrive on the chaos. I love the challenge of getting dinner on the table before Justin gets home. Lately we've been cranking up the Christmas music and dancing while we cook. Love it.

7. I procrastinated again this year, and just finished putting together our Advent Activities for the month of December. I think I'm also going to get the book The Jesus Storybook Bible and use it with this plan to help us focus on Jesus during the craziness of the season. We're going to start that one a few days late, though, because I haven't had the chance to buy the book yet.

Advent Activities 2013

Here are our Advent Activities for 2013. We repeated a couple of favorites from 2012, but added a lot of new ones. If you're a procrastinator like I am, feel free to steal my ideas! :-) 

This year, I found a package of 12 blank cards at the dollar store in red and green. I bought 3 packages and went to town decorating them. (Pictures to come.)

Last year, I numbered them from 1-24, but this year we're going to do it as a countdown, so we'll start with number 24 tomorrow morning.

24. Make a cinnamon roll Christmas tree for breakfast. 
23. Make ornaments and decorate the Christmas tree. Some ideas from pinterest: bead candy canes, scrabble (gonna use the girls' birth dates), marshmallow snowman
22. Go to Chicago to visit Aunt Kaley!
21. Paint nails red and green.
20. Make a Christmas card for Judie (our Compassion International child)
19. Visit Frederick Meijer Gardens with Great Grandma
18. Make hot chocolate snowmen to deliver to friends. 
17. Take silly Christmas pictures (for Christmas card).
16. Make treats for a friend. 
15. Make a cupcake for Jesus (ornament).
14. Check out Christmas books from the library.
13. Decorate cookies with friends.
12. Make Christmas pizzas
11. Live nativity at church.
10. Build a snowman.
9. Buy a gift for Toys for Tots.
8. Make treats for the librarians at our local library.
7. Secret one! (Facebook message me if you must know. ;-) )
6. Buy presents for Lena and Daddy.
5. Make popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
4. Family game night. Might try this one.
3. Make a popsicle nativity.
1. Play the wise man game. Open one present (Christmas jammies.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lena: 10 Months

I think every month, I'm a little later with the update. Haha. Here's what's up at 10 months.
The first and only picture I got of her looking at the camera.
This is what most of the pictures look like. Haha.
She's nursing every 4 hours around the clock. Sometimes during the day, she doesn't nurse very well. I wonder if she's getting ready to drop a feeding. (I dropped Lucy's afternoon feeding at 10 months) But then some days, she acts like she's starving. She loves solid food. She can eat pretty much anything now. Some of her recent favorites have been lasagna, cheese roll-ups (with green bean puree - sneaky, sneaky), beef-a-roni (with carrot puree), cheese, and cinnamon rolls. Hehe. That's my girl. I'm really trying to feed her 3 real meals a day. She has a jar of baby food here and there. She'll still only eat fruit from a jar, but it's better than nothing, right? And I work hard to incorporate veggies in other areas of her diet.

She usually nurses around 10:30 or 11 pm, gets up once in the night, then is up for the day between 6 and 7:30. It works out well since I don't go to bed 'til 10:30 or 11, so I'm technically only getting up with her once in the night. I've been trying to only feed her on one side and if perchance she wakes up before 4 hours is up, I put her binky back in her mouth and lay her back down without getting her out of the crib. Justin has next week off, though, so I think CIO might take place. So many people have told me lately stories about doing CIO one night and their kid getting the hang of it the next night. A girl can dream, right? Haha.

She generally takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. I've been trying to keep her up longer in between the two. But if she takes a super early morning nap or I can't keep her up long in between, she ends up having an afternoon nap and going to bed later. The joy of being a stay at home mom is it doesn't really matter! :-)

I feel like she learned so much in the past month. She does "so big," and peek-a-boo, she sometimes waves, and she's just started clapping in the past week. She's also had a vocabulary boom. After some debate, I've decided her first word is "uh-oh." She said "hi" once, but not again for at least a week. During that week, "uh-oh" cropped up. Haha. She usually only says "hi" to animals. She loves saying it to Lola, and also tried it out on Paul and Missy's dog recently. She says "uh-oh" all the time. Yesterday at the grocery store, she had a grand ole time spitting her binky out on the floor, leaning over to look at it from the cart, and declaring "uh-oh!" over and over again. It's a good thing she has such a sweet, adorable little voice! She also says "mama" very clearly. I sometimes think she's using it on purpose, but other times she's definitely just babbling it.

She's really started to cruise around furniture in the past couple of weeks. She's quite the pro at going from the ottoman to the footstool to the couch. She pulls up on the bottom drawer in the kitchen and can pull it open to get to the measuring cups. She even climbed up Lucy's 2-step step stool recently. I had originally thought she'd be an early walker, but I'm starting to think she'll be right on track with Lucy and walk right around her 1st birthday.

We bought Lucy a high-back booster last week, so Lena moved into Lucy's convertible carseat (rear-facing of course).

She has started to show a little bit of a temper. Haha. This is a video I took of her one night getting mad at the Elmo phone. Every time she closed it, she got so mad that she couldn't get it back open - complete with fist clenching and shaking. Haha.

She loves to dance, and gets excited every time she hears music. 

She's still obsessed with me. Although I made it through the whole service at church yesterday for the first time in months! She usually doesn't make it much longer than half an hour in nursery. I'm planning on Black Friday shopping and will be working a 6 hour shift at the dollar store on Saturday, so we'll see how that goes! (Pray for Justin!)

She crawls on her hands and knees for short distances. If she wants to go far or fast, she flops on her belly to army crawl.

Still no teeth in sight! At her doctor's appointment a couple weeks ago, the doctor said it doesn't look like she's even close to getting teeth! Haha. Welcome to a lifetime of late maturing, my dear. 

She is silly and crazy and makes the funniest noises and faces. We love her so much!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. I've been getting some great deals online shopping for Christmas. Mostly for Lucy. I have absolutely no ideas for Lena. She has all Lucy's old toys to play with! And I just realized (duh) that her birthday is a month after Christmas, so I need to be buying stuff for that too! Second child syndrome.

2. I posted the baked French toast recipe from last week here. Mmmmm. So yummy.

3. Lucy and I had kind of a rough week. She is entering the whiny phase with a vengeance. I need to nip it in the bud, but I'm kind of at a loss. It's not just a whiny voice. It's this teeth-clenching, mind-numbing, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard fake cry that goes on and on and on. One day this week, we went to the dollar store 5 minutes from our house. 1 mile down the road she said, "I forgot to bring my balloon!" (She wanted to bring her balloon in the car with her.) When I refused to go back and get it, she cried the rest of the way to the store, the whole time we shopped, and the whole way home. Grrrrr. It makes me crazy. She seriously cries more than Lena does.

4. By Friday I was desperate to find something for her to do while I cleaned the house so I didn't have to listen to any more whining! I had pinned this indoor sand idea a while ago, and decided to try it out. It's just 5 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. Ours was a little clumpier than the picture in the pin, but Lucy loved it, and it kept her entertained for almost an hour. Win!
This activity does come with a warning: Be prepared to sweep the floor and wash whatever clothes your child is wearing. Dark jeans not recommended. Haha.

5. I went to the eye doctor this week and found out I have large pupils. The doctor said that means I have a lot of positive energy. He was being totally serious. Wow. Go me!

6. I've been trying to think of a good idea for our Christmas card this year. I want something cute and clever. Too bad we don't have 3 kids. Maybe I could do Justin in the middle with a kid on each side. Ha!
Photo Credit
I wonder if I'm talented enough to do this with Lena. What could Lucy be?
The Pinterest source. Not true photo credit, but close.
7. We had a girls' night last night while our friend Becky is in town. We decided to stay close to home and do the Shop Sparta event. All the local businesses were having sales, there was a Christmas tree lighting, a bake sale, free hot chocolate and popcorn, and the best part . . . free trolley rides! Justin had to work late, so I had the girls with me. Lucy is obsessed with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on PBS, so I knew she'd be thrilled to ride a real-life trolley!
It was loud.
Much happier once we were on board.
She loved it, and kept saying, "This is so fun!"

Stay tuned for Lena's 10 month update later today!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amazing Baked French Toast (Dairy Free!)

Here is the promised French Toast recipe from Jesus' Birthday Party. I got it from my friend Kelly who got it from her mother-in-law. You know it's gonna be good when it gets passed around that often. :-)

2 sticks of butter* 
2-3 loaves of French Bread (I used 2 really long loaves.)
2 cups brown sugar
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
6 eggs
3 cups of milk*

1. Use 2 cookie sheet with sides. On each cookie sheet spread one stick of softened butter. It will be lumpy
2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle mixture on top of buttered cookie sheets
3. Mix eggs and milk. Cut French bread in 1" slices. Dunk bread slices in egg mixture, making sure both sides of the bread are covered. Arrange bread slices on cookie sheets
4. Refrigerate overnight
5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Flip bread slices and bake 10 additional minutes
6. Serve and Enjoy!

*I used Earth Balance butter (almost a whole container - enough to cover the bottom of each pan) and Silk Vanilla Almond Milk. It was delicious!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus!

It's that time of year again! Time for our annual Birthday Party for Jesus! I started this tradition with Lucy and her friends when they were 18 months old. This was our 3rd year. We've added more kids and more chaos, but it just adds to the fun! This year was special because we combined the party with the Merry Larry party I won from houseparty.com!

We got sent an awesome kit full of goodies to share. It had the Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas DVD, a Veggie Tales Christmas CD, plates, cups, napkins, silly bands, stickers, tattoos, and some fun face masks. I had a blast incorporating Bob and Larry into our party.

Lucy helped me fill the goodie bags a few days ago:
Then we decorated:
Lucy picked out the pink tablecloth. Haha.
I got pretty good at drawing Bob and Larry faces!
Yes, I drew all those faces. Please admire my incredible artistic ability! ;-)
We made some delicious dairy free cupcakes. (Recipe here. I substituted earth balance butter.) Lucy helped me make toppers with the stickers from our packet.

Since our party was at 9 am, we had breakfast!
Please forgive my horrendous photography skills.
In the past couple years of doing this, I've learned not to make the food super elaborate. I'm not much of a cook, having a lot to do stresses me out, and the kids don't care! This year, we had amazing dairy-free baked French Toast. I'll post the recipe soon. It had to refrigerate overnight, so I made it last night, then stuck it in the oven this morning - perfect! We also had sausage, grapes, and bananas. That's it. Easy and delicious!

Finally, all our friends came over and it was time to party!!!
This is what a group picture with 11 kids looks like. Haha. This was the best of many.
Trying on the silly masks.
After breakfast, we had craft time. I'm always looking for some kind of craft to reiterate the real meaning of the season. I found this one on pinterest. 
It was an awesome free download!
Luke, Justin, and I spent an evening cutting out all the pieces, and Lucy put 9 popsicle sticks and a gluestick in each bag. 

It was a little too time consuming for the little kids who just wanted to get down and play, but it was fun for a couple minutes. Haha.

Afterward, I read the nativity story while the kids acted it out with their puppets:

Finally, we got to watch Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas!

In the movie, Larry and his friends work together to help an old lady who lost her house. The theme of the movie is service, so we decided to do a little service project of our own. Next week is national collection week for Operation Christmas Child. They're pairing with Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty and Merry Larry from Veggie Tales to reach kids all over the world!
Click Here for more Information
We wanted to do our part, as well, so everyone brought a couple little things to put in our shoebox. Look what we ended up with!
So thankful for generous friends!
We ended the party by singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, blowing out his candles for him and digging into those delicious cupcakes!

Thanks everyone for coming out and having fun with us! And thanks houseparty for the goodies!! Happy birthday, Jesus!
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