Month: December 2013

2013

In church on Sunday, our pastor spoke about New Year’s resolutions (of which I’ve already stated: I’m a big fan) vs. Ebenezer stones.  Resolutions can serve a purpose, he reasoned, but it is more important to reflect often on the blessings in your life; realizing how your story is a reflection to the world about the realness of God.  He indirectly encouraged me to keep writing as he said that our human minds often get the story wrong: we twist the facts, we consider ourselves the main character, and we are forgetful.  We should intentionally place markers in our lives to help us remember how God worked for the ultimate purpose of sharing them with others. This is how future generations will come to know Him.  My version of this is to write.

This time of year always pulls at the sentimentalist in me and that means reflection tends to come naturally.   My heartstrings are strung very tightly and they are moved with just a slight hint of Auld Lang Syne .  I tend to guard my heart a little at Christmas because as soon as it is over, I know what is around the corner….the end.  The end of another year with my little girls, the end of another year of health and happiness, the end of the known. The beginning of a dark and cold winter, the beginning of the new, the beginning of the unknown.

To stave off these feelings, I put together the video below using only pictures captured by my phone.  I think it speaks volumes that my phone contributed far more to our collection this year than our dslr.  Something about being portable and usable with only one hand…

So here is our 2013 in 100 seconds:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/82848721%5D

https://vimeo.com/82848721

Watching this video, I am struck by several feelings. At the beginning of the year, I remember  being….cold.  It seemed like it was May before we finally got our outside weather.  My life revolved around getting a toddler to use the potty and I stayed in the potty zone for far too long.  I remember getting cabin fever and feeling like I would be cold, tired, and pregnant forever.

I remember being pregnant and life before Bea.  I knew life would be better with her in it, but in order for that to happen, things had to change first.  Some of my fondest memories from this year include my weekly doctor dates with MG.  She was always so excited to go and follow our little routine (pretend baby, sucker, real baby’s heartbeat, sticker).  The time we had as just the two of us, though sweet, is already growing dimmer.  Bea has completely changed things, though for the better.  The joy she has brought to each of us has been very real. And as cliche as it sounds, it is a joy to wake up and serve her every day.

I especially remember giving birth and how merciful God was to me in that.  Baby Bea made up many of the one hundred seconds of this video and rightly so; she was the biggest and best thing that happened to us this year.

When I look at our summer pictures, my heart is completely welled up with feeling.  I had captioned one of the pictures of N reading to the girls, “I will never forget the summer of 2013” and I hope it is true.  We enjoyed life together this summer.  We took a few trips and MG really bonded with our extended family.  I had a newborn but I hardly knew it because I was so well taken care of by so many.  Our life was calm and predictable then too…right before it exploded into many unrecognizable pieces.  If I could return to this summer and relive most of it, I would in heartbeat.

What the summer brought in feelings, the fall brought the opposite.  I remember feeling lonely, often, caring for the girls from sun up to sun down.  I remember lots of hard talks about our future, about our present too.  I remember searching my soul for grit and knowing I had it in me to continue, sure that good things were to come out of it.  I remember feeling frustrated often with MG…perhaps it was the absence of Daddy that brought about her deep mood swings and little to no naps; boundary testing, and withheld affection.  I used up a lot of my reserves on her and then felt like I had very little to give the rest of my family.

But then we moved.  The pendulum swung…a lot.  The things that were hard got better, the things that were easy got harder…for a while at least.  We are still trying to find our family rhythm here and I do find myself curious about what I will remember and the feelings I will have about our time in this house.  We are making memories for sure….(Christmas Eve was one for the record books…..story to come)

I always enter a new year with a bit of trepidation.  I guess you could say I don’t like forced change.  2014 holds a lot of mystery for us.  I literally cannot envision where our family will be next year, who we will be sharing life with, and what the girls will be like (Bea especially).  But I suppose mystery can be exciting at times and preferable to the tedium we felt last year.

The most important feeling from this year is that we walk away changed.  Literal change where our life looks 100% different, but also emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually too.  2013 brought many things our way, my most favorite being this:

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Thanks as always for sharing with me and following me through out the year.  Tonight we will raise our glasses to (mostly) kept resolutions, a path guided by Faith, and landing where we are meant to be.

 

May 2014 bring good fortune  to you too.  Cheers,

 

Advent Musings

As we prepare our hearts this season during Advent, I often find my mind wandering to Mary.  In the great story, after all, she is a mother, and therefore the one I most relate to.

Reading through this story, I am left wanting more.  There are so many details missing and I find myself filling in the blanks.

What was Mary’s labor like?  Did she cramp and suffer through the ride to Bethlehem?  Or was God merciful on her, granting her Son a fast entrance?  (I’d like to vote in favor of the second option seeing as how the suffering for this child would most surface later in life.  Though perhaps an agonizing labor was to prepare her for what was to come….).

Did she bleat and moan in the safe presence of the animals?   Was she quiet and introspective, young but strong as the Scriptures seem to portray her?

I assume Joseph was there to rub her back and catch her Child in the absence of a midwife or mother.  Did this act bond them together, strengthening his love for this woman he had not known and this child that was not of him?  After the moment had passed, was she embarrassed by his presence?  Did he fumble around, feeling like an intruder on a helpless stranger?

I find it kind of God to allow Mary and Elizabeth to be with child at the same time.  Elizabeth, who had waited years for this moment, was just a few months ahead of Mary and had possibly watched many friends enter this stage of life prior to her.  As Mary was heaving alone in the darkness of the stable, were Elizabeth’s sage words running through her mind as a constant reassurance?  After He was delivered, was she wrapping Him remembering Elizabeth explain, “Now this is how you swaddle a baby, Mary”.  That is how I would like to think it happened.  My heart hurts for her to think she went through the moment alone…with only a man by her side that didn’t yet fully love her.

And finally, when Mary was told the Child she would be carrying, was she aware?  Did she go to the temple and search the Scriptures for the words from the Prophets?  Or did she close her mind to the future in order to enjoy the sacred moments she would be allowed with Him?  Was her motherly intuition strengthened with knowledge that their days together would be short?

I love all of the beautiful reminders of the miracle of Jesus’s birth this time of year and each year the story grows a bit more personal.

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I’ll be taking the next few days off as I’ve got some last minute Christmas outfits to sew up, a tree full of presents to open, a few holiday destinations to travel to, and an excited little girl to entertain.

xmascard 2013 v2 copy

May your days be Merry and Bright as well,

 

 

Month 7

Today this littlest is 7 months old!

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(why yes, those cheeks are as fluffy as they look. Perhaps the most kissable thing in the world)

Realizing  your baby is 7 months is always a little sad for me.   While she still looks like my baby, her doughy thighs are slowly being hardened into muscley ones and her neck actually serves a purpose now (other than just another wrinkle between chin and chest).  She is moving quickly away from infancy.  But this time around, I am fighting it less as I know growing up only means more fun (and play time with Sis).

Bea has progressed a lot with her gross motor skills this month.  On her belly, she can twist and turn and then drag herself with determination anywhere she wants to go.  You really have to keep an eye on her now, due to that and also her putting EVERYTHING in her mouth.  Will we be seeing teeth soon?

Though we’ve tried several different solid foods (and methods of getting them in), she’s grown less interested by the day.  Poor thing is starving when she is ready to nurse and has been adding in a middle of the night feed (or two or three) as well. This age was when MG started plateauing in her growth.  I wonder if Bea will do the same.

 

I’ve experimented a little with sleep training this month (especially if she is fed and dry) and sometimes she will just fuss a little before putting herself back to sleep.  She is also getting harder to rock to sleep (distracted easily, much more aware of her surroundings).  Thankfully, she has taken to it well and puts herself to sleep rather easily in the day (still holding onto the night rock).  She never full out cries during this, just a talky cry, so that makes it easier on both of us.

She is still working on sitting up, and can do it for a minute or two at a time, but is much more interested in getting around.  I suspect she will be crawling any day now as she gets up on her hands and knees, rocks, and takes about a “step” before going back to her belly.

Bea is still as easy going and easy to please as ever.  I am amazed at how she sometimes misses her morning naps (due to being on the go) or has to put up with less than appealing situations and she doesn’t fuss.  In such a flux time of our lives I am so blessed that she is so easy. She is my constant.

I hope that ease will always be a part of her personality as it is such an appealing one.  Here are some other things we’ve learned about her this month:

Loves:
-Anyone to acknowledge her….she will move heaven and earth to make eye contact with you and then give you a HUGE smile.  I just love it
-the Johnny Jump up.  She spends a considerable amount of her day in it while I am preparing meals and we are then eating as a family
-swimming.  She had her first pool experience this month and loved splashing in the water
-being on her belly.  She has gotten very good at moving around on her belly and getting to anything she sets her mind to
-her paci.  She doesn’t really need it during the day but always takes it to fall asleep.  When she puts herself to sleep, she often finds a way to hold it in her mouth…so precious
-music.  She seems to have a love for music and responds to it.
-Nursing.  She nurses 5+ times a day and also doesn’t mind the bottle coming and going either (phew!)

Bea doesn’t love:
–solid food.  Getting her to swallow a few bites is a chore!
-being left alone.  She is too social a gal and gets mad
-wearing shoes/socks/anything on her feet.  She will kick off even the tightest of articles.  I’m not sure if this is true of all Spring babies, or just a trait particular to mine :).

-being “tossed” in the air. This is something she has never loved…and I always thought she would come around to it.  She always gets a very frightened look on her face and then starts to cry 🙁
-being smooshed.  Big sister likes to seize every opportunity to be all up in her space.  I often have to say. “give her some room” to give Bea  breather

 

She is such a delight to our house.  I smile to think of us begging God for another and He envisioning her as He kept us waiting.  So worth it.

 

Third Birthday Interview

One more birthday post!

This one is a tradition I hope to continue as the girls grow.  I love to hear the kids’ answers and have them recorded for all time!

Third Birthday Interview

Note: I caught MG at a good time to play along and all of these answers were spoken without hesitation.  N was in the room and some of her answers really surprised us 🙂

what is your name? MG (except she gave the full version)

how old are you? 3

what is your favorite thing to do? eat lunch (appropriately right before the meal :))

what do you want to be when you grow up? huh….how about a teacher? (love this answer!! especially since we’ve never talked to her about or prepped her on it)

what is your favorite thing to eat? pink

who do you like to spend time with? Jessica (her second cousin who lives very close and has recently watched the girls for us.  MG also named a pretend horse after her which is a sure sign of affection)

what do you do really well? obey (good answer!  AND she HAS been listening all of those times I told her, “you did a good job obeying mommy!”)

what makes you laugh? fall down and it makes me laugh

what is the best time of day? winter (she’s been somewhat obsessive about seasons every since she started school.  almost every day without fail she asks, “is it fall or winter or spring or summer today?”)

what makes you afraid? storms (this one surprised me since she’s never talked about it before)

who is your best friend? Eli, Eli, ELI!!  (said without hesitation and WITH enthusiasm)

what do you like to do with your family? eat breakfast

what do you love to learn about? spring

where do you like to go? to culver’s (good girl)

what is your favorite book? cat in the hat (that came as a surprise)

tv show? monster’s show (no idea)

animal? zebras and cute little piggies that I’m rocking and I put them to sleep

where do you live? exer-show (??repeated multiple times, we could never figure it out??)

who lives in your family? grandma, granny and grampy, papa

when is your birthday? coming up soon! (…or in another year)

Cheapest, Easiest, Kid-Friendly Thank you Notes

Well, I’m thoroughly birthday-ed out.  Now that the festivities are over, time to practice a little etiquette and send out the thank-you’s.

This year I decided to do something fun and BONUS, it was also very cheap and pretty easy too!

sweet mama k thank you notes for kids

It’s no secret that I love Photoshop.  I own both the Elements version and Creative Suites.  The price tag isn’t for everyone though, and there are plenty of free versions online that you can use to do little projects here and there if you only use it minimally.

To create these notes, I chose my favorite picture from MG’s birthday.

 

I liked it because it very obviously screamed birthday and even though her face isn’t smiling, I think it represents her very well.  (sidenote: for some reason after the first of four blowing out experiences this year, she got skittish about doing it again….hence the apprehensive look on her face).  Also, nothing fancy here, this one is straight from the ol’ cell.

To create these cards,  I first made the photo black and white.

 

Then I played up the brightness and contrast using the appropriate editing tools (you want very high contrast for the photo to look good but play around with it so that you don’t lose too much detail, such as in the face)

 

Next I changed my color selector tool to BLACK and used the artistic overlays to turn my photo into a stamped appearance. (I used the stamp overlay, but there are others that would work too such as pencil, watercolor, etc)

IMG_4643d

I adjusted the slider a bit to add and take away some details that I felt were either important or not.  The main focal point is her face, so I want detail there and then secondly, the cupcake, which needs only to be suggested.

Once that was set, I placed the picture on a white 5″x7″ layer.  I placed it toward the top to leave room for the text at the bottom.  I then merged down the layers and used the eraser tool to delete some of the background details that took away from the image.  There’s no science here, just personal vision:

third thank you copy

Finally, I chose a font that had space inside (rosewood std) and wrote “THANK YOU” across the bottom.  I printed these out on white card stock and used a paper cutter to separate them.

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DSC_0033 DSC_0018

I let MG color them (I helped…some :)) and write her own “notes” on the back. After musing over her different options, she chose crayons.  I could also see these working well with markers, colored pencil, or even watercolor (especially if printed on watercolor paper).  I then added a more detailed and personalized note on the back.  We always have leftover envelopes laying around which were used to send them to their final destination.

 

I love the way this project turned out and it literally cost me NOTHING….just a short quantity of nap time (okay which still counts for something).

Happy creating,

 

P.S. I didn’t go into overt detail when describing the steps I used to transform my picture since I’m not sure the background you have in PS or similar.  If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will attempt to clarify!

Celebrations

Last week, I shared our tribute to MG turning three.

It was a grand birthday indeed.  She understood that her birthday was coming up, but she couldn’t really remember what a birthday was other than it involved cupcakes.  And she wanted PINK ones.

Her birthday got a little complicated this year since Thanksgiving was two days before.  She ended up having four mini parties as we celebrated with N’s parents, some friends, the day after Thanksgiving with family, and also on her actual birthday.  And then when we returned home from our travels, there was a present waiting her from my parents.  So the opening of gifts haven’t really slowed down and Christmas is just around the corner!

Since we traveled for Thanksgiving, (and the cupcake vendors were closed on and around the holiday), I called ahead to a place recommended by my sister and she picked  them up and froze them for us ahead of time.  The evening after Thanksgiving we got takeout (doesn’t everyone? :)) and then sang “happy birthday” and let her enjoy the spoils.

She opened her presents from us and her aunt and uncle.  One of her gifts was a “big sister” doll for her favorite baby Stella and I’d wrapped it up for her from Bea.  I thought it was a cute gift from her, but MG did NOT like this new doll we named Lucy.  “She has too much hair.” she said.  We’ve since discovered that dolls that don’t look as much like babies aren’t as enticing :).

The next morning, we left their house early and drove to Kentucky right outside of Cincinnati.  I’d found a place on the Internet called “Totter’s Otterville” and based on the description it seemed like MG’s dream world.

It was.

Rooms of babies, a pet rabbit, a pretend grocery store, a conveyer belt with foam blocks, a tumbling room, a magic show, an indoor and outdoor playground, a water table, and more.  And it was only $6 to get in (with a $2 off coupon we found online).  Internet gold.  We played there for three hours and we had to drag her away.

We spent the night at the Country Inn and Suites nearby and had a great stay.  After a quick nap and a nice dinner at the Mellow Mushroom (within walking distance), we swam at the indoor pool.  The girls loved it and wore themselves out.  Too tired to even eat a cupcake on her actual birthday.

See video below

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/81220781%5D

https://vimeo.com/81220781

 

Three

 

 

 

MG,

At three,

Your memories are vivid and true.  You can recall things from 6+ months ago.

Your imagination is on fire:” look mom, here is a bird, can you pet it?”

Your sweetness and tenderness is very evident; especially towards your sister, dolls, and anyone that seems hurt or upset

You are sensitive, but you do not wear your heart on your sleeve

You are independent: you’ve conquered the entire playground, can wash your hands, repeat simple chores, can follow 2-step directions, and often say “no! {don’t help me} I can do it!”

You love to help: bake, assist bea, change diapers, get dressed

You mimic everything I do and say.  I love my little parrot!

You are very curious.  You often ask “why?” but do not always find our answers satisfactory.  You also have a very black and white view of the world.  I think this comes with childhood.  Any deviance from what you know to be true puzzles, frustrates, or upsets you.

This year: You began talking in complete sentences about 6 months ago.  You learned to use the potty and can now go all by yourself,  you sleep in a regular bed, you went to school for the first time, you learned to enjoy–or at least tolerate–the car, you gave up your paci, you learned how to work a sticker chart, you broke your collarbone and went to the dentist for the first time, you learned the meaning of obedience, truth, and listen.  Wow, year two was tough!

Your Loves: Caillou, grapes, apples, cute animals, babies, responsibility, “scary daddy bear”, the very hungry caterpillar and all books with repetition, pink, pink, pink, ice cream, “straps” and gummis, choice, your sister, cookie monster, play grounds.

I know this year has been hard on you.  Lots of change has come your way and we all know how much you love stability.  You’ve taken it well though.  You’ve impressed your father and I, grandparents, and friends with your tenacity.  You are going places, girl.  We are right here behind you cheering and clapping along with the rest of your family who loves you so much.  This year is going to be great.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/80412261%5D

Love you, my three year old,