Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your husband did what?!

I post about the kids all the time and about things that I'm doing, but I think it's high time for a little post about my husband.  He's pretty awesome.  I thought about titling the post "My Husband is Better Than Yours," but I didn't want to deal with the online cat-fight that it was sure to incite.  So, I didn't.

My husband, Kraig, and I met a little over 7 years ago.  We were both spending our summer representing our own Bible colleges at different church camps across the U.S., when we happened to meet at a week of camp in Indiana.  Nothing happened there, but you can say that we "noticed" each other.  He had a girlfriend at the time, but it was still nice to make a friend.

Fast forward to March of 2006, when we started dating.  He lived in Tennessee, and I was in Kentucky.  We survived the long-distance nature of our relationship and, in September of 2006, Kraig asked me to marry him.  Nine short months later, we were married.


In June, we celebrated 5 years of marriage, during which time we've moved four times, had two babies, lost loved ones and made lots of new friends.  There have been many highs and lows, but it's been great.  I think our beginning with a long-distance relationship only makes us appreciate and enjoy the time we have together more.  Anyhow, that's the basis of how we met, etc.  Now on to the good stuff...

Last Wednesday night, Kraig kept the kids while I went to practice at church for our praise band.  Sometime during practice, though, I got a text that said, "I think Jackson just tasted poop for the first time."  Eww.  Bad diaper changing experience.  That's always good.  Then I got another text: "It's all falling apart here.  The toilet overflowed and I didn't know it.  Kate tried to go potty and peed all over the floor.  Everything is wet. They're both screaming."  I felt bad, but couldn't help but laugh.  These are the things that usually happen when he's at work and I have to deal with them.  It's par for the course, so to speak.

I was prepared for the worst when I got home, but I was pleasantly surprised.  When I walked in the door, there weren't toys scattered all over the floor, the kids were in bed, the bathroom was cleaned up.  Then I walked into the kitchen.  He had done some work!  Everything was picked up, the kitchen was clean, the floor was swept, the floor was mopped and there were pork roasts in the crock pot filling the house with a delicious, eat-me-now kinda smell.  Talk about impressed!  I think my jaw hit the floor.  And this was after a whole day of work, while dealing with both kids.  Super impressed.

So there you have it.  He mopped and cooked and dealt with the mess.  I have the best husband.  You can all admit it now.  Sorry, ladies.  I've won.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Confessions of a Control Freak: Learning to Let Go

Confession:  I'm a bit of a control freak.  I'm sure this isn't coming as a surprise to some of you.  I like to know that nothing has been overlooked.  That things are getting done the best way possible (my way, of course).  That things are under control.

There are so many questions we want answers to in life.  Will I ever get married?  How many kids should we have?  Where will the money come from?  Are things really going to be okay?  Why are things the way they are?  My husband and I are currently dealing with a couple of these questions--particularly about money.  I've been able to stay-at-home with the kids and it has been a blessing.  We've never had a ton of money, but we've survived. The cost of living in Virginia is higher than we're used to, for sure, but the cost of living is rapidly increasing everywhere.  We're doing everything we can to keep living at our normal standard of living, but the money's not there.  And it drives me crazy.  And every time it feels like we're finally getting ahead or that our emergency fund is finally funded, we have an emergency that exceeds our emergency funds.  Every time.

When I step back and take a look at the big picture, though, I see that it's not really all that bad.  Our basic needs are met.  That's all that we really need right now.  There have been times in the past where we've gone through a rough financial patch, but God has always provided.  He hasn't always provided what we thought we needed when we thought we needed it, but His plan is always better than ours.  His timing is always better than ours.

Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? 
But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. 
 Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid!
 You are worth much more than many sparrows. 
Matthew 10:29-31 

God knows our needs, there's nothing to worry about.  When we trust Him and let Him take over as "control freak" in our lives, things are so much better.  

We're praying for God's guidance as I look for a way to supplement our income.  He's already clearly steered me away from two options, and I know that He knew exactly why those wouldn't be the right choice for our family.  Ultimately, He knows that I want to stay home to care for our kids, and I believe He is going to work that out.  

Regardless of what situation you're struggling with, God knows and God will provide the answer, if you'll just wait for Him.  Sometimes, we just have to sit around and wait for it, and for a control freak like me, the sitting around while I could be up "fixing" the problem is incredibly difficult and scary.  But the Lord has proven time and time again that He is with his people.  I can come up with plenty of examples in my own life that show that.  Reading through the Old Testament shows that. The Old Testament is almost like a resume of God's work as our Defender, Provider, Comforter, etc.  

I've commanded you to be strong and brave. 
Don't ever be afraid or discouraged! 
I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go. 
Joshua 1:9

So, I'm a control freak.  But I'm learning to let go. This particularly testing time is just reminding me that it's not all about me.  God's got it under control.  

Happy Friday! (And thanks Mom for your inspiring scripture references on Facebook!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jack's Belated Birthday Post

Since we traveled over the course of Jack's birthday week, I never made it around to blogging about it. But here goes! Jackson turned 1 last Wednesday. I'm sure you're expecting the "I can't believe it" and "How time flies!" comments, but they're true! It has been an incredibly fast year. He's an awesome, sweet, cute kid, though. See how cute he is:
Boy loves him some sweet corn:)

He had a great birthday.  The celebrations spanned between the end of June and the beginning of August, so he feels VERY special.  He got lots of great gifts.  My personal favorites?  The new cloth diapers we got!  We got 7 total.  Three special prints (camouflage and 2 denim), three minkys (zebra, polka dots and cow print) and one red.  They're great.  They're also the first snap diapers we've owned.  I must say, I've whole-heartedly recommended velcro in the past, but I disagree now.  They're convenient and all, but the snaps fit so much better.  But, I digress...

Jack's list of 1st birthday milestones/loves, etc:

-He started walking over a month before his birthday.  Now he just runs.
-He still only has four teeth
-He's down to nursing only once a day, in the early morning hours.  It's really just a ploy to get to sleep in our           bed.
-He can now climb onto the couches
-He's learning how to go down the stairs the proper way
-He has a growing vocabulary.  First thing in the morning, when Kate wakes up he always says, "Sissssss."  
-He will often bring me a clean diaper when he's ready for a diaper change.  Hysterical.
-He still loves his cars and anything with wheels, though he does try to steal Kate's baby dolls...
-He's getting very good and aiming and throwing a ball.  It nearly ALWAYS manages to hit me.  
-He prefers cups with straws, especially if they're mine or from a fast food establishment.
-He's generally sleeping from 8:30-6:30, at which time he gets in bed with me and nurses back to sleep
-He takes two 1-2 hour naps in the day.  Generally, for a total of 3 hours.
-He loves to give hugs and kisses.
-The kid has rhythm.  Future drummer of the Bishop Family Band, no doubt.
-At doctor's appointment a few days before his birthday, he weighed 22lbs even.  No idea how long he is.  The official well-baby appointment is in a week or two.  Updates then!

And now, some pics for your general enjoyment:
Yes, I turned his car seat around.  I'm that mom.

The closest thing we got to a family picture on his birthday.  Looks a little different than the one last year:
Things have definitely changed!

He dug in mouth first:) Smart kid. Just did what the rest of us wanted to do.

And he's grown a little bit...

Happy birthday, sweet Jackson!

Monday, August 6, 2012

All you need is LOVE (do da do do do)

No, this isn't about the Beatles. Kraig was at camp all last week, so it was an interesting week at home. Having the kids by myself while Kate was hopped up on steroids was just a blast. Regardless, I had a little time to do a project while Kraig was gone. After living in this house for 16 months, our room is finally decorated. Now, I've decided I want new bedding and curtains, but they'll have to wait and go on my Christmas list. I still had a Hobby Lobby gift card from my birthday, though, so I was able to create some art to go over our bed. And here it is:

Excuse my photos.  We've had to do an overhaul on our computer and for some reason I've been left with no editing program.  Yay.

Anyhow, I'm loving the way it turned out (no pun intended).  For those who are interested, I thought I'd share a step-by-step tutorial so you can make your own.  It's super easy and completely customizable.  I made the word "LOVE," but you could do whatever fits your situation.  Even a single monogram letter would be a cute addition to a wall.  Here's the details:

So here's what you need:

Giant wood letters, 4-11x17 canvasses, 1 yard of fabric, spray adhesive and scissors.  That's it.  You could probably get away with 3/4 of a yard of fabric, but having the extra in case of mistakes and to help with the pattern continuation is nice.

Cut fabric to glue to canvas.  Leave about 1 1/2" on all sides for covering the sides.

Line the fabric up to where you want it and anchor half with something heavy to keep it from sliding.  I used my scissors and my cell phone.  Haha.  Fold half the fabric back, spray the canvas liberally with adhesive, then fold the fabric back and smooth it out.  Repeat with the opposite side.

Spray and adhere both long sides to the canvas, smoothing wrinkles out of the fabric.  You'll want them to be glued to the canvas sides, as well as the back of the canvas. 

Fold the corners in and glue the short edges up, like wrapping a package.  If you have too much fabric on the edges, this can create excess bulk, so you may want to trim out some of the extra fabric before affixing it to the canvas.

You should end up with smooth edges.

Liberally spray the back of the letter with glue, and attach to canvas.  Press firmly on the back of the canvas to make sure the entire surface of the letter is adhered to the fabric.


A few notes...

It may be helpful to put the fabric on all four canvasses and then figure out where the letters should be placed on them.  You'll want them to all have the same spacing between the letters and the edge of the canvas.

Spray adhesive is very, very strong, but if you don't get things placed where you want them the first time, you can pull them off and re-position, if you don't wait too long.

Heavier fabric will stand up to the moisture of the adhesive better than a thinner fabric.  Thinner fabrics may result in wrinkling.  I used a ticking material and it worked very well.

Anytime you shop at Hobby Lobby, don't forget to print off a coupon from their website.  It's usually a 30% off a regular-priced item.  If you have a smart phone, you can pull it up on your phone and they will honor it. Must be nice to have a smart phone:)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Sigh of Relief

If you haven't read about my drama with the insurance company, check out yesterday's post.  Today, I have better news, though! 

After being on the phone with the doctors and insurance company all morning yesterday, I decided I needed to take Kate to the doctor.  She had been coughing for a couple days, but it was starting to sound like wheezing.   They scheduled us for a 3:00 appointment.  We made it into the office at 3:08, after I had to wake Kate from her afternoon nap.  She was less than thrilled to be going to the doctor, but I'm so glad I took her.  Her behavior doesn't really scream "sick kid," but when she starts coughing, as my husband put it, "you just want to hold her."  The verdict?  Pneumonia.  I was expecting to maybe get an antibiotic, but not a pneumonia diagnosis.  Instead of one antibiotic, we have two antibiotics, one steroid and breathing treatments.  The good news is, her 36 hours of  102 degree fevers seem to be over.  She slept soundly last night and seems to be coughing less this morning.  Thankfully, she's not fighting the breathing treatments too hard.  Convincing a three-year-old to rest, however, is not so easy!

While we were at the doctor's office, the office manager called me back to her office to talk about Jack's cardiologist appointment.  After another phone call with the insurance company, she had a solution.  Six weeks later, the insurance company did the smart thing and pointed out another practice we could go to that they would approve.  Not sure why it had to take so long, but at least it's an answer.  So we have an appointment next Tuesday.  Not great timing, since Kraig will be at camp, but I'll be glad to have it over. Our doctor doesn't normally refer to this cardiologist, because he tends to want to run every test in the book--necessary or not.  It will get the job done, though, so I'm thankful for a solution.

After the doctor's appointment, we had our highlight of the day.  We headed to Target to drop off Kate's prescriptions.  I had a coupon to receive a $5 Target gift card with the purchase of a prescription, so it seemed like the place to go--especially with three prescriptions to fill.  We dropped them off and then headed to meet Kraig for dinner.  When we went back to get the meds, my favorite pharmacy tech was there to help me.  She got the meds and I handed her my coupon.  When she handed me my receipt, she gave me THREE $5 gift cards and mumbled about it to me very quietly.  I questioned her and she said, "You're a loyal customer.  I feel like you deserve it."  So I told her that had literally made my day and shared with her a few of the negative points of the day.  She told me she'd be praying.  It was very sweet and redeeming to feel like someone in the world does actually care about others.  I was very grateful to end the chaos of the day on that note. 

In other news, Jackson apparently likes to eat deodorant.  Oh the joys of parenthood:)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Therapeutic writing..

Can you tell the summer has been busy?  Our teen summer conference trip has come and gone, and Kraig is gearing up for senior high church camp next week.  The summer is cruisin' past at a speed that deserves a ticket.  A few highlights, though:

The conference trip went well.  Having my mom with me was a life-saver.  It allowed me to be there and actually participate with the teens, rather than just be available when Jack's behavior allowed.   For the most part, he did very well.  He slept decently and ate well.  He came home with bronchitis, for whatever reason, but all-in-all, it was great.  As far as the conference went, it was an amazing week.  Our students were definitely impacted (as were we).  I enjoyed the trip much more than last year, when I travelled at 34 or 35 weeks pregnant, contracting the whole time.  I'm very grateful that I was able to go.  You never have a better opportunity to connect with your students than in weeks like that. 

While we were gone, Kate stayed with Kraig's parents and did very well.  She was a busy little bee while she was gone and barely had time to miss us.  I'm very glad that she is an independent little girl who can tolerate a week away from Mom and Dad.  We missed her terribly, but she had a great time!

In the mean time, we've been waiting on a pediatric cardiologist appointment for Jackson.  The doctor discovered a new murmur at his most recent well-baby visit and sent us for a consult.  There are no pediatric cardiologist that participate with our plan, however, so we're all tied up in insurance red tape.  The paperwork has been submitted for over six weeks, yet they still have done nothing with it.  Today was supposed to be his appointment, but they're not done reviewing yet.  I've been on the phone with the insurance company and both doctor's offices numerous times, only to realize that they've been lying to me.  They've told me and both doctor's offices different stories about why it's taking so long.  In the past two days, they've had the request re-faxed three times.  Sounds like they're realllllly on top of things over there.  I tried to speak with someone who actually handles authorizations, but, of course, they don't communicate directly to customers.  Finally, I was told that it was going to have to be transferred to another authorization department and it would be another 10-14 days.  Today's appointment was rescheduled for next Wednesday, so we're praying they'll get it done before then.  This Momma isn't ready to wait any longer.  I broke down on the phone with the cardiologist's office.  I've tried to be patient, but I'm ready for an answer.  The insurance phone-answerer (that can be the only thing that they're semi-good for, since you can't speak directly to anyone who actually does any real work) asked if I wanted to file a complaint.  I told her (not so nicely), "I'm sure I will, but let's see how the next 10-14 days go!"  If it gets any worse, I'll be doing more than just filing a complaint with them.  This is unacceptable when it comes to a patient's health--and that goes for any patient, not just my kid!

So now we're waiting again and praying for peace in the meantime.  Taking Kate for a sick appointment today (she has a nasty cold) and hoping the doctor can give me some reassurance. 

Two weeks til Jack's birthday!!!  How is this possible?!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Happy Birthday, Kate!  Today she turns 3.  We had a fun morning opening presents, going to the Discovery Museum and eating Kate's favorite Chipotle for lunch.  I told her we'd cut the cake after nap time, but here's a preview pic.  Nothing fancy, but she wanted a rainbow cake.  Hopefully, we'll be able to have a low key evening and get her all packed up to go to Grandma's tomorrow!  I know she's excited to swim in the pool.   

I'd make a list of Kate's accomplishments to brag about how advanced she is for her age, but the list would be too long for this space.  Haha.  She really is a smart little girl who is very sweet most of the time.  I won't lie, we've had MANY 'terrible two' moments, but the good always outweighs the bad.  She's a sweet little girl who loves Jesus and her family.  She sings better than half the pop stars today and knows just as many songs as they do.  She talks like a big kid and has a rapidly expanding vocabulary ("not to mention a phenomenal grasp of grammar and a superlative command of syntax." Anyone??)  We're very proud of her and can't imagine how different the past three years would have been without her.  She is a blessing and it is an honor to be her parents. 

Hope you're all staying cool today!!

Next week's post:  Kate turns 10.  Stay tuned, it will happen that fast! :-(

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blog-worthy news!

I've been a little silent in the blog world lately.  Not necessarily intentional, but life has just been crazy.  We've dealt with several home issues, our central air is broken, we've had big youth things to do, we've done a 25 hour trip to Ohio for a funeral, we've vacationed with my family, dealt with nasty thunderstorms.  It's been crazy.  Tomorrow Kate will turn three, so I'll save a post for her for later, but today Jackson is begging for an update!
Jackson "riding" one of his new toys (and apparently going through my wallet!)

Jack will be 11 months old on Sunday.  He's a little chatterbox. His vocabulary is growing little by little. He says mama, dada, bye-bye, bite, up and he's always trying to sing along with whatever music is on. He shakes his head yes or no. He's waving hi/bye. He's eating three meals a day, along with us, and still nursing 2-3 times a day. Some days I think he's ready to wean and other days I'm not sure how long he'll want to continue. My goal was to make it to 11 months and we've basically done that.  Very cool.  For the past couple weeks he's been taking a few steps here or there, only to realize what he's doing and then take a seat.  Saturday, however, he decided it wasn't so scary anymore.  It's official:  we have a walker.  More than a week shy of 11 months, Jack took the plunge.  Anyone remember how old Kate was?  He has her beat by nearly 8 months.  Haha! 

 He had a checkup a few weeks ago and weighed something like 21 lbs 2 oz.  He's 50 percentile for weight,  75-90 for height and his head, much like his sisters, is off the charts.  He's obviously going through a developmental stage (throwing fits, being extra clingy, learning to walk, etc).  He's recently decided he doesn't want to feed himself anymore, and he wants to be fed while sitting on your lap.  He loves playing with cars and trucks, especially all the new tractor toys he got for an early birthday present from my parents.  He's sleeping pretty well at night. Bedtime is at 8:30 and he usually wakes around 6, when I bring him to bed with us and he nurses back to sleep until 7 or 8.  Still not as good of a sleeper as Kate was, but I'm very grateful that he sleeps through the night. 

Sunday, we're taking the teens to the CIY: Move conference.  This year we're going to Lee University in Cleveland, TN.  Kate will be spending the week with Kraig's parents and Jackson will be coming along with us.  My mom will be going with us to help out with Jackson, so that I can focus on why we're there but still be around to nurse him. I'm a little nervous about it, but it was the only option that allowed me to go too.  I'm praying it will be a great week and that he will sleep well.  We shall see! 

Kate update to follow soon!!  Hope you're all doing well:-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nine sweet months

Somehow or another, Jackson will be nine months old tomorrow.  I'm in denial about how quickly his first year is passing, but I shouldn't be.  The kid is huge.  He's so coordinated and smart.  I wish I could go back in time and spend a few hours with Kate at this age to compare.  At this point in Kate's life, we were preparing to move to Virginia and things were crazy.  Jackson is at such a great age right now, though.  So what's he doing now?

-He's still nursing four or five times a day, depending on how he sleeps,
-He's eating literally everything he can get his hands on.  He's a huge fan of food and he's great at getting it into his mouth. 
-He's a pro at drinking from the sippy cup.  The doctor said we could go ahead with whole milk, so he's getting that in a cup along with his meals, as well as water occasionally. 
-He's a speed crawler and champion stair-climber.  We've had to be creative in blocking off the stairs.  Our living room is not so pretty because of it.
-He's still cruising, but getting a little more brave by walking in between objects.  He scares me. 
-His favorite food is the banana, no doubt.
-He loves to eat anything if it's from Kate's plate.
-He out-eats Kate at nearly every meal.
-His favorite things to do right now are rolling balls back and forth, trying to put Daddy's hats on his own head, playing peek-a-boo, wrestling with his sister and sticking out his tongue.
-He's still saying "mama" and "dada," but he's saying "bababa" and 'kakaka" a lot. 
-He fake cries all the time to get his way.  He makes the most ornery face in the process.  Makes me want to pick him up and kiss him forever. 
-He's sleeping through the night most of the time.
-He still only has two teeth, but two more are well on their way.
-His hair is getting a little more red every day.  I love it.
-He's napping 2-3 times a day, for a total of around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. 
-He's the best!

From this:
To this....

I couldn't be more blessed with my two kiddos.  They have their moments, but all-in-all they are sweet, loving kids.  This morning, they were sitting together and Kate "read" Jackson "The Hungry Caterpillar."  They're so sweet!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 4

The final installment of the series:

There are plenty of things to learn about caring for an infant, but the things you need to know most are in this post.  Please read it!

1) You're never going to know exactly how to handle each situation that arises.  You can research, ask your friends, or ask your mom, but the most important thing is that you do what feels right to you.

2) Each child is different. Your first baby probably won't behave, sleep, eat or be comforted in the same way your second child will.  Part of being a good parent is recognizing that and observing what does work for each child.

3) Cherish the time that your baby is an infant.  It's hard at times (like when you're up in the middle of the night for a third feeding), but before long your "baby" will be two and you'll long for the days where all she wanted was for you to hold her. 

4) Take pictures at every opportunity.  You'll be amazed at how quickly they change and how quickly you forget what they were like before they changed. 

5) When all else fails and you're at wit's end, put the baby in the crib or in a safe place and go to another room.  Take deep breaths, take a shower, read the Bible, pray.  Do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down and refocus on your purpose.  It may seem cruel to leave baby to cry, but he'll be better off if you go away and return as a happier, calmer Mommy. 

6) When you have an infant, your house will probably be a mess, the laundry will probably be piled up and you may not have showered in a day or two.  This is part of being a good mom.  The laundry and the cleaning can wait.  Spending time with your baby and taking care of her needs are what is most important.  He won't be so needy forever and the time you spend with him helps teach him that he is loved and that you can be trusted.

7) Spend time praying for your child(ren) and for your ability to be a good mom.  It's amazing how prayer can help keep your head together and keep you focused on the good things.  Being a mom isn't as easy as some people make it look!

8) Spend time talking to other moms and reading blogs written by moms who will be real about being a mommy.  It will help you remember that you're not the only one!

9) Once baby is old enough that you can get away for an hour or two, do it! Having some time away will make you love your baby even more when you return, will help keep you from being depressed from being stuck in the house all the time and will help you find an identity for yourself other than "Mommy."

10) Remember that you aren't perfect.  You're not supposed to be.  Even when you're a "seasoned" mom, you will still make mistakes.  We're human.  The redeeming factor, however, is that God is full of grace and mercy. He's constantly making us into the person/mommy we're supposed to be. Don't give up on yourself; God hasn't!

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part Three

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 3...FINALLY!

Part one focused on the early days with baby, part two focused on breastfeeding and part three will focus on sleep! My sleep experiences with my two kids have been vastly different, so hopefully I'll be able to encourage you that your kid is normal too:)

1) The first six weeks are generally the worst, but every kid is different. After the first six weeks, Kate was waking less frequently to eat. Four and five hour stretches felt amazing. Then around 2 to 2 1/2 months, she was sleeping a full 10-12 hours at night. Jackson has had a few nights where he's slept 8-10 hours, but even at 8 months old he's still getting up once or twice at night. Some of this is due to growth spurts and teething, but he's so different than Kate that I can't help but be frustrated by it at times. Another possible reason behind this is the difference between formula fed Kate and breastfed Jack. Breast milk is digested easier and quicker, leading to hungry bellies faster. Just a fact.

2) Putting a baby down to sleep or nap early is better than letting baby get too tired. Eventually, you'll be able to notice baby's sleep cues early enough to catch him at the right time. For Jack, an hour and fifteen minutes after he wakes up is when he needs to go down for his morning nap. If I wait too long, he will cry forever before falling asleep.

3) Unless you're planning to co-sleep, the baby will sleep better in her own bed. We moved Kate to her own bed around 8 weeks and Jackson around 5 months. Their sleeping improved dramatically. It's still important to keep baby close when she's up eating constantly in the night, but those days won't last forever. There are also studies that show the risk of SIDS is lowered when baby is sleeping in the same room as Mom and Dad, though. I know I just contradicted myself in a way, but you need to know the facts before you decide what's best for you.

4) You may have heard it before, but it really is best to put baby down awake at nap and bed times. Sometimes that might mean baby cries, but trust me--he'll sleep better because of it.

5) Babies often sleep better with a source of constant noise--like a fan, humidifier or noise machine.

6) Babies love to know that Mommy is near. Sleep with their favorite blanket for a couple nights or swaddle baby in the t-shirt you wore during the day. Your scent will help comfort her.

7) With your first, you really can sleep when baby sleeps. If you have more than one, it's not so easy. Don't be afraid to ask someone to come sit with your kids so you can sleep. Don't be afraid to let Daddy watch them for an hour in the evening so you can get some zzz's. Sleep will help you be a better Mommy. Trust me.

8) If you are comfortable co-sleeping, your baby may sleep for longer periods of time because she is near you. Co-sleeping is especially easier for breastfed babies, if baby will nurse while lying down.

9) Swaddling definitely helps little babies sleep better. Once baby is big enough to squirm out of a swaddle, though, sleep sacks are very helpful in keeping baby a little more snug and keeping him warm.

10) Room darkening curtains that block out the sunlight are a huge help in encouraging baby to sleep--especially if you don't want to be awake as soon as the sun rises!

Part four will hopefully be around next week, where I'll discuss issues such as teething and illness! See you then!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We're back: An update on the kids!

Well, I'm finally back this time. It's been a crazy couple weeks, and I'm thankful that this one should be normal.
Last Sunday, Jack turned 8 months old. I feel like the months are flying by. So, quick update on Jack:
  • He's crawling like it's his job.
  • He's decided crawling up the stairs is fun. Yikes.
  • He's eating everything. Last week, for example, he had smashed potatoes, tilapia and asparagus for dinner one night, then spaghetti the next. Sunday after church, he ate more of Kate's mac and cheese than she did. He's still nursing well, though, which is great.
  • He had his first ear infection last week:(
  • He weighed 19lbs 12 oz (50th percentile) yesterday at his very late 6 month check up. He was 28 1/2 inches long (75th) and his head circumference was 95th percentile. Still growing great--right on track for a breastfed baby.
  • He's cruising around everything he can pull himself up on.
  • He says Ma-ma and Da-da, but not on demand of course!
  • He prefers to steal his sister's sippy cup than use his own.
  • He loves playing with little trucks and cars.
  • His hair is looking increasingly red as it continues to come in. I'm thrilled:)
  • When he's feeling well, he'll sleep through the night. Yay!
He's a sweetie:)
Kate is doing well, too. She has the attitude of a teenager, which is turning my hair gray. We're learning to recognize our letters and numbers and she's doing great. Her favorite food is still Chipotle. This was the first Easter that she understood more of what is going on. She keeps saying, "Jesus died so we could go to heaven?" Anytime she hears a song about heaven, she gets all excited and yells, "We're going to heaven!" It's very sweet. She loves her baby brother and he loves her. They play so well together at this stage that I couldn't be happier. I hope they continue to love each other like they do now!
Later this week, I'm hoping to finally post part three of the current series. No promises, however, with the way the last couple weeks have been! Hope you're all doing well:)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh technology!

I'm so sorry about the lack of posting! We've had issues on our computer that prevented me from accessing blogger. Turned out to be a google virus. Kraig "restored the computer to factory settings" last night, and it seems to have done the job. I'm so thankful to have everything back to normal. I don't have time to continue the current series today, but I promise it will happen before the end of the week! We're all doing well and hope you are too!

See you soon!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 2

Happy Friday! Before the weekend hits, here's part two of the current series--all about breastfeeding. If you're not a breastfeeding mom, don't worry! There's plenty of non-breastfeeding advice coming soon. I've had a bottle fed kid and a breastfed kid, so there's plenty to share. If you're not sure about breastfeeding, I encourage you to at least give it a try. You won't regret trying, but you may regret not trying when it's too late. Remember, it's free!

11) If you're a breastfeeding mom, enough emphasis isn't placed on the fact that (especially your first time) you're probably going to need help. During my first pregnancy I thought, "Women have been doing this for thousands of years. It's natural. It'll be easy." I didn't read enough or take a class. I barely even let the lactation consultant talk to me. A nurse helped me once and gave me some terrible advice. Breastfeeding was a total fail the first time around. I wasn't prepared, I didn't have support, and it most certainly did not come naturally. There were a number of contributing factors to why I didn't survive the first time, but I didn't realize why it didn't work until the second time around. The second time around, I read books, blogs, talked to friends, took a class and used the lactation consultant as often as she was available at the hospital. What I learned was that the advice a nurse had given me while nursing my first baby was totally wrong. In fact, it was probably the biggest reason why it just never worked for us. Moral of the story: be prepared and don't be afraid to ask for help. Modesty should never have priority over the health and well-being of your little one. With my first baby, we were done breastfeeding at 6 weeks.

12) Breastfeeding can be relatively easy and painless. The first time around was awful for me. I was sore, terribly engorged and miserable. The second time around, with the help of a lactation consultant, we got the latch right during the second feeding and never looked back. Proper latch is the biggest battle you fight in warding off pain and other problems. Without the lactation consultant, though, our latch was totally wrong--even though I'd read and researched. It's important to make sure you have a good, strong latch from the beginning.

13) Putting baby to breast as soon as possible after birth is a great jump-start to breastfeeding and to your mommy-baby bond. You've probably heard that, but I want to emphasize it. I know you're excited to show off your little one. You want to call the people from the waiting room back to see him or her as soon as possible. I know I did. I barely waited the first time. I let Kate try to latch and she weakly attempted to nurse for a short amount of time. I rushed her off, partially because there was a nurse in the room and I didn't want her to watch and partially so we could usher in our company. I regret it to this day. With Jack, I took my time. He nursed for almost forty minutes and I took the time to enjoy snuggling him all by myself. I'd earned that time to myself with him! I can't help but think that some of our nursing issues with Kate weren't because of those first few moments after birth. Take your time--the visitors can wait!

14) If you're having latch issues and a nurse or lactation consultant (LC) recommends a nipple shield, make sure you don't come to rely on it. It's meant to be a short term tool to help baby learn to nurse--like a trainer. While using one, however, nursing is not as efficient or stimulating as it is without the shield. I've read in multiple places that you need to pump after using a shield every time to maintain proper stimulation and ensure that your milk supply will be well established.

15) During growth spurts, which happen VERY frequently in a newborn, baby may want to cluster feed. You've heard this, I'm sure. What this actually translates to, however, is that baby may literally want to nurse non-stop for hours at a time. It sounds terrible. I didn't realize this the first time around and it was a very frustrating thing. The second time around, I was prepared for it. I was able to have things around to me to keep me entertained during these times and was able to think of it as a time where I could sit and rest. I found it much less frustrating when I knew it was coming.

16) Sometimes it's difficult to keep baby awake for a full feeding. In the day time, noise and light are usually enough to keep this from being too much of an issue. At night, however, this can be a problem. Baby wakes up, barely eats and falls back asleep. Baby wakes up an hour later hungry and the process repeats. You really suffer because baby wakes up just about the time you fall asleep. And, if a baby gets into this habit, it's a feeding pattern that can continue. While you don't want to overstimulate your baby during the night and keep her from sleeping, you do want her to eat and have a full belly. Some recommendations I've heard are things like tickling baby's feet, unswaddling the baby or unbuttoning baby's clothes. I've tried them all. I would also recommend feeding baby as long as she will eat on one breast, changing baby's diaper and then offering the second breast. A diaper change is usually stimulating enough to rouse the baby for a little more food.

17) Sometimes it's difficult to keep yourself awake in the middle of the night for a feeding. Do whatever you need to do to keep the baby safe during this time. If you're sitting up, feeding baby in bed and you fall asleep, baby could easily fall out of the bed. Just something to think about! The night's when I had the most trouble, I made my husband help keep me awake or keep the baby for a few minutes while I got up and used the restroom (and woke up).

18) A breastfeeding pillow isn't necessary, but they are very helpful. Other pillows can be used for the same purpose, however, if you don't want to buy one or aren't sure if you'll use it. Most of the time I just used throw pillows from my couch. I do love the other things you can do with the Boppy pillow, though. It's a great stabilizing and protecting-from-falls pillow when baby is learning to sit-up.

19) It is okay to nurse in public. I don't do it often because Jack is squirmy and it's impossible to be as modest as I want to be, but it can be done. If you're not comfortable nursing in public, that's fine, too. It can be done very discreetly, where few people will actually know what's going on. A well made nursing cover is great for this, because it has a strap to keep it in place and is made so you can still see baby while he nurses. Other people are content to nurse in public and aren't so concerned about the whole world seeing their exposed body parts. I'm not one of those people. If you're looking for a nursing cover, check out this website with lots of super cute hand-sewn baby options like covers, cloth diapers and bibs.

20) If you're planning to breastfeed, but want the freedom to go to dinner with your hubby or be out of the house alone for more than a couple hours, you need to teach baby to use a bottle early on. If you wait too long, baby may very likely refuse the bottle. If you do it too soon, you may have nipple confusion issues. My LC recommended giving baby a bottle of breast milk, once breastfeeding was well-established, between weeks 4 and 6. I started Jack with one every day or so at week 5, and he did just fine. Once he got used to it, it wasn't a big deal and he only used them if I was gone. Having the flexibility is very, very nice. I've had friends with babies that refused bottles and they were never able to leave them alone for any length of time. Starting baby on a bottle is especially important if you're going to be returning to work and still hoping to breastfeed. If you're hoping to pump and have milk to give in a bottle, pumping after the baby's first feed of the day works well. You'll also want to pump around the time baby takes the bottle of breast milk so you don't run the risk of lessening your milk supply.

Look for Part 3 on Tuesday! Hope you have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 1

If you don't know anything about me, you should know a few things before reading this series. First of all, I'm a mommy to two beautiful kids. Kate, my daughter, is two and a half going on 25. She has an enormous vocabulary, a sense of sarcasm, enough charm to make you wanna do anything for her, and a tender heart. Jackson, my son, is 7 1/2 months. He's a little bundle of energy who is currently getting into everything. He crawling, standing and cruising. He's still nursing strong, but is an avid lover of food--especially when he can feed himself. It won't be long and he'll be fully mobile. Between them and my days spent working in a daycare, I feel like I've gained a pretty good perspective on infants and toddlers. Not one baby is like another and my two are perfect examples of that. Hopefully, the advice and insight that I can share with you will be information that will be helpful in your own journey into parenting! And now....the first ten, which deal with the early days with a newborn:

1) Especially with your first child, you will probably feel like the world's worst mother on a daily basis. Don't let the self-doubt get to you. If you're a praying Momma, take a moment in the middle of the stress for a prayer time-out. It can definitely change your perspective.

2) You're not supposed to magically know everything about caring for a baby just because you were able to deliver or adopt one. Some things may come naturally, others not so much. That's why you have friends, parents, doctors and other books to rely on when you don't know what to do.

3) Reading child care books are great; if you read more than one, though, you will realize that one book will tell you one way and another will literally tell you the opposite. Do your research and do what feels right to you.

4) The first time you give your baby a bath, you'll probably feel pretty unsure of what to do. The goal is to keep the baby warm and keep the umbilical cord and circumcision dry. It's really more of a sponge bath than anything, since they can't really be immersed. Don't worry about whether or not you're doing it the right way. You'll get your routine down quickly enough!

5) Dealing with a circumcision isn't difficult, but it is something to think about in advance. This was one of the first things I thought about when we found out we were having a boy. The good news is that it heals very quickly. The bandage will have to be changed, though, several times. The hospital will most likely provide you with everything you need, but having extra vasaline on hand won't hurt. It will be difficult for you to want to do this, since it does hurt and your baby will cry, but it doesn't last long!

6) To change a diaper efficiently with little mess, it's very helpful to get out a new diaper and unfold it and get out a few wipes before removing the soiled diaper. This makes the whole process move a little faster so you have less chance of getting peed on. It also eliminates the chance of you getting the dirty diaper off the baby before realizing that you're out of diapers. Been there, done that.

7) Both girls and boys might go to the bathroom during a diaper change. Some babies seem to do this all the time, others not so much. During our first night at home with Jack, I had an awful experience with this. I was changing him on the bed in the middle of the night. The TV was on for light, but I was only half awake. At the precise moment when I removed the dirty diaper and slid the new one under his tush, he pooped. It went everywhere. All over my stomach, all over the bed, all over the new diaper. It was a fun night. On the other hand, he was 6 months old before he peed on me.

8) If you're in desperate need of rest and baby won't nap for long periods, try holding the baby or laying down with her. I'm not a huge advocate of co-sleeping, but I've found sleeping like this usually encourages baby to sleep longer. If you're not comfortable sleeping with baby, call in reinforcements. There are plenty of willing arms to hold your baby so you can get some rest!

9) It will feel exhausting, but nurse as often as baby wants to (and then some!) in the first few weeks. This will help the milk come in and establish a strong supply. The strong supply ensures there is plenty for baby to eat so that he can get Linkas much as he needs in each feeding, and, eventually, eat less often. It's more important to establish milk supply and survive the first few weeks than it is to establish a routine.

10) No offense to the grandmothers out there, but things do change. What our mothers did with us is not what doctors recommend today. Research and medicine has come a long way and we know more now than ever about things. Mom may have good advice, but science speaks for itself.

Still pregnant or hoping to be? Check out this series about pregnancy!

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two-for-One Tuesday!

Two-for-One Tuesday? No, I won't be selling anything today, I'm just planning to post TWICE! There's a lot to post about from the past week, plus I'm hoping to finally post my first post in the "The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant" series. So here goes the first post:

Last week I wrote about our upcoming trip to Virginia Beach to watch our friends compete in a marathon. We were so excited about the trip--so excited to see them accomplish such a big goal. Then Jack developed a fever Wednesday afternoon. I noticed when we went to the park Wednesday morning that he seemed a little unexcited, but I figured he was just sleepy. After his afternoon nap, though, he woke up hot. I thought it was probably just warm upstairs, but when Kraig came home and we finally found the thermometer, his temp was 102.6. Immediately, I was a little concerned. He's never really had a fever. So I gave him the appropriate dose of Tylenol and then waited to check again in an hour. After an hour, his fever was even higher. We stripped off his clothes and put him in a lukewarm bath in the kitchen sink. Eventually, it came down to below 102, but he fought the fever and sleep all night long.

In the morning, his fever was still in the 102's, so I called the doctor. By the time of our appointment, 10:30, his fever was gone. He weighed in at 18lbs 5oz, and we went to our room to wait on the doctor. While we were waiting, the nurse did a flu test. Our doctor, who I love, came in and checked all the usuals and then confirmed that the flu test was negative. I was relieved until she said, "Actually, it would have been easier if this was the flu." Since his fever was so high, over 104 once, she needed to run a gamut of tests to rule out something more serious. So, she wrote us orders and told me to take Jack to the pediatric wing of the hospital. Not so reassuring. Since he was still eating well, however, she said they wouldn't have to keep him overnight. She left and we packed up to leave the office.

Originally, I had intended to leave Kate at the church with Kraig, but we were running very late that morning and I took her with me instead. She is normally terrified at the doctor's office and cries literally the whole time. Thankfully, she had been a big, brave girl and didn't cry once. I was sure I wouldn't be so lucky if I took her to the hospital. So I called Kraig to tell him what was going on and he came to take Kate back with him. I'm so thankful that he can be flexible at the times that we really need him to be. Once Kate was gone with Kraig, I headed down the street to the hospital, calling a few people on the way.

We got to the hospital and settled into the right place a little before noon. We sat around for a while, during which time Jack finally fell asleep; he was well overdue for a nap. Not long after he fell asleep, they came to take us to radiology for a chest x-ray. It took a while, but they got what they needed and we headed back to peds. After we got back, the phlebotomist came into draw blood. Poor little guy did the best he could, but I could tell he felt like all the smiling faces were betraying him. After that they put in a catheter to get a urine sample. I'm guessing they should've done the urine first, because I'm positive he peed when they stuck him with the needle. Next, they gave him a shot as a preventative measure in case there was a bacterial infection. Finally, they were done and we went to a quiet room to nurse. He was too upset to nurse well, though, and he kept biting me. We headed out and he was asleep before we left the parking lot.

The doctor called later in the evening with some of the test results, and we heard the rest at a follow-up appointment on Friday. All the test were negative, thankfully, so they decided it was just a virus. He was fever-free most of Friday and has been fine since. He never really acted sick, thankfully. We were finally convinced that he was fine and we could still head to the beach on Saturday.

We worked on laundry the rest of Friday and then put the kids in the tub to get ready for bed. It was a little earlier than usual, so after bath time we came back downstairs for a snack. Kate wanted an apple. I peeled one for her and cut it up. She sat on my lap eating it out of a bowl. And then she puked. She had said all day long she didn't feel well, but she acted fine and I chalked it up to the fact that Jack was sick and getting extra attention. Clearly, she didn't feel well. After she was done and we got her cleaned up and changed her clothes, she went to lay on the couch with her daddy. And then she puked again. All over Kraig. It was ugly. Once we got them both changed and cleaned up, she laid back down on Kraig. I think she puked once more, but then she fell asleep on Kraig. He eventually put her in her bed. She woke up twice in the night, but never to be sick. Clearly, we weren't going to the beach. I called and cancelled the reservation. Naturally, she woke up just fine on Saturday. Like nothing had ever happened. We stayed around the house in the early part of the day to make sure she was fine and then headed to the mall to walk around and grab some dinner. I was so mad that we'd changed our plans, but there was no telling that Kraig and I weren't going to be sick soon, too. So far, so good.

We didn't make it to the marathon, but the guys finished and did a great job! They raised a ton of money and they finished the race in 4 hours and 21 minutes, I believe. We're super proud of them for following through on their commitments.

On top of all that excitement, Wednesday was my 27th birthday. Kraig did a great job of making it a special day. He made me cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We had to change our dinner plans since Jackson was sick, but we had gone out Monday night for my technical birthday dinner. We ended up with Burger King. Haha. He also brought me a delicious chocolate cake, and rather than give me a present, he sent me shopping for some much needed clothing. I'm down 46 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, so I literally have nothing that fits anymore. I went shopping Sunday afternoon and scored 4 tops, two skirts, a pair of capris and a pair of shorts. I was super excited. I never do that well--especially at one store! I'm so thankful to have a few things that fit well now and even more thankful that they're much smaller than my old clothes. I'd like to lose around 19 pounds more. We'll see how that goes. It's time to kick it back into high gear before summer comes!

Anyhow, long post about our crazy weekend. Hope your weekends were more calm! And now....to work on the next post!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Upcoming Series!

I've finally been inspired to write another series of posts. The "The Things They Don't Tell You" series about pregnancy was a big hit, so we're going to stay in the same vein. The new series, "The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant" will begin soon--hopefully Friday! Now that I've had two to compare, I feel like I have plenty to share. Plus, I have a ton of friends who are expecting or have recently had their first babies. Hopefully my experience and perspective will help make their experience a little easier.

If you have any advice you'd like to have included in the posts, feel free to contact me through the blog or email me at stacybishop07 at gmail dot com. (No, you don't need to spell it out like that!)

See you all on Friday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We're going to the beach!

Okay, we are going to the beach, but we're not really going to the beach. This isn't a typical post for me, but I want to share what we're doing this weekend.

When we took our teens to CIY: Move (a teen summer conference) last summer, they were presented with a challenge. They were each given the opportunity at the end of the week to open a challenge card. They're called "Kingdom Worker cards," as CIY tries to relay the message to teens that you can work for the Lord in any workplace, not just if you're in the ministry. There were all sorts of different requests like, "lead a weekly devotion with your family," "take breakfast to your teachers once a month," and "drink only water (not in a bottle) for a whole year." When one of our teens, Tyler, opened his card, the serious-level of the challenges went up about ten notches. At the top of his card there was a number: 26.2. Tyler's challenge was to train for and run a marathon within the year. What a challenge! Now, Tyler is athletic. He plays baseball. But he's not a runner. This was definitely an intimidating task. But he didn't seem to shy away from it. As the rest of the teens opened their cards, we all held our breath, hoping that no one else would have such a task. Tyler was the only one.

As Kraig continued talking to the teens, reminding them what their challenges meant, he challenged the adults to team up with one of the teens and do the challenge with them. Immediately, I knew what was about to happen. Todd, our male sponsor (and Todd of Todd and Sara), is a runner. He was already in the process of training for a half-marathon, but he'd been very vocal that he had no desire to run any farther than that. When Todd spoke up, he was almost trembling and tearing up. God was pushing him and he knew it. Todd volunteered to train and run with Tyler. He knew the distance of a marathon is not something to do on your own. He knew that together, they could do this. And that's what they're going to be doing this weekend. They're both registered to run in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach this Sunday.

We're headed down to watch them, along with a handful of people from the church. We are so proud of what they have done. It hasn't been easy, but they've pushed themselves. On top of just running the marathon, they've teamed up with Active Water to raise money to provide safe drinking water for people that don't have access to it. They've done an outstanding job raising money and they've had a lot of generous people. If you'd like to show your support for Todd and Tyler, that would be awesome. Below will be the links to their individual Active Water pages, where you can donate to their specific efforts. We love these guys and love what they're doing. Can't wait to see them at the finish line!! Of course, another way to support them would be to lift them up in prayer. Pray that they would have the mental ability to get through the race and that their bodies will allow them to make it through--injury free. If you could pray Sunday morning, that would be awesome.

But, we are going to the beach:) It's only overnight, but I'm super excited to show Kate the ocean!

Thanks for reading about this. If you want to donate, here are the links:
for Todd
for Tyler

Monday, March 12, 2012

March fun!

We are thoroughly enjoying the weather in lovely Virginia this month. Highs in the upper 60's and 70's feel amazing. We got to take a nice trip to the park on Thursday and Jackson got to take his first ride in a swing. He loved it! Look at that face!
In other Jackson news, I reported last week he was crawling in a two crawls forward, one crawl back motion. That's no longer the case. As of yesterday, he's crawling rather quickly directly toward whatever item that was left in the floor that he shouldn't play with. Typical, right? I can't believe how fast he's growing up! We never hit this stage with Kate, so it's all new to me.

Kate is still doing great with using the potty. We have virtually no accidents. She even napped all of last week without a pull-up with no accidents. Yesterday after church, however, she peed a tiny amount in her bed, but came straight downstairs and pooped in the big potty--all by herself. Kraig and I were in the basement and heard her yell down the stairs, "I pooped!" I expected to find a big mess, but she did her business in the right place. Can't believe how big she's getting either. She's the best big sister and her brother absolutely adores her. Hope that continues!

Well, we're off to make a round in the thrift stores and do a little grocery shopping. Hoping to find some deals! Happy Monday, everyone:)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

7 months...almost!

It's amazing how quickly babies develop. Seriously. Last month wasn't too monumental, but in the past month we've made progress. He won't be 7 months old until the 8th, but that's only two days...

Physical developments: I guess you could say he is crawling. It's more of a two crawls forward, one crawl back kind of motion, but it's still two crawls forward more than Kate ever did. Last week, I found his first tooth. I was hoping it would be delayed a little more, but it's here. Kate, the non-breastfeeding baby, didn't get her first until 10 months. Hopefully it won't be an issue. So far it hasn't been, but it's only one tiny tooth. We'll see. In the past week or so, he's also started pulling himself up. How old was Kate when she finally did that? Almost 17 months. There's no comparing these kids. They're totally different creatures.

Eating: Jack's a foodie. If you're eating, he's mad if he's not. I can no longer nurse him and eat at the same time. I hadn't been doing too much in the food department. It's not necessary and it's just a little time consuming (terrible reasoning!), but he's clearly begging for them. I've been reading more about baby-led weaning, so I'm doing more actual finger foods than purees. Still doing some purees when the situation makes it easier, but mostly finger foods. He's loving bananas. I purchased a mesh baby feeder (which is a pain to clean banana out of) that makes slippery bananas easier for Jack to actually grip and eat. He loves sweet potatoes. Last week I baked sweet potato fries and he enjoyed that thoroughly. He loves a good bread crust. He loves apples. Today we're going to have peas, I believe. He's also getting the hang of a sippy cup pretty well. He is still nursing well. So glad we've made it so far!

Sleep: We're still doing better in the sleep area, but not amazing. He still refuses to finally settle in for the night til between 10:30 and 11:30, then he usually nurses again between 1 and 2. We're usually up for the day between 8 and 9. It's still not 100%, but I think teething is part of the reason he has sort of regressed. I love that he's in his own bed, though. He's napping pretty consistently three times a day. Not super long naps, but basically at the same time each day.

Other: We don't have another doctor visit until the end of the month, so no weight updates. He's fully filling out his 9 month clothing. Won't be long until we're moving up another size, I'm sure. Another new thing he's developed is crying when I leave the room most of the time. Not a fun phase, but it's sweet. He's definitely my boy! We're so blessed to have another sweet, healthy baby.

A Kate update soon!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eight hours of peace

Last week was a life-changer. It was monumental. I'm like a new woman.

Okay, so I may be a little dramatic, but it really was a good week. Really it started with a good weekend. We thought we were going to have to put over $600 into new brakes for Kraig's car, so my parents came out for the weekend so Dad could do the work and save us some money. Kraig was out of town with the teens for a retreat, so it was especially nice to have two extra sets of hands. Mom watched the kiddos and I got to help Dad with the brakes. I won't lie. I love working on cars. Dad taught me what to do, and I'm pretty sure I could do it again (with the purchase of an additional tool or two). It was awesome. On top of that, what we were told would be a $6oo job only cost about $75. We ended up only needing to change pads on the front brakes and only one rotor. Quite a significant difference! I didn't get to spend a ton of time with my mom, but it was still great to get to see them. They left on Sunday and took Kate with them to spend a few days in Ohio. My sister begged me to send her:) She had a blast playing with her cousins and the rest of the family. We drove halfway and picked her up on Friday afternoon. It was great to have her back.

While she was gone, however, we had a rather productive time. Since Kate was out of the house, it was the perfect time to transition Jackson to his own bed without the fear of waking up Kate. Sunday night didn't go so well, but Monday and Tuesday night Jack slept in his own bed all night. It was wonderful. Wednesday night wasn't quite as good, but he had taken a late nap when we were on the way home from church and I think that affected his sleep. She's home now, though, and he's still sleeping like a champ. It's amazing, since he'd been waking every 2-3 hours when he was still in our room. I figured that moving him to his bed would help, but it was a hard thing to do when he would probably disturb his sister. I was hesitant to send her away, but was thankful for the opportunity to reclaim my bedroom! After Kate started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, I wasn't sure Jackson ever would. Six and a half months is still a lot better than some babies. I'm so thankful for the extra sleep. It'd been since my car accident in July since I've had a full night of sleep. No wonder I'm crazy! He's getting SO big:(

In other news, Kate got a hair cut. It's super short--one of the hazards of doing it yourself, but it's rather cute. Pictures coming soon--if I find my camera!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day fun

On Monday, Kate and Jack got lots of Valentine's cards in the mail. You would've thought it was Christmas if you saw how excited Kate was. She opened one and said "Ooohhh, money! Who is dis fwom?" She opened another, "OOOOh, Taco Bell! Dis from Mamaw?" She was so excited. And, yes, she got a gift card to Taco Bell in a Valentine's card. That's my kid! She walked around all day telling me who got her each of her cards. She had a total of four!

Kraig and I did most of our celebrating on Saturday night, but we did have a special evening last night. We had a special home made dinner of Texas Roadhouse style smothered chicken and rice. We don't usually do too much for Valentine's Day, but Kraig brought me a giant Toblerone in the shape of a rose (I just ate the last of my Toblerone from Christmas), a pack of Snickers ice cream bars for dessert, and season one of Parenthood. I made him a box full of encouraging notes, special memories and affirming scriptures to take to work. It has enough in it for him to open one every day when he's in the office for the rest of the year. I was pretty excited about it.

In other news, Jack slept MUCH better last night. For the first time in months, he slept for more than 2-3 hours at a time. His first stretch of sleep was 5 hours, second was 3, then I got up and he slept more. A little sleep makes such a difference! Hoping he keeps it up!

Hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's Day, too:)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I have a big announcement...

No, we're not having a baby:) I skipped church this morning.

It wasn't by choice. I thought about staying home because it's frigid outside. Cold doesn't even describe it. I decided to go, however, and showered and got the kids ready. When I went out to warm up the van, it wouldn't start. Tried again a few minutes later and it still wouldn't start. Tried to jump it with the battery jumper thing (after a few phone calls to Kraig), but the jumper thing is also apparently dead. Guess we should charge it. And get a new battery. Good fun. So bummed. Kate sobbed. She said, "I NEED to go to church. We can walk there." Heartbreaking. I love that she wants to go, though. But we're sitting at home.

I was super excited to hear Kraig's sermon this morning. We're on week 4 of our Girls and Boys series with the teens. It's based off of the Doug Fields "The Power of Sex" series. It's about sex and relationships. So far, it's been very well responded to and attendance has been great. It's such an important topic. I actually had to teach the second sermon, called "What a Girl Wants." For some reason, Kraig didn't think it was meant for him to teach:) It was originally by a girl, though, and I think having a new voice speaking to them was probably a nice change of pace. Our involvement minister is teaching the lesson boundaries next week. It's really been a great series. We're praying that it at least makes them think. And hopefully it will really help the middle school kids to not make some of the mistakes that some of the high schoolers already have. It really is possible to have healthy relationships and to still be a virgin when you get married. Anyhow, we're doing our best and praying that God will really work in their hearts.

Last night, Kraig and I actually had a date night. We very rarely go anywhere without at least one kid, but last night we left them both with our sitter. She had her hands full, but she survived four whole hours with them. And we got to enjoy our night out. We had gift cards to Olive Garden from Christmas that we were able to use, so dinner was free. Then we did a little shopping. It's nice to be able to hold hands with my husband for a change:) We had a great time!

Alright, time to be productive!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Six months old, really?!

Jack turned six months old on Wednesday. I know I've said it before (and who hasn't) but the time goes so fast. He's a crazy kid. He makes us laugh all the time. He cracks up at the mere sight of his sister. He's very close to crawling (something Kate never did). He's enjoying solid foods occasionally. He loves playing with Puffs and he's pretty good at getting them in his mouth. He loves to chew on his own feet. He loves music. We don't have an appointment for another month, but based on weighing him at home, he weighs about 18 pounds. He's super strong. We're getting ready to move him to a big kid car seat, because he's almost too long for his infant carrier. He still loves Sophie the Giraffe. Most of the time, he's too distracted to eat well if we're not in a quiet room at home or laying down. He's still nursing, though. No bottles. Very little solids. So proud that we've made it to six months! He has the best smile. We're still in love. Oh...in honor of turning six months old, Jack peed during a diaper change for the first time. Can't believe it took so long!
I can't believe it's been six months. I can't believe I weigh 42 pounds less than I did when we got pregnant with him. It's pretty crazy. I'm down 4 pant sizes.

Kate-kate's doing well. Yes, we call her that half the time. She's a big helper and she loves playing with her brother. She loves baking with mommy, so we try to do that at least once a week. This week we made homemade biscuits and chocolate chip cookies. It won't be long and she'll be doing it herself. This morning, she apparently woke up before we did. When we got up, she was downstairs in the living room, sitting on the couch, looking at a booklet full of the state quarters, watching tv. How she got it on a channel that had cartoons on it, I'll never know. Pretty crazy. Guess we should keep locking the baby gate at the top of the stairs...

In other news, the Playdate Crashers are doing another giveaway! Check it out here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest blogging!

I love the Playdate Crashers. If you haven't checked them out, you should! It's a great site for parenting information, product reviews, real life stories and other fun stuff. I wrote a product review for them a while back, and today they've posted a guest blog from me. I love having the opportunity to do it. Today, I wrote an article about my struggles as a mommy. It's called "Let's Get Real." Hopefully the honesty and transparency in it will be helpful to someone else in my shoes. Here's a link to the article. Check out the rest of the site while you're at it!

If you're looking for more real, candid writing about life, check out this site: ineachcircumstance.com. It's a neat little site from a friend I've made through the blogging world. Check out her sweet, honest, Christian perspective on life. It's refreshing!

Happy Friday!

I really am happy that it's Friday. All in all, we've had a decent week. It could've been worse, especially with the water heater situation, but it wasn't. Praise the Lord. I've had a very productive week and, since we hosted life group last night, the house is clean. I'm enjoying the fact that I don't need to rush off to clean something!

I still have a lot to do, though. Kraig started his "Girls and Boys" sermon series (aka the big sex and dating series) on Sunday. It's based off a series that someone else did and the second sermon was called, "What a Girl Wants." This girl gets to teach that. I'm seriously excited about it, but I'm not ready yet. I need a couple good hours to finish writing and get it ready to present. Who has time with little kids running around? Kraig's gonna get to play with them all by himself tonight while I finish up. I can't wait. I love what I have so far, and I can't wait to see where it ends. I'm praying that it will be helpful to someone. Oh, and the original sermon manuscript, the girl that spoke said the words, "penis and vagina" multiple times. I edited that out. I didn't find it necessary. We all know the words, right? No thanks. If you will, pray that it goes well. Not sure that public speaking is my forte and it's been FOREVER since I've done anything. If it wasn't such an important topic, I wouldn't have agreed to do it. Anyhow...

In other news, I'm doing a guest blog for the Playdate Crashers again! Should post soon. I'll send a link when it's available. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm so behind!

It's been a decent, productive week thus far. Some of it by choice, some not so much.

I've been on an organization streak and Kraig's motivated to paint, so we're getting some things done. Sunday night and Monday, Kraig painted the basement bathroom and did a few odds and ends. I cleaned out and organized the spice cabinet, cleaned the microwave, taught piano lessons, cooked dinner.

Yesterday, I ran downstairs to start some laundry and realized that the pile (or MOUNTAIN) of laundry in front of the washer was wet. Not good. I moved it around and realized that the floor was wet and there was water all over the floor and under the washer and dryer. Not good. I quickly figured out that the hot water tank was leaking all over the floor. Who knows how long it had been that way. I called Kraig and he came home to check it out. Not long after he got home, I called my dad. Thankfully, he'd been rained out of work, so he could help. I described what was going on and he immediately knew the problem. After a trip to the hardware store, Kraig went back to work. He was able to fix the problem after work in like 15 minutes for about $10. What a relief! As first time home owners who live far, far away from our parents, we're learning a lot! So thankful for my husband!

I made delicious Olive Garden style zuppa toscana for dinner. It was fairly simple and very delicious! It was even better today for lunch. We also had a loaf of artisan bread that I made. My mom turned me onto a recipe for a quick, no knead artisan bread that is delicious. We've thoroughly enjoyed having fresh bread with our meals. You can find the recipe here. Seriously, so easy that Kate could probably do it. The perfect recipe for a crazy, busy mommy!

Today, we've done about five loads of laundry and I'm trying to find some decorating inspiration for the house. We're trying to pick paint colors and it's sooooooo hard!

Hope you're all doing well:)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update on the kiddos

Jack turned five months old on Sunday. It's hard to believe that he's that old, but he is growing like a weed and learning so many new things. So what's Jack up to these days? Here's a run-down:

-Weighed in at 16lbs 11oz today (90th percentile). 26 1/2inches long(90th). Head circumference of 45 cm(95th).
-He got an exersaucer for Christmas and he loves it. He loves being able to stand up and he's figured out how to get each of the attached toys in his mouth.
-He's still breastfeeding exclusively (though not for long!)
-He has great hand-eye coordination and loves playing with toys.
-He cries when I leave the room and stops when I return (cute, but not fun).
-When laying on his belly, he can scoot himself forward and backwards.
-He can sit up. Obviously, I still put pillows around him for safety reasons, but he loves sitting up. He has a tendency to dive at toys when they get a little to far away, but he doesn't seem to mind.
-Anytime he's on his back and isn't wearing socks, his toes are in his mouth. Gross.
-He's still much fussier than Kate was and isn't sleeping so well, but the doctor has given me a few suggestions to try. Hopefully they work! Momma needs some sleep!

Kate is ornery. She has the vocabulary of a teenager and the attitude of a teenager. Can you tell Daddy's a youth minister? She's potty trained, but traveling seemed to bring out the accidents. All in all, though, she's doing very well. She's a pro at puzzles, even ones that I think should be too difficult. She's going to bed earlier now that she used to, which hasn't seemed to affect her waking time or her napping. She's currently staring at me, eating a pop tart that seems to have appeared out of thin air. She's very strong-willed and a challenge at times, but she's also a sweetie and a great big sister. She continues to amaze us with her ability to learn lyrics so quickly. She knows so many songs that it's scary. She's got a great little voice and occasionally she'll start singing the harmony parts that she hears us sing. It's pretty amazing. Can't wait to see how her talents develop!

That's what's up! Kraig and I are doing well. I'm in organization mode, finally. So many things have gone undone since we moved and I'm ready to get them done. Can't wait til everything is finally where it really should go!