August 18, 2014

the first day of "school":

Today was the first day of the fall term for Mother's Day Out. Elliott promoted to the young three's class, and Julianne had her first day. There were tears from Elliott and Momma, but Julianne was all smiles. We all survived, and Elliott even told me he had a good day at school on our way home.

August 17, 2014

the terrible, terrific twos:

Well, we have entered into what some would call "the terrible twos" the past few months. Elliott has been asserting his independence more every day and this means lots of screaming, running from us, and growling "like a T-rex" when he doesn't get his way. It's been trying to say the least. We have been having to experiment with different forms of discipline and/or rewards for good and bad behavior.

We've learned real quick that spanking is not a good technique with this strong-willed boy. Spanking only intensifies the anger and yelling, and leaves Mom and Dad feeling even more frustrated. Time out does seem to work, because he does not like to be separated from the family, but this is hard to use in the middle of the grocery store when he's having a melt down because he can't run freely though the aisles. Most times the best way to cope is to try to avoid conflict all together, and give as little attention as possible when he misbehaves, because any attention, even spanking, is attention, and this little boy loves attention.

He does respond well to rewards and positive reenforcement, so we try to praise any good behavior and offer treats for extended periods of good behavior. We're still learning, and this has hands down been the most difficult part of being a parent so far. You can't truly understand what your parents meant when they told you "this hurts me more than it hurts you," until you begin disciplining your own children. Discipling is not pleasant, but it's necessary. No one wants their kid to be a brat.

That being said, Elliott is a good kid. He may wear us out, or frustrate me to tears some days, but when he is sweet (which is more often than not) he is SO sweet. He is compassionate to the core, and nothing could make me more proud. So while the twos have been exhausting, they have also been joyful, so I wanted to take a moment to record a few things Elliott is saying and doing these days, so I can remember the good that also came with this tough stage.

Elliott has picked up a wonderful habit that his Daddy has modeled well for him. Every night before bed, while I am feeding and rocking Julianne to sleep, Elliott comes in the room, before he goes to read his bedtime story and tells me "thank you for making us dinner, Momma." Gary did not instruct him to do this, but he has watched his Daddy tell me thank you for cooking dinner, and decided on his own, that he too wanted to thank me, even on the nights I make something he hates. It's quite precious. On Sundays and Wednesdays he switches it up, and tells me "thank you for taking me to church."

After he thanks me, he says "oh, I need to give you a hug and a kiss." I happily oblige, and about halfway to the door he turns around and says "oh, one more hug," and heads back toward me. {every. single. night.}

Elliott has on multiple occasions told me "you look pretty, Mommy." (Props to Gary again for modeling that well.) And he asks if I'm "wearing my princess" any time I wear a maxi dress. :) He even told me he was going to "marry Mommy" the other day after listening to his favorite song, "Rude", which says "I'm gonna marry that girl." Who even knew he knew what that meant?

He loves to sing. He knows almost every Florida Georgia Line song, and he often bursts out singing something I had no idea he knew.

He loves to play trains, and I love to listen to him make them talk to each other, and watch his little hands push them along the track or line them up on the edge of a table or his bed.

He tells us he loves us, unprompted, multiple times a day. This is the absolute best. It makes everything we do as parents totally worthwhile.

When Gary was out of town last week, Elliott climbed in bed with me late one night. He asked where his Daddy was, and I reminded him that he was in Las Vegas. He then snuggled close to me and told me "don't worry, I will keep you and Juliannie safe." I mean how could I send him back to his bed after that?

I'm sure there are loads of other sweet things this boy has said and done lately, but these are a few that have really made me smile. He is full of life. He's growing into such a sweet, caring little boy, and it's such a joy to get to be a part of it.

I heard a poem on the radio this week about how hard it is to be a parent, but that there is a last time for everything we do as parents, and while many of our daily tasks seem monotonous, frustrating and exhausting, we don't get to do them forever. Some day I'll give him a bath for the last time. I'll chase him around the house trying to get him to eat his dinner for the last time. He'll say "hold me Momma" while I'm busy getting ready for work for the last time some day. He'll wake me up at two in the morning to sleep between Momma and Daddy for the last time one night. I cried right there in the car. It was just what I needed to hear in the thick of the "terrible twos", because however terrible they may seem some days, I can hardly bear to think of life where my purpose and calling is no longer to mother these babies. It truly is my greatest joy while here on Earth.

August 14, 2014

Julianne: 3 months


Just like that, you're 3 months old! This has been a fun month, because we've gotten to see your little personality begin to come out. You are such a happy baby, and you've been an absolute joy to mother. Here are some milestones from your third month.

-We don't go to the doctor this month, so I'm not sure what your stats are, but I would guess about 12 and a half pounds and 24 inches.

-You go to bed between 8 and 8:30 most nights. You typically wake up at 5 to eat, then go back to sleep until about 7:30.

-We still swaddle you for naps and at bedtime, but you've been escaping it when you're ready to get up.

-You are still wearing some 0-3 month clothes, but mostly 3-6 month things.

-We are still using cloth diapers. You look adorable in all the little pink and purple ones. It's been surprisingly easy to adjust to using them, in fact, I wish I had used them with Elliott.

-You're smiling and cooing at us all the time. I cannot get over how happy and content you are!

-You still have trouble going to the bathroom, so you get apple juice about once a week to help you along. This happened to your brother as well, so I'm not too worried about it.

-Aside from a little juice, you are still on a diet of only breast milk, nursing when we're together and taking a bottle of expressed milk when I'm at work. You nurse 10-20 minutes every 3 hours during the day.

-You've been staying with Pia 2 days a week this month while I'm at work, but you start daycare next week. Elliott is looking forward to having you at his school with him.

-You're holding your head up pretty well now, and you don't seem to mind tummy time. You've also started rolling over on your side when we lay you on your back.

-You've found your hands. You like to look at them and suck on them.

-You still have all of your dark hair. It's the first thing everyone notices about you. You truly are a beauty!

Time is flying much too quickly for me. I'm trying to soak up every moment with you, and I am always praising the Lord for your sweet, happy disposition. We look forward to watching your personality continue to show this next month. You bring so much joy to our family.

I love you sweet girl,

August 12, 2014

garden update:

Well, it's been a while since my last update. I'm honestly not sure how moms with more than one kid blog more than once or twice a month. I've been taking lots of pictures, but my free time to upload, edit and blog is sparse these days. I still have photo books I need to make from 2012. I hope Julianne has (any) photo albums someday. But I wanted to post a quick update on our summer garden. It's pretty much done now that Julianne is starting to stay awake for longer stretches during the day, but I was pretty proud of the progress we did have.

The spinach was eaten up with bugs and the squash got way too much rain, but the cucumbers thrived, and my herbs were looking good until about last week when I forgot to water them for several days. I don't think I'll ever be a master gardener, but I'm glad we gave it a try. It was fun handing out cucumbers and pickles from our own backyard to family and friends.

^^^ cucumber trellis. ^^^

^^^ baby squash. ^^^

^^^ baby cucumber. ^^^

^^^ our first harvest! ^^^

^^^ squash from the garden. ^^^

^^^ my little helper showing off his harvest. ^^^

^^^ fresh mint water. ^^^

^^^ potted herbs. the cilantro bit the dust early on… ^^^

^^^ making pickles with our cucumbers. ^^^

^^^ homemade, homegrown pickles, yum! ^^^
The compost is looking pretty good too. It's breaking down nicely, and maybe we'll have some we can use if we attempt another garden next summer.

I'm glad I gave it a try. It was surprisingly much easier than I expected, but finding the time to maintain it here toward the end of the summer has proven difficult. Maybe next year we'll have more success once we are all in a better routine as a family of four.

Let me know if you need some cucumbers, we've still got plenty of those!

July 22, 2014

summer fun:

We've been enjoying all the mild weather we've gotten this summer. 70s and 80s in July are unheard of here in Arkansas! We've been to the lake with my family several times, set up Elliott's pool and water table in the back yard, visited the local splash park with friends, checked out story time at the children's library, joined the crazies for dollar day at the zoo, made a trip to Arkadelphia to visit Gary's family at the "Grant get-away", and frequented Sonic for half price shakes more times than I can count.

Elliott has reached the age where he is starting to entertain himself some, so we've enjoyed sitting back and watching him sing and play this summer. He is full of energy and personality!

^^^ fourth of july at the lake. ^^^

^^^ yummy red, white and blue treats! ^^^
^^^ the whole gang at lunch on the fourth. ^^^
^^^ Elliott wanted to try everything on Grandmommy's plate. ^^^

^^^ these two love to get in bed with Pia and Poppy every morning at the lake house. ^^^

^^^ Julianne meeting her great grandma (Grant) for the first time. ^^^

^^^ the way that belly hangs over his little sagging swim trunks, I just love it! ^^^

^^^ playing in his pool with his best friend, Paisley. ^^^

Summer is only half way over, and it's getting easier to get out and about with both kids, so we've still got a few things on our summer bucket list to check off. Stay tuned for homemade popsicles, a visit to the sno cone stand, and a picnic at the park.

July 18, 2014

big brother status:

Quick update: There's so many wonderful things going on, and I've wanted to record them all here, but I'm exhausted, and any time I get both kids to sleep, I pass out on the couch. Seriously, I've never been more tired in all my life. I stay up until midnight to pump, Elliott is climbing in bed with us every night between 1 and 2:00, and Julianne wakes up to nurse somewhere between 3 and 6. I'm working out at 6:15 with a trainer twice a week trying to loose this baby weight, and on the days I'm not, Elliott is up by 6:30 anyway. I'm back at work two days a week, and trying to keep up with house work, meals and laundry in between. Gary has been awesome helping me juggle everything, I couldn't do this without him! 

Three things I've realized: 1- We need a king size bed. 2- Our parents are awesome. I had no idea as a kid how stressful their lives could be. They were sacrificing left and right for us, and walking around like zombies in desperate need of a good night's sleep, but they never let on that it was hard, they just did it. So thanks mom and dad, I appreciate you more and more every day! and 3- I'm not cut out for life as a single mom. I'm so thankful to have a partner to share this crazy life with. 

All that being said, I can't imagine a life more rewarding. Parenting these two sweet babies is my greatest joy. It's crazy hard, and some days I just want to cry, but it's also so, so wonderful.

Ok, on to what I really wanted to share, some pictures and stories of Elliott blossoming in his new role as big brother. He has done so well adjusting to sharing his mom and dad. He tells me all the time he loves Julianne, and his actions certainly show it. He loves to join her on her play mat and talk to her in  the sweetest little voice. He gives her her paci if she starts to cry and if that doesn't work he will kindly ask me if it's "time for her to nurse?" Just the other day he walked up to her, poked her little cheek and said "you're cute!" It's precious. We love watching them interact. 

One night I laid Julianne on Elliott's bed while I went to grab his toothbrush. When I came back in, he was showing her his toys and telling her what each one was. He didn't even notice when I came back with the camera to take pictures. She was watching him intently as if she understood every word he was saying. When he finished showing her his toys, he started "reading" a book to her. It was so fitting that I was able to capture this moment while he was wearing his "best bro ever" shirt (which he did not want to take off in the days following her birth).

Another day, Elliott requested some stickers to play with. I found some and put them on him, then went back to cleaning the kitchen. A few minutes later I noticed him sitting by Julianne's cradle. I came over to find her blanket covered in stickers. He looked up at me, smiling from ear to ear, and said "look mommy, I gave Juliannie some stickers."

He often asks us to put the Boppy around him so he can hold Julianne. He loves to give her kisses, and asks me if she is a princess any time she is wearing a dress. (I can already tell she is going to have a hard time dating as long as he's around looking out for her.) He is pretty crazy about his little sister, and he's protective of her too. He doesn't like many people to hold her. Many times he has requested that someone "give her back to mom." And if I'm laying with him and she starts to cry in the other room, he rarely protests if I tell him I need to go check on her.

Just this week he started bringing his stool into her room when I'm changing her diaper so he can be face to face with her. He talks to her, brings her toys, and comforts her when she cries, saying "it's ok Julianne, I'm right here."

We are so blessed to have been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after these two little ones. I literally thank God every night when I'm putting them to bed for choosing me to be their momma. I can sleep when they are grown up and gone. These moments are too precious to miss!

July 15, 2014

Julianne - 2 months:


You've been a part of our little family for two full months now.  Your Daddy and I are loving being your parents, and watching you learn and grow each month.  You are already changing so fast!  Here is a list of milestones from your second month:

-At your 2 month well check you weighted 10 pounds, 11 ounces, (25th percentile) which was a one and a half pound weight gain since last month, measured 23 inches (75th percentile!), which was a one and a quarter inch growth since last month, and had a head circumference of 14 inches (40th percentile).

-You're wearing size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothes, but we just switched to our cloth diapers now that you can fit in them.

-You started smiling at us at 5 weeks. You like high pitched voices and over exaggerated facial expressions. 

-You've started cooing at us this month too. We love hearing your sweet voice "talking" to us!

-You slept through the night this month, starting with a six hour stretch and making the occasional 8 hour stretch. 

-You're sleeping in your crib in your own room now.

-You still love to be swaddled when you are getting sleepy, and you nap off and on all day in your swing.

-You are getting better with your paci, but you can't keep it in your mouth for more than about 5 minutes.

-You've had problems with pooping, infant acne, and cradle cap this month, but it's nothing a little coconut oil and apple juice couldn't fix.

-I started back to work two days a week. You're staying with Pia on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10-5:30. Your Daddy keeps you until I get off at 6. You'll start day care with Elliott in mid August.

-You're doing great with nursing, and as a result, your weight gain has really taken off (you've developed some pretty cute little rolls on your thighs).  You're still exclusively breastfeeding when we're together, and are drinking expressed breast milk from a bottle while I'm at work (three 3oz bottles a day). You nurse for about 20 minutes every 2-3 hours during the day.

-We do about 5 minutes of "tummy time" most day. You're getting stronger at holding your head up, and don't seem to mind being on your belly.

-You like bath time now, and you cry when you have to get out.

-You HATE your carseat. We've had to endure lots of screaming in the car this month.

-You've started using your hands more. You love to play with your hair while you are nursing. It's adorable!
-People can't decide if you look more like me or your Daddy, we get mixed reviews, but everyone agrees you look a lot like your big brother.

We love you more every day. It's hard to imagine what our family was like before you joined us. Your sweet, laid back personality is bringing us all immense joy, and we look forward to continuing to watch you grow this month.