Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tis the Season

Right after Thanksgiving (or maybe the day before :) ) we kicked off the Christmas season putting up our decorations and yes, busting out the Christmas music. But we did something new this year.....

We built our first gingerbread train.... Thank you, Meemaw! Ivy thought it was so fun. We really built the train in part one and then we needed to get our wiggles out and come back to the project later.

So that evening Ivy put on the finishing touches decorating it with every last piece of candy included in the kit! It was so much fun! This was a great way to get us all in the mood for Christmas :)
Another fun thing..... we have 4 stockings hanging on the mantle!!! This was one of those ah-ha moments where I said "Oh my goodness, I have two children!!"

Christmas gets better and better every year!

ps- Dance recital post coming VERY soon!!!

Dear Tula

Dear Tula Belle,
I love you so much! Tomorrow I go back to work and leave you for the first time.... for more than a couple of hours. Over the past 12 weeks I have learned so much about you. I know the way you fuss when you need to burp, the way your eyes droop a certain direction when you are sleepy, the way you wiggle into my arms and let me know when you want to be held differently, the way you scream :) when you are hungry, and the way you smile when you are just so content! I know you inside and out the way that only a mommy knows her baby and tomorrow morning I have to trust that someone else will care for you just as perfectly. It is scary but I will be brave for you. It makes me nervous but I don't want you to feel my anxiety so I will try to relax. Deep down I know it will be okay but it doesn't make it easier to leave.

I hope that someday you will be proud to have a working mommy. When I work I am more organized and I am better at managing my time. When I come home from work I try to maximize my time as a mommy and wife and I leave work at work. These are lessons that my mommy taught me and I hope they will be helpful to you someday.

I hope that someday you will find something to call a job that you love the way I really love teaching. Going to work is so much more than work. I make a difference....every day..... and I really believe that. God gave me the gift of teaching and I feel that I should use that gift. Teaching helps me to be a better mommy because I know what you will grow into someday :) I pray that you will find something that you are passionate about so that you never have to "work" a day in your life!

Tomorrow you will have a great day at Kristy's.... I am sure of it! Your big sister will be there to take care of you and watch over you- and I am certain she will be your voice when you don't have one. When I am teaching please know that I am doing it for you. I am providing for my family in the only way that I know how. And while I am with my kiddos at school I will be missing you but trusting that you are being cared for the same way my students' parents trust that I am caring for their little ones. When one of my students isn't having the best day I will love on them the way I hope you are being loved on. When I get home we will all cuddle. You, Ivy, and me will snuggle together on the couch. We will read stories and laugh. We will sing songs and Ivy can dance for us!

I am so thankful for the time I had to love you and learn the best way to be your mommy!

I love you to the moon and back,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful on Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had lots of fun :) It made me excited to dress Ivy and Tula alike for the very first time. Hop on over to Belle's Boutique to take a look at some of the cute things my friend, Ashley, is making these days!

Top 10 things that I am thankful for:
10. A great work environment.... I love the teachers I work with, I have a super boss, and I literally have the best class on Earth! I have a great place to go back to on Monday- but it is still so hard to leave my tiny baby!

9. Health benefits and a 13 wk maternity leave.

8. Good health in my family and friends.

7. A house that we have made a home.

6. Wonderful weather and good times enjoying being outside.

5. Friends who are always there.

4. A great support system of family for Greg and I.... grandparents and an Unc and Esie to love our children!

3. New babies and big sisters.

2. My marriage to the best husband and daddy I could have ever longed for.

1. A relationship with my Lord and my daily prayers answered and unanswered by Him. Trusting He knows what is best.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Object of my Affection

Tula is truly the object of Jack's affection :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Day

Ivy has been referring to Thanksgiving as "Giving Day" for the past few weeks. It really is about remembering to be thankful for all that we have been blessed with and then remembering that the Christmas season to come is all about giving to others. I want Ivy to learn this at a young age but it is hard for a 3 year old who wants EVERYTHING and who has a mommy who sometimes displays this "wanting" attitude too. It is so important to watch the behaviors that we model as parents and the holidays are a great time to teach our little ones about loving others!

A few weeks ago we were at Chick-Fil-A and that is when God began paving the way to teach Ivy about giving. With our meal with got a little flier about Operation Christmas Child and this was a new thing for me! It was a simple way to give to under privileged children around the globe. You pack a shoebox full of little wants and needs for a child.... small toys, hard candy, school supplies, toiletries, etc. You add a $7 check for shipping and this Christmas package is delivered to a child in need. SIMPLE! We were ready and then God spoke some more...

I saw the Operation Christmas Child local rep on the news and guess where our shoe boxes were going- BOLIVIA! This was not a coincidence. God was paving the way for a great discussion with Ivy. Greg and I went on a mission trip to Bolivia and a little piece of our hearts were left behind with those families. We continue to sponsor a child there, pray for the community, and would love to go back and serve again someday. This made it easier to explain giving to Ivy. We had pictures to show her and a way to really get across how little these people had.

Ivy was into the pictures. Of course she wanted to know everyone's name and by the end of it she was ready to pack a bathtub and a potty into our shoe box and send it on it's way. We made a list of the things we would buy and talked a lot about how this was not a shopping trip for Ivy. I was worried that it would become a battle about her. She is only 3 and this is normal but I was concerned. I wanted her to be excited about giving to a child in Bolivia.

We went to the store and she got to be in charge. She picked our some bouncy balls, a light up toy, a monkey stuffed animal, a pack of markers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and a wash cloth. She was so happy to be buying these things for someone else! She told the girl at the check out that we were putting this in a Christmas shoe box :) There were no melt downs or "what about me?" tantrums. Ivy was displaying such joy to give to someone else.

She was proud to come home and pack the box up and is ready for it to be sent on it's merry way!!

If you are looking for a way to celebrate "giving day" with your child this is a great program!! It is not too late.... go online and find out where this is going on near you :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baby Tula's Video Debut

So when I decided to bust out the camera, Tula had been cooing away to her little crib friends for awhile. I was a bit too late (as you will see) and only caught a moment of her chatting with turtle and butterfly. Instead I got all other things Tula loves to do on video :) The sweet life of a baby!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Be A Princess

With the recent news of Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement... I wonder.... what would it be like to wake up and be a princess? Even though my Daddy has called me his princess for as long as I can remember (until Ivy stole the crown), I know I am a far cry from a princess. I have laundry looming, dishes to clean, meals to prepare, and in a couple short weeks I will be doing this all with a full time job. When I am day dreaming about having a princess status- I don't have to look far to see what it would be like!

Everyday Ivy wakes up and believes she really is a princess. She dazzles herself with all things royal and is on her way. She can choose who she wants to be at any given moment and she really embraces it. She poses for pictures, gazes in the mirror, twirls, grins, and loves herself. I hope this never changes. I want to teach my princess to always be confident and to always love herself and to believe she can be whoever it is that she wants to be!

A prima ballerina?

A real fairy.... or is she an perfect angel??? :)

A twist on Princess Cinderella?

I am sure Ivy will not grow up to be any of the above.... but for now I am embracing her HUGE imagination and her love for the life of a princess!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Night, Night

We started a night time routine with Tula about 2 weeks ago. This proved to be very helpful for Ivy, who slept through the night beginning at 9 weeks! (Come on, Tula, that was SOOOO last week!) We feel like a consistent routine is a good thing for so many reasons:

1. It helps calm Tula.
2. She knows that night time sleep is coming.
3. It gives Greg and I guaranteed time together each evening.
4. We hope it will lead to a full nights sleep.... eventually!

So here is what Tula experiences each night!
We start with her last night time feeding which takes place between 7:30 and 8:30. After she is done eating she gets in the bath tub. She is still taking a bath in the little bath tub in the sink. She loves bath time and talks, coos, smiles, and seems wide awake!

HEY! Don't take my picture, mama! I am taking a bath!

But rather than wide awake, Tula is truly winding down from the day. To prevent dry skin, we alternate soap days and simply give a water bath every other day. The end result is the same.... she is calmed by the water and this signals that night time is coming.

After bath time, Tula gets lotion on and we usually do this with very little light so her eyes get used to the dark. She begins to get sleepy. After getting on her clean diaper and pajamas she gets swaddled up (one arm out, my friends!) then we read stories to her.

We like to read 2 stories. We always end with Goodnight Moon which is a Mommy, Daddy, Ivy, and now Tula favorite. We could seriously read it with our eyes closed :) And Ivy can recite the story to Tula since this was part of her routine for a LONG LONG time!

After reading the stories we turn out the lights, and turn on both her sea horse and the little lamb sound machine. Both of these noises soothe Tula and drown out any other noises in the room. We use both of these devices during nap times as well. The sea horse plays music for 5 minutes and the lamb does water sounds (that's our favorite) for 40 minutes. We lay Tula down awake but drowsy and within minutes....

Tula is sound asleep!

We have never let Tula cry it out. We go in if she fusses and rub her belly and give her the paci. The first few nights this lasted about 20-25 minutes and now we sometimes go in once or twice. She is used to going to sleep and typically doesn't wake up until it is time to eat!
She is still eating during the night once but goes right back to sleep and then wakes up for the morning between 6 and 7.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meet Poppy's Sister.... Isa

Ivy and Isa watching Poppy in his dance show AKA recital.

Maybe you remember meeting Poppy this summer! He was a regular at our house and still is. He seems to be better behaved than he was this summer so Ivy doesn't have to reprimand him nearly as much. Now they are primarily playmates, or on a rough day... partners in crime. But Poppy is no longer flying solo.... he has a new baby sister, Isa (born sometime in September- SHOCKER!). This made it clear to Greg and I, that Poppy most definitely mimics Ivy's life and her every day behaviors. Poppy is adjusting to his baby sister quite well. He and Ivy both seem to struggle with waking up the babies and wanting to squeeze their feet and hands a little too hard as these conversation clips show :)

Ivy: Poppy, don't you know you can't wake up Isa when she is sleeping or she might eat AGAIN!

Ivy: Okay, Poppy, I know you think she is so "shcute" but you can't squeeze her so tight.

Ivy: Isa, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.... Poppy is your big brother and he loves you sooooo much.

Again, I am interpreting this as the reasons Ivy does the things she does and hoping it is just because she loves Tula SOOOOOOO much and she thinks she is so "shcute!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2 Month News

Tula Belle
2 months
Weight: 9 lbs 4 oz (14%)
Height: 22 inches (30%)
What's new for Miss Tula?
* Tula is growing, growing! The doctor was excited to say she had moved from the 5% at birth to the 14% at 2 months. Always a good thing!
* Tula loves to eat and is still doing a great job nursing. She let go of the nipple shield at 5 weeks and Mama is still enjoying and appreciating this time with her little one.
* Tula has had a few bottles from Daddy. She has done great but the lactation nurse says she needs to be practicing a lot before I go to back to work.
* Tula has mastered the eat, wake, sleep routine. She eats every 3ish hours during the day, 2 hours in the evening, and goes a 6 hour then 4 or 5 hour stretch at night.
* Tula is a good sleeper. She naps more in the morning and is more alert in the afternoon/evening. At night, she wakes up to eat and then goes immediately back to sleep.
* Tula has grown to enjoy being swaddled but is quick to push one hand out so she can rub the back of her head.... I believe we will have another hair twirler on our hands.
* Tula loves her paci, swing (thank the Lord), baby carrier, and surprisingly, the car seat!
* Tula loves to be read to and sang to.... especially by big sister! She adores Ivy!
* Tula is super smiley right after she eats and at bath time.
* Tula does have acid reflux... sadly. Ivy was a happy spitter (no acid for her) and Tula spits very little, instead it goes up and down burning her each time. She gasps, gets red faced, and arches her little back when this happens. We tried to wait it out but with no improvement now are on Zantac (last night we had no episodes so that is positive).
Overall, Tula Belle is doing awesome. I am enjoying mommy-hood even more this time around. I am so much more relaxed (Ivy is liking this too)! We love Miss Tula and are so proud to be her Mommy, Daddy, and Big Sis. We are taking in each little moment with our sweet baby because we know those times get away from us too fast.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TrickS or TreatS

TrickS or TreatS.....
Who says that, seriously? That is what I was saying after watching Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin with Ivy..... and over and over and over they kept saying "Tricks or Treats" and it has been stuck in my head ever since. If next Halloween I try to teach Tula to say "Trick or Treat" Charlie Brown style, I am holding you personally responsible to stop me!!! No child of mine will have the candy catching phrase wrong!

On to Halloween...
We had a super time! We had our 2nd annual Halloween dinner and trick or treat with the Amburgey's- and we had 2 more little people joining us this year! All in all, we had a great time eating Cicely's amazing chicken and dumplings, along with salad and fruit. The kids had a blast trick or treating and saying THANK YOU (with their Mama's reminding them) at every last house! Next year, it will be time for Ivy and Rhett to vacate the wagon and Tula and Sidney Shea will get to be riding buddies.
We didn't get one Trick or Treat this year, but instead we got two!
We were extra excited to get to dress up as a pretty little fairy one more time at Nana and Pops house on Sunday evening. Ivy definitely came home with lots of candy and a Halloween hangover on Monday (taking a SUPER long nap and being quite the grouch that evening). Today she woke up ready to conquer the day and beg for treats starting at 7:40AM!

The Smorstad Family
Halloween 2010

Fairies, Kitties, and Sharks.... OH MY!

TrickS or TreatS.... just kidding.... I will NOT use that wrong phrase any more!

Daddy and his little Tula Bear

The girls taking over the wagon for a bit!

Tired after too much candy!

Showing Tula the joys of Trick or Treating!

Loving her fairy costume and sparkly fairy shoes... I was reprimanded when suggesting her tennis shoes since "fairies don't wear tennis shoes!"

Pops and his fairy

Nana and Pops loving on Ivy and Tula!