Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Baby Milestone

Snoozing so peacefully....

Today Tula turns 10 months old. At 10 months she is still absolutely the happiest baby around! She can instantly put a smile on any groucher's face and she gives out giggles to calm a stressful situation at the perfect time. Tula is so sweet..... she really is :)

But 10 months marks an even bigger milestone for Mommy and Sweet Baby- Tula nursed for the last time this week. Now before you give a sad- "awwwww!"- hear me out, we were totally ready. Both of us- which has made this the easiest transition in the world. I have feared the day that I nursed for the last time for so many reasons:

I thought I would be sad.
I thought I would feel like I had given up.
I thought I would be bitter at those who could nurse longer.
I thought Tula would be sad.
I thought Tula would be confused.
I thought Tula would feel rejected.
I thought the days following would be rough.
I thought I would have to FORCE a bottle on Tula.
I thought Tula would continue to try to nurse.
I thought I would regret it.
I thought Tula would be fussy....and change.
I thought I would feel disconnected... and change.
I thought Tula and I would change.

Thankfully, everyone of my fears has been easily dismissed. None of them have happened- not even in the slightest. When my nursing journey was done with Ivy, it wasn't really done. I wasn't finished. I dealt with so much sadness. This time "done" means I am so proud of us. Tula and I were a team. We dedicated a lot of time and energy to nursing and making it work this time and boy, has it worked! Nursing Tula has been one of the single greatest Mommy experiences for me. It healed all the pain that I felt with Ivy, when our time was cut short.

Ending nursing means bottles- and Tula is already saying "ba-ba" and furiously nodding her head "YES!" when you show her a bottle. It seems absurd that she had many difficult bottle days with the babysitter over the school year. Now she is obviously at peace with giving up the boobs and moving onto the "ba-ba!"

I am thankful for this journey.

I was ready for the change.

I will be looking forward to nursing another sweet baby in our future (not too soon- please)!

Her feet are often crossed and they fit so perfectly into each other.... this was often the position of her toes in the womb.... I just know it!

Play Dough Fun

Well, since this summer hasn't been filled with perfect pool days (like today- yay!!) I have had to become creative. What can we do at home.... fun, free, and using what we already have! When Tula is taking her morning nap I spend time doing something with Ivy- our special Mommy and me time- we play games, color, paint, do play dough, string bead necklaces, etc. But those things have all been used a few too many times. So we put together pipe cleaners, beads, and play dough to create these little creatures:

She was so proud :) Mommy was trying to stick to the easies... dogs, cats, pigs, etc. But Ivy was persistent that we need a giraffe- our favorite zoo animal! So the purple and yellow.... yep, it is our shot at a giraffe!

Here she is putting finishing touches on a baby jellyfish- :)

I am hoping since I posted this fun, easy, items you have on hand, kind-of craft for those rainy days.... they will be jinxed and we will have all sunshine from here on out! We deserve it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lessons with Friends

I wasn't going to blog on this for a few reasons- a. this is my family blog and I don't usually post a lot about "me" and b. well, it's the Internet and it's public and you never know. But then as these feelings, hurts, memories have continued to stir over the last 24 hours I decided to write about it for a few more IMPORTANT reasons- a. it ties to how I want to parent and b. God is looking me in the face over and over and saying- WRITE IT and c. well, it's the Internet and it's public and you never know (is that a good thing?)....

So yesterday morning we had Ivy's friend Addy over to play. These girls have been friends since they were babies and we have been through the "terrible two's" with them but lately they have had a blast- canoeing, camping, dressing up, playing tag, you name it! But yesterday, my little darling was in quite a funk. I mean "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" kind of mood. She was snippy to Tula (gasp!) and Mommy (gasp!) when she first woke up so I was a little worried how Ivy would treat Addy. I concluded that Addy would "cheer her up" and the play date began. Well, needless to say, Ivy was less than kind.... and in 2 hours went to time out twice, got a spanking, and said SORRY to poor Addy more than once! It was over normal kid things but none the less I was embarrassed at how Ivy had acted. After lunch Ivy spent some time in her room "thinking about things"- like how Jesus wants us to treat our friends and how Addy might have felt after Ivy wasn't so kind. We had some BIG talks and I made sure that Ivy knew how important it was that she said sorry and how we need to think about how we treat our friends. We prayed together for Jesus to clean our hearts of "ugly" feelings, clean our mouths of "ugly" words, and for Addy to truly forgive the way we treated her.

Fast forward, to nap time.... I really was stewing about our morning together. I prayed about my mission statement as a parent. And more than anything else- more than being smart, being athletic, being pretty, etc.- I want my children to really love others. I was sad about how Ivy didn't show this today when she had a guest over to play. (Not to say she is always this way- usually she is pretty sweet to her friends, and yes, Addy's mommy assures me that she wants to come back!!) But for some reason, today really had me thinking about the "girl drama" that may really surface as my girls become teenagers. SCARY thought- huh??

This brought me back to my own life, growing up as a girl- a little drama in my life, most definitely! I wish I could look back and say otherwise but it just wouldn't be true. And as I was thinking back, I kept coming over one event and thinking- how did this happen? No apologies. Surely she knows to say she is sorry and surely her mom had these conversations that Ivy and I have been having.... even as a 20 year old if it was needed..... surely, right??

After 5 years of a very on again, off again, kind of drama-filled friendship, I got engaged. Guess who was on again? Yep, us. We were way "on." Lived together almost 2 years- if you count a dorm bed that we practically shared even though she didn't actually live in the dorms. Went shopping. Had lots of yummy meals. Took pictures. Laughed together. Watched a lot of TV!! Walked through anxiety. Cried together. We were together so much- Greg, her, and I- that we joked that we should send out "family" Christmas cards with the 3 of us. Then in the 11 months of my engagement, things became distant, and even with several efforts to make it "ok"- 4 days before my wedding in an "UGLY" conversation she told me that she was not going to be my maid of honor- and in fact, she wouldn't even be a guest at my wedding.

So it quickly went from bad to worse and wow, I was so sad and then I was so mad. And still I am so sad and so mad. Six and half years later, there is no closure- we have not spoken, written a letter, or barely even looked at each other. I have been in the same room on more than one occasion and oh, the wound is still there and it stings so bad. I pray about it- a lot. There has been times when it has almost consumed me- pray to LET it go. Pray for her. Pray to heal. It should be fine right?? I mean she didn't "ruin" my wedding- it was beautiful, I married the love of my life. I should be "over it." But it just hurts and as I think about raising a daughter through the trenches of girl drama this event is going to raise it's ugly head at me every time- and the devil- is going to hang it over me, convincing me to still harbor anger. But that is not who I want to be as a mama, a model to my girls.

Bringing us back to yesterday, last night I took Ivy took our church's "Off The Hook" production- for her, not me- one would think.... but God has bigger plans- the whole story was about forgiveness. It showed the parable of the rich ruler who forgave the debt of a slave but then the slave didn't forgive the small debt someone owed him. It reminded us all of God's forgiveness EVERY DAY.... and how He really cleans our slates.... just like Ivy and I prayed.... He wipes the "ugly" feelings from our hearts and takes away our mistakes. The last words of "Off the Hook" reminded us to really let people who have hurt us "off the hook"- to forgive them without anything in return. We are supposed to forgive, for real, for free, forever!

Wow- so who was that message for? I was stirring as I sat in my seat knowing that God put me there. Originally, Greg was going to take Ivy and we decided last minute it would be good for me to have some Mommy time with her. There was someone bigger who had that plan for my life.... that from 7pm to 8pm I was to be filled with God's love and His sometimes difficult truths to really let this go.

So here it is- so I can mark my words- and maybe, just maybe, she will stumble across this letter someday and know my heart.

Dear Dana,
My heart breaks as I relive the days prior to the best day of my life. I was hurt and still am hurt. And yes, when I hear your name it has been stinging for the past 6 and half years. And yes, I have sometimes snarled my nose or said unkind words about you. And yes, even when I thought I truly forgave you I realize that I was waiting.... for something.... from you. You were "on the hook" to me. Well, today, through 3 year old friendships and children's ministries, I can see the big picture- you are "off the hook." I am forgiving you, for real, for free, forever.... because that is the way that God loves me.
Through Him Alone,

When you sign up to be a parent, you never realize how parts of you will be revealed that you don't ever want to face and that you will be changed (for the better) everyday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Help

Lately, Ivy has been "the help" at our house.... when she is in control of her mood swings, that is! She loves helping and is now at the age when I can put her to good use. We have been cleaning out toy tubs, organizing art supplies, and of course helping to grow Baby Tula right up (tear, tear...). Her absolute favorite thing to do is to feed Tula. This is putting all her hard baby doll work into real life practice. And as you can see, Tula is thrilled to have Ivy feeding her some yummy sweet potatoes!

Monday, June 20, 2011


My sweet, almost 4 year old, Ivy!

As summer has kicked off, I have noticed some struggle areas in Ivy's life. Just as I posted about our almost 3 year old behavior last June we are now almost 4.... and have new things to be working on! People talk about the terrible 2's, the trying 3's, and the freakin' (that is the nice word) 4's- and I would say every age has it's ups and downs and as parents we are constantly figuring out what is going to work with our child.

At 2- we worked on setting limits, giving warnings, praising, and the beginning of time out.

At 3- we have continued being very consistent, created SEVERAL positive behavior charts with specific goals, and have pin-pointed our "non-negotiables."

Now at almost 4- we feel it is important to teach Ivy some coping skills.

Gone are the days of simply scolding Ivy for her ugly behavior again and again. This has stopped working- in fact, I believe it may even fuel her fire. Now we are on to identifying (or trying to!) the cause or feeling behind it and then teaching Ivy how to cope with those feelings. As an adult- I get angry, mad, sad, tired, jealous, annoyed, etc. but you won't catch me stomping, screaming, and sobbing like the Rite Aid cameras, Nana and Pops, and innocent Tula caught Ivy doing this weekend! All separate occasions.... of course!

So here are some of the strategies that we are beginning to teach and really practice in our house- we are doing a lot of reminding and modeling and are already seeing Ivy do some of these things independently!

When you are feeling sad....
It is not always acceptable to cry (loudly) or whine incessantly so let's talk about it instead because often times someone else can help you. I want Ivy to say, "Mommy, I feel sad because I want to play longer." If I hear her say she feels sad, I don't want to argue or scold her but rather I am going to try to stop and take time to love on her and explain the why. I hope that this extra GOOD attention will ward off any tantrums and we will move on much quicker.

This morning I heard Ivy use this- "Mommy, I feel sad because I can't find my special markers and you are busy feeding Tula." I was so proud that she didn't begin stomping and screaming so I said, "Ivy, why don't you bring your coloring book to the table and sit with me until I am done?" Worked like a charm, she helped feed Tula some bites and waited for me to help her look for the markers when I was finished.... Go, Ivy!

When you are feeling mad....
It is NOT okay to stomp, scream, and kick like Ivy is known to do. Instead walk away... and let it be your choice. I told Ivy that sometimes Mommy walks away when I feel mad because if I stay around I might say something that is hurtful. I gave her examples of when I CHOOSE to walk away and told her that at home, at Nana's, and even at the pool or park she can always CHOOSE to walk safely away (over to our chairs at the pool or to a bench at the park). When you walk away it gives you time to calm down before you talk about it. And it keeps you out of trouble when you can use nice words or nice behaviors EVEN when you are mad.

Before Ivy used the "I feel sad when I can't find my markers...." she used this technique. She had looked in the basket and two drawers and she was getting mad that she couldn't find them. She put the coloring book down and chose to go to her room. I didn't follow her or interrupt but in less than a minute she was able to collect her thoughts and come and communicate that she was sad because I was busy when she needed my help. Go, Ivy!

When you are feeling angry....
It is not okay to hurt someone else. But I am teaching her to take deep breaths and count to 10! It has been fun to model this with her today. :) Right now I think that she thinks this is silly but I hope in time I will see her use this. I have modeled that in just a few breaths and counting to 1o I get GOOD energy to push through what ever is making me angry.... finding a shirt that fits just right or having to pick up 100 cheerios off the floor! I see her little eyes watching and taking it all in and I hope that she thinks about coping with her anger like this next time.

We are starting small with just a few skills but hope that it makes her feel in control- which is what she wants more than anything! I know that some rough spots are just part of growing up but I hope to provide her with some tools that can last a lifetime. And for the mean time if Ivy can cope with her feelings it may provide some peace in our home. :)

What coping skills do you think are important for little ones to learn?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tula's 9 Month Check

Tula Belle
9 1/2 months :)
Height: 26 3/4 inches (18%)
Weight: 16 lb 5 oz (8%)

Today was Tula's 9 month check up! She is a little bitty thing :) Growing, but still so tiny! Our little Tula is seriously the happiest baby in the world- she smiles all the time. And when she smiles her whole face smiles.... nose scrunches, eyes squint, gums are at full exposure! Here are some updates about our little one!

* Sleeps 12+ hours a night!
* Likes to "sleep in" but usually have to wake her to get our day going
* Takes 2 naps a day- still super flexible on these :)
* Sleeps in her crib EVERY night and loves her mobile, light up sea horse, blankie, and several pacis at her reach
* We LOVE our video monitor so that we can play, play, play while keeping a watch on our sleeping baby!

* Tula loves anything BRIGHT- especially looking into a sea of bright toys in her basket!
* She bounces and claps to music
* She loves the Elmo doll but we have only attempted to watch it once... not so interested
* Tula has a calm about her when she is outside- she loves the pool, going on walks (the newest craze is the wagon), swinging in the baby swing, and trying to eat grass!
* Favorite games- patty cake and peek a boo
* Ivy is still her best friend- but she lights up when she sees other babies too
* She rolls to get where she is going and attempts to get in crawling position but quickly face plants.... still smiling!

This is where the biggest changes are taking place!

What's the same:
* Eating baby food with the introduction of cheerios and fresh fruit in her baby net!
* She still loves the taste of everything as long as you catch her on the right day- every now and then she will spit something out all day but the next day acts like it is chocolate!
* We will start introducing more mushy table food and hope to see some improvement with the use of the sippy cup (she's great as long as you hold it like a bottle for her)!

What's new:
Tula was making a human pacifier of me with the start of summer! I believe she was looking at me thinking- "Hey, the boobs!! They are here all day! :)" And she was making the best of it! However, this is not what I ever intended nursing to be and this summer was supposed to be a time to begin weaning not to become more attached. So.... we have introduced two bottles a day (lunch and dinner) and she is still nursing morning and night. The bottles began as part breast milk part formula and now (after our fridge bit the dust) they are full formula. She is doing great and still happy as a clam! I plan to continue to nurse morning and night for as long as my body allows. Right now I am still full but I figure my supply will drop only nursing every 12 to 13 hours.... if you know what to expect I would love to hear your input?!?
Tula is doing wonderful taking a bottle from me and this makes me SO happy! I love how her little fingers wrap around it and she takes it out and coos at it and drinks some more.

Happy 9 months to our tiny growing girl!
We love you, Tula Belle~

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Girl Wants Curls

And it begins..... the same old story (of EVERY girl on the planet) has started at our house. Little girls notice everything and Ivy has began noticing different hair types. She recently started saying how "adorable" Kylie's little curled pigtails are... and how she likes how Addy's hair curls in the back.... and oh my, Fancy Nancy has REALLY REALLY fancy curls on her head. Then it began- "Mommy, I want Chris to cut my hair curly!" Now, Chris is our wonderful hair dresser/miracle worker but he will not be cutting Ivy's hair curly! :)

So my first approach was to praise her beauty!

"Ivy, you have such pretty hair! It isn't curly but it has such pretty natural highlights in it.... some people pay for hair like that!"

"Ivy, you look beautiful today and your hair is so soft!"

She still was asking how she could get "her hair cut curly."

So my next approach was to point out the obvious!

"Ivy, honey, we are just the straight hair family. Look at Mommy's hair and Nana's hair and Esie's hair and Shea's hair and Josie's hair and Harper's hair...." and on and on I could go naming all the people in our family who clearly have straight hair!

And Ivy's response.... "I still want my hair cut curly next time!"

And then, I remembered the modern day miracle worker of sponge rollers!

This was an easy way to "cut her hair curly" .... with no cutting, no heating, no sitting super still for too long!

She anticipating morning- looking forward to finding herself with all those "adorable little curls!"

The results- She LOVED the curls! She looked in the mirror and said, "Oh... My....Goodness, Mommy! I look like a whole, new girl..... like a princess!" And it was obvious that is how she felt! The curls fell somewhat as the day went on, becoming soft waves, but overall the sponge rollers were a hit. Some nights she decides that she wants curls the next day and other nights she says that she would like straight!

My last approach to this mini-beauty crisis.... the best of both worlds!

I have convinced Ivy that being able to have straight or curly hair means that she is a lucky girl who can do both... so part of our new nightly routine is making the decision about hair!
Wow- the drama at our house! Yes, I have a 3 year old.... going on 16!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Some things....

Some things will never get old....

like dressing my pretty little girls in matching outfits!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The River Train!

To celebrate a long Memorial weekend, we did a family first, Ivy, Daddy, and I took out the big red canoe! Ivy was so excited for Mommy to come along for the ride. She was so funny, trying to give me all the ins and outs of canoeing on the KY river. When we finally got the boat in the water, paddle in my hands, and the captain with his "steering" paddle- we were ready! And Ivy says, "Mommy, are you ready for the river train?" I assumed Greg made that cheesy line up, but it was an Ivy original! :)

Nana and Pops got some much needed Tula time. They got to play with her and take her out to lunch :) with no interruptions! She had fun with her Nana and Pops but was excited to see her Mama after a couple of hours away. Tula is so laid back and Nana and Pops are in shock every time they take Tula for a ride. She actually seems to enjoy riding in the car.....quite the opposite of her sister- since Ivy screamed like a banshee every time she was car seat bound for at least the first year of her life! Geez louise!

Greg and Ivy swam in the Dix River.... but they looked pretty crazy to me! The water was so cold that it took their breath away. So let me correct myself, they didn't swim they took a fast dip and got back in the sunshine! I dipped my toe and that is it! :)

We had a great time on our little family adventure! I am already looking forward to the time when Tula can come along for the ride :) but for now it is special for the 3 of us!