Tuesday, September 25, 2012

letters from an auntie

 On September 19th I jumped out of bed excited and a smile was permanently pressed upon my face all. day. long.  I was waiting in anticipation for a new title- on that day, nearly one week overdue, I was going to become an Auntie for the first time.

All day long my students jumped for joy every time my phone made a peep because they were awaiting the arrival of my nephew just the same.  I wish I could have been in Cincinnati waiting for him and watching the minutes pass in a hospital but instead I let the fun spread through 26 + second graders at Wilmore Elementary.  We started our day with a share square where they taught me what it meant to be a good auntie and we ended it with dismissal and a text message stating "He is here! Long and skinny... everyone is doing great.... pictures soon!"  The wait was over.

Graham Duncan Jones 
September 19th, 2012
2:21 pm 7lb 2oz, 20 3/4" 

 After tons of pictures being sent my way from Wednesday evening on, I finally got to hold my nephew for the first time on Saturday morning.  I was able to visit the new parents (who are doing wonderful) and share this sweet baby with Ivy.  We cuddled him and poured over the perfection of the sweet little baby.

 Ivy was absolutely tickled to see how fun it is to be the big cousin.  She was so excited to finally have a cousin and get to have him all to herself (for a day).... Tula will have to wait until next time!  Ivy held him, loved on him, and decided we need some blue baby in our house soon- especially since she is "such a good holder now." Maybe someday sweet girl, but for now let's just enjoy this little Teddy Graham. 

 Nana and Pops are absolutely smitten with the newest grandchild.  And after meeting Graham, Ivy is perfectly okay with sharing her Nana and Pops!  It is exciting to get to peruse the racks of boy clothes when we go shopping with Nana because we are no longer limited to the pinks.  I can't wait until he gets to wear some precious little boy shoes.... but for now, I will enjoy his long skinny toes on his soft baby feet.  I learned after Ivy was born, not to rush a baby.... ever.  I will enjoy each little moment, because you blink your eyes and they are in kindergarten!

This picture melts my heart.... my baby brother, a daddy, and oh what a wonderful daddy he will be!

Dear Graham,
Welcome to the world, welcome to the family.  I am so excited to see what your life will hold.  You have two parents that were perfectly picked for you.  They love each other, love you, and most important, they love the Lord.  I can't wait to watch them raise you, and I am sure learn from them as I raise my own children.  You are lucky, little one, because your Mommy and Daddy are two of the most selfless people I know.  They approach everything with a serving heart and I am sure they will parent in the same way.  You will grow up in a household where you know what it means to love others and you will know what it means to be a child of God.  I can't wait to watch your heart take shape as you become a little Jones.
Thank you, little teddy Graham, for making me an Auntie.  You and your future siblings are really my only chance to be an aunt, so I promise to do an awesome job!  I would love to be simply Auntie.... since your daddy is simply Unc, to my girls.  I can't wait to spend more time with you and get to share my family with your.  I have such wonderful memories with my own aunts and I am excited to create the same with you.  We can look forward to beach vacations, back yard kick ball games, trips to the museum and the zoo, and someday.... sleepovers!  
I am so glad that you are here- I praise God because He made you in an amazing and wonderful way!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


 This little lady is such a dare devil so what better excitement than the circus?
That is exactly what Nana and Pops decided to give Tula for her birthday.... tickets for The Greatest Show On Earth!  And it just so happened that Tula learned all about the Circus at school the week before.  They tight rope walked on a string on the floor, pretended to be lions jumping through hula hoops, and made clown crafts just in time for her to experience the real thing!

 Last Sunday we woke up from afternoon naps and headed downtown to enjoy the show.  Tula kept pointing at the circus train cars lining the street- we were all curious about what they kept inside.... lions? elephants? fancy ponies? Who knows?!?!

 Tula was already entertained by the clowns "pre-show" tricks.  She had this "WOW!" face the majority of the evening.  The clowns continue to be her favorite part even after seeing the elephants, the tight rope walkers, and the pony show!

 Ivy enjoyed Little Sister's birthday present just as much!  She loved the fancy outfits that the circus girls wore and she was very curious about lots of the circus acts- where do they live? where do they practice? how did they get this job?  I guess the nosey gene comes early in this family!

Even though the circus acts were all very entertaining I don't think anything was quite as fun as the circus food!  Ivy and Tula enjoyed hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy before the evening was over!  We are so thankful that our family got to celebrate our little circus girl at the real circus!  
Barnum and Bailey did not disappoint the Smorstad family! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's Up @ 2?!

Tula Belle is 2 and there is so much going on!

Tula's Stats:
Weight: 22lbs (4th %)
Height: 32in (15th %)
So this is big!  Tula has passed the 10th % in height which is huge.  She still appears to be much smaller than her peers but she is wild enough to keep up with the bunch.  Dr. Menkus is not concerned about her weight because she is on a slow and steady curve and the curve is good.  That makes this Mama feel good and have my worries put to rest.  She wears 12 months clothes but we are hoping to bust out the 18 month winter wardrobe that has been waiting so patiently since last winter. 

Tula's Favorites!
 Favorite Food:  Tula loves "tweats" or treats as most would say.  She loves candy which is funny because I love dessert but candy isn't usually my first choice.  She holds strong that sweet tarts (smarties!), m&m's, and suckers are her favorite foods.  She also loves grilled cheese, watermelon, applesauce, teddy bears (teddy grahams), yogurt, and her once a day vitamin! She is still drinking a lot of milk and water- juice must be in the form of a box to get her to drink it, which is okay with me!
Favorite Toy:  Tula has finally started to play!  It brings so much joy to my heart.  Right now her favorite is baby dolls.  (Again~ I am grinning from ear to ear just typing those words!) She wants to rock them, feed them, push them in her stroller, and of course put them in time out.  She gets easily frustrated when she can't carry all the babies and their accessories so Ivy has just introduced her to the diaper bag and Tula is in heaven.  

Favorite Place:  Tula loves to be outside- anywhere!  She loves to run, explore, and swing.  She loves to collect rocks, mulch, and bugs.  We are thankful that we have another outdoorsy girl as it makes for some perfect family evenings.

Tula's Personality
Everyday Ms. Lisa checks that Tula is "cheerful" and "active" on her daily report.  I would say these words perfectly describe my girl.
She is cheerful when she can be touching you.  Touch is definitely Tula's love language.  She likes to be held, sit on your lap, and recently she has taken to holding hands.  She is definitely a little cuddle bug.
And active.... oh yes, she is active!  I would say she has two speeds "off" or "high."  She is very busy moving all over the place.  She runs, jumps, rolls, climbs, and moves from one toy to the next very quickly.  She is a risk taker in the fullest.  This makes Mama nervous but I just have to keep watch all the time! She also talks on the same two volumes as she moves.  This left her hoarse for the first two weeks of school and we are often challenging her to whisper.  She has not mastered this skill yet! :)

Upcoming Events
In the next year of her life I hope that Tula continues to grow and mature but I am not rushing it.  I love babyhood and I don't want to watch it pass by so quickly.  Dr. Menkus talked to us about getting rid of the paci and potty training and I do believe those things will happen soon- but not yet.

Weaning from the paci: Tula loves her paci and blankie and tends to think of these as one thing.  During the day they are working very hard to have her rely on her blankie for comfort.  This works for some of the day but once she is home she acts like she was starving for the paci.  We have heard her say many times "I need my paci!" and usually we let her have it!  Ivy was free from the paci at 2 1/2 and my goal with Tula is by 3.  We'll see!

Potty training: I have a confession.  I have never potty trained a child!  Ivy woke up on her 2nd birthday, declared she was wearing panties, and never looked back!  She was ready in the best way possible.  Tula is not- she doesn't stay dry for long periods, she soaks through her diaper most nights, and she isn't "regular."  All signs that showed Ivy was ready before her 2nd birthday.  Tula is interested in the potty and has had a few successes but more often she puts on panties, doesn't go in the potty, and within 5 minutes will wet the panties and be ready for some new ones.  I will be watching for the signs and jump on the opportunity when I have breaks from school.  I don't want this to be stressful for anyone and I know it will come before long!  

We enjoy our snuggly wild child and are so excited to see how she grows in leaps and bounds over the next year of her life!

Friday, September 7, 2012

With kindergarten comes....

Ready for school.... before we found out the fever was back.... boo!

The germs! 
Poor Ivy has missed the past 3 days of school after coming home with a fever on Tuesday afternoon.  I really thought it might have been a fluke because she was really acting fine.   However, I knew it was more than that when she woke up in the middle of the night: headache, sore throat, and a fever.  Daddy and I have been an outstanding team this week.  He stayed home Wednesday and took Ivy to the doctor only to find out it was just a yucky fever virus.  Then Thursday it was my turn- we had a good day of movie watching, hair fixing, and couch cuddling.  Her fever was absent almost the whole day, even at bed time.  So today she was excited (after a pep talk that it is okay to miss school!) to go back to kindergarten.  She woke up, got dressed, and was eating her breakfast- and then I looked at those eyes.  Do your kids get those fever eyes?  Thankfully, I checked and sure enough her fever was back full force this morning.  Daddy stayed home this morning because I had no time to get sub plans together at 7:10 but I came home at lunch so he could make a 1:00 meeting.  I was thankful that we were a team in tackling our first sick child of the school year!

We are nursing our girl back to full health and hopeful that a restful weekend is just what she needs to get back into the swing of things on Monday.   For now we are praying that this virus doesn't hit anyone else..... especially our little tight rope walker!  We are going to the circus this weekend to make sweet memories. (Thanks to Tula's awesome birthday present from Nana and Pops!)  And for an awesome event like that we need everyone to be in tip top shape!

Tula has always loved animals and after having circus week at school she is always practicing her tight rope walking skills! 
Animal loving + adventure seeking = A little girl who will love the circus!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tula's All Day Birthday

 Tula woke up on Saturday morning and her special day began immediately!  She got birthday waffles with whip cream and sprinkles and began opening some presents from us.  She was most excited about Buddy and Tiny her talking dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Train!  

..... And In the Afternoon!

Around lunch time we went to Nana and Pops' house to celebrate a little bit more!  Tula was excited to have some of her favorite food for her birthday.  Nana made macaroni and cheese and Tula ate some black berries and raspberries (a new fave!).  Then we had puppy dog cupcakes with ice cream.  Our little one LOVES puppies and since now is not the time for a puppy at the Smorstad house the least we could do is celebrate with puppy cakes!

After a long birthday nap, we took Tula to a big room full of "Jumpy Houses" at Monkey Joe's!  Some of our wild girl's favorite things to do are to jump, bounce, climb, run, and fall and what better place to do that then in the safe haven of a "jumpy house!"  Tula has experienced these on a small scale but she could not believe her eyes when she walked into Monkey Joe's.  She had a blast and was so excited that Sidney Shea and Oaklee were able to join in on the fun!
.... And On Another Afternoon!

 The joy of having a birthday on a long weekend is that we could stretch it out! The last bit of birthday fun was with a visit from Pawpaw.  Tula was excited to see him, show him all of her birthday gifts, and get a Tula-sized stroller with a babydoll fit with a paci (one of Tula's favorite things ever)!  She was tucked into bed with the new baby named "Sissy" tonight.  

Overall, we had a great birthday celebration for our little 2 year old! 
Happy Birthday, Tula Belle!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Big 2 for Tula Belle!

Dear Tula Belle,
Happy Birthday, tiny girl!  It is hard to believe that you are 2.... where did the time go?  I feel like you are so little to be 2, but today is the day and 2 you are.  It was just moments ago that I held you in the hospital, nursed you morning, noon, and night, and put big fluffy diapers on your teeny little booty.  It was just moments ago that we celebrated your first birthday, let you eat an entire ice cream cone cake, and cheered as you took your first steps.  And now you are 2- kind of not a baby anymore.  

 In the past year you have grown so quickly- not so much physically, but in personality- wow- you have grown! You went from being a little quiet girl sucking your paci (still do!), cuddling the blankie (still do that too!), and taking in the world with your big eyes.  You were more of a watcher and a do-er.... but now you want to tell us all about it.  You went from saying about 10 words to speaking in 10 word sentences right before my eyes.  You are reporting, just as your sister did years ago- telling us who did what every where we go.  You ask questions and make detailed requests all the time!

And those detailed requests.... wow- they stole our little laid back baby spirit- and now you know what you want and you are making sure we understand too!  While you sure do make demands these day- which book to read and how many times to read it, what song we want to sing, the bowl you want for snack time- you still are so easy to please in other areas.  The only requests you made for your birthday were quite simple:
1. sweet tarts
2. suckers
3. m & m's
I bet you know your favorite thing- treats!! Ivy says you must have a sweet tooth just like her- and she has pinned it to being your top right, while her's is the top left! 

You have a sweet tooth and a sweet heart and we love you so much.  We are thankful that God chose us to be your family and enjoy your silliness everyday.  We are excited for what the future holds.... the big adventures that you will go on.... and we know without a doubt that you will be on many adventures.  Today has been perfect celebrating you from beginning to end!

Love you to the moon and back,