Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Swaddle Blankets


These blankets are amazing.  I choose to swim against the tide and mostly don't swaddle.  I know, how crazy of me ;)  That said, I use these blankets for so much more.  I use them almost every day in some fashion for my 5 month old.  As a newborn, I did swaddle Caleb in them for a month or two.  I use them to block the sun out in the car.  I drape them over half of his car seat because I still want him to be able to look out the back window.  I also use them as a nursing cover.  I prefer them over my actual nursing covers.  Unfortunately, Caleb is starting to learn he can pull them down so I might have to switch to the covers that have a neck thing so he can't expose me ;)  They are also perfect as a light blanket.  They are so very breathable but still provide some warmth.  Love them!  I have been known to use them as a "changing pad" if I'm out in a random place changing a diaper.  They are much easier to tote along than a real changing pad (but obviously less comfortable for baby's back).  If I ever have or adopt a girl, I'm going to splurge and get the girl pack just because new babies need new things too!  I received the boy pack (not the ones pictured...I couldn't find the ones I have) as a gift.  I'm so glad I did because I would never have dropped $50 for them myself.  Now, if I can afford it, it is one of my standard shower gifts for new mothers.  You can get them online in smaller packs or a 4-pack at Target. 
Real-life photo:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Remember This Day

Thursday
Back yard
2 littles on my lap
Wind blowing our hair
Little girl:
"Bunny sad.  Why you ky-ing bunny?"
"What's dis mommy?"
"What's dat mommy?"
"Kayeb's hair is bo-ing in wind!"
Little boy can't take his eyes off little girl
Little boy GIGGLING at little girl!
Mama looking for 4-leaf clover
Never ever found one!
Precious life I call my own

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Zoo with Uncle Brian

My brother came to visit.  My daughter loves her Uncle Brian and her Aunt Kelly (my siblings).  My sister came to visit awhile back and I hardly got any pictures of her :(  I used to be really good at taking lots of pics, but now it seems like there is always a baby or toddler in my arms!  With Brian here, we went to the zoo so I was very intentional about taking pictures while we there and we got some good ones.

Soooo cute!!


Caleb didn't love the zoo, but he did eventually fall asleep ;)

Watching the prairie dogs

Ok, I really don't get why people take pictures of the animals at the zoo and/or aquarium.  I mean, what do they do with them?  I get why  kids take pictures as it's all new and exciting for them, but I will probably take my kids to the zoo at least 10 times (or many more!) before they grow up.  I guess taking pictures of the animals just isn't for me.  That being said, I love this one of the elephant! ;)

Now, taking pictures of animals with people standing in front of them makes perfect sense to me!  By the way, I love this one!   


Cute picture, but you can't tell what we're riding!  

Surprise! It was a camel :)

One of the many creative attempts I made to get Caleb to sleep...he finally fell asleep when I walked away from him and left him with my parents! Of course he did! Crazy kid.

Buddies

My dad took a bunch of pictures of us on the carousel, but this was my favorite.   It wasn't posed at all and she looks so grown up! Riding all by herself, gosh.  Plus, if you squint it does kind of look like a real giraffe!

It was a very fun day and I am so glad we went.  Autumn had a BLAST.  Seeing her interact with my brother did make me miss Chris quite a bit.  The good news is we are off to Germany in 2 weeks and he will  join us there shortly after.  The bad news is that to get there we have to travel by car and plane for 15 hours.  Oi, my head aches just thinking about it.  We have not had the easiest journeys transatlantic thus far.  See The Move Across The Pond and The Long Trip Over Part One  and Part Two to see why I'm so scared! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

That Fickle Feeling of Failure

We all struggle with it, don't we?   With our spouses, our children, our friends, our church, our pets, our families, our health, and so many more areas.  When I say we "all" struggle with it, that is, of course, an assumption.  I know I struggle with it all the time and I tend to think I am pretty normal, but it's not something that normally comes up in conversation.

I hate that feeling.  That feeling that you have "ruined" something for someone else or for yourself.  Like, for example, I wanted to make Caleb's birth extra special since his daddy wasn't here.  I wanted to take pictures of him with his daddy's dog tags or sitting in an army boot (although I'm pretty sure he was too chubby to do this one!) or and laying in camo or  something. I wanted to mesh his birth with his daddy being in Afghanistan somehow.  And you know what?  I totally, absolutely did not do that.  Nothing!  And, now he is almost 6 months old, that precious newborn stage is GONE and I've failed.  I can never go back and do that.  And, if feels bad.

I beat myself up all the time over things like that.  "I don't write my husband enough emails"  "I'm not patient enough with my 2 year old" "I never pay attention to the dogs" "I should volunteer more" "I am so unhealthy...I should eat more veggies" and so on and so on!

Why do we beat ourselves up like that?

For me, I have this imaginary perfect day/attitude/relationship and if something doesn't match up with my perfect ideal, then I feel like I've FAILED.  And, of course, it's always my fault!  But, I don't think that's right.  I don't think that failure is the correct word.  I don't know what the correct word would be, however.

I wonder where I learned to view life this way??  What part of my journey has taught me that if I'm not perfect, I must be an awful wife, mother, friend, etc.?  The thing is I'm not perfect and I have no doubts about that.  My house is never spotless and my hair is almost always a mess and I bite my nails and I don't exercise.  I am not in denial about those things and actually I accept most of them about myself...but still, I have this idea of "perfection".  I guess it's my own personal Meg-version of perfection.  Some kind of world where it's ok not to mop your floors, but not ok to miss out on the perfect picture opportunity!?

Well.  I'm just rambling now so I'll stop.  I'll just say that this is an area I am seriously going to start dealing with, thinking about, and try to start giving myself some GRACE.  Lovely glorious grace.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SUSHI

Love it.  Don't get to eat it very often because A.) Kids, duh. B.) Not Chris's favorite. C.) Expensive, duh.

However, seeing as we have sushi-loving company in town, I sushi-d out last night.  And, seeing how my mom and dad don't like sushi, I had built in baby sitters! Weeeeee!!

Seaweed Salad.  This was a delicious first for me.

My brother and my Aunt

My uncle and myself

Sushi!!!! Yum Yum Yum

It was fun.  Unfortunately, Caleb did not do so good without his mommy.  He actually did really well until bedtime and then he cried quite a bit.  So when I got home I nursed him and he cried some more.  So I decided hey, since he's up anyway, let's give him a bath. The kiddos got a joint bath and then I fed him  again and he still cried, but not for long!  So both of the kids were finally in bed around 9pm...which is not normal for them or ideal, but, hey, it happens :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tea for Two

Tea shops are fun, no?  I have been to three and they are so girly and dainty and I just love them.  I guess I just like to pretend I'm Eliza Bennet sometimes...I've been known to do that more than once ;)

The first time I went to a tea shop was in Slovakia, Eastern Europe.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures.  That shop was so cool.  It had hundreds of tea flavors and they were organized by country.  It also had little trinkets and artifacts on these shelves that lined the walls.  It wasn't an open floor plan, but had all these little rooms where you felt like you were in an old house.  My favorite (can't remember the name....it was 6 years ago!) was a creamy, sweet tea from Africa...I think ;)

The next tea shop I went to was with my mother-in-law and my husband's godmother. 
This shop was quite fancy.



I was 38 weeks preggo!




The tea I drank was called "Cranberry Autumn"...how appropriate since I was pregnant with "Autumn Grace"!

Just the other day my  mom and I visited my third tea shop.  We got my dad to baby-sit Caleb!  It actually went pretty well.  Autumn was in her last day of preschool that day so we wanted to take advantage of the toddler-free time.  


Mom got Rooibos African tea

I got Cranberry Apple.  Apparently, I like Cranberry Tea.  And, I really hate how totally posed this picture looks! I mean, it was totally posed, but I wish I looked more natural like my mom in the above picture. 

Lunch.  Soup, fruit, little tea sandwiches (which were amazing), and 5 little baby desserts.  Yummo!

My mom hates this picture

The lady said this tea (the Africa Rooibos my mom drank) is good for milk supply and as that is an area I consistently struggle with, I thought I might as well try it!

If my husband and I ever have thousands of dollars to burn, I would love to open up my own tea shop!  I think that sounds so magical.  I think "Tea for Two" would be a really cute name :) 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Baby Girl 2 Years Old

2 year olds are sweet, cuddly, kind, and calm...NOT!  I kid, but actually Autumn is all those things sometimes, but she can also be ornery, independent, selfish, and wild!  According to The Baby Whisperer, Autumn is what you would call a "Textbook" baby and I'm guessing she's a textbook toddler as well.

I would say her Top 5 defining characteristics are:
1. Independent
2. Adventurous
3. Hilarious
4. Sweet
5. Smart (I'm sure moms everywhere think this one about all their children!)

Eating
I think she is a decent eater.  She is willing to try new things.  She loves fruit, applesauce, bread, yogurt, and cheese.   She doesn't love meat or veggies, which I believe is pretty typical for toddlers.  I think if I was more consistent or more "fun" with our meat and veggies she would eat better.  That is definitely one of my goals for when we move to Germany in a month.

Sleeping
This has definitely been her weak point as of late!  Her daddy's deployment has affected her as well as turning two.  She has started waking in the middle of the night and for awhile she would really fight me to go back to sleep but the past couple nights I've just had to rock her for10 minutes and she'll lay back down.  This morning, however, she woke up at 6:30 and wouldn't go back to sleep which is not usual at all! Her normal waketime is 7:45 or 8 (and I like it that way!).

About 3 months ago we moved her to a toddler bed and it has been a very easy transition for us.  Like, I'm shocked at how easy!  She rarely gets out of her bed.  When she wakes up, she just moans or calls out or starts talking to herself (depending on her mood) and then I go in and get her.  I keep her door shut and she doesn't know how to open it.  Plus, the only toys in her room are stuffed animals and books.  We did have to invest in a night light, but it didn't correlate with the bed transition.  I think it was more of an age thing.

Playing
She loves to play outside.  She loves to play in the water.  She loves to play in the dirt.  She loves chalk.  She loves bubbles.  She loves Elmo and Mickey Mouse.  She loves pre-school.  She loves her tricycle.  She loves stuffed animals.  She loves to read books.  She loves doing things herself.  She loves to color, paint, etc.

Other
She still isn't potty trained.  I've tried twice.  Instead of thinking I've "failed" as a mom somehow since I have a 2 year old in diapers, I'm deciding to accept her as she is and accept the fact that she doesn't quite "get it" yet.  I am so sick of placing society's expectations on myself and my life!  It's my own fault, my own weakness that makes me try to live up to some American ideal that is based on mostly shallow principles anyway.  Ok, mini rant over.

Her hair is still super curly!  Beautiful strawberry blond ringlets.

She still loves her bunny.  I wonder when kids start outgrowing comfort items?  I'm thankful she doesn't have to take it everywhere.  She sleeps with it and carries downstairs in the morning, but 95% of the time it doesn't go in the car with us or outside with us.

She is still very much attached to her thumb.  It can be really frustrating because she will even talk with it in her mouth at times!  I have started saying, "I can't understand you with your thumb in your mouth" and that seems to be helping some.  Sometimes, I just have to say "Autumn" when she's said something thumb-in and she grins and says, "thumb" and then pulls it out :)  Her attachment to her thumb may be why bunny doesn't have to come everywhere!  Oh well, her doctor says it's not an issue until age 4 so at 3.5 I'll start seriously trying to change it if it is still an issue (which I'm guessing, yes, it will be).

She wants to do everything by herself.  "I do it" or "Autumn do it" is a phrase I hear probably 20 times a day.  I've read that this is a good thing and to let them do as much as possible so that's what we're doing! It might take us 10 minutes to get in the car, but that's ok :)

"How old are you??"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Moving is Hard

I took Autumn to her preschool class for the last time this morning.  No, she's not old enough to be moving on.  No, I'm not changing preschools due to preference.  It may not be the last time she ever attends preschool, but it will be the last time she attends this particular preschool.  Because we're moving.  Again.

One would think that moving gets easier.  That saying goodbye gets simpler.  That leaving memories behind becomes less painful.  That is simply and absolutely not the case.  I don't want to leave my life here.  More importantly, I don't want to leave Autumn's life here.  She has grandparents here (all 5 are within 300 miles).  She has friends here.  I didn't know 2 year olds had friends, but she does and she has so much fun with them.  She has a church here (and a preschool).  My parents have the most beautiful backyard in the world and we play in it every single day.  I don't want to go.  I want my husband to come here, not me and the kids go there.

But that's not how it works.  My husband and I don't sit down and have a discussion about if and when and where we should move.  We don't discuss if it's best for our marriage or best for our children.  We are told and we obey.  And it is really hard.

I read other's army wives blogs and by and far they are happy, positive, "fun" blogs about being proud of their husband and trusting God.  Which is all good and well and I appreciate people taking hard and negative things and giving God glory in the darkness.  But it does make me wonder if they think it's hard too?  Of course, everyone thinks deployment is hard.  That is a given.  But what about the constant upheaval?  What about never being able to lay down roots?  Autumn is two and this will be her fourth move.  That is not normal, even among army peeps, and I wonder if the normal "move every 3 years" plan is easier.

Our future looks like our past.  6-7 months in Germany, 6-7 months is Arizona, and then, and then, we get stationed somewhere for 2-3 years and I am so looking forward to that!  I don't want to speed up time or anything, but I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to August 2013!! :)  My family hasn't lived anywhere longer than 11 months since March 2010 (6 months in Oklahoma, 7 months in Germany, 11 months in Tennessee).

So, I'm kind of sad today, but in times like this, I think it helps to remember that my final home is not on earth.  I am a child of God, a co-heir to Jesus Christ and my home, my stability, my "roots" are in Heaven.  Not in Tennessee, West Virginia, or Kentucky.  A house is just a house, just brick and mortar.  And one day I'll have the permanent dwelling place my heart longs for and it will be perfect.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Birth Story! 5 Months Overdue...

I need to write this down before I forget! Caleb's Birth Story:

Monday December 5th I did not take a nap during Sesame Street.  That was absolutely unheard of!!  My friend Fancy called me to check up on me & I told her about the weird turn of events surrounding Sesame Street.  Then she said, "You know, I've heard of women getting bursts of energy before they go into labor".  Which, of course, I was so happy to hear due to the fact that I do not glow when I am pregnant...I wilt ;)  Just kidding! I do not wilt, but I do not love it.  I love babies, but not so much the process of growing them.

I digress.  So, back to not napping during Sesame Street.  I took Fancy's words of encouragement to heart & decided to take Autumn for a walk around the neighborhood....and started cramping! Yay!  It was light & didn't mean much to me since I had been cramping pretty much my entire 3rd trimester.  As the day progressed, they began to get more steady.  I called the doctor when they were 10 mins apart (maybe at like 4:00pm?) & she said that it could be false labor & not to assume anything.  Sad face :(  They even stopped for awhile & I went into a mild depression.  Not really a depression, but I did cry.  But then they came back & were worse.  At 10pm they were 7 mins apart & I called the doctor & told her they hurt really bad & she said to come on in and get checked.  Yay! So my mom & me & Fancy (who had arrived around 9:30pm) headed to the hospital. 

They checked me.  TWO centimeters!  What??? I had been dialated to 2 cm since I was 36 weeks.  So they made me sit there for an hour & then they would recheck me.  So I sat & endured the pain...which continued to get worse.  When they rechecked me, I was dialated to 5cm! Yes, we sure did cheer out loud like we had won the lottery :)

So they wheeled me back to the labor ward (that's sounds like an old-fashioned word but I like it) and hooked a bag of IV fluids up to me because I had to have a bag of them before my epidural.  By the time they went through my system, I was 7 cm dilated and it was 1:15am.  Looking back, I kinda wish I hadn't gotten an epidural, but I had no idea how quick everything was going to go and I love labor so much and I wouldn't want to not love it due to pain so I guess it's good I got it (ha, were you able to follow that sentence?).  Since I got it so late into labor, it didn't take all the way anyway.  I had about a baseball size of pain that never went away.  That was enough for me ;)

Everything happened really quickly after that.  He was born December 6 at 3:15 am, weighing 8lbs 3oz and 20 inches long with lovely brown hair and lovely blue eyes.  One funny thing is my water broke but it never came out because Caleb's head was blocking it so when he was born, he came out with a tidal wave!  It was pretty funny to see.  My mom cut the umbilical cord, I got to nurse right away, and then we all crashed (well, for an hour or two...you know how newborns eat).

As far as physical labor, it was so wonderful.  I have had the privilege of giving birth to two babies and I Freaking. Love. It.  I don't love being pregnant, but going through labor is sooooo amazing and magical and it has been, by far, the most miraculous and astonishing and wonderful experience I have ever had.

As far as emotionally, it was ok.  I mean, I was so blessed to have my mom and one of my bestest bestest friends in the labor room with me...but I would have preferred my husband.  I missed him and I was sad without him.  He was on Skype, praise the Lord, but it certainly wasn't the same.  I will never choose to have another baby without him.  If God chooses for me, then I'll deal with it then, but if it's up to me, we will never be apart again for a birth.  I would say I regret that decision, but then I might not have my sweet Caleb  and of course of course of course he's worth it!

And, now a few pics.
Next baby, I'm bringing a photographer!  And, brushing my hair.


If you can see past the reflection of my lovely leg, that is Chris via Skype



Meeting each other!

Just a few hours old

One day old







 And, as I like to save the best for last:
A picture I will treasure always

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

Look at my haul!! I was SHOCKED to get so many gifts!  Shocked and totally delighted.  Hubs sent me those beautiful tulips, my sweet MIL sent me a "Party Cake" cookbook, a cake decorating set, and pretty cupcake liners, and my mama gave me cookie cooling racks (which I have wanted a long time).  I also got a Sesame Street greeting card :)

Me with the babies

3 generations of women.  Me and mom look quite a lot alike, Autumn is still deciding who she wants to look like...so far it's daddy ;)  
And, since I love to look backwards as much as forwards, here you go... 

Didn't want to leave Papa Buzz out of the picture taking!

And since I'm a proud mama, here's a video of my baby boy rolling over for those who are interested.  He started rolling front to back when he was about 2 months old (seriously!) and he finally learned how to roll the other way so I'm pretty excited about it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blooms Days 2012

Blooms Days is a big 'ole plant sale with lots of other stuff going on as well.  It is located in the most beautiful gardens that Tennessee has to offer (I think so at least).  They have live music, food, kid activities, vendors, etc.  My dad (the gardener of the family) was working the festival.  This was the first year I've ever been and we had so much fun!  It was the smoothest morning I've had in a loooong time.   Caleb slept and then ate and then stayed happy and Autumn was obedient and sweet all  morning until the very end when she got tired and even then she was just slightly ornery.  Why can't all my days be like that?!  :)  
                                   
Me, Caleb, my mom, & Autumn

Autumn got to go on a special ride with her Papa Buzz!

This is how Caleb spent the first half of the morning...

And this is how he spent the second half!  What a good happy boy!!

We had so much fun!  (I know I already said that, but it is has been a long time since I've had such a good day with both kids out in public!)  We got to eat homemade ice cream and listen to some music:


Autumn had Buttermilk Strawberry, I had Lavender, and mom had Salty Caramel.  Mom's was the best, hands down ;)

Autumn even danced to the music!  Here is a video of her jammin' out :)