Director Jewels: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Lincoln's Reading Corner December 2012


Reading has been a bigger success this month than it was in October and November - yay!  We're still reading some old favorites frequently, but a lot of new books have been added to the Lincoln-approved list! 

Side note - we tried really hard to do this 25 Days of Christmas book advent idea.  It was kind of an epic fail.  First off, I procrastinated forgot about wrapping our books until December 12.  No problem, I figured it would just be the 12 Days of Christmas!  And...it probably would have worked.  Except Lincoln only likes to read books that he loves.  Try anything else with this kid, he will shake his head and shout "NO" (which often sounds like "doe") and throw the book aside.  I think we had two or three books in the whole Christmas collection that he gave the time of day.  There was also the slight problem that several nights we had already put Lincoln to bed and realized....we never gave him a book today.  Oops.  However, we did learn that the child really enjoys ripping open presents.  After opening one book (and tossing it aside), he would just run back and point at the stack, wishing to open another.  We'll give the book advent another try next year - I'm hoping it goes better then!

And now - here are Lincoln's Top Books in December 2012!


1. I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!  This is a fabric book that I sewed for Lincoln last Christmas.  Last year, he wouldn't even look at it - this year we at least got to read half of it to him.  I consider that progress.  I don't know that the fabric version is available for purchase anywhere; I think I bought the fabric at Jo-Ann.

2. Biscuit's Pet & Play ChristmasThis was probably his favorite of the Christmas advent books - and probably just because it features a puppy.  Puppies are a big hit around here.  No that does not mean we are getting a dog.  It's a fun little interactive board book.

3. A Christmas CarolThis is a title in my new favorite board book series from BabyLit.  This version of A Christmas Carol is a Colors Primer and features a different character or story element paired with a color on each page.  Example:  Silver Chains.  If you're a fan of classic literature, please check out this whole series.  They are awesome.

4. Peek-a-Boo, I Love YouThis lift-a-flap book is in serious danger of getting ripped to pieces, since he loves it right now.  The last page features a mirror so baby can see himself in the book, but I can't get Lincoln to look at it. Ha!

5. Goodnight MoonI love, love, love that this is one of Lincoln's favorite books right now!  We have started reading it every night before bed and I love the cuddles.  He figured out that he likes this book because it has pictures with clocks.  Seriously.  Of all the ridiculous things.

6. Little Blue TruckI think I may have featured this book before, but we found the board book version at Target and gave it to him for Christmas.  He.loves.it.  We read it at least two or three times a day.

7. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Goofy BabyThis month's reading list would definitely not be complete if it did not feature the current obsession of Mickey Mouse.  I requested every Mickey Mouse Clubhouse board book our library owns.  And they are all popular around here.

8. Where are the Missing Leaves?  Another Mickey Mouse book - this one is a lift-the-flap and was already torn in a few places when we checked it out from the library.  It's living on top of our piano until it is returned to prevent further damage.

9. Is that Mickey?  Definitely one of the most-read books this month!  It's all about how Mickey's friends are planning him a celebration, but they can't find him!  I'll probably buy this one for our collection if he continues to enjoy the library copy.

10. Mickey's Book of TrucksThis book is available on Amazon, but I found it in the $1 bin at Target a few months ago!  We gave Lincoln this one for Christmas, along with a small plush Mickey, and they have been a big hit.  This book just has pictures of trucks with the name of each one on each page.  Nothing fancy, but since it is a combination of two of his very favorite things on this earth, it is extremely popular!

11. God Loves You Very MuchThis giant VeggieTales board book has been picked up several times this week.  I am kind of surprised he likes it, it has a lot of words compared to some of his other favorites, but he has let Andrew read it all the way through several times.

12. The Berenstain Bears: Treat Others KindlyI think it is great that the recent Berenstain Bear stories feature valuable lessons for kids, with Bible verses to back them up.  This 3-in-1 Book Collection contains stories that teach about forgiveness, gossiping, and respecting your elders.  I'll be honest, Lincoln won't sit through this entire book yet - but we are working on it!  And something fun that I love about this book?  In the third story, Papa Bear is wearing Honey Bear in a carrier.  Babywearing exists in children's literature - woohoo!


Whew!  I wonder where our books and imaginations will take us in 2013.  Do you and your kids have any reading goals in your resolution list?  If you're looking for more reading ideas, you can check out all our recent favorites here!

Thanks to Zondervan for providing my Berenstain Bears sample book.  I received no compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more info, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coming Soon: The Return of the Blogger

Hey there.

So it's been a little while since I've blogged.  I do apologize.  I was on a roll, but my motivation got smacked in the face by Christmas and the reality of living through a major holiday with two children under the age of two.  Can we talk about meltdowns, days of nursing for what seemed like 18+ hours, and so many new toys in our house that it is literally impossible to move.

I'm currently elbow deep in toys and laundry.  Once I conquer the chaos and crawl out of this mess...I will be back.  I promise!

How was your Christmas?? :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Kids and a $500 Camera

I bought my DSLR camera about three years ago.  When I made the purchase, I assumed I would never use another "cheap" camera again.  Why bother when you can take glorious photos with your amazing new camera, right?  And I did pretty well, up until Adelaide's birth.

So what's the problem now?  Well - I seem to be spending literally all of my time nursing.  Addie gained 13 ounces in the last week.  I'm not complaining, but it is proof that the child loves to eat.  This means I'm more or less stuck in one place.  I usually forget to put the camera within arm's reach and once I am situated, I'm not going to move.  And if I do happen to remember...Lincoln will undoubtedly grab it and take off running.  Not a good thing when one of his favorite activities right now is hurling things across the kitchen floor to hear the loud crashing sounds they make.

So, more and more, I get to the end of the day and realize...  I took basically no photos today.  That may seem like a crazy thought, but for me it's super odd to not take at least a handful of photos.  Then today, I was trying to clear space on my phone's memory card and I found that I have been taking photos - just not with the super nice and expensive camera!

Here are a few favorites that I found -

sleeping beauty.

Little boy with WILD hair!

Yep, the shirt says it all.

This Rock 'n Play is the best investment I made.

She really does like her flower bows...

Lots of true love from big brother.

Showing off a hairbow and those pretty eyes!

Prepping for Christmas card photos!

This is where we spend most of our time.

My snuggly sleepy boy.

So it turns out - you don't necessarily have to use your best piece of equipment all the time.  As long as you are capturing memories one way or another, it's a success.  I'm really thankful for my cheap cell phone camera...  I wouldn't have any of these sweet photos without it!

Now...my photo organization....that's another story altogether.  Someday I will catch up.  Maybe.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmastime is Here! {yikes}

Christmas Eve 2011

Somehow, when you have a baby in mid-November, you manage to forget that a big event like Christmas is on the horizon.  I mean - you know it's there.  But it still seems far enough away that you don't have to actually think about it.

Um, I'm sending myself a wake-up call.  Christmas is only 18 days away.  Ahhh!!

Christmas 2011

It's so much fun to imagine Christmas with a little family.  All of the excitement and anticipation, the laughter and whispers and surprises - it all seems magical!  The thing is, when your family is just starting out, it takes a little bit to get to that point.  Last year, Lincoln was old enough to be mildly entertained by the hubbub, but he really had no idea.  This year - I think he will really enjoying opening gifts and all of the attention.  Maybe by next Christmas, when he will be almost three, he will be able to understand the true meaning of things.  I can hope, anyway.

Even though he is still not comprehending everything, and tiny Addie will just be along for the ride this year, I'm determined to start a few family Christmas traditions that we can carry out for years to come!  This is a small list of some of my ideas...we'll see how motivated I am in the next two weeks to see them through.

Gift-Wrapped Christmas Book Advent.  I found this lovely idea last year via this Pinterest pin, and I was so excited that I actually went out after Christmas and bought quite a few clearanced board books to use in this project.  It's looking like we might be doing 12 days of Christmas, instead of 25....since the books are all in a pile that is cascading from the couch in our basement right now.  Not a single one is wrapped yet...!

Minivan Express.  Another Pinterest find, featured on Confessions of a Homeschooler, this involves hiding special golden tickets in your kid's beds one night and taking your little ones on a pajama-clad journey to see Christmas lights.  Hot cocoa is a must.  This idea is awesome.  Unfortunately I don't think Lincoln is really old enough to understand it yet.

Crafting a Family Ornament.  There are so many cute ideas for do-it-yourself ornaments.  I dream of making dozens of them with the kids each year.  Perfect for our tree and gifts for probably everyone we know, right?

Christmas Morning. I want it to be a tradition to read the Christmas story before we dive into opening gifts.  I also want to find the perfect Christmas breakfast recipe!


Christmas Eve Pajamas.  This is the one tradition we started last year - letting Lincoln open one gift - special new pajamas - on Christmas Eve.  You can see how well it went.  Poor kid was worn out from multiple holiday parties.  Hoping this year is more successful!


I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner today, as well as Growing Up Geeky for next week's Toddle Along Tuesday! What is your family's favorite holiday tradition?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh, Life's an Hourglass

When you reach for the stars, don't forget who you are...
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast.

There's this little tiny boy who changed my whole life...

Having a second baby has made for an adjustment for me and my little boy. 

Lincoln is not yet two years old.  He is the most energetic, imaginative child on earth.  But I really don't think he fully comprehends all the changes in his life lately.

Last photo of just Lincoln and Mommy,
the night before Adelaide was born.

Mommy seems to be holding the baby sister a lot.  While he likes the baby, I can't help but wonder if he wonders why she had to come along and change everything.

He doesn't say a lot of words besides car, truck, and choo-choo, so it's difficult for me to know what he is thinking all the time.  Does he resent her for taking Mommy's attention away from him?  Does he resent me for bringing this little person into his world? 

He is in desperate need of a haircut.
We're not crazy about the baby mullet look.

He is still my baby.  He made me a mommy.  I am trying so hard to remember that he is still so little and that I need to make sure my expectations of him are not unrealistic.  Which I have to admit is sometimes hard to do, especially when it is 3am and he is awake again, after we have fought a two-hour bedtime battle and when I have just managed to put Adelaide down so I might be able to sleep.

When did you get to be SO big?

He is growing and changing so much right now, and I don't want to miss it.

Hoping that I find a balance very, very soon.

I love you, sweet boy. 
(can you believe how many scrapes this kid has on his face?  It's been one
run-in with a dresser/table/collarbone after another around here lately...)

If you feel the same way - or even if you have the whole mom-child-balance thing totally under control, I give you fair warning - this song will probably make you cry.


Hourglass

Little boy, when you speak
I can't help but kiss your cheeks
I love the way you grab my hands
And tell me all about your plans
Rocket high, comets fly
You and I could take a ride
And fly away to Neverland
And give our best to Peter Pan

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

Story's read, prayer is said
Close your eyes sleepyhead
While angels linger in your dreams
And hold you in their feathered wings
Just like you, I was small
Not that long ago at all
I wish you all the happiness
That God gives freely if you ask

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

Song:
Hourglass
Mindy Gledhill
© 2010 Blue Morph Music (BMI)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Newborn Photo Sneak Peek


Seriously can't believe how beautiful she is!  Now I just have to find time to edit these photos....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why I Chose to Deliver at a Birth Center



If you had told me five years ago that I would elect to deliver a baby naturally, with no interventions or pain medication, in a setting other than a hospital, I would have laughed.  A lot.  As far as I knew, babies were born in hospitals.  And sometimes weird interesting people had babies at home.

When Lincoln was born, I used the OB recommended by my primary care doctor.  I faithfully went to all of my appointments, asked very few questions, and when it came time for birth, just went along for the ride.  This is perhaps not the best approach to something as big as birth, but I didn't know any better at the time.  I assumed that my team of providers at Lincoln's birth had my best interest at heart and didn't question their judgment, ever.

And here is what I got as a result:

1. My delivery doctor was a complete stranger, I met him when he came in to check my dilation.  That's always fun. 

2. I was strapped to a contraction monitor and forced to work through painful contractions while lying on my back.  I didn't know any better - but I would have been much more relaxed had I been allowed to move around.

3. I went into labor naturally and arrived at the hospital at 6pm on Saturday evening of a holiday weekend.  My labor was progressing very quickly and the baby was holding up just fine, yet my doctor recommended that we proceed with a vacuum delivery after about an hour of ineffective pushing.  Maybe I am wrong, but the timing of everything kind of made it seem like he had other places to be that weekend.

4.  To facilitate the vacuum delivery, I received an episiotomy.  I learned later that this makes a mom far more likely to tear in future deliveries, as the scar tissue must grow back from a direct incision rather than a natural tear.  Yay me.

5.  When Lincoln was born, it was probably half an hour before I was able to hold him.  I didn't know at the time that this could make it harder to bond with and breastfeed my baby.

6.  I got no rest in the hospital.  None.  Every time I thought I could fall asleep, someone would come in to check vitals on me or the baby.  If the baby happened to be sleeping, he would be awake then.  The one time that I actually managed to sleep, they had taken Lincoln for a routine hearing screening.  I woke up in the middle of the night, three hours later, to discover that my baby had never been returned to my room.  When I called the nurse, they told me this test took several hours.  I watched the test when Adelaide had it - it took five minutes.  So where was my baby for three hours the one time I slept?

7.  When I was having terrible problems breastfeeding when Lincoln was four days old, I called the hospital lactation consultant to try to find out if Lincoln had been given formula or a pacifier - he had a great latch at first and then seemed to forget.  She was incredibly rude and refused to look at his chart for me.  I said that I was concerned he was not eating and her response was "Well you have been home for two days.  If he is not nursing, WHAT are you feeding him?  He has to eat."  My response was silent crying.  Her response to that?  A huge huff and "Come to our breastfeeding support group next Monday.  I can look at you then."  This phone conversation happened on Thursday.  Sure, I'll just starve my baby for the next four days until your meeting.  No problem! 

Lincoln's Hospital Birth, February 2011.

In spite of all this, when I found out that Adelaide was on the way, I didn't plan a whole lot of changes.  Our insurance had changed and I hoped to deliver at a hospital that was closer to home, so I asked around and found a doctor who delivered there.  This hospital had a great track record for being breastfeeding-friendly, so I thought that was a good sign.  I assumed that since my labor with Lincoln was fast and I barely had time for an epidural, that I would likely be looking at giving birth unmedicated.  But I figured we would just address it when the time came.

I don't think there was any one specific thing that led me to feel I was not in the right place for my delivery.  My OB was nice, the staff was friendly.  I frequently had to wait an extremely long time for my appointments, but I assumed that was just part of the business - since everyone in the world seemed to be pregnant at the same time as me.

I guess at some point, I started thinking about the actual birth.  And the recovery.  I was really not excited about staying in the hospital for 2-3 days.  Lincoln was still nursing and had never spent the night away from us.  I was worried that having Mommy gone for several days was going to wreak havoc on his little system.  Adding a new baby was bad enough, but why introduce her after Mommy has been gone for days?  We also had another insurance change around this time, so I was looking at providers anyway.  When I was bemoaning the hospital stay to a friend, her response was "well have you looked at a birth center?"

I hadn't.  But that was all I needed to get started.  I did some googling.  I talked to some other friends.  I told Andrew that it was a possibility we were going to switch and we went to a tour of the birth center facility when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. 

And I loved it.

Everyone was friendly and smiling and helpful.  The birthing suites were beautiful.  I had the option of a water birth (something I had really never considered).  I would have appointments with all of the midwives who might be present at my delivery.  I would be allowed to labor in whatever position I wanted, with no attached contraction monitor.  I would be able to hold my baby immediately after she was born.  I would definitely not have a vacuum delivery except in a case of extreme emergency.  I would have tons of breastfeeding support. 

And best of all?  I would get to go HOME within 4-8 hours of birth.  No days of recovery time with constant poking and prodding at the hospital.  My baby would never leave my side and Lincoln would have Mommy home hopefully the same day.

It was perfect.  I was still a little worried about having no pain medication - but because of all the other wonderful aspects of the birth center, I almost didn't mind.  I switched providers at 30 weeks.  Since I transferred so late in the pregnancy, it was difficult to schedule everything appropriately so that I could meet all of the midwives on staff.  In fact, I met one of them three days before Adelaide's birth.

When Addie's birth day came, I could not have been more relieved at my choice.  We arrived at the birth center just two hours before her birth, but nothing was ever frantic.  The atmosphere was relaxed, yet exciting.  Even through all of my difficult recovery complications, the overall experience was above and beyond my expectations.  I didn't end up going home until 14 hours after Adelaide was born - but that was still much better than 2-3 days.

Adelaide's BIRTH Day Cake at the Birth Center, November 2012.

A birth center is such a great option for someone who is not comfortable with a hospital birth - and also not comfortable with a homebirth.  I know that I personally, after dealing with recovery problems after Adelaide's birth, will probably not ever consider a homebirth.  I had a pretty scary situation this time around, so I would prefer to always be somewhere with the necessary supplies to take care of any problems that may arise.  Of course, her delivery was so fast I am a little worried about having an unplanned unassisted homebirth (or car birth) with future child(ren).

If you've made it to the end of this, you get the most awesome reader award.  What's your experience?  Hospital?  Birth center?  Homebirth?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh Boy... Mom Confessions

Hm.  I'm not sure how I feel about writing this post.  Do I really want to share my mom confessions with the whole big blogosphere?  I have to assume that someday when my kids are grown and gone, I will enjoy looking back at even things like this - so I will persevere and be maybe a little more honest than I want to be. ;)

I've spent most of my life dreaming about being a mommy.  In my perfect imaginary world, I was going to have thirteen beautiful children (yeah, not kidding), homeschool them all, bake cookies daily, sew adorable clothes for everyone for every occasion, and of course, do Pinterest-worthy crafts literally all the time.  That was the plan.

But here's the thing.  Being a mom is hard

I'm not having thirteen children.  While I do still want to have a large family, I realize that I could never give proper attention to that many babies.  More of a selfish reason though - I cannot be pregnant that many times.  We don't have a definite plan for how large our family will end up, but it's probably going to be directly related to my future pregnancies and their difficulties.  If they're anything like the first two...I'm not sure how many times I will want to go through everything again.

Pinterest, I have a memo for you.  Crafting takes work.  You have to pick a craft.  Gather the supplies.  If you happen to not have everything on hand (which, let's face it - you don't) - you have to drag everyone out to the craft store, where it's a miracle if your toddler doesn't break 17402 pieces of expensive glassware.  Plus, while your kids are under the age of two, pretty much all craft supplies are just treated like colorful snacks anyway.  Anybody else feel it's usually not worth the effort?

I have fabric to make the following projects: a superhero cape for Lincoln, a Christmas dress for Addie, a dolly for Addie, bright-colored blocks to match the nursery, yellow and blue fabric for curtains in the nursery, all of our Christmas stockings...I could go on, but you can probably see my point.  Instead of making the projects that I have meticulously planned, I run to the store on a whim to buy purple tulle to make a tutu for my impromptu homemade newborn photo shoot (will share how that went soon).

And I can't even tell you the last time I baked cookies.

Here are the things I'm not especially proud of at the moment:

- Meals are not very structured when I am home by myself with the kids.  Lincoln eats lunch as he runs around the living room, since I am usually nursing the baby.

- My house is a wreck most of the time and I don't care.  Or worse - sometimes I do care, but I still don't do anything about it.

- I think the last time I dusted was for Lincoln's first birthday party.  In February.

- I have no intention of going to the grocery store with the kids anytime in the near future.  Even though we are out of food.

- We watch a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Finley the Fire Engine on youtube.  A lot, a lot, a lot.

I suppose every mom deals with the same sorts of things, right?  If you're one of those perfect Pinterest moms...please don't tell me.  I don't think I want to know that you exist. 


I'm linking up with Growing Up Geeky for Toddle Along Tuesday!  Care to share your own confessions this week?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adelaide: 2 Weeks Old

How did this happen, little princess?  Today you are two weeks old!



This was the first week that Daddy went back to work, leaving Mommy alone with you and big brother.  We did okay. 

You are still sleepy most of the day and you love to cuddle.  You will sleep in the swing or the rock 'n play when I need my hands, but most of the time you are curled up on me, dreaming away.  It's the best feeling ever.

Lincoln has started paying a lot more attention to you this week.  Several times a day, he will come up and chatter endlessly at you, pat your head, play with your fingers and toes and poke your eyes (it's not intentional).  He has also tried to pick you up from the swing several times and has "helped" Mommy carry you across the living room.  I think he can tell that you guys are going to be great friends.

This week, we adventured to both grandparents' houses and saw all of your great-grandparents as well.  Otherwise, we haven't had a lot of visitors and Mommy is okay with that.  It's tough to find a routine with people coming and going. 

We went out to eat for the first time as a family of four on Friday night.  You slept in your carseat on top of the table at McAlister's the entire meal.  It was so successful, we decided to go to Target.  That was not as successful.  We may wait awhile before trying that again.

From about 7pm to midnight, all you want to do is eat - constantly.  It might drive me crazy, but once you have finally settled for the night, you are sleeping a consistent 4-6 hour stretch.  This is about as good as Lincoln currently sleeps, so I am thrilled.  Please let this be one habit that you keep!

People are starting to say that you look like Mommy.  Is that the case?  I can't really tell yet, but maybe.

 We could not possibly be more thrilled with our sweet, sweet baby girl. Time is already rushing by too quickly!  I'm so glad we get to spend this life loving you.  You make the world a much more beautiful, happy place.

Love,
Mommy

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Simple Moments v.3


Sleeping all curled up in Mommy's arm.  Is there really anything more simple and beautiful than this?  I am loving all of the sweet little snuggles from this precious girl.




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