Thursday, March 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home

It has been a long time since I have written a post, but we have been busy hunting for a house.  We close on our current house next week, and have yet to find the perfect house to call our next home.  Part of the problem is that Kee and I want different things in a home.  His back-woods roots are starting to show and he wants some land, while I want a house that feels just right.

For those of you who know us, you can imagine how different my husband's taste is from mine. If you don't know us, let me try to explain.  I am a list-maker and visuals are my friend.  So tonight I created two charts. 

This first chart shows some of the things I want in a house.  The houses in both charts are numbered in the order that we viewed them.




# of bedrooms that we want
Good Layout    
Toy Room?
Good School District
Storage
Nice Bathroom Fixtures
Nice countertops
House #1
YES
NO
YES
?
?
NO
NO
House #2
NO
YES
NO
YES
YES
YES
YES
House #3
NO
?
?
YES
YES
YES
NO
House #4
YES
YES
YES
YES
NO
YES
YES

I think it is kind of nice to step back and look at the "facts" of the search.  Of course there are a few more details that I didn't include in my chart...but these are the biggies. 
Well, let's muddy up this mess a bit more.  After viewing lots of houses and looking at many real estate pages online with my husband, I have gathered that these are his big deciding factors.  Check out his chart!

Fly Kites
Play Banjo on back porch
Shoot guns
Ride go-carts that we do not own
Pee off the back porch @ night
Man cave
Ride Bikes
House #1
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
NO
House #2
NO
YES
NO
YES
?
YES
YES
House #3
?
YES
NO
NO
?
YES
?
House #4
?
?
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO

Please don't judge my husband!  I still love him, but now you can feel my pain.  I know we will eventually find a home that we can both be excited about, but until then it IS entertaining!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where's the Magic? How did you get your child to sleep through the night?

Usually I try to write about what is working for us, but now I need to know what worked for you!
Alright. Z turned one on St. Patty's Day! I have been anxiously awaiting him to start magically sleeping through the night.  Okay, I will even settle for him waking up once in the night.  But my wand must not be working.  I'm not sure that it ever worked. My daughter was 15 months old before she slept through the night.
Here's what I'm doing:
I lay Z down for bed about 8:30 (awake) with a pacifier and Spot (his lovey).  He falls asleep on his own.  We have a Cloud B Sleep Giraffe for white noise.
Cloud B Gentle Giraffe On The Go --
He usually wakes up again around 12ish, 2:00, and 4:30.  Then he's up for good at 6:30.  Did I mention that he is not a newborn?  I have tried to lay him back down at these times, and sometimes after long bouts of crying he will fall asleep.  But he will wake up 30 minutes later still hungry.  So usually when he wakes up, I will nurse him.  He will typically go right back to sleep.  I know it could be worse...he could be staying awake for an hour or more (but I'm so tired I kinda feel like complaining).

I was hopeful that I would get some tips or tricks from the pediatrician when I took Z for his 12 month checkup yesterday.  I asked the question and braced myself for some criticism.  I was ready to hear that I needed to be tougher, that I should try to cut back on the night-time nursing session, or that I just needed to be consistent.  I sat dumbfounded when the doctor told me, "Well, I think he just needs the calories.  Try to sneak-feed him before you go to bed and then feed him when he wakes up in the night."  What?!  He is one and a good-sized boy!  It makes sense though.  She said it isn't like he is nursing at night only to bulk up and be a chubby baby, so he must need the nutrition.  She also said that he probably needs more mommy-time and during the night is when he can have my undivided attention.
It is getting to the point that all the caffeine and concealer in the world can't hide how tired I really am!  Seriously, I need your tips!  Did you have trouble getting your precious little one to sleep through the night?  What did you finally do?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good Grief! Z is One!

We celebrated Z's first birthday this past weekend!  We had a great time spending the afternoon with friends and family at the indoor carousel park for his Charlie Brown themed party.
I am by no means a cake decorator, but I had fun making his smash cake and the Charlie Brown shirt cake.  Z wasn’t too excited to smash into his cake.  He picked off the black icing and ate it.  I think he had enough cake on his actually birthday, just days before.



He had lots and lots of presents to open.  You can guess who did most of the opening (me).  Of course the older kids wanted to help, which I was glad to let them!

A guitar and a spare!

Kee reading Z's Ninja card that my sister carefully picked out!
All the kiddos wanted to help!
Everyone had lots of fun riding the carousel.  It was so loud though, and I was extremely surprised at how fast it moved.  Kee said he just might be sick if he looked at one more ticket, I don’t think his stomach could handle it.

Not sure if this is a happy or scared face

There are no germs on this pole, right?
All the kids took home some favors.

Favor boxes
Linus Lovey's for the kids to make at home

Charlie Brown Magnets
Z was all tuckered out on the way home.
Z....Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Embarrassing Moments of Breastfeeding: Z Eats the 2 B's

I have been blessed to have been able to nurse both my children.  I say blessed, because not everyone is able to do it.  For something that is supposed to be so natural, it comes with quite a learning curve for both the mommy and the baby! Along with lessons to be learned, breastfeeding comes with its fair share of embarrassing moments! And if you add a preschooler to the mix...embarrassing moments are a sure thing!

I remember my friend telling me how her oldest daughter pretended to nurse her dolls when she was feeding her infant.  I wondered what types of questions my daughter would have.  Twiggy was a little over 2 years old when Z was born.  She never seemed to ask questions, but instead came up with her own conclusions.

When I started back to work after maternity leave, Twiggy and her daddy discussed what Z likes to eat.  She frankly told him, "He eats the two b's." When her daddy asked what she meant, she explained, "Boobies and bottles!" She told everyone her new revelation!
One time she informed me, "He can only eat one boobie, Mommy!"


Kee said it was my fault for encouraging her with Twiggy-sized boppy pillows. I couldn't help it...it is in my nature to foster pretend play!

Well, I may have to stand corrected!  Kee was gone on business, which meant that I was in charge of the drop-off and pick-up at daycare.  First I picked up Twiggy from her classroom.  She was as chatty as ever. We went to the infant room to get Z.  Twiggy immediately fulfilled her role in putting his empty bottles into his bag. 

Z was fussing a bit, so I said, "You must be hungry, Little Man."

Twiggy took on the role of her brother, which meant that her already high voice became an incredibly squeaky tone.  Think the chipmunks. 

"Him said, I want boooooobs!" Twiggy said as she used her little finger to move her brother's lips as if he was a ventriloquist dummy.


In case you were wondering, yes both daycare teachers were snickering and looking at me.

I suppose it is great that Twiggy knows that babies can both nurse and drink bottles.  I guess I cannot expect her to know that at daycare...it is bottles!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm a Kid at Heart: American Girl Catalogue

This Friday, I'm definitely falling for...
I have to admit...my heart skipped a little beat when I got the mail the other day!  I love love love anything girly and it doesn't get much girlier than American Girl!
Santa brought Twiggy a set of the American Girl Bitty Twins for Christmas.  I may or may not have swayed Santa's decision into getting them for her.
I skipped all the bills and junk mail and sat down with Z to peruse the endless possibilities of all things AG.  Let me just inform you, looking through this with a boy is not the same.  I was so anxious for Twiggy to wake up so we could dream through the glossy pages.

She finally (I don't usually use this word when referring to naptime arousal) woke up and we gazed through the catalogue. 
Watching her eyes light up reminded me of being a kid looking through the Sears book at Christmas with my cousin.  It was wonderful.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

365 Day Scrapbook, A Picture a Day!

After Twiggy turned a year old, I made her a 365 Day Scrapbook.  Every day I took a photo of her or something of importance for the day. I journaled about the day's events. 
The scrapbook defintely was a labor of love.  In the first few weeks, I was so excited to snap the picture, jot down my thoughts, and upload the photos to be printed.  Well, as months went on...I began to struggle.  At one point I had 3 months worth of pictures on my digital camera and the only journaling I had done was on slips of paper in my purse.  I finally finished the book, and I am so thankful I did.  Twiggy loves her book.  It is amazing to see the changes in her from day to day, week to week, and month to month.  I think the age from 1-2 years is fascinating! This is the time when kids learn something new every day!

Almost as soon as the word was out that I was expecting Z, my coworkers made me promise that I would make him a 365 Day Scrapbook, too.  I vowed that I would start one after his first birthday.

Next Thursday is Z's first birthday...and this time I'm ready to tackle this scrapbook!  I think preparation may be the key! 

Today I cut out all my journaling cards.


I cut out and made tags for my Weekly Header cards.



I assembled all the supplies into a notecard box, so I can keep it in my nightstand.  Check up on me...but my intentions are to journal each night.  At the end of the week, I want to upload the photos to a file on my computer.  And the end of the month, I WILL get the photos printed!


My intentions are good...but even if I do get behind...I promise Z will have a 365 Day Scrapbook!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Playing Grocery Store

"Thank you for shopping with us, please come again," Twiggy said as she handed me a brown lunch sack filled with plastic food.

Since Sunday afternoon, we have played "grocery shop" nonstop.  I promise you I played for two straight hours the other morning while Z napped!

It all started when Twiggy was throwing a fit that she wanted her daddy to play Barbies with her.  But Kee was cooking dinner, so he couldn't.  I suggested that we play grocery store.  She was hooked!  I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to practice her counting skills and numeral recognition (not her strong suites at the moment).

We first had to place price tags on all of our merchandise. She chose between making a 1, 2, 3, or 4 for her price stickers.  Then she carefully set up all her wares across the toy room.

I told her we had to have money to buy the groceries (and I think during one of my last toy room purges I threw our pretend money away).  We decided we could make some "dollars."  I showed Twiggy what a real dollar looked like.  She took the green slips of construction paper, drew a face in the middle and some pseudo letters and numbers in the corners.  We were ready! 

 

Armed with her purse and shopping cart (or buggy as my WV husband calls it) she made her way through our pretend store.  She carefully selected items to put in her cart.  When she came to the checkout, we placed all the food on the table and counted it.  If she had four things, she owed four dollars.  With an older child you could actually add up the price tags, but this was too advanced for my daughter. 

Z and Twiggy shopping til they drop!
Paying for her groceries!
While playing, Twiggy learned some new vocabulary.  She learned that a "shopper" is also called a customer and that a "payer" is called a cashier.  She learned to ask the cashier what aisle  certain foods could be found in. 

And for those of you who are worried...don't worry Daddy was able to join in the fun.  We made him the bagger!  He even played the part of the customer outfitted with the pink sequin purse.  I'm just mad that I didn't get a picture!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Wooden Train

This Friday, I am falling for this cherished wooden train that was give to Z by his great-grandfather, my grandpa. 

On November 14, 2009, Twiggy and I came home from an errand to find a package on our front porch.  I was pregnant with Z.  The package was addressed to Baby Branch (at that point we were still searching for a name for our little guy!)


Enclosed in the package was a note:
Dear Jessica & [Kee],
[Jessica's parents] gave this wooden train to me in 1981 and if you don't mind, I would now like for my great-grandson to have it.
As always, Grandma and I are deeply proud of both of you and your family values (yes, including the Mountaineers, too!)
Wishing you love and happiness always,
Grandpa and Grandma

I remembered seeing this train sit in my grandfather's office.  He worked many years for the railroad. This package definitely pulled at my heartstrings, because my grandpa was battling cancer with all that he had.  I decided that this train would be our baby-to-be's monthly picture prop!  I took at photo of Twiggy each month with her very first doll and placed the photos in a scrapbook. I planned to do the same thing for the new baby.

Below are just some of the photos of Z with the train. It always amazes me at how much babies change over the course of a month!




Z was so blessed to be my grandpa's first great-grandson! Z was born 2 days after my grandpa's birthday.

Z and Grandpa at Easter. The first time they met!
My grandfather fought courageously and never ceased to be a man of honor. He passed in July 2010.  In his final days, Z held his hand and cooed.  Although Z was only 3 1/2 months old, we will never let him forget Grandpa's legacy. 

There is a certain joy that now spreads across Z's face when we get the train down from his bedroom shelf.  It is almost as if he knows that it is special.  As if he knows that Grandpa thought he was special.
March 15th will be bittersweet as we remember my grandpa on his birthday.  We will tell the kids stories about the funny tricks he'd pull and we'll tell them the lessons he taught us.  Two days later we will be taking Z's first birthday picture with the cherished train, knowing that Grandpa is watching!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Losing our Marbles!

I knew it was time to begin using a positive reward system with my 3 year old daughter when my husband asked, "Jess this is what you do for a living! What would you do if she was kid in your class?" Our daughter was beginning to show her 3 year old independent colors.  She was throwing tantrums in order to get out of eating dinner, refusing to clean up her toys, and not listening.  My personal favorite new behavior is the hissing.  Yep, she hisses when I am reprimanding her for something.  We will be in trouble once she's a teenager!

That is exactly why we made a trip to the dollar store to buy some marbles!  First we started with a marble jar (it was actually a little glass salt shaker). After the first few days, we realized that this was a little too ambiguous.  It was hard to tell if it was "full."
 So we moved to using the jar to hold the marbles that were to be earned and pulled out a trusty ice cube tray.  This was much easier for Twiggy to manage.  She could tell how many marbles she still needed. 

  

This is how it works for us:
1. We made home rules. 
     ~ Listen to Mommy and Daddy.
     ~ Clean up after myself.
     ~ Be nice to others.
We wrote these on a piece of construction paper, drew illustrations beside them, and stuck them on the fridge.

2. If she did something nice or helpful, she earned a marble!

3. If a rule was not followed, she had to give us a marble from the tray.

4. Once all the spots in her tray were filled, she got a prize!

Now prizes consist of all sorts of things.  Some are dollar store finds: pads of paper, lipgloss, candy, fruit snacks, stickers, etc.
We try to mix in activity prizes too: Playing Candyland, painting with finger paints, helping cook lunch, going to the library, etc.

Sometimes the marble system works...sometimes she just has a rough day.  But when you are trying any new strategy, you have to give it ample time to work!  Sometimes things get a whole lot worse before they get better :) Consistency is the key!


Now there is a reason that I am the manager of the marble jar.  One night a couple weeks ago, my daughter slept in her bed all night long (this is becoming a problem in our house).  I told her that I was really proud of her and that she almost had all her marbles.  I asked her what she thought we should get her for a prize.  I would strongly suggest having a prize chosen before the first marble hits the tray (hindsight is 20/20!).  I half assusmed she's say "lipstick." Nope.  In her sweetest little voice she said, "Hmm...I want a bike." A bike?  That isn't exactly one tray worthy!!!




Well, as you can see Kee heard her.  After she filled up her tray, he took her to pick out a big girl bicycle.  Now we are just waiting for warm weather to ride it!

 Do you have a system that is working in your house?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Preparing for Read Across America Day

Wednesday, March 2nd is Read Across America Day!  It is also Dr. Seuss's birthday.

This "holiday" could potentially be as big as Christmas for my daughter.  She loves books!  When I say she loves books, I really mean that! 

Reading library books to her brother.


Her grocery cart filled to the brim with books!
Last year we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday by reading the Cat and the Hat together.  She looks so little!


But this year I think we should do something more...since she has continued her love affair with books.  I have to make a confession. Dr. Seuss books are not my favorite.  The kids have several, and they adore them.  Z who is 11 months old does not share his sister's passion for paperbacks, but he will sit on my lap to listen to the entire Green Eggs and Ham book.  So I think our Wednesday will definitely be spent reading that book with a little green eggs and ham for dinner!

We are also going to make these adorable rice krispie treat bookworms found in the Family Fun magazine for Twiggy to share at daycare!  I think they are so fun!
Eat Your Worms Recipe

I thought about taking the kids by the store to pick out new books on their way home from daycare...but I think we may have all we need for now. 
This is the amount of books I pulled out from under the covers when I made Twiggy's bed this morning!  Some kiddos sleep with stuffed animals, not my daughter.  She hits the sack with a book (or books) in one arm and booklight in the other hand!

No matter what we do tomorrow...I'm sure Twiggy will love it!  How are you celebrating March 2nd???