Thursday, December 30, 2010

a fun visit with Great-Grandma Connie!

We were blessed to be able to have a nice Christmas Eve lunch with my grandmother and it was wonderful to see her looking so well! For those of you who don't know, I lived with my grandmother for two summers and a fall before I got married. I actually met my husband because of her (you can read about it HERE) and she is very special to me. She has had a lot of health problems the past year, so it was a blessing to see her so happy and well for the holiday.
the girls handing her picture ornaments they made for her:
Karlie's favorite thing to do at my grandmother's house! My grandmother traveled all over the world before her husband died and she collected pill boxes from everywhere they visited. Karlie loves to take them in and out and open them up.
Playing with the babies Great-grandma Connie gave them:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More snow pictures!

I have tons of Christmas pictures to share, but I thought I'd intersperse them with current ones. Yesterday, the girls had tons of fun playing in the snow that has stuck around since Christmas Day! They were both so excited and Karlie got so upset when we finally had to go inside :)

Karis couldn't stop grinning... she walked around eating snow and singing Christmas carols the whole time :)

They loved riding on the sled together!

Still addicted to eating the snow...

Mark loves to show the dog who's boss.... good thing the dog loves it!

wordless wednesday

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Medal Time at MVP Sports Factory

Well, the winter 1 soccer season ended at MVP, so Mark brought the camera again to take some pics of the girls with their coaches and friends.

Karis really enjoyed the social aspect of soccer more this session -- she often tells me silly things her friends did in class. I was asking her about the girls in her class and she said that they were nice, but "there is a boy that I like the best!" Not at all what I expected to hear! And sure enough we were watching a video that Mark took of her class and I noticed that she had sat down on a spot but then got up and moved to sit next to the "boy that she likes the best!" Oh, my. But I'm glad that she is able to have fun in a class that Daddy is not coaching all the time.

Karlie really enjoys her little class as well and is much more cooperative than Karis was at this stage. She pretty much does everything the coach asks. And she LOVES almost all the activities and gets so excited about the running games and parachute. But don't try to take her picture with her coach or class! She has officially reached the stage where she doesn't want to pose for pictures! She will either scowl or cover her mouth or nose with her hands or a few fingers :)

Karis with her class. Sorry, but her favorite boy wasn't there for the last class so I can't point him out to you :)
Karlie getting ready to kick the squishy ball through my legs... she likes to cheat and "set herself up" for an easy goal :)
Karis kicking down her cone towers -- look at that crazy hair! She took out her ponytail and the static was unbelievable!

My girls love to run!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Keeping Christmas Simple and Christ-Focused (as much as possible :)

I really appreciated Leah's recent post on "What do you want for Christmas?" because it very closely echoes my heart as well. We undoubtedly want Christmas to be about Jesus' s birth, not about the presents. I'll admit, though, that I absolutely love the Christmas season and have so many traditions that I want to do with my girls just because they are fun. And some of those have nothing to do Christ's birth. So I thought I'd share just a little about how our little family tries to keep a balance and keep the focus on Christ.

--- We make a big deal about the Christmas story and read it often. We request every book at the library that deals with the nativity and read them together (over and over :) and discuss them. Some that my girls have particularly enjoyed are: "Mortimer's Christmas Manger," "Room for a Little One," and "Who is Coming to Our House?" We also read each version of the Christmas story in all of our different children's Bibles. This has been a lot of fun for the girls and they both LOVE any book they can find that has Mary and Baby Jesus in it. I have also tried to extend the story so that they get more background, including Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Anna and Simeon.

--- I try to ask them regularly, "why do we celebrate Christmas?" (Because it is Jesus's birthday!) My Mom usually does a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake that Karis looks forward to decorating and eating. Like Leah, we don't talk about getting presents, (and they have no idea that they will be receiving any!) but we do discuss giving presents to others because it is kind and just like the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. My girls get very excited about giving presents to Daddy and wrapping presents for their cousins. Karis has even come up with some ideas for giving to others all by herself! She was bound and determined to take cookies to our next door neighbor and pestered me about it until I finally made time to do it! They have been thoroughly confused the few times people have asked them what they want for Christmas and were so surprised and delighted this Sunday when some sweet members of our church brought them some small gifts :) I am sure that as they get older and start to remember Christmas morning at the grandparents' each year, then it will be harder to keep the focus on Jesus's birthday and giving, but that will definitely continue to be our goal each year.

--- My husband and I have decided to keep our little family gift exchange very simple to avoid distracting the girls from the real reason for celebrating. We just give them a book (usually the next level of Bible that Karis is ready for) and a CD (because our girls absolutely LOVE Christmas music and it is really hard for them when we put it up for the year!) Last year we got them The Big Picture Story Bible and the Songs for Saplings CD: Questions With Answers. This year we are giving them The Children's Everyday Bible and Seeds of Praise CD. We also do simple stocking stuffers of things they need (like a new toothbrush, socks, gloves, etc.) and something fun (this year it is fingernail polish for Karis and play dough for Karlie). Now I have to be honest with you and let you know that the girls end up getting spoiled at their Grandparents' houses, with lots of presents and super fun stockings, but they get spoiled there pretty much anytime they go visit so it doesn't take away from the season too much... they just see it as the fun of being at the grandparents' houses! And we are so blessed to have wonderful parents who ask us what our girls need or what I would like for them to have, so all of their gifts are always much-appreciated and well-used. This year they are mainly getting doll accessories (since they are obsessed with babies and will be even more so after the new one arrives!) and educational toys that I have been wanting for them.

--- We have presented Santa to our girls as something fun and "pretend" that people like to talk and sing about around Christmas time, much like Frosty the Snowman. Next year I plan to get some books about St. Nicholas and try to delve into the historical tradition a little more, but for now, Karis has been happy to see Santas everywhere and just know that it is a fun story people like to read and sing about during the winter time. When she gets a little older, I'm sure I will have to discuss with her about the fact that some children actually believe the stories and that she shouldn't spoil their fun by telling them it is just pretend, but it hasn't been as issue for us yet :) She views Santa more as a fun decoration than anything else.

--- Have any of you done the Jesse Tree for Advent with your children this year? I didn't have it together this year and just now got all my ornaments made, but it is something that I am very excited about doing with my girls next year. Basically, each day you read a passage from the Bible and place an ornament on the tree -- Each ornament represents a different story, starting at the beginning of Creation and working all the way to the coming of Christ Jesus. Each reading shows how all the Old Testament points towards the coming of Christ as the Messiah.

So those are a few of the ideas we have for keeping Christmas simple and Christ-focused as much as possible. I would LOVE to hear more suggestions from all of you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Karlie Sue at 23 months!

I don't really like the title of this post, because 23 months is only a month away from 2 years old! And that definitely doesn't sound like a baby anymore! So hard to believe!

At 23 months, Karlie Sue...
... talks in phrases and short sentences -- Oh, it is so cute to hear what she comes up with! She is so much easier to understand now and I just love to hear her adorable tiny voice. She is still very persistent if she wants something (for instance, to hear "Jingle Bells") and will say it over and over until you either give it to her or discipline her. Karlie knows the name of almost every Christmas song imaginable and it is really fun to her her requesting them throughout the day. Her favorites are undoubtedly "Jingle Bells and Frosty" but she also loves "Manger" and "Bethleham" and "Noel."

...Has become addicted to "I spy" books and is quite good at them! She will sit still for the longest time to find whatever Daddy tells her to look for.

... loves making cookies. Yesterday, we had fun cutting out ornaments with cookie cutters. Karis enjoyed it for the first 20 minutes and then was done. Karlie didn't want to stop an hour later even though we had used up al the dough!

... has been often staying dry between diaper changes so I am wondering of I should attempt to try to potty train her before the baby comes... only have about a month after Christmas traveling so I don't know if I should. But Karlie hates to be wet or stinky and always tells me when she needs a change and is utterly obsessed with all her "potty" books, so I wonder if she could do it. (I think the biggest question is, do I have the energy for it? :)

... finally seems to understand that Mama has a real baby in her belly and will try to "feel" the baby and kiss" the baby regularly.

... still sleeps between 12-13 hours at night and around 2 hours for nap, but takes a LONG time to actually fall asleep because she wants to play!

... Has learned almost all of her letters and numbers from listening to Karis' lessons and is much more interested in them than her big sister. She love to find numbers and letters everywhere and often tells me the page numbers on the bottom of our books. She loves to count and can count to ten with us, but usually counts objects in totally random order, grinning up a storm.

... loves to play hide and seek with her Daddy more than anything and always hides in her purple laundry basket.

... is obsessed with "happy" and "sad" and will give the most pitiful face as she says the word "sad" when she sees someone in a book looking unhappy.

... loves to ride in the car and listen to cd's and actually gets upset when we have to get out (a far cry from how she used to cry for entire car rides when she was little!) absolutely adorable and melts my heart on a regular basis!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Random pics and Karlie at naptime...

These are completely random pictures that we have taken over the last week...

...And if it is a picture of Karis, please take note and enjoy her exciting clothing choices :) For instance, in this picture, she has on her favorite Christmas outfit, but she ditched the pretty pants that match and went with her fuzzy puppy 80's style britches :)
Karlie trying on a hat that matches one of Karis' other outfits -- Karlie wears several different hats all day long!
But she loves her Santa hat the best!
Speaking of random, Mark just had to take a picture of my last baking pumpkin that caught scissors falling off the table...
Now this is a fabulous holiday outfit if I ever saw one!
And I'm sure you are just waiting with abated breath for me to tell you about Karlie at naptime...

Remember how we put the girls in the same room last October and they did ever so well? Karis has always been easy with transitions -- she never once dreamed of getting out of her bed when we transitioned from the crib and she still won't!

Karlie did great at first, for almost a month, but I have to be honest and let you know that she has been wearing out my patience ever since the newness of the toddler bed wore off. She has no qualms about getting out of her bed and climbing into Karis' bed for a massive hilarious tickling session! And she loves to play with her stuffed animals and squeal and laugh for at least an hour or more every day before settling down for a nap. She usually does eventually crash for a good nap (thankfully!) but not until she has had at least one good round of discipline (and usually more!). And she will always grin that adorable smile at me like "how could having this much fun be wrong, Mama?" And so, every day we talk through what it means to obey Mama at naptime (lay head down, eyes closed, mouth closed!) at least 5 different times. I'm praying this is a stage that she will get over before the new baby comes because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to have the energy to get up and discipline her so many times during my one chance to rest during the day! But I have learned that self-control and obedience seems to ebb and flow in cycles and stages so I am optimistic that if we keep steady with the discipline, she will eventually learn to stay in bed! Until then, I have to laugh at the funny things she comes up with to make naptime interesting :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My POH articles

Sibling Battles in our Family

My Take on Baby's First Foods

Our Plan for teaching Karis Preschool

Baby Steps to Eating Healthy (some helpful links)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Breastfeeding advice

Several of my friends have asked me for advice on breastfeeding lately, so I thought I'd share this list that my dear friend, Leah, gave to me right before I had my first baby. It was REALLY helpful to me and I hope that it will be for you! (I've added in my own notes in italics)

Leah’s Advice on Nursing

**Disclaimer: Of everything I’ve learned, the most important is that advice is just advice. Take it for what it’s worth. Some things work for some people, but not others. You can’t live up to everyone’s standard. And you don’t have to. Just take the best of everyone’s advice and do what works for you and your baby. Your baby is unique – and that’s a good thing!**

  1. Start praying now that God would give you His wisdom to make good decisions and His peace to rest in Him while you are starting out. It can get really discouraging in the first week of nursing, and you really do need His strength to trust in Him and know that He is helping you along.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your nurses and the lactation consultants in the hospital. I called a nurse in to help me each time I went to feed Samuel so they could help me get him started correctly. It’s tempting to want to try to figure it all out yourself, but starting correctly from the very beginning is a big help in the long run.

  1. Write everything down – when she nurses, which side and for how long, and each diaper you change. The hospital should give you a little chart to fill out while you are there so you can keep track of when you are nursing and when she is having wet/dirty diapers. Keep up with the chart until at least your first pediatrician’s appointment. It will help you to see what is going on with your baby, and it will help the pediatrician see that she is progressing well.

  1. Keep in mind that women have been breastfeeding for thousands of years. Long before there was Baby Wise or La Leche League, women were successfully nursing their children. You can do it.

  1. Buy a sports bra style nursing bra and a tank style nursing bra. These are the easiest to use, especially at nighttime. I sleep in these bras for the extra support. Or sometimes I sleep in a tight fitting tank top that pulls down easily. You want to go for comfort and ease in a top/bra when you are feeding at night. (I absolutely LOVE the nursing tanks at Target!)

  1. Engorgement will pass! A few days after you give birth, your milk will start to come in and your boobs will be like two rock hard apples on your chest. I wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I know a lot of women can be. This will only last for 48 hours – hang in there! When you nurse during those 48 hours, sit comfortably and massage your breast while your baby nurses. Gently push from the outsides of the breasts towards the nipple. It will help move the milk through and ease some of your discomfort. After those 48 hours, you should feel a lot better.

  1. In the first few days, after your baby nurses, express a tiny drop of colostrum from your breast and rub it into the nipple. My nurse gave me this hint and it really helped. It is supposed to be the best treatment for keeping your nipples from cracking. Do this for as long as you need – I stopped doing it after the first week.

  1. Give your nipples 5 minutes to air dry. I always left myself exposed for the 5 minutes I used to burp the baby so that my nipple could dry.

  1. Use Lanolin cream from the very start. After I rubbed the colostrum on and then let my nipple dry, I applied a generous amount of Lanolin cream to the nipple area. I did this for the first week. After that, it didn’t seem that I was going to get cracked nipples and I stopped using it. I’m not sure if I was just lucky, or if all of the above advice did the trick. (I used coconut oil instead and it worked great!)

  1. Relax and enjoy the time with the baby while you nurse. It is a sweet, sweet time and the bonding is just as important as the passing of nutrition. Your baby knows you – your voice, your smell, your touch. Use this time to really form that special bond with your baby. She is uniquely yours!

  1. Nursing does hurt at first. Those first few sessions can be uncomfortable because you just don’t know what to expect. But it shouldn’t be painful. If it is like out of this world hurting you, then something is wrong. Take the baby off and try again.

  1. When your baby is drinking colostrum, you won’t hear her swallowing a bunch. It takes a few sucks to get enough in her mouth to swallow it down. Tune in from the beginning to recognize the sounds of your baby nursing. Get familiar with what sucking sounds like and swallowing. BUT, don’t be discouraged if you can’t figure out what sound is swallowing at first. It took me a few days to figure it out.

  1. The standard advice is to nurse your baby at least every 3 hours during the day, and every 4 hours at night. If you have a sleepy baby like me, start trying to rouse her if it’s been more than 2 hours. Although, I will say that I nursed Samuel every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night for the first 2 weeks so that he would gain weight quickly in the beginning and I wouldn’t have troubles with the doctors being concerned about his weight. And it worked – he had gained a whole pound by his 2 week checkup and I didn’t have to keep going back in for weight checks.

  1. Start out in the beginning using the “football hold.” It is the easiest one to master and you can really see how well the baby is latching on when they are in that position.

  1. Learn to do the “lying down” position as soon as you can. Sometimes you are really exhausted when the baby wants to nurse, and if you can get her to nurse while you are lying down, it can mean a lot more rest for you.

  1. Drink a lot of water! This is sort of silly advice because you will find that you are SO thirsty while you are nursing and won’t need to remind yourself to drink water. But always keep a glass of water handy. I have several throughout the house so there is always one nearby.

  1. Don’t give up too easily. A lot of women get discouraged and want to quit. I promise you, if you hang in there, you will succeed. If you are getting down, call someone and talk to them about it. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone, or like you are the only one who has ever wanted to quit. Breastfeeding is totally worth it and you’ll be happy you stuck with it.

  2. The biggest question I had in the beginning was “how long should I be nursing each time?” I will tell you that the books aren’t real clear on that answer. It is true that each baby really is different. For a reference, Samuel is a fast eater. He nurses for about 15 minutes each session. Now, in the beginning, I didn’t know he was a fast eater, and I was totally freaking out because I thought it was supposed to take 45 minutes. I was so nervous that I was doing it wrong. My advice here would be to take a deep breath and try to be in tune with your baby. I would aim for getting her to eat at least 15 to 20 minutes. If she is still hungry, she will keep eating. And with the colostrum, it takes them a little longer because it takes more work getting it out and because they are brand new at nursing. This question will make you worry for the first few days/weeks because you’re new at this and you want to do what’s best for your baby. It’s okay to be concerned.

  1. It’s important to keep the baby awake in the first weeks while she’s nursing. Not awake in the sense that her eyes have to be wide open. But, she does need to eat for a full feeding. She will want to fall asleep after 5 minutes. Rub her belly or her hands to keep her eating. The lactation consultant showed Ed how to crank Samuel’s arm to keep him awake enough to keep sucking.

  1. I only feed on one side at a time. I didn’t plan on doing that in the beginning, but the nurse had me do it, and it’s just sort of worked out that way. I asked my pediatrician, and he said that was great to do because it ensures the baby is getting the hindmilk. I think most books recommend that you feed on both sides at each session so that there is adequate stimulation of both breasts. I personally like doing one side each time. If he is still hungry, I offer the other breast.

  1. It is tough to know when she has “drained” your breast. I was dumbfounded by this statement. I couldn’t tell at all. It is a little misleading to say “drained” because it implies that the breast is totally empty and nothing is coming out. But your breast is actually producing milk for the baby as long as they are sucking. I decide to switch breasts when the one he’s using feels totally flabby and he is starting to irritate my nipple.

  1. Make sure you have nursing pads on hand. You will find that your opposite breast leaks when you begin nursing. And sometimes they will spontaneously leak even when you aren’t nursing. This has been one of the most distressing things for me. When you already feel emotionally frazzled, it can be really discouraging to look down and realize that you have leaked through your bra and it is now running down your shirt. Talk about wanting to cry!

  1. Keep a safety pin attached to your bra to remind you which side you should start nursing on for the next session. I actually kept a hairband on the appropriate wrist because I kept forgetting to move the safety pin. But if you are marking which side to start on, it makes it a lot easier.

  1. Last but not least, have a good cry now and again. And lean on your husband for support. Breastfeeding can be stressful because it is so new to you and baby both. It’s okay to cry when you get stressed out. Have your husband lay down in the bed with you, cuddle you, and reassure you that you are doing a good job and that you are an excellent mother. Hang in there, babe.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas excitement!

Last Wednesday, we got our Christmas tree! Karis has been excited about it for a while and she couldn't believe that it was actually THE DAY to do it! Karlie was a little clueless, but she was excited about all the trees to see.
Karis ran around and around the trees, squealing and singing the entire time. It was hilarious!
They both had to "help" Daddy with every aspect of putting the tree up!
They LOVED putting the ornaments on... Daddy had to let go of his "perfectly balanced tree" mentality a bit :) But I must say I was proud of him and his patience with the girls' unbelievable excitement!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One more romp in the snow...

As soon as Karis woke up this morning, she was excitedly asking to go play in the snow again! She had such a hard time waiting til after breakfast and until everyone else was ready :)

Making "snow angels"
Papa taught her that she could eat the snow off of the bushes and not have to use her hands... not sure how I felt about that, but Karis was pretty tickled with the idea :)
And Karlie had to try out her swing in the snow. It was very difficult to hold on with her mittens, but she kept chanting, "higher, higher!"
Karis enjoyed cleaning the snow off the steps of the slide...
And Karlie thought it was great fun to slide down and land in a big pile of snow!
Since I didn't get a pic of our snowman's face last night, here it is: We didn't have the normal add-ons (like a carrot nose and button eyes), so we used the tops off of some emptied spice bottles I had given the girls for their play kitchen. They were quite happy about their snowman, and it is nice to have him around since the rest of the snow has melted almost completely. I'm curious how long he will last.