Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Post about Pregnancy Two - (Woohoo) Life, Depression and Stuff

This is a post that has been bursting in me for quite some time. Unfortunately, I seldom have the time or energy to sit down without distractions and write about the nitty gritty stuff that God has been doing in my life.  Now that Summer is upon us and my kiddo is no longer napping my personal breaks have been in short supply to say the least:). I've been working on this post for a few weeks and I keep coming back to it and feeling led to finish it, so I pray that it can be an encouragement to someone today or next year or whenever it may be read by passing eyes. I pray that God is glorified as I let you in to my fragile heart and share a small piece of my story. 

 Soooo...As most of you already know...I'm/We are pregnant!! Woohoo! I wasn't even sure if it was ever going to happen again but, God is faithful and come this December (the 5th is our due date), we will be welcoming our second kiddo into our arms. This is a turning point for our family. Thank you Jesus!

Daisy is extremely excited about becoming a big sister.  She kisses my belly just about every day and talks often about all the things that she can't wait to do with her baby brother or sister.  She asks me regularly if she will get to hold the baby when she is still four.  I think she is trying to determine how much longer it is going to take for the baby to get here.  When I explained to her that the baby would be coming around Christmas time I think it clicked because she asked me where our decorations were.  I told her that they were in Granddad and Beej's attic.  She thought for a moment and then insisted that I go pick up the decorations so that we could set them up so that the baby would get here:). She will tell you without hesitating that she would like to have a baby sister but, she will also add that she knows it's God's decision.  Daisy is so gentle and nurturing with babies.  I'm so thankful she is going to be the older sister.  She will be awesome. 

To answer a few questions that I am being asked almost daily:

1. Yes, we will find out the gender, July 9th in fact and yes, we will announce the news later that day so hang tight!  I do not like surprises for the most part and knowing the gender of my child asap helps me to bond more quickly and feel more prepared.  Just the way I am.

2. This pregnancy is considerably smoother than my first.  It's certainly not a breeze as my fatigue is far worse this time and I absolutely drained by 4 every evening but overall it's been much less intense and has not been tainted by depression at all.  My nausea only lasted 8 weeks this time! Praise Jesus!  You will read below why this is such a blessing to me!

3. I started feeling the baby move just shy of 12 weeks.  Crazy early I know but, I'm certain.  I felt Daisy move at 15 weeks.  However; since feeling the baby the first time I'm lucky if I feel the baby once every day or so at most.  This baby is at this point much less active than Daisy was in my tummy.  I'm okay with that:).

4.  Yes, I do have cravings and aversions.  I crave a lot of fresh, cold fruit and cold drinks.  I also crave sub sandwiches again.  The crazy thing is I crave salads this time around.  I loathed them with a passion during my first pregnancy.  I've also been eating a lot of pimento and cheese cracker spread!  I've never bought the stuff before in my life.  Haha.  Pregnancy cracks me up sometimes.  I don't crave heavy food quite as often as I did during my first pregnancy but, I do get hit with intense hunger waves all the time and light snacking doesn't cut it.  I crave salt much more than I crave sweet.  I also crave sushi all the time and have allowed even myself to indulge a wee bit just once or twice to save my sanity...oh so good...:)  I have had an aversion to hot coffee since I was six weeks pregnant which is super bizarre since coffee was my favorite thing on earth...well, almost.  I am also far less interested in sweets than I was the first pregnancy.  

If you ever have a daughter she will likely love flower picking...if you name your child after a flower you can bet that she will live, breath and dream about flowers.  That is my Daisy girl.

5. Yes, we have a couple of name ideas but, they are not set in stone.  I am pretty sure that we will not be sharing the name until the birth again but, this may change.  My reason for not wanting to share the name in advance is because I don't want people ruining it for me/us with their strong opinions of disapproval.  I think some of you know what I mean.  lol 

6. I popped faster this time for sure.  I was expecting that though so it's all good.  On the other hand, at almost 18 weeks this time around I am about the same size I was with Daisy at 18 weeks so not much different at this point. 

7.  No, I do not like being pregnant....yes, I deeply appreciate the miracle of life growing inside me but, I appreciate the miracle most when it is in my arms and out of my stomach:).  #truth  I just don't feel great when I am pregnant overall. I never once looked at a pregnant woman over the last four years and wished that I was her...I just wished that she would give me her baby after she birthed it.  I have considered hiring a surrogate...only in jest but, still...I'm just not a fan.  I mean no disrespect to the women who struggle to get pregnant.  I am very sensitive to the fact that these women would do anything to be in my shoes.  I do not take life for granted...It just is what it is yah know. 
I do love that other women love being pregnant.  I'm happy for them:). lol

I took these pictures of Daisy the day that we took our first ultrasound pictures.  She was still processing the news but, because she is so much older, she processed it very well and couldn't wait to tell her friends and preschool classmates the next day.  We announced this pregnancy at just over 9 weeks.  Usually I'd want to wait until around 12 but, I couldn't wait that long to tell Daisy and she can't keep a secret yet.  It worked out so it's all good:). 
I love when she twirls.  My little tiny dancer
My little cutie pie has mastered the cheese smile that so many toddlers favor.  I love it:).

Now if you have time, travel back almost five years with me if you will and let me give you a little recap of my first pregnancy experience.  After that, perhaps you might understand why I was a bit nervous about going through a pregnancy again, even if it was what my heart had been longing for for over three long, aching years.

My first pregnancy was awful.  Sorry to be so blunt...wait, no I'm not. It's just the way that it was.  I am not one of those women who will ever speak fondly of pregnancy...sorry to all you pregnancy lovers out there who I have just offended.  I had severe nausea with Daisy for over 7 months.  Nothing I tried gave me any relief.  That intense nausea intensified my smell sensitivities and unfortunately the smell of my brand new home became a smell that I couldn't bear.  I literally wanted to and even contemplated burning my house down or moving out for several months.  I worked from home at the time and had to be in it all day long.  It was torture.  To make matters even worse I got slammed with the heaviest depression.  It kicked in when I was about 6 weeks pregnant and didn't relent or show me any mercy or good days until I was seven months pregnant.  Let me emphasize that I have never struggled with depression.  This was a legit, hormonal hell.  I was so down and miserable that I didn't even want to be pregnant or have a child anymore.  Everything in my life was overwhelming and burdensome.  I was so embarrassed by how I felt and the fact that very few people could relate to my lack of joy under such wonderful circumstances.  It wasn' exciting to announce my pregnancy because I didn't feel any excitement.  I forced it. I faked it.  I struggled along and prayed constantly for a break through.

About month five I started having severe, stabbing back pain and it was an all day and night ordeal.  Evidently a nerve was pinched in my lower spine and sleeping became so difficult that I had to sleep sitting upright on the couch for the last few months of my pregnancy and even then I was lucky if I got two hours tops.  Chronic nerve pain is a beast lemme tell yah.  I know a lot of you out there can relate!     

Surprisingly though, in spite of my misery...I was never one to rush my pregnancy because I valued the time that it gave me to get prepared for the child that we were about to welcome.  I was also enjoying my last little bit of quality time with my husband (to the best of my ability) before our 6 years of married twoness transitioned into a family of three.  

Two months before I delivered Daisy, my depression lifted and I can't tell you what a blessing that was.  Literally, one morning I woke up and I didn't feel the knot of anger and misery between my eyes that I had felt every day for months.  It was just, gone.  I still remember that day vividly. I was able to feel normal again, to feel positive and to feel hope.  I was able to appreciate the last leg of my pregnancy and even get excited about my daughter's arrival .  I still praise God that my relief came when it did because the depression could have lasted longer as it does for so many people and could transitioned into postpartum depression.  Praise God, joy kicked in instantly for me the moment Daisy was born.  My energy surged.  I was on a high for a year it felt like.  There is nothing like living in the shadow of depression and experiencing that nightmare for months on end and then getting to experience the beauty of being restored to a balanced mind.  Life tasted exponentially sweet and I was exploding with gratitude.   I actually slept better after my daughter was born even though she never slept, simply because I felt better physically and mentally. It was glorious to be back to my "old self," and yes, having a child does indeed make IT ALL worth it.  

My experience with depression greatly deepened my compassion for others who struggle.  Amongst the Christian community especially there is still so much confusion about what actually causes depression and how it should be addressed.  I was subjected to some very hurtful comments and counsel in my "season" as I'm sure many have been before me.  I tasted the sting of rejection so many times that I lost count.  The fact is, that I have accepted that the best way to have understanding and true compassion for others who struggle with depression is to walk a mile in their shoes...which I did and I hope to never walk in those shoes again. 

Thinking happy thoughts doesn't cure depression and I can even say that praying steadfastly or being prayed for for months on end doesn't necessarily lift depression either.  Depression is not something I chose for myself or fell into by making bad decisions or thinking bad thoughts.  It is an illness and I would say more often than not it appears to be triggered by a hormonal shift in the brain.  I urge anyone who has become consumed by depression to seek a counselor immediately.  Don't go at it alone or think that you have to.  I can't tell you how encouraging it was to talk to others who had been in my shoes at one time or another.  How healing it was to share my hurts and not be judged, condemned or gossiped about because they "got it."  Also, as hard as it is to accept, don't expect the people around you to understand what you are feeling or going through.  It's really not their fault that they don't get it if they haven't ever struggled with depression.  If you are still struggling after steady counseling then ask your doctor about anti-depressants and please don't ever be ashamed.  Shame only makes everything worse.  Trust me, I walked in that too.  Get help. Talk to someone.  Don't suffer in silence.  Please hold tightly to the truth that God is with you in your despair.  Even though it can be almost impossible to feel his presence at times please trust and know that He is there, He loves you and He is faithful always. 

I want to emphasize that the loneliness of depression served to draw me closer to the Lord.  My faith grew considerably after my depression lifted and when I could feel God's presence more clearly again.  In my darkest seasons I've always rediscovered that the person who understands me most intimately and who loves me unconditionally, even in my darkest and broken seasons,  is Jesus.  I took comfort in the fact that Jesus was a man acquainted with many sorrows, with rejection and loneliness as scripture says. "He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care." Isaiah 53:3
 Christ understands suffering intimately and his compassion knows no bounds.  He understands what it is to be broken and bruised and he was perfect and completely innocent!  He doesn't look at our suffering in disgust.  He doesn't walk by us and ignore us when we are begging for help.  He sits with us.  He stays with us.  He suffers with us if we have to suffer.  He never leaves us though it might be a test of days or years...He is faithful.  We can't scare him away on our worst days.  He GETS IT.  When no one else does...Jesus does.  I was deeply encouraged by the truth that Jesus knew my heart when it seemed so few did or could.  I wasn't being a basket case on purpose.  I wasn't depressed because I thought ugly thoughts or was a bad Christian.  God knew my heart.  I rested in his embrace when I was to weary to stand.  He was with me through it all even when I couldn't "feel" Him there...I know He was there.  

Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to "feel" God's presence in the midst of such agonizing, long-term suffering because our feelings of pain and anguish will often overpower our ability to feel God's peace, joy and truth.  This is why I caution people not to rely too heavily on how they feel at one moment or the next.  Our feelings are often deceptive and they change hour by hour.  Our feelings are impacted by our ever changing circumstances and moods.  The fact is that our feelings are unstable and cannot be trusted (more often than not).  Only God's word can anchor our feelings and keep us steady as the only thing that never changes, is God's word.  We might not always feel God's presence in the darkness and in the storm but, we have to KNOW His presence in our spirit.  We have to hold tightly to the truth in God's word because faith isn't always about feelings.  Faith is about knowing, trusting and believing in what you cannot see and certainly..cannot always feel. 

In our suffering we can get caught up wondering why God would allow it in the first place.  We can grow bitter and distant from Him because he is the easiest to blame after all if He is Divine.  We forget about our adversary.  We often forget that Satan wants nothing more than to rob us of our closest friend and ally, Jesus, in the midst of our suffering.  Satan strives to leave us feeling utterly alone, unloved and betrayed by God. He loves to seeing us feeling abandoned and hopeless.  He strives to break us apart and steal everything good and positive from us.  Christ does not.  Christ speaks light into the darkness, hope into despair, love into the broken heart and forgiveness and healing to the wounded.  Christ stands by us closer than a brother.  Christ restores and redeems us from the ashes.

Jesus plants hope, grace, mercy, love and life in our hearts.  Even if our circumstantial feelings about who God is change day to day..the fact remains, who He is never changes.  His love for you is deeper and wider than you could ever begin to imagine.  Please remember that the next time a storm moves into your life.  You might not feel the presence of God as strongly as you did when the sun was shining but, you must KNOW that He is there with you always.  He will never leave you!

I have tremendous compassion for women who struggle with postpartum depression and I empathize with every man, woman and child who has been swallowed up by the dark shadow that depression casts over a life.  I have heard countless stories of people being restored to a balanced mind and set free from depression.  I pray that if you are one that struggles that you too will experience a total freedom from depression in Jesus name.  There is hope for you always.  You must never stop believing that even when the darkness lies and tries to convince you otherwise.

So, all this to say that I'm a believer that God can redeem anyone from impossible situations and that His love will carry us through the darkest chapters of our lives.  It is because of the impossible situations in my life that my faith has grown and I am confident that the impossible is possible through Christ.  

If you ever need prayer or encouragement please contact me! That's what I am here for:). 

This second child is a tremendous blessing (as was the first of course:).  This child is a long awaited blessing.  One that I wasn't sure I would ever get to see come to fruition in my life due to other trials and circumstances that our family has weathered over the past few years.  Every time I have had something taken from me in my life...God has filled up that empty space with his comfort and love and in time He has given something back.  God is faithful and heard the quiet cries of my heart.  To God be all the glory for ever and ever amen.

  I pray that this little one grows to have a passionate hunger for Jesus and that they live a life full of purpose.  I pray that this child knows how dearly loved they are already and as I feel the little one kicking inside me as I type this..I'm quite certain that he/she knows just that:).

Much love to you all!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

To all of the Mom's in our family and to all of my Mom friends; thank you for your love and sacrifices.  Thank you for the long hours, the tireless support, patience and guidance.  Thank you for all that you do to make this world a better place by raising well loved little people.  To all of the amazing Mom's that I know...regardless of your parenting style:) I wish you a very HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!  

When I think about the many amazing moms that I know I notice rather quickly that we all have different preferences, tastes and parenting styles.  Some things we have in common of course but, ultimately we are all individuals and that uniqueness translates into our parenting.  

I remember when I was a brand new mom it didn't take long for me to feel a bit of the "Mom peer pressure" to do things a certain way or to fit a certain mold.  Whatever that mold is exactly no one knows but, most of us can agree that we have felt the burden of societal expectations or someone's extra strong advice from time to time.  

I'm still a rather new mom in the sense that I've only been doing this Mom thing for four years now but, I marvel at how much four years have taught me and how much I've grown thanks to my little girl.  I'm sure in ten more years I will look back and marvel even more:)....Motherhood is quite the journey wouldn't you agree.  "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."  Angela Shwindt.  Amen.   

Here are my two cents on Motherhood:

These things don't matter:

if you like epidurals or if you prefer to go without them during delivery
if you breast feed or use bottles
if you make your own organic baby food or if you buy the cheapest jar stuff on the shelf
if you get your daughter's ear's pierced at birth or wait many years
if you use cloth diapers or regular
if you dress your child in vintage everything or prefer Gap prep
if you believe in spanking or prefer only time outs
if you let your kids stay up late or get them to bed early
if you choose to home school or go the public or private school route
if you let your kid have sweets before they turn one or wait until they are ten
if you only let your kids drink water or if they drink juice and soda
if you celebrate their birthdays in a modest fashion or throw a raging bash
if you believe in Cry it out or choose to stay up all hours of the night for years with your child
if you co-sleep or have your kid sleeping on their own on day one
if your kid knows how to read by the age of three or if they learn at 6
if you are a full time outside the home working mom or a full time stay at home mom
if your kids watch TV or if they don't 
if you are a meat eater or a vegetarian
if your kid rides the bus of if you prefer carpool
if you are on your iphone at the park or if you watch your child's every move
If you are a fan of pacifiers for babies or hate them
if you keep your child close for the first few years or love the freedom of getting away often
if you sing your child lullabies each night or if they put themselves to bed

The list can go on and on as you all know.  These are the things that many Moms have such strong opinions about and often judge each other for doing one way or another but, at the end of the day and at the end of a person's life, none of this stuff really matters, right?  You can parent any number of ways and still be a great Mom!

There is so much freedom to be embraced in letting all of these things go.  Letting go of what other mom's may think or what we might even hear them whisper behind us.  Letting go of what we think our culture expects.  Let it all go and embrace the strength and confidence that comes when all that nonsense doesn't matter anymore. There is no shame in doing any one of these things one way or another.  The more that we let go the less room we will have inside our hearts for anger and shame and instead we will have more room for love and grace for ourselves and for others.  Acceptance is a beautiful thing.

I'm a work in progress and I still have many seasons to walk through where I will have opportunities to practice all of this.  I have been sensitive to people's strong opinions and the evil eyes that some mom's give on occasion but, many wise mommas before me have impressed this wisdom upon my heart and I have seen how refreshing it is to walk in it.  Let it go....(and I'm sorry that I have now gotten the Frozen them song stuck in your head...eck!)

In spite of the vast differences that many of us Mom's have in our parenting styles there is one thing that most all of us have in common and that is a powerful love for our children.  It is a love like no other wouldn't you agree?   It is a love that goes to great lengths to provide, protect, guide and support our sons and our daughters all the days of their lives. It's nice to know that we all have something in common isn't it:).  Today I celebrate the love that we Mommas all share for our children!!

Happy Mother's Day to all Mommas who love your kiddos to pieces!!

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave with your kiddos when you are gone? 

 When my daughter (and future kid/s) are much older and perhaps even when I am gone and they are left to navigate their lives without me the most important thing that I hope to have instilled in their hearts is the priceless value of being dependent on Jesus above all else.  I have and will make many parenting mistakes but, I hope that I can teach my kids the value of a repentant and humble heart as I reach out to Christ for forgiveness.  I hope that they will see me pray and rely on God for my strength and for direction in this life.  They will see me fall from time to time but, in Christ's power I hope that they will see me rise again.  Ultimately I hope that they will come to understand just how great His love is for them and that He will always be there for them even when I can't be. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Life With My Four Year Old

This afternoon I drove with Daisy to meet up with some of our friends for lunch.  On the way there I was blasting some worship tunes from the local Christian radio station.  Daisy loudly hollered at me from the back seat, "Mom I want to listen to my princess music not this song."  

Meanwhile you must understand that we have been listening to the Frozen soundtrack for two months solid in the car and then for her birthday last week, she was blessed with another Princess music CD which has also been on repeat in the car this entire week.   I really do love letting her listen to her music in the car.  It is a sacrifice worth making but, ever so often I try to sneak in something else in desperation and in order to keep myself sane.  

I thought for a moment and then explained to my darling daughter, "Mommy wants to be filled up with joy right now, so I am listening to a few worship songs so I can praise Jesus and get full.  Right now I am only up to about here (and I made a line mark at my mid section) with joy.  I need to be all the way past here (and I motioned above my head.).  After I get full of joy it can be your turn okay kiddo." 

She crossed her arms and frowned in the back seat.  "Well, this music doesn't fill me with joy, she grumbled." 

"Princess music fills you with joy right, I asked?"  

She nodded with a big smile on her face hoping she'd convinced me that I was torturing her and she deserved her tunes back.  "Well, I understand that, I told her and Mommy loves to share with you."  After I listen to two more songs it will be your turn.  It's so kind of you to give mommy a turn and to let me get full of joy too."

A few minutes passed and Daisy asks loudly from the back seat, "Are you full yet mom? I've been waiting patiently." 

At this point I was cracking up and in fact I felt quite full of joy, so she got to listen to her Princess music.  I think it was a successful object lesson regardless of how long it lasted and it definitely provided an awesome belly laugh.

This is why I love four year olds:  They are smart, hilarious, sassy, challenging, creative, temperamental, imaginative, never boring and so so much fun!!   Four year olds are certainly not always easy as any mom of a four year old can attest but, I think that most of us would say that the things that our kiddos say and the barrel laughs that we get because of them are priceless rewards.  

I love my girl to bits.

(now on to the boring four year old details that are being documented simply to preserve them for my memory.) These pictures were taken on her 4th birthday.  She is looking so big these days!

 Four Year Old Food Dairies:

What she likes to eat lately: Not much unfortunately.  She was so good for the longest time about eating a wide variety of foods but, she has definitely gotten pickier as she has gotten older.  She still loves sushi.  I would say that it is probably her favorite food but, we only eat it once a month if we are lucky.  If she could have it her way she would eat sushi every day for lunch and dinner.  I still marvel at the fact that my little girl loves raw fish and has since she was one.  Her favorite thing to do is to get a plate of raw pieces of salmon, dip them in soy sauce, tip her head back and drop the fish down the hatches.  She always has the biggest smile on her face when she eats sushi:). 

She generally eats pancakes and yogurt for breakfast, though on occasion we switch it up and she'll eat one of these: oatmeal, cereal, eggs and toast, top ramon, sausage or bacon and eggs.  She loves bacon.  I think she could eat the entire family sized package by herself if I let her.

For lunch she will eat applesauce or one of these fruits: strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, or banana.  She won't eat any other fruit.  She likes string cheese but, not the white.  It has to be the square shaped (not rounded) mixed orange cheddar.  Seriously, she is that particular about it.  She will tolerate a sandwich, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dog, corn dogs, or pasta but, she is never thrilled with her lunch options.

Dinner, like lunch, can be a challenge because she seldom wants to eat what I prepare.  On the other hand she is great about trying new things and even eating several bites of something that she doesn't care for without giving me much lip.  Last night she tried several bites of asparagus and I was very proud of her.  Tonight she ate a few bites of avocado for the first time without complaining. That is more than enough effort for me.  I don't ever force her to finish a food that she doesn't seem to like.  She loves steak, fish, pasta, tacos, smoked salmon, steamed broccoli (score!), rice (is a big favorite!!), grilled cheese, corn on the cob and burgers with fries, mac n' cheese etc..

She loves desserts and candy of course however; she tends to prefer ice cream over anything else and she isn't particularly fond of cakes/cupcakes/donuts...only the frosting.  She loves chips and crackers.

(this is the face she makes when she is feeling embarrassed or shy...or on the spot as she was  feeling while I was taking her pictures. lol)  

Four Year Old Activity Diaries:

I think the most important detail to document is that Daisy does not like to play alone.  Hardly ever.  She will when I require her to but, she is not a fan. She wants to be glued to me 24/7.  She follows me into the bathroom and plays and chats my ear off while I do my business.  If I am getting dressed or putting on makeup she wants to be doing the same thing.  If I am cooking she wants to be helping.  If I get the mail, she follows me out.  If I am editing pictures, she wants to edit pictures.  She is my shadow. 

It's really exhausting mentally to have so little personal space but, it is also very, very sweet and I am trying my best to make the most of this chapter as I know it will pass all too fast.

Every once in a while, after a busy day of preschool or a busy social play date, Daisy will surprise me and go off and play alone for about 20-30 minutes.  It seems to help her decompress after a lot of social activity.  I am noticing that she has started doing this a tad more in the last month even.  I always love listening to her chat with her toys and creating imaginary adventures.  

Her other interests:

Princesses.  Anything Princess.  Movies.  CD's. Books.  Dress-up dresses, jewelry, games, princess figurines, princess chairs, dolls, stickers, tattoos, backpacks, purses, clothes, candy etc.

She loves music.  She has a few musical toys and she loves to turn music on loudly and dance to it.  She had a microphone and little amp for a while until it broke and I would say that was one of her favorite toys.  Singing and dancing is definitely in her blood:).  She had a drum set and loved it...until that broke as well.  lol   Mandisa is one of her favorite singers (her favorite songs being 1,4, 8 and 9 on the overcomer CD...yes I know because they play over and over and OVER again whenever I have the CD on hahaha!).  I'm thrilled because I love Mandisa and her message too:).  

Dress up.  It's one of her favorite things to do.  She has been known to wear her Cinderella dress and crown (that is her current favorite only because she thinks it looks like Elsa's ice dress lol) out to dinner or to go shopping.  It's pretty cute to see her strolling around dressed up in public.  I think she really feels like a princess during those outings.  She waves at everyone and smiles.  I just love her to pieces.   For a while there she as dressing up every day.  She has definitely been winding down a bit.  I hope the phase isn't passing yet...I'm not ready to see it go! 

Babies.  She loves being a little mommy.  She is really, really good with her baby dolls and with real babies.  She is gentle and she knows how to take care of them.  She's got great instincts.  She cooks them food in her kitchen, washes them, dresses them and snuggles them in bed under her blankets.  It absolutely melts me to see how nurturing she is.  She fills up her doll's diaper bag, hangs it on the arm of her stroller and walks around the house talking on her fake cell phone.  LOL.  One night I came in to kiss her sleeping face goodnight before I went to bed.  She had lined up four of her babies on a pillow at the foot of her bed and she had wrapped each of them in a blanket.  I almost cried and giggled all at once.  Things like that get me so emotional.  hehe. 

Imagination play.  She has an incredible imagination.  She can entertain herself in a world of imagination for quite some time and she likes it even more if other people enter that world with her.  I'll admit that it is tiring to shift my adult brain into the land of imagination on the fly at all hours of the day but, it is rewarding and I certainly try.  Just tonight she wanted me to pretend that I was bringing my car into her car shop and she as going to fix it for me.  She comes up with so many impressive details and she tells me what I am supposed to do and say more often than not.  Maybe she will be a writer like her mommy? :). 

Other: She likes playing with her doll house, legos, cooking in her kitchen, stacking things, organizing things, Lite Bright,chalk, bubbles, stickers, painting, playing games, riding her bike, scooter, reading books, pbskids.org on my computer, leap pad games, throwing water balloons, playing age appropriate board games (We just started this a few months ago and it's been so fun! We play go fish, candyland and princess board games.  She loves to have pretend picnics with her dishes, babies and my tablecloth.  She loves to fill grocery bags with random toys for imaginary activities and I find them all over the house later on.  She loves collecting rocks, sticks and flowers.  She fills her purse and mine with them wherever we go.  She is a nature child for sure.  If she sees water she must jump in it or throw a rock, sand, she must dig in it and a hill she must run down.  I'm quite sure that we are going to have lots of fun adventures with this kiddo in the future.

Daisy is literally on the very edge of 4T in everything.  4T barely fits her but, the problem is that 5T is still a bit big so I am squeezing her into her shirts and pants for as long as I can....which won't be much more than a month or two probably.  She wears size 9 shoes and still has a good amount of wiggle room.  She is about 38 pounds and close to 40 inches tall.  She is still not all that particular about what she wears.  I even try to get her more involved in the decision making process but, for the most part she is content with me dressing her.  She does however; demand a braid in her hair every day..thanks to Elsa from Frozen.  Her hair is SO hard to braid.  I do my best but, as you can see in these pictures...no braid.  She definitely seems to be a shoe and hair girl.  

She is just about done with naps.  Boo.  I can get her to take maybe one or two a week at this point and I usually only do it if she seems extra emotional or if it was an extra busy day.  It has been SO SO hard for me to adjust to this.  She on the other hand, is adjusting just fine.  I love quiet time and down time.  It's the introvert in me I suppose.  Losing the 2-3 hour quiet time mid day is a hard shift for a momma.  This has been going on for a couple of months now so I am beginning to adapt and learn new ways to pass the time but, it is a slow transition for sure. lol If she doe nap it is usually from around 2-4:30. 

If she doesn't nap she is usually in bed by 8.  I try to start her bedtime routine by 7:30 but, it is so hard to do as we often don't even eat dinner until 7 many nights.  The reason I am so committed to an early bedtime is because it is the only way that I get any down time before my own bedtime.  She will crash within 10-15 minutes after being put to bed if it is a no nap day.  I am sure she will outgrow that but, at this point she crashes fast which is nice.  She wakes up around 7:30 almost every day.  She gets herself up to go potty in the middle of the night with no problem though she likes me to come and tuck her back in to bed because she is a bit scared of the dark all by herself. I don't blame her but it sure has made me sleep to get up with her each night again.  Almost reminding me of the early baby days!

She is no longer scared of men (took long enough! lol)..though she is still shy around them and tends to keep her distance.  She seems to be very comfortable in familiar places and around familiar people but, in new environments or with new people she is quite shy and will even hang on me if I am around.  Her personality reminds me of my own a bit.

She likes to be the one in charge.  She does not seem to be drawn to other girls or boys who want to call the shots.   She can get her feelings hurt easily and she is quite sensitive.  The positive side of her sensitivity is that she is always responding to others who are sad or hurt.  She notices vibes and conversations that others would miss and she nurtures often in her sweet four year old way.  It's very endearing.  I love seeing how God is using one of her challenging qualities for his good.  She is a people lover.  Just tonight we went on a walk around our neighborhood and she said hi and waved to every person that went by.  I could tell she got a little sad when kids wouldn't say hi back.  She's sensitive...she's sweet.  This tough world might prove to be a hard place for my sensitive kiddo from time to time but, I think I think the world is better off with her and other sensitive souls in it.

Her current favorite shows are Magic School Bus (which surprises me but, I love it), Justin Time, Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Care Bears, Peg and Cat, Wild Cratts and Pingu.  She loves Pingu which cracks me up because there are no words in those movies.

She is quite funny.  She likes to make people laugh and she can get me belly laughing like no one else can.  I wonder if she has a little class clown inside. lol  In ballet this Thursday she pulled her elastic headband in to her eyes on purpose and then looked around at the teacher and other students and said, "hey, who turned out the lights?"  I had my head down because I was laughing as the teacher gently scolded her and asked her to pull her head band back up.  

She gets very hyper in the evening.  It is almost always a result of being over tired.  Daisy never mellows out when she is tired, she always gets more amped up.  She is especially spazzy after a bath and when we are trying to get her in her jammies.  Those moments require extra patience to say the least but, they can also be quite amusing.  She loves running around naked like a wild banshee after her baths.  We call it the, "go get your wild out," run. lol

She loves her Daddy.  She is a little more rough with him and she loves to do anything and everything with him.  Help him mow the lawn, take out the trash, clean the garage, go fishing, wash his truck, etc. She adores him to say the least. 

She has definitely begun asserting her four year old control.  She is much more argumentative now and can get frustrated very easily.  She still has meltdowns when she doesn't get her way or if something upsets her.  This is proving to make our already long days much longer.  I guess in some ways I am glad that she is right on track with her age appropriate milestones. lol.  I am trying my best to navigate this new season with patience and wisdom...and so much prayer.

I will say that one area that Daisy has dramatically improved in over the past six months is her social interaction.  She never wanted other kids in her personal space bubble.  She didn't know how to actually play with other kids (and she still struggles with this) but, she is getting there.  I see that she is enjoying being with other kids more than being alone now.  She spent a good hour at the mall running away from imaginary monsters with a bunch of other stranger kids and she had a blast.  She only got bored when they stopped playing.  It really is such a delight to see my daughter growing and changing all in the grace of God.  She's come a long way since starting preschool last August.

More often than not though, Daisy is cheerful and walks with a skip in her step.  She loves to be silly and she loves to shower me with hugs and kisses.  She is quite affectionate!

Academically we are on our own track I'd say and I am okay with that.  She does not know how to read yet nor does she know how to sound out words.  I have tried to get her interested in such things but, she is totally turned off.  She has learned the sounds that different letters make and she has almost learned how to write her own name. Score!  I have literally been working on this with her for several months!  It took weeks just to get her to write a letter D!  I see that she is paying more attention to other kids who can write their names or read and I think it is motivating her and challenging her to learn more.  I'll take it! 

She loves to read books each night and she loves to ask tons of questions while we are reading.  I hope that she becomes an avid reader someday.  Books open up such a fantastic world of imagination for young and old alike.  

Her memory is insanely sharp.  I'd say she has a borderline photographic memory.  She did not get that from me!  She can remember details from when she was a two year old...it's mind blowing.  

She loves play dates with her friends and she now identifies with each of them and remembers details about every friend's family.  She loves going to parks and museums and I do to.  Generally I will do anything that might get me out of the house.  I am not a fan of being in the house with Daisy for too long...the life gets sucked out of me much faster when we are home. LOL  

I will think of a kajillion more things to document the second I hit publish on this post but, for now this will do.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Daisy's Fourth Birthday Party - Frozen Theme

 I booked a shelter at a park for Daisy's fourth birthday party a couple of months in advance.  It is an awesome park with a train and boat ride, a huge pond and a gorgeous carousel.  There is so much to do and it's surrounded with trees and greenery.  It would have been a fun and beautiful place to celebrate...had we not have been rained out the day of.  I had been eying the weather the entire week and the rain report kept coming and going and the estimated chance of rain went from 20% early in the week to 90% on the Friday night before her party.  I was SO bummed.  Why you ask?  Well, because I paid a decent amount of money for the shelter and it was non-refundable.  Big ouch.  Secondly, because the park was the party entertainment and I had NO back up location for the 70 guests (neighbors and church yup!) that had RSVP'd yes.  Lastly, from a creative standpoint I was looking forward to an outdoor party this year as all of our parties have been inside and I'm a tad tired of indoor party activities and pictures to be honest.  I was excited about the natural beauty of the outdoors and the fact that it would do most of the decorating on it's own.  I am not one to panic but, I definitely felt my brain shutting down Friday night.  lol.  My husband's grandparents have a slightly larger space with which to accommodate a large group and they graciously allowed us to invade their home at the last minute.  I was so thankful...still very bummed about the park situation but, so thankful for a plan B on such short notice.  Thank you Grandparents for coming to our rescue!

My next dilemma was that I had to come up with activities on the fly with no budget and no time whatsoever.  I felt a bit spread thin to say the least but, I managed to pull it off somehow.  Thank you Jesus.  What did I learn from this stressful party ordeal?  Ummmm...I learned  that it rains a lot in this state and I am probably better off not planning a park party unless I have a plan B cozily lined up to allow for a smoother transition from A to B. Lesson learned.  LOL.  

Daisy requested a Frozen theme party sometime in January.  To add to the challenges I faced...there has been a Frozen party supply shortage since the movie came out last year.  Every girl in the world wants a Frozen party this year.  I checked the party store once a week for several weeks and just a few days before her birthday they got a shipment of Frozen party supplies.  I was hopeful!  When I arrived the salesman informed me that a lady had just come in and dumped the entire Frozen party section into her cart.  She bought it all and they would not be getting any more stock in for a while.  What the heck? lol Sooooo....I chose to improvise and decorated with aqua and white and added touches of snowflakes here and there to create a wintery/Frozen feel.  It's a fun theme to decorate for if I do say so!

I always keep the fact that my daughter could care less about an extravagant party, close to mind.  She could care less about a ton of decorations or a bunch of fancy food.  All she wants is for me to be in a good mood and for me to be present.  (God knows how big of a challenge that can actually be some years but, I certainly try my best! lol)  She wants to play a game or two and hang out with her friends.  She doesn't expect much and it doesn't take much to make the day special for her.  It keeps me calm when I keep that truth in mind.  Sure enough, she loved the simple decorations but, more importantly she had a great time with her friends.  Based on the huge smile on my daughter's face, the party was a magical success.  I was a happy Momma.  

Ice cream sundaes were the main party dessert but, my friend Susan kindly made me some darling mini cupcakes for the folks who might not like ice cream (like me, lol).  Well, let me clarify...I don't hate ice cream but, I don't ever crave it either.  Cupcakes on the other hand are a weakness of mine.  I think I ate at least six of these delicious morsels the day of Daisy's party.  They were SO good.  Thank you so much Susan!     
I went back and forth on what to do for the main dessert.  Daisy is actually not a big fan of cake (so clearly she and I are opposites there!).  She loves frosting but, has never been all that interested in cookies, cakes or donuts.  One thing she does love is ice cream so I decided to do simple ice cream sundaes for the kids.  Ice cream works perfectly for a Frozen themed party because it is a frozen dessert. hehe I say win win.  It was much less work for me than baking a fancy cake and she was absolutely thrilled to make her own sundae.  I served crushed oreos, gummy bears, mini m&m's and several different types of sprinkles.  Most of the kids were able to walk up with their bowls and sprinkle what they wanted on top.  It was fun! We also served a few different types of ice cream which I think the adults enjoyed.
 We kept the drinks low key; water bottles and Capri Suns.  I found these cute and more importantly, free "melted snowman" labels online here (score!) and thanks to the help of family at the last minute, we were able to get all the bottles wrapped.  It added a simple but, festive party touch to the snack table.  
This was the first year that I didn't serve a full on meal to all the parents and kids.  It was nice to simplify to be honest.  I do love parties and I love feeding people but, I love simplifying things even more if possible.  This year we held our party at 3:30 PM so it wasn't during a meal time.  We served a veggie platter with yummy homemade ranch dressing dip and a bowl of salsa and chips.  That was it but, it was a enough.  I think that for the most part, adults are content, as long as there is a little something to snack on. 
I found some free Frozen coloring pages online.  Score again! Then I went through my 20 year old sticker stash and founds some fun Lisa Frank stickers for the kids to have fun with.
 I was determined to be as thrifty as possible this year when it came to decor.  I got the simple idea for the Frozen-esque center piece on Pinterest.  I already had snowflakes in my Christmas stash in the attic.  I painted a few of them blue (though it was hardly noticeable) and left the other half white.  I spray painted the branches white which took a few coats and then I used some blue rocks that I had in the house from the 99 cent store to stabilize them.  Simple and sweet.  
 A frozen themed party pretty much demands snowflakes.  I have no idea how to create snowflakes.  I think I was really good at creating them as a kid but, I had long since forgotten.  I knew that I would have to hunker down and cut snowflakes for nights on end to have enough to decorate. I printed a few free templates that I found online and my husband and I spent a couple of nights cutting dozens of snowflakes.  It's a tedious task but, I do think that it adds a nice touch and goes a long way to create a wintery mood. There are easy, medium and hard snowflake templates online.  The hard level templates were definitely the coolest looking snowflakes but, I didn't have that kind of time so I chose easy or medium at best.   They are average looking but, I was satisfied!
I got bubbles from WalMart at the last minute because I needed something else to occupy the kiddos after our awesome park location got rained out.  I didn't even expect the kids to use them but, they ended up being a big hit and I was so glad that I had them.  The kiddos took them out on the screened porch and played for quite a while.  Can't go wrong with bubbles.
I found these snowflake tattoos at Oriental Trading company.  I had originally planned on creating a little station for the kids to put on skin decals if they wanted to but, I ran out of time and they didn't end up being used at all.  I think they would have been more successful if they weren't sitting up on a shelf without any explanation but, at least they added a cute decorative touch to the dining hutch. 
Pin the Nose on Olaf was a huge hit.  Another Pinterest idea of course and I did my best to draw him exactly as another creative Mom had done. It took me a good hour to draw him in pencil and then another half hour to go back over him with color.  I cut a bunch of orange noses out of construction paper to look like carrots.  When it was time for the kids to stick the nose on I simply stuck a piece of scotch tape on the back of the carrot before handing it to them.  I spun them around gently once or twice and then guided them to the sign.  The kids are all so little still and I wasn't trying to create any competition.  There was no winner or prize but, it was a great activity to entertain a bunch of 3-4 year olds for about 20 minutes.
As we were scrambling to finish up the last minute details I noticed that Daisy had taken a carrot off of the veggie platter.  Then she walked over to Olaf and held it up to his face.  I started cracking up.  Such a silly and smart birthday girl! :)
I found some really cute snowflake bracelets and party bags at Oriental Trading Company.   I stuffed them with aqua tissue paper and filled them with some candies and wha-lah, the party bags were done. Check.  The cute "Thank you snow much," printable was another freebie from the same site as the water bottle labels which can be found here.
In the movie Frozen, Elsa has an awesome braid.  I never noticed but, my daughter did and ever since the first time she saw the movie she has requested a braid in her hair every single day.  This has been going on for well over three months now.  Well, the problem is that she has super fine, uneven length hair.  I have never had much luck at getting french braids to hold up in her hair.  I usually do a little side braid but, it's not what she wants and she is always frustrated with me in the morning. (I really do try kid!)  My friend Susan offered to braid Daisy's hair right before her party started.  I didn't think she would have much luck but, my oh my she knocked it out of the park and put me out of a job!! lol  Daisy was THRILLED...to put it lightly.  This braid stayed in her hair for nearly 3 days and she was not a happy camper when it finally had to come out.  Sure looked cute didn't it!  Thank you so much Susan!
I made a beautiful aqua and white tissue streamer backdrop with hanging snowflakes to use as a picture backdrop and it never even got captured fully in a picture.  It took me over 6 hours to make. lol.  That is the downside of being so busy with party setup.  I didn't have any time to take pictures of the details and all the hard work.  boo.  Well, I am thankful that my hubby was able to snap some pictures of Daisy and her sweet friend Isobel in their darling outfits before the party started.  Daisy's outfit was a gift from my friend Susan and her daughter Isobel.  It was such a perfect gift and Daisy loved wearing it on her birthday! 
The birthday girl in her cute Frozen outfit!
 My friend Susan offered to take a family picture and I'm glad I took her up on it!  Our baby is four and we are so proud of the little lady that she is growing up to be.
and then just like that, friends started to arrive and the party began.  Here is Daisy's pal Evan from school and church.  
and her bestie Lila from her four pack crew
and her other four pack bestie, Raelyn.  All of the four pack kiddos have their birthdays within weeks/days of each other.  How are these kids already four??
and Lila's twin sisters, Alivia and Penelope.  I adore these girls:).
Stay tuned for part two...games, dessert and presents! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Baby Is Four

My little sweat pea is four today! In some ways it feels like just yesterday that I was holding her in my arms at the hospital, learning her cries, smelling her sweet baby smell and waking up several times a night to soothe her.  In other ways it feels like it's been ages since she was little enough to fit in the crook of my arm.  

Four is still so little.  Little enough that I can carry her often.  Little enough I am still her super hero.  Little enough that she prefers baths over showers.  Little enough that the entire world is viewed through the lens of imagination.  Little enough that she could never get enough kisses or hugs. Little enough that she still loves to snuggle in my arms on the couch. 

But, four is so big!  Big enough that she can go potty almost all by herself.  Big enough to go to school and do SO well.  Big enough to get dressed, put on shoes and brush her teeth on her own.   Big enough to sing and dance along to her favorite songs.  Big enough to ride her scooter and her bike.  So big and so little all at once. 

I never thought that I would have only one child for as long as I have but, I can tell you that these four years one on one with my daughter, Daisy Love, have been an absolute treasure.  She is a priceless give from God.  My arrow.  {Psalm 127:4}

 "I'll love you forever.  I'll love you for always.  As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." 
(roger knapp)

Happy Happy fourth Birthday my darling brown-eyed girl! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Run To God

I heard a really moving story on the Christian radio station this morning on my way home from dropping my kiddo off at preschool.  A 13 year old boy called in to the station to share that one of his beloved farm animals broke its back and the only option his family had left was to put the animal down.  The responsibility fell to the boy by his choice and in tears the boy retells that after he put his special friend down he was crying out to God and asking why this animal had to break it's back and why did it have to die and he said that God lovingly told him, "My only son died."  It was a simple reply but, packed with a much deeper message.  The boy concluded his call (still in tears) by saying, "I just want people to know this.  It's so important that they know when they lose a loved one or a beloved pet that God understands.  He had to give up his only beloved son.  We can run to God with our hurts.  He understands better than anyone.  Run to God."  

What a wise boy!  I was seriously choked up listening to his call this morning.  It was powerful to hear a young boy share about how God spoke to Him in the midst of his brokenness and how God's simple words ministered to this boy's heart in a powerful way.  God is personal.  He will speak what we need to hear.  He knows how to comfort and encourage each of us perfectly because He alone knows our hearts.  

Sometimes we get angry and blame God when we are hurting or when we lose a loved one.  It's totally understandable to feel that way at times.  I think many of us have or will be there at some point in our lives.  But, I have learned that in this fallen world that we have no greater ally than God when we are broken.  He understands most profoundly what it means to endure it all.  Sometimes I think we forget just how great His sacrifice was.  I think we lose sight of what great lengths our Heavenly Father has gone to, to reach us, redeem us and set us free.  His love for us is immeasurable.  Run to God friends.  He will meet you in the midst of whatever you are going through.  His love heals.  

I know a lot of happy people, currently in thriving life seasons (yeah for the mountaintops!) but, I also meet hurting and broken people in the valley's of life every day.  People looking for hope.  People looking or encouragement.  People needing to be comforted.  People living defeated. People needing to know that they are not alone. 

God's arms are always open.  He will never leave you. 

"Then Jesus said, Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 

I shared this video a while back on Facebook but, it is seriously one of my favorites and is going to be on repeat in my house for a while.  I literally get chills every time I listen to it.  

"Hallelujah.  Thank you loving God for sending your son to teach us what perfect love looks like.  To teach us what true sacrifice means.  To teach us how to serve, forgive and surrender.  Thank you for His ultimate sacrifice..."that while we still sinners, Christ died for us!!"  Thank you for conquering death so that we have the hope of eternity with you in paradise.  Thank you God for leading us to victory!  You know our hearts and your love for us knows no bounds.  We never have to run from you God because your arms are always open. 

Romans 8:37-39  "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."


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