Friday, August 31, 2007

Inspired By...

Can I just tell you how cool my husband is? He is always trying to further develop himself and learn new skills, and as part of learning to better utilize Illustrator, he offered to "redesign" my blog based on my favorite scrapbook page. Well, it's hard to decide on just one, but this is one of my recent faves... didn't he do a
fantastic job of capturing its essence on my blog? I totally love it. Thank you, honey!

Michael has also been up to some other great stuff at work, one thing being his personal budget software. We're trying to budget very consciously, especially since I am no longer bringing in an income. However, it was very difficult to do because I kept forgetting to right stuff down. (SORRY honey!) But he wrote a program that is very simple to enter data into, and it always updates so there's no math involved and I know
exactly how much money I have left in each budget category. For example, I have exactly $7 left in my retail budget for the month! (Thank heavens it's the last day of the month, right?) Anyway, you should download it, try it out, and give him some feedback. It's FREE! If you budget, it's worth giving it a try. And if you don't budget, it will help you do so if you want to!

We've had way too much going on lately... in fact, tonight is the first night in 9 days that I've just been
home. It all started with last week's date night. (Which was fun, don't get me wrong!) Then we spent the next two evenings with friends (Happy Birthday, Carolynn!) , and then traveled to the lake with Mops and Pops. Michael returned home, and Phoebe and I stayed on for a few more days for some R&R. Phoebe got to meet Aunt Kathleen (my favorite great-great-aunt) and spend lots of time with her grandparents. I returned Wednesday for birthday dinner with the girls, then last night was date night again. PHEW! Finally, we get to rest tonight. I'm itching to create some things... we'll see how it goes!

Mops and Pops will arrive late tonight, so we can go to cheer on our Tide tomorrow! (Phoebe will sit this game out, hanging out with Nandy and Boompah instead.

We've also added the title of Sunday School teachers to our plate, which means I need to get preparing for our lesson on Creation with the sweet Lilies (4-year-olds). We're so excited about this fall quarter, and it's our prayer that God can use our meager hands to accomplish His purposes with these little ones... it's exciting to think that we can be a part of the "stories" of these sweet little children. I'm a little nervous, since I'm used to either a much older (3rd grade) or much younger set (infants); but since the threes went great a couple of weeks ago, I know we'll be fine!

More later, I'm sure!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tiny Dancer

You may not be able to tell... but she's wearing a tutu. We had so much fun playing dress up today... I cannot wait until she actually ASKS to play dress up. Okay, maybe I can wait. I love having her this tiny and small and delightful.

Michael and I will be off to enjoy date night in just a few, but I wanted to throw this one up here for funsies!
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Best Things in Life are Free hugs, love, library books devoured guilt-free in a day, and bubble wrap.

That's right. Bubble wrap. We all love popping it and playing with it; I just didn't know my five month old would find the virtues of bubble wrap as well.

Mops sent Phoebe a package last week with some new bowls and spoons (thank you, Mops! We especially love our divided bowls at suppertime!) for our "big girl" eater. Since the package had her name on it, I thought it would be fun to take pictures of her "opening" it to send to Mops. And she totally had more fun than I imagined!

I think because I got out the camera, she knew that whatever we were doing was kind of special, and she got really into it. Well, she's all for discovering new textures, so when I opened up the box and there was something she'd never seen beflre, well... forget about it. She thought that bubble wrap was the coolest thing EVER. So what did she do with it? Well, I chose not to horrify my six loyal readers with pictures of her trying to pop the bubbles with her mouth. (I ended up washing the bubble wrap and allowing it to be a toy, supervised, in the name of exploration, for just a couple of minutes more. Swear. Please don't turn me into the parenting police.) Phoebs also thought the bowls and spoons were supercool, loving the bright colors. Unfortunately, by letting her play with them, she thought that meant she could also grab them at meal time. Wrong answer, sister.

Okay, baby's back to sleep and it's 2:06 am. That means I'm going to sleep. More on my thoughts about thebestfreethings at a much later, more humane time of day.

EDITED, 2:11 AM.
Just kidding. About going to sleep, not about 2:11 am.

Why do I blog at 2:00 while the baby is fussing? Well... it's not simple. Michael and I believe in helping Phoebe obtain independence in her sleep. This means, at developmentally appropriate times, we are gradually "stepping out" of the helping-her-fall-asleep thing. Most of the time, this simply means putting her down for naps while she's awake, allowing her to cry for a few minutes (usually it takes about five minutes for her to softly fuss to sleep and get comfortable), comforting her when she really needs comfort (we've spent a lot of time getting to know her cries!), and not rocking or feeding her to sleep at night. I realize that many people do not agree with these techniques, so if I just offended you, this is not intended to be a bash of any other type of parenting -- this is just what we do, and it's something that works for us.

Generally, Phoebe sleeps very well through the night. At about 7 weeks, she slept through the night for the first time and, for the next three or four weeks, did so off and on. At about 11 weeks, she got into the groove and stopped her middle of the night meals. Every once in a while, she'll wake in the middle of the night enough to wake us up...sometimes more than once on those nights. As she gets older, we're following our daytime policy when she cries during a sleep: intervene as little as possible.

This sounds really cruel. The truth is, her cries are generally soft, dreamlike; her eyes usually aren't even open, and she's just trying to find a more comfortable spot or her paci. She's fine. Not hungry, not cold, not in need of a diaper change technically... fine. So I'll get up, check on her, and go do something else while she tries to get comfortable. (I turn the monitor waaaay down and go to the living room or kitchen so Michael can get his zzzzs.) Usually by the time I've gone potty and made a pot of coffee for the morning (I'll need it), she's settled. In rare occasions, like tonight, she fusses off and on for an extended period of time. Right now, it's been almost an hour.

Truth is, I want to go in there, scoop her up, give her kisses, wrap her up, and rock her back to dreamland. Holding a sleeping baby might be like, one of my top three all-time favorite things to do. But I know that the more I do, the more dependent she becomes on me for sleep. I want her dependent on me for lots of things...for a long time... but not sleep.

Anyway, if I don't distract myself with something, I'll do just that. Now, tonight, I've already checked on her six times at least, patted her back or bottom, and given her a paci once. Also, after the first twenty minutes, I held her and comforted her, hoping also to coax out a burp. But she doesn't need more than that, so I wait. (Have you ever tried to sleep with a baby crying? YOUR baby?) And blogging, reading the news, whatever... it's quiet, somewhat distracting, and it keeps me from going crazy while Phoebe tries to settle down.

We're extremely blessed to have such a good nighttime sleeper, so we're fortunate that nights like tonight are the exception, rather than the rule. She does have them, though...usually a couple in a row. Sometimes we'll have more than one of these "periods" in a night. (I'm praying not tonight!) It's tough. Parenting is not for sissies, and most of the time, I am a big sissy. But God is gracious! I am thankful that He has given us peace about this decision...

...and now I'm making the decision to go back to sleep!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lazy Weekender

We really didn't have a lazy weekend, but it sure does look like it from this picture... can I just say, what an angel! Phoebe is changing so quickly, and I don't feel like we can even sort of capture it appropriately on film. I should bring out the video camera more, but...even still. Wow.

Despite the "desperate" sounding last post, things really are going well. I'm just focusing more on having fun and less on being right! :) Today that means Sesame Street dancing, grocery store and library adventures and more! We had a really wonderful weekend of fun, too -- capped off by time with friends Joel and Rhiannon, an inflatable pool (Phoebe was the only one who got in, pictures to come later), and sushi at Sumo. Big treat!

In less exciting news, we have mastered two vegetables: sweet potatoes and butternut squash. We'll be trying carrots tonight. I'm optimistic!

I have lots to do this morning, as Mondays are always busy... hopefully this afternoon I can post some pictures from our pool time splash!
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

As Promised

Oh, a little cuddletime this morning... so fun! I was determined to show Michael how I could make Phoebe laugh, because making her laugh is like, this little game we all have. Who can make Phoebe laugh in a new way today? And it's always new, because what makes her laugh one day might not make her laugh the next day... like she has selective humor or something. Anyway, yesterday I got her to giggle by "airplaning" her down to my face... but it didn't make her laugh today. But it made me laugh, and I totally enjoyed having this little cutie on my tummy. Which is why I am posting an unretouched, makeup-free, early-morning picture of the two of us. I love this little girl, more than I ever thought possible. Seriously.

Yesterday was hard. I mean, according to Michael, two out of three ain't bad. And I had a fun morning -- so that's one part of the day. Phoebs and I went to get her food mill and strawberry cake, and then had some time left in her "nap" so we went and mall-walked two miles. Walking is so much fun when you can window shop in A/C! We also bought Michael some new jeans, because at least one of us has lost our baby weight (actually, we both have...he's just lost extra!), and he has to cinch up all of his jeans to make them fit at all. And last night was good too! Baby food was fabulous, and I got my Edgar's strawberry cake (did I say my? I meant Phoebe's...). Phoebe also went to bed on time, and slept well, and I got to read my new library find from 8 until midnight. So that part was good. It was just the middle part of the day where I was frustrated, feeling inadequate, and not quite sure what to do.

I think I had delusions that motherhood would be really easy. And that I'd have my ideals and read my books and follow the steps and BAM. Everything would work out. And the truth is, I have a healthy, happy, lovely five-month-old. But I suppose I'm still learning that she isn't going to be as described in the book. She's a person, not an ideal. And that's hard for me... I told Michael the other night that it's so hard not having a "progress report". That I do the best I know how to do, pray that I'm parenting in a way that God would find desirable, and trust that He is sovereign -- that she will turn out fine, no matter how badly I screw up. But that's easy to say in your head, but not necessarily to live it out. Anyway, after an emotional breakdown yesterday, I'm praying today that the Lord will give me opportunities to just delight -- to have fun, and not so much worry about how disciplined Phoebe is, or if her schedule is right, if she's eaten enough, whatever. She is a precious little gift, and she's growing up way too fast. I just want to have fun... so that's what we're trying to do! And I think this morning got us off to a great start.

Since it's Phoebe's five-month-day (yesterday), I suppose I should update on all of her new favorites: she loves sitting up in her bumbo (and is trying really hard to sit up on her own), tasting new foods, putting anything she can in her mouth, grabbing for things she wants with great skill, exploring everything... what isn't she doing would be a better question! It amazes me how fast she's growing...

...and also how fast naptime goes! Gotta get the laundry in!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sweet Potatoes!

Well, today is the day! Not only is it Phoebe's Five Month Day, but it's also the day for starting vegetables! After reading extensively about making our own baby food, I decided to give it a shot. It's much more cost effective than Gerber (not that we won't be enjoying some Gerber in the next several months!), and I'm certain that it tastes better. I picked up a food mill at Linens and Things this morning, which will puree her food while seperating out the unsavory bits. (Basically, an "old fashioned" food processer.) It definitely takes a little more work than opening up a jar, but I was able to freeze the equivalent of eight jars of food.

Phoebe also got to be a part of the whole process, which was pretty neat! She got to "help" wash, peel, and chop the potatoes. She also got to handle some of the raw taters... she tasted them, but didn't like them nearly as well as when they were pureed! I think she actually liked them better than her rice cereal, which is no surprise -- I would imagine that rice cereal tastes a little bit like wallpaper paste! We'll also be trying some other yellow-orange veggies in the next several days: carrots and butternut squash are also on the menu! I'll try to post some pictures of these as well, although I'm sure they all look the same in baby food form.

Since the little birthday girl/big eater is down for the night, I'm going to enjoy my library book while I can! Will post pictures of Phoebe's 5-month-day cake tomorrow!!
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Monday, August 13, 2007

Fun Times with Family

After several weeks of not getting to hang out with Mom and Dad, it was really wonderful getting to make a weekend trip to visit. Some family friends, "Uncle Bluegene" and Debi are visiting for the week, and we wanted to be sure to have Phoebe meet them... and meet them she did! Although we had plans for a big, exciting weekend of adventure and boating, the Lord had other plans. Dad started suffering with a migraine on Thursday, and is still (Monday morning) suffering with it. So we ended up just doing a whole lot of relaxing and hanging out. Although the original plans may not have worked out, it was nice just to rest and not have any responsibility other than making sure little miss Phoebe was fed and happy. (And let me tell you, she's always got plenty of hands to keep her happy at Mops and Pops's house!)

Of course, we always have fun eating when we visit Mops and Pops! Phoebs was no exception... she got to eat in her bumbo instead of a high chair, and let me tell you... I am thankful for her high chair tray! SHEESH is it hard to feed a baby when her hands are flailing everywhere. She's something else!

We also got to go have supper on Friday night with Aunt Fave and Uncle Gus, which was totally exciting. Unfortunately, since their move up North, we've been unable to spend as much time with them as we'd like. But delicious taco salads, wedding talk, and a scrabble tournament made it seem like we'd not lost any time with them. Sounds like March is going to be quite the exciting month! Wedding, birthdays, and more!

Speaking of friends, we returned home in time to have a quick supper on Sunday with Dan and Kim, which is always a delight. Michael was 100 percent in charge of supper while I got the baby settled down for the night. I must say, he did quite the impressive job! I'm always excited when my man shows he knows his way around the kitchen. What a stud.

Well, Monday is here... and it's time to get busy! I have lots of projects brewing for the week, including making some baby food! Phoebs will be 5 months old tomorrow, which means she can officially start having veggies. I think we'll start with sweet potatoes... wish me luck!

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Tastes at Breakfast

No, we didn't run out of her rice cereal. We're not that desperate. It's just that Phoebe is so interested by all of these new textures and sights right now... we want to give her some controlled exploration! This morning at breakfast, Phoebs was introduced to a flower. I promise she did not eat any of the petals... she wouldn't have wanted to anyway! She just checked them out with that cute little tongue of hers. She made a mess, but we all had fun. Fortunately, Michael had the wisdom to start snapping pictures!

Anyway, it would seem we've already had quite the eventful day... now I'm relaxing with my morning coffee, Jake underfoot, baby in the crib napping (at least for now). We've got a little household cleanup to do, and then we'll be heading to see Mops and Pops for the weekend! They have recently purchased a pontoon boat, so we plan to put Phoebs in her tiny little life jacket on Sunday and tool around! It'll be fun to have some lake time and just relax. Such a fun change from the "usual". We'll also get to spend time with some of Mom and Dad's old hippie friends from their days in Germany, who are visiting for the weekend and can't wait to meet our little sweetie. Good times to be had by all!

Well, we're off! Happy Birthday, KPS, if you read this! We love you!
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007


As promised... more pictures! I can't believe Phoebs was totally entertained for like, 45 minutes, in her gym. She especially loves her bug (bottom picture). What a big girl!
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A New Perspective

We had such fun yesterday having a "new view" on things around our house. A new Target opened nearby a few weeks ago, so I took Phoebs to go check it out. Sadly, it's not a SuperTarget, but we still managed to find some fun things to come home with! My main mission was to return with a Bumbo seat. After much deliberation about the purchase of one of these, we decided it wasn't a waste of money if we used it with all of our children, not just baby #1. So we bought it.

Well, let's just say that Phoebs loves the chance to sit up and see things in a new way! We sat her on the counter (with intense supervision, of course) and she was totally into the coffee pot and canisters (not pictured). She kept playing with the closure on the canisters, and wanted to turn the pot around. Phoebe is such an explorer! I love to watch her discover new things... which she does, well, all the time.

Phoebe also got to accompany me to my old school to pick up a few things to get out of the new teacher's way before school starts. Since yesterday was a work day, all of my old teacher friends were there, and they enjoyed (I think) seeing how much Phoebe has grown since May, when I brought her to visit. They remarked at how happy and alert she is! It delighted me to see her bring such delight to others, when she brings so much to me all day long. It was fun to share! We were certainly adventurous yesterday... and we were pooped at the end of the day! Also, for the first time in a week, Phoebs slept really well. This cold of hers has had her waking up several times in the middle of the night congested and frustrated... it was wonderful to not get up at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 4:30... you get the picture.

Today, there are heat warnings all over the place, so we are staying indoors. I don't think it sounds like fun to go out in 110 degree, humid, nasty weather! We're such homebodies anyway, this won't be much of a change. But wholedays at home usually bring lots of pictures... so we'll see! It may be a two-update day!
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Monday, August 6, 2007

Feeling Better

Well, things are returning to normal here around the house. Michael's nasty cold/flu thing lingered through yesterday, and ended up coming home from church with a fever. Phoebs was also unable to join her buddies in the nursery because of her yucky, gravelly throat. I, however, was feeling much better! (I suppose that's only fair, since I was the one who started feeling icky to begin with.) While Michael recouperated yesterday and Phoebs was Phoebs, I managed to do more than I had done in at least a week. Praise the Lord for health and motivation, all at the same time.

We're amazed at how fast Phoebs is learning these days... she's started really, really interacting with her environment. For example, she's started reaching out to "pet" Jake! And she has so much fun in her exersaucer... she's learned how to make the animal sounds and manipulate just about everything on it, where a week ago she could barely reach anything! We think she's also outgrown her bouncy seat, as every time she gets in it, she tries really hard to sit up. She wants so badly to sit up and crawl... I'm sure she'll figure all of that out in no time at all!

Well, the laundry on our dining room table has been multiplying for over a week now... as well as the dust and clutter every where else in our house. Will post more when I start feeling caught up on things! Okay, that may be never. But at least when I've made a dent!!
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Thursday, August 2, 2007


Well, we're still in sick-day-mode, but Michael's fever has gone, Phoebe's surprisingly happy in spite of her yuckiness, and I can finally breathe out of both nostrils like, 75 percent of the time. Nurse Mops has made her way back home, but snapped this picture of the crew before heading out. Missing in the shot is Jake, who has tried to eat our Kleenex stash. (Dirty, of course.)

The end of this booger (no pun intended) is near. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Times Three

Well, I probably shouldn't have said anything to begin with. Phoebe's fever did subside. And that slight yuckiness I was feeling Saturday did turn into something. In other words, I've been on the couch or in the bed since Sunday after church. And here it is Wednesday night and I still can't breathe or walk around for more than ten seconds or so.

So the yuck began Saturday. Sunday it hit hard. Monday I sent Phoebe to Nandy's house for the afternoon so I could sleep. Monday night, I slept like, two hours. Totally uncomfortable. Tuesday, Mops (that's my mom) comes to rescue us with noodle soup and in-home babysitting and nurse services. Big props to Dr. Randy for calling in not one but two z-packs. [These were also delivered to us by Mom.] Tuesday night, Mops takes the monitor and cares for Phoebs if she needs it. (She didn't, but my sleep was blissfully uninterrupted by a stirring baby.) And then Wednesday, Phoebs wakes up with a terrible sniffle. Runny nose, sneezes, cough, the whole bit. So she has the nasties. Wednesday afternoon, Daddy comes home sick from work with a fever. Do not, under any circumstances, enter our house. We should be under quarantine.

Truth be told, Michael's in pretty good spirits for feeling like doo doo. And I can tell I'm sort of on the mend, even if I have to breathe through my mouth 100 percent of the time. And having a live-in nurse has been pretty outstanding, although I'm sure Mops will be returning home tomorrow and that I can't expect this kind of care every time we all come down with illness. But it has been nice! She even made Italian chicken noodle soup. Dude.

Anyway, we all might emerge from the house in something other than pajamas by, like, this weekend. Maybe. We've not dropped off the face of the planet... we're just keeping the Kleenex company in business.