Saturday, November 9, 2013

We're having the baby here

You don’t even have to say it. I know, already. I’m the worst blogger ever.

No. I’m not even a blogger, because to be a blogger, you have to, well, write on your blog, which I apparently don’t do anymore.

But here I am, and for the handful of you who might not follow me on Instagram or Facebook, there are a few major changes to my status over the past few months that you might care to know about.

First, I’m pregnant! It’s a boy! He’s due in less than two months! Poor little guy, he’s not even born yet and I’m already falling behind in tracking and recording his life. And look, even now when I’m making the big announcement here, he gets a tiny paragraph. I'm even posting an outdated picture in his debut here.

Here he is at 16 weeks in the announcement I put on FB (He's now 32 weeks!)

Second, we moved to the Middle East. I wrote about it last year, so if you don’t know already, you can go there and try to crack my code (haha) on where exactly we are.

So now, I hope my title makes more sense. We have decided to deliver “Baby J” here, since the doctors and facilities are more than adequate and we get to stay together as a family. Going back to the States to deliver has its advantages, but the biggest disadvantage would be that Ayla and I would have to go 6 weeks before the due date and stay at least 6 weeks after his birth, while John would only be able to come for about 3 of those. We've already done enough separated time, so we'll stick this one out. 

I want to write more about all of these things, but had to start with actually telling you about them. I figure rather than try to overload this space with a complete catch-up, I’ll space it out to give you something to read on your potty breaks (if you don’t check your phone or read blogs when you’re on the potty, then neither do I).

Thanks for still reading and I’ll see you again here, soon!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Little Days: Big Girl Bed

Well folks, I was wrong.

Actually, I was right before I was wrong. Back when I wrote the post on weaning, I said that nothing is as big a deal as I think it's going to be.

For the last few months, I've been dragging my feet about converting Ayla's crib to a toddler bed, dreading all the re-sleep-training I was going to have to do. I should've listened to myself and all my friends who just did this and had great results.

I mean, if you've ever seen Ayla in her pre-sleep state, you can understand my hesitancy. She treated her crib like a wrestling ring, flinging herself from one side to the other, doing flips, rearranging the toys, pillows and blankets, making tents and tunnels for herself, just about anything but actually laying still.

One thing she hadn't done, until last weekend's failed-but-hilarious attempt at a sleepover with her best friend, is climb out of her crib. Even then, when she showed she could climb out safely, she learned quickly that she wasn't allowed to until Mommy came to get her.

Which leads us to this post. We (and when I say "we" I mean her Daddy) took the side off last night. And she was so excited to sleep in her big girl bed (which is the exact same place, mattress, pillow, etc.. she has slept in all her life, but you wouldn't know it by her reaction!), she didn't budge! All night!

Before: freedom?

This is her "pretend you're sleeping" face

After: happy girl in the morning

Thinking this was surely a fluke and would certainly not be repeated at nap time, I hunkered down for a long fight this afternoon. Nope. She was still, quiet and slept an extra hour!

So, of course, now that I'm posting this, I'll probably jinx it and she'll be back to her shenanigans soon. The smile on her face as she snuggles into her "new bed" is totally worth it!

Join the Little Days link up! 
Share a post of what makes the days with your children special. The goal of this link up is to encourage busy mommas to remember the little moments that outweigh the struggles and make it worth the adventure. 
 share #littledays and the love.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Little Days: Kitchen Helper

Ayla is finally starting to earn her keep around here by being my little helper in the kitchen. As most parents of kids around this age learn, their "help," can turn cooking (and cleaning up!) into a new adventure.

One thing Ayla's getting pretty good at is helping me crack eggs. In fact, if she spies or even thinks she hears me pulling the eggs out of the fridge, she comes running in yelling, "I needa help!" We get out her cute little apron, she climbs up on her little stool and I let her crack the eggs into a separate bowl before we pour them into their final destination. Since fried eggs are one of her most reliable staples for breakfast, she gets lots of practice cracking eggs!

This comfort with eggs did result in a pretty funny story. A few weeks ago, I took Ayla over to my friend's house for a play date. Since this friend's kids were school age, it was actually a play date for the mommies, but Ayla had full access to their ample playroom. We were upstairs having a nice chat, when she popped her cute little head up the stairs and told me she needed help with the eggs. There was a play kitchen down there, so I followed her back, curious what help she needed.

Turns out, she had discovered the pile of Easter eggs, stashed away and forgotten in a corner and had begun cracking them. After several empty eggs, she must have been so confused and decided to call in the big guns! My friend assured me her kids wouldn't miss them, we had a good laugh and swept up the tiny colored bits of shell.

The moral of the story is, if you are around Ayla and don't want your eggs cracked, don't let her see them!

Share a post of what makes the days with your children special. 
The goal of this link up is to encourage busy mommas to remember the little moments that outweigh the struggles and make it worth the adventure. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

If Mother's Day is hard for you

(Because when you wake up at 5am with words heavy on your heart, you shouldn’t waste it. Because laying there in bed wishing for sleep to return isn’t going to make those words go away. Because some other people are lying awake this morning with heavy hearts and your words might help them.)

This one is for my dear friends in the mama waiting zone. Maybe there’s a guy out there who could benefit from this too, but I’m writing for you girls. For those who this “Mother’s Day” feels a bit like Valentine’s Day used to when we were single. Today, when breakfasts are balanced in beds and cards attempt to express unspeakable feelings, and flowers are handed out, you are empty handed.

You read other words of sympathy and compassion for you, from other mamas who spent a long time in that waiting zone and other mamas who have babies they never got to hold or not hold long enough. And when the ever brilliant Ann says, “Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father,” you nod and try to swallow away that lump in your throat, because you know it’s true but you still feel that emptiness growing until it feels like you just might burst.

I imagine what I have to say to you here being something like what one character says to another at the climax of a movie, where truth is told in words that they don’t really want to hear, but need to hear, and then they can let go or grab on to something (or someone) to get their resolution. So please hear this in love:

If today is hard for you because motherhood has become an idol, it’s time to lay it down.

An idol is anything we set up to be bigger in our hearts than God. Though it’s super hard to admit it, even good things can become idols. Even that good, God-given thing of dreams, longings, desires of motherhood, can become an idol. When the pain of the not-having becomes stronger than the faith-act of thanksgiving for what you do have, you may have an idol. When an ideal presented in edited, filtered digits by someone else becomes more desirable than the breathing flesh directly in your reach, you may have an idol.

I’m telling you sister, lay that idol down now. It only gets heavier and stickier when it gets a face and a name. When you have that baby and you get those cards and now you can really celebrate this day, if motherhood is still an idol, you may not be able to smell the sweetness of those flowers. Because what you have still won’t be good enough. In all likelihood, you won’t feel good enough. The voices that said you were incomplete before being a mom will start saying you could do more, be more. And when your kids get older and make their own choices, you might still hear that you weren't good enough. And Mother's Day still won't be a day of joy.

When I was in the waiting zone, more than one well-meaning, loving person suggested I lay down the desire to become a mother. God knows, I tried. Through altar calls and tear-soaked pillows, I tried to lay it down, only to find it again the next day in a baby’s cry the aisle over or a news report of yet another one hurt by someone who was supposed to take care of him or her.

So that’s not what I’m telling you, to lay down your desires. Maybe you need to do that, but what I’m pleading with you is to consider where this desire-turned-pain is in relation to your view of the Giver. If the desire has become an idol, there is no better day to get it out of the way (or start to, it took longer than a day to get there and might take longer to get rid of). And how might you do this, you might ask.

Make God bigger.

Or in Psalms-speak, “Magnify the LORD!”

Ask God to examine your heart and inmost thoughts, ask that gentle Counselor to show you where things are off. Ask Truth to show you the gifts and the work that are present in you right now, things you don’t have to wait for but can partake in now. If you have trusted in God and are on the path of discipleship to enter His Kingdom, then these things abound, I promise you.

I’m praying for you, friend, this morning and throughout today. Will you pray for me, too? I can write this because I’m living it. No pointing fingers here, unless it’s just to show you my own scars and tell you, “Me too.”

Tasty bites to get you started:
Psalm 34:3, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in Him!”
Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, His ears are open to their cry.”

Psalm 69:29-33, “But I am poor and sorrowful;
Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.
 I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
Which has horns and hooves.
The humble shall see this and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.
For the Lord hears the poor,
And does not despise His prisoners.

(And because there are still more words before I can click save and post: If today is hard because of your relationship with your own mother, can I gently ask if your ideal of what she should’ve been is the idol? Maybe you deserved better, I’ll trust you on that, but maybe what you do have--God’s goodness, love, forgiveness, grace--should have a bigger headline.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Little Days: A few stories about books

Do you remember how Ayla learned to say "No, no" from reading Sandra Boynton's Moo, Baa, La La La, and how I said I was not going to let her read any more books?

Feb 2012

Well, I lied. She continues to read books and I'm actually pretty happy about it! I thought I'd share with you some fun ways other books have influenced her.

1) Good Night, Virginia: Her favorite page is the one with Monticello on it. We've never been there, but are planning to go soon. She thinks any big, brick house is Monticello, and a few days ago started chanting it while pointing at a box of wine bottles while we were in line at the store. I was puzzled until I saw that the plantation house on the box did look similar to Monticello. The cashier was very impressed.

2-3) Elmo's ABC Book: Though she already knew her alphabet when we got this book, it has taught her a few other things (who Elmo is being one of my least favorite!). When she describes any food, she calls it "delicious and crunchy," because that's what it says about apples, and then she says that food starts with "A." For example, "Bagels are delicious and crunchy. Bagel starts with A." She also likes to tell the knock-knock joke Elmo is telling Oscar in picture 3. Oh, I'm not going to tell you which joke it is, though. You'll have to hear it from Ayla herself!

4) Olivia: We checked this one out from the library, and I thought it was pretty cute the first couple of times I read it to her. Of course, it was her favorite book and had to be read several times a day. (I was very happy to take it back today!) On a separate note, Ayla has been slow to give names to any of her stuffed animals. So far she has JoJo the purple unicorn, Gato the cat, Henry the rocking horse, which is of course not to be confused with Horse the zebra. All the others are the animal's name or its derivative. After reading Olivia, however, Ayla decided her pink doggy's name is Ian. (Ian is Olivia's little brother in the book.)

5-6) Anna Banana and Me: My friend, Heather, sent me this book long before Ayla existed. I introduced it to Ayla about a month ago and it's in constant rotation now. She especially likes how Anna Banana says she's swinging "over the treetops,"and always asks to go that high.

(I'm linking up with my friend Shannon for Little Days, an effort to chronicle the little things we enjoy about raising our little ones. Click over to her sweet blog to see others.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Little Days: What She's Up To

Photo courtesy of Grandma C
Ayla is going through her own version of Spring. Every day, something new shows up in her vocabulary or skill set. She's in a fun season of blossoming and growing, even though the growing causes a little pain at times.

My friend, Shannon, started the series Little Days to capture the little moments that make parenthood so special, and I'm linking up with her today. I'll share two little phrases that symbolize what my girl is up to these days.

"I do it byself"
Forget July 4th, every day is independence day around here! I'm convinced Ayla combined two words into one because she just doesn't have time to slow down. There are car seats to climb and be buckled into, milk cups to pour and put lids onto. There are panties to pull down and toilet seats to climb on, teeth to brush and hair bows to put in, shoes and socks to get on and off (mostly off).  Never ask God for patience, just ask Him for a toddler in the "byself" phase! Patience is a must! Her dad let me in on one of his effective techniques with her, to allow a "byself" as long as I get a turn, too-- and I apply it liberally!

"Going down bear/bare belly"
This is how she insists on going down the stairs. I have no idea which variation of bear/bare she is using. I don't know where she got this idea or why it's called this. She has so much fun and hasn't hurt herself yet, so I allow it. I'm just glad we live in a house with only two stories instead of our skinny townhouse with four!

Check in next week for another "Little Days" post, and be sure to click over to The Scribble Pad to see Shannon's adorable little boys!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ayla's Baby

A lot of my friends are having or have had babies recently (actually, I guess that's always happening).

To put that another way, a lot of Ayla’s friends are getting little brothers or little sisters.

For her, that means a lot of “babies in bellies,” are becoming “babies out of bellies,” and because her mama is addicted to babies, that also means we are doing a lot of visiting these new babies.

As I was putting her to bed a few nights ago, we were discussing the new baby she had met and the baby in belly she had kissed that day and the new baby we were going to see the next day.

She processed the information for a minute and said, “Ayla baby in belly,” rubbing her own precious chub.

I was transported for a moment to a time in the future, where, God willing, I will be holding Ayla’s baby the way I was holding her right then.

I will look at my proud daughter, love leaking out her eyes, and know she finally knows.

She’ll finally know how great this love is. She’ll know why I took way more than a thousand pictures of her during her first year. Why I grab her and kiss her all over a hundred times a day. Why sometimes I stare at the monitor to see her when she’s sleeping because I miss her even though I’ve waited for nap time all day.  Why I will read her that book again and even one more time after that.

“No,” I told her, when I could speak again, “You don’t have a baby in your belly, but someday when you grow up, you can have one. You used to be a baby in Mommy’s belly.”

“Mommy baby in belly,” she said, patting my not-so-precious chub.

“There’s not a baby there right now,” I said. “We are asking God for a baby in mommy’s belly so Ayla can have a baby brother or sister. Do you want that?”

“Uh huh.”

Though she doesn’t sound completely convinced, I am glad that by the time she does get a brother or sister, be it through birth or adoption, she will be old enough to understand and maybe even to remember helping Mommy and Daddy pray for him or her.

(Will you join us in prayer for that, too? Y’all did so well in praying Ayla in, I’d love to have you along for the sequel! Thank you!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Twenty-five months

My dear Ayla,

You are two now. Two and a month, technically.

Two (and too) is your favorite word. You worked so hard to learn how to show two with your fingers, and though you can say your whole name, when someone asks what your name is, you proudly say, “TWO!” I gotta admit, even with all the new challenges this age brings, it’s my favorite one so far, too.

Speaking of, you’re really into the word and concept of “too.” “Mocha go nigh-night too!” “Daddy eat too!” “Mommy go pee pee too!” (We’ll get to the potty training fun we’ve been having later.) You’re good at doing things by yourself, but if you can get someone (or someanimal as it often is the case) else to do it “too,” you’re thrilled.

When people were asking me what you were into for birthday present choosing, it was hard to answer. What aren’t you into? You love everything outdoors and moving, just like your parents. You love building towers with your blocks or tea set, throwing balls around and asking “where are you?” as you chase them, and jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed. You love to color, though coloring for you is mostly handing me the crayon and telling me what to draw. I don’t mind. I like to draw for you. I’m getting pretty good at the kitties and doggies you always “request.” You love animals, your toys and real ones.

You love singing and anything having to do with music. We get a kick out of you singing along at bedtime now and the repertoire of songs you know is growing daily. Now that Daddy has his keyboard set up, you constantly try to play the “pinano” with him (or by yourself).

You love to read. I am amazed at how fast you learn your books and it’s been fun to have you participate in the reading. We’ve consented to letting you have a book in bed with you when you go to sleep, and it’s the book that usually wins over the animals for cuddling when you finally conk out.

You’re a bit of an adrenaline junky. You build obstacles for yourself and your toys to climb over, and you’ve discovered about 15 different ways to get down your slide.

 Almost every day, you successfully convince your daddy to give you plenty of “weeee,” which can mean anything from spinning you around in a laundry basket, to throwing you up high in the air, to helping you do somersaults. We’re both cherishing these days before you get too big for this.

Oh, but you are a big girl now. We still have you rear-facing in the car, since you’re only 25 pounds, and you still sleep in your crib (though you are getting close to climbing out). But we’ve said goodbye to diapers (except for sleeping) and you always remind me, “no pee pee in panties!” when you’re getting dressed.  I am SO proud of you for learning how to use the big potty and for telling us when you need to go. I figured if you could learn to play games on my iPhone in less than 30 seconds, you could be potty trained, and I was right!

Right now you’re learning what “my” and “mine” mean and what they don’t mean. Play dates can get a little tense when you insist that your friends’ toys are yours, or when you’re not ready to share toys that actually are yours. Wise friends have reminded me that we all went through this phase, and some grownups are still in it, so I have hope you’ll learn that sharing and giving is more fun than keeping something to yourself. I can’t say that I mind too much, though, when you refer to us as “MY mommy” and “MY daddy!”

I don’t know if there’s a technical term for being mentally organized, but I think you might be that. You process information very well in lists. I often hear you reciting lists, such as the activities available at the playground, the friends you played with in various settings, the elements of a good birthday party, or the rules about spitting. This translates to physical organization too, as you are my big helper with putting toys away in the correct box. You keep this up and I’m going to put you in charge of my closet!

I can’t capture everything about you in words, and even if I could I probably wouldn’t want to take the time away from being with you to record it all. Realistically, I probably won’t be blogging about you for the rest of your childhood. You’ll have to share some of the spotlight with future brothers and sisters and maybe someday you’ll even have a blog of your own.

For now, though, I still find myself watching you in awe and gratitude. You are mine. Don’t you ever doubt or forget that!

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