Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brother & Sister

Abbey is growing so so is the relationship Luke and Abbey have as brother and sister.  You can tell that just as Drew and I love the kids more and more as each day passes, so does Luke also love his sister more and more each day.

A couple of weeks ago, Luke was playing with his little cars on the floor near Abbey.  He rolled one over to her and said, "here Abbey, you play with this one."  That just melted my heart.

Yesterday, Abbey was sitting down and had a little drool running down her chin.  Luke spotted it and ran over with a burp cloth.  I started to say, "wait Luke, be gentle," but then noticed he was gently patting her chin with the cloth.  I, of course, praised him for being gentle and kind.

Their relationship as siblings is really growing positively.  They have come a long way from when Abbey first showed up and Luke realized his kingdom was crumbling.  He was no longer the one getting all of the attention at our house. 

fixing her bow.
Abbey's favorite thing to do, by far, is to watch Luke.  Just watching him do his normal playful activities, or sing in the car, makes her giggle.

I can't believe how much Abbey has grown since January.  I almost forgot to take some four-month pictures.  Here is the progression of Abbey each month since birth:

January (just a few days old)





I had to include a picture of these adorable rolls as she jumped on her jumperoo.
I love all of Abbey's rolls.   She is such a cuddly baby!  Her daddy had lots of rolls when he was her age also.  Here is a photo of Drew when he was six months old.

I am sure that when Abbey starts moving more, these rolls will diminish.  Until then, I am going to enjoy them!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Luke's First School "Performance"

Today we attended Luke's first school performance at the school he has attended since February.  I have mentioned in past posts that Luke is not a performer.  He LOVES to sing and dance and does so at home for us all of the time.  However, if we get the camera out to capture the precious moments, he stops.  Or, if we ask him to sing for others, he becomes shy and says "no".  So, we honestly expected him to become shy at his performance and possibly even cry or get scared.

Well, we were very pleasantly surprised.  Now, he didn't really "perform", but he didn't cry and he seemed happy enough.  He was very busy at looking at the audience and examining all of the items on stage.  Let me add that they announced before the performances for all of the classes that his class, "the ducks", was the only class to sit in chairs.  Apparently, they really liked the chairs (and I am guessing it was a good way to keep them all in order) :-).  As you can see the class is very heavily weighted in boys vs. girls, so the class is VERY energetic!

Without further ado, here is Luke's first school "performance." 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Being "Mom"

My dad, mom and my siblings (Holly, Jeremy, Jason) and I
The toughest full-time job I have held has to be the one with the title "Mother."  I remember that when I was a little girl, my sister and I used to pretend we were mothers who lived next door to one another.  Her house was the bedroom next to wherever my pretend house was.  We had a deal worked out with my twin brothers that each of them would pretend to be the daddies when we needed them to in exchange for us playing whatever they wanted to play afterwards.  Our kids were our cabbage patch kids dolls.  My sister and I each had 4 dolls (just like the four of us kids).  My sister and I received them at Christmas for gifts.  I remember each Christmas that we received one, I used to tell my mom and dad that they had new grandchildren!  Little did I know back then that I was modeling behavior.  Being a pretend mommy seemed so easy back then.  But, that is because my mom made it look so easy.

Lately, I have had to ask my mom for lots of advice in how to raise a toddler.  Although I didn't think so when Luke was a baby, I now realize that the infant stage was easier (at least for me) than the toddler stage is.  When our kids are infants, our primary job is to give them loads of love.  We give them food, comfort, good sleep, and lots more love and attention.   Giving love to a precious baby--even one who cries for hours--I can do very easily.  Not that the stage is easy!   I still remember not getting sleep and feeling like a zombie as I went through my day.  But, the stage I am in now, with one two year old and an infant, seems to be a lot more difficult.  When your child is a toddler and it is so evident that they are a sponge, you realize that every little thing you say and do is molding them into who they will become.  They can tell you, "No" when you ask them very nicely to do something that you know is for the best.  How do you react?  Do you put them in time-out, spank them, reason with them, a combination of all or give in?  How you react will help shape them as they grow up.  Yes, being a parent is the job with more accountability than any other on the planet! Because I am spending so much time with Luke lately, I feel like Abbey gets a little neglected.  Somebody told me though before Abbey was born that it is really important to give Luke quality time.  He will remember it, but Abbey will not remember that I had to spend more time with Luke at this stage. 

Every day as a mom, I am faced with a new challenge.  I am so thankful for technology.  As soon as that challenge arises--boom, I am on the internet on my smartphone searching for answers.  But, then I look at me and my siblings and how we turned out.  We are all Christ-followers who love the Lord and love others.  We respect our elders and leaders in our society.  We work hard, exercise and eat well.  We are all college graduates.  We each played musical instruments and were involved in organized sports.  Each of us volunteer in some capacity at our churches and other organizations.  Now, I am not trying to boast--believe me, I understand the way I turned out had nothing to do with me.  My parents should be proud.  We turned out this way because of how they raised us, with the direction of our Lord.  So, who better to call for advice than my mom.

We even learned "teamwork" as kids.  Here Jason and Jeremy and I are helping each other drink some water at a park.
My mom has the best memory of anyone I know.  She can tell me what I was wearing 20 years ago on our family vacation.  OK--maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but her memory is crazy sharp!  So, with a memory like that, she can recount specific challenges she had with us and how she dealt with them.  My mom also didn't have it very easy.  I was born, then 11 months later my identical twin brothers were born, then 2.5 years later my sis was born.  And, the closest family members were about 5 hours away.  They had no help in raising us.  My dad worked very hard.  When we were young, he probably averaged 60-70 hours of work per week.  So, this sounds pretty difficult right?  Four kids, ages three and under, and no family in town to help out or provide "relief" when needed.  Then how in the world did she make it look so easy???  I can tell you that I NEVER recall my mom raising her voice.   We ALWAYS ate an excellent home-cooked meal with all four food groups on our plates.  We VERY RARELY ate out (maybe once a month on a Sunday after church).  She chauffeured us from activity to activity.  I also remember my siblings and I laying on the floor (I must have been 4 or 5 years old) all in a row while my mom rubbed our bellies before nap or bedtime.  Then, she would carry us one by one to our beds.  We all felt loved.  She is my inspiration.  When I am having a tough day, I just think about my mom and how she had it so tough, but made it look so easy.  She never appeared stress.  I think this is so important in raising our children.

I'm sure bath time was interesting with four little ones.
So, instead of relying solely on the internet for parenting advice, I go to my mom.  I combine her advice with some Biblical wisdom and hopefully I have a good recipe for raising these special blessings God has given us.  Although each day has its challenges, there is no greater blessing than children!  Thus, to me there is no better job title than the one of "mother."   And, Drew and I were both raised by the best mothers imaginable. 

My Babies:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Luke's Singing Montage

I think I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I have extreme difficulty capturing on video Luke singing.  As soon as he sees me recording, he stops singing.  When we are riding in the car, he likes singing--song after song after song.  So, I thought it would be the perfect time to capture him singing.  So, while we were stopped, I started the video and placed it where it would capture him singing.  I don't think he even noticed since I was just paying attention to driving and not even looking at the phone that was capturing the video.  Then, I drove.  I got several songs recorded and just trimmed off the first bit and the last bit.  No worries---this was done in an extremely safe manner and did not take any of my attention off the road.  I wasn't even looking at my phone while it was recording.  Once I stopped the car again, I stopped the video.  I would never want to endanger the lives of my little ones.  Even if I speak on the phone while driving, it is either by using bluetooth or speaker phone.   

Anyway--here is the video. 

Goodbye Cable TV, Hello "Mommy School"!

We recently pulled the plug on cable television.  We have been wanting to do it ever since we read the book, "Radical" by David Platt about a year ago (an excellent book and must-read for every Christian), but just kept finding excuses not to do it.  Our excuses went something like this: "But, it's football season right now," or "But Luke likes to watch Team Umizoomi and Little Einsteins and TV helps me maintain my sanity."  Well, we decided we really needed to begin to give up some of the "luxuries" that we had and cable TV seemed like a good place to start.

We haven't exactly given up TV completely though.  We are currently doing a free trial of Netflix and Hulu Plus.  If we continue to subscribe, they only cost $7.99/month, which might be worth it with a toddler around. It is very nice to be able to pull up "Veggie Tales", "Super Why" or "Caillou" whenever I want to "settle Luke down" a bit.  Still, we are watching a significant amount less of television than when we had cable, which is definitely a good thing!  It is amazing all of the things you can find to do when you don't have cable TV.

Something that I noticed this past month about Luke is that when you keep him busy, he behaves very well.  When I had the TV on more often during the day and was busy tending to Abbey or the house, time-outs were occurring more frequently.  But, since I have been planning more activities for Luke throughout the day, time-outs have seriously diminished and are pretty rare.  Luke just needs something to do all the time.  So, I have to come up with many activities for Luke each day in order to have a time-out free day.

I feel that I am not the most creative person, but I am very resourceful.  So, I scoured the internet and found the perfect way to create a "curriculum" for Luke that doesn't take very much creativity or time.  I am using the "Before Five in a Row" book to create a wonderful curriculum for Luke for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (we call it "Mommy School").    He attends a preschool at a Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays.   The "Before Five in a Row" vision statement is "Dedicated to protecting and nurturing the early years of childhood, Before Five in a Row opens up the world of learning through great books and creative play and builds a solid foundation for more formal education to come."  Basically, each of the 23 units in the book includes a bible segment, as well as various hands-on learning activity ideas for your child that go along with a classic children's book.  The "Before Five in a Row" book just provides some ideas--but I found many blogs that are extremely useful with great activities.  My favorites are and  Actually, the homeschoolshare site has tons of printables and activities to go along with each of the books.

So far, we have gone through "Goodnight Moon" and "Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?".  We already owned "Goodnight Moon" and checked out the "Jesse Bear" book from our library.  I am also creating a "Lap Book" to remember all of the activities that we shared together.  I can re-use this for Abbey when she turns two years old.  Here are some pictures and notes about some of the fun activities we did these past couple of weeks:

Some of our "Goodnight Moon" activities:

I created a lap book to journal/keep all of the activities we do together.

We read the nursery rhyme, "Hey Diddle Diddle" since there is a part of the rhyme in the story (the cow jumped over the moon).

We colored various objects and Luke placed them where they go in the rhyme.

Luke played a game where we sorted objects that we said goodnight to in the book vs. those that we did not say goodnight to.  This was a great memory game.

We made some lemon poppy seed muffins (our full moons)

maybe our favorite activity.
We practiced recognizing our circle shapes by creating an "I Spy a Circle" wheel.

Jesse Bear, "What Will You Wear?":

This is such a cute book, with great rhythm.  It almost reads like a song.   We found a fun Melissa & Doug puzzle--you get to dress up mama, papa and baby bear.

Luke's favorite activity for the Jesse Bear book was definitely this puzzle.  But, the homeschool share site also had a fun game that we printed and he really enjoyed.  There were six little bear faces that we colored and then hid around the room for Luke to find.  Being so close to Easter and our egg hunts, he has really enjoyed hiding and finding objects.  There were many other Jesse Bear activities that we found on the homeschool share site that we did together and he really enjoyed. 

In summary, I would HIGHLY recommend the "Before Five In a Row" book and online resources!  And the great news for us is that after we are finished with this curriculum, there is a "Five in a Row" curriculum to follow (for ages 4-8).  We are having so much fun with this and I like that it only takes me a few minutes to prepare each day. I definitely don't have time to spend creating these lessons from scratch.

Abbey is 4 months old already!

Time needs to slow down a bit. I have not taken nearly enough videos of our little girl and she is already four months old!  Yesterday, I took Abbey to her 4-month well visit to our pediatrician.  They confirmed that she is a very healthy girl!  She is definitely growing well.  In fact, after the nurse had already weighed Abbey, measured her head and then marked on the piece of paper where her head and feet were (to measure height), she had to re-enter our room to re-measure Abbey's height.  She said, "Maybe she is just really tall, but I want to re-measure just to make sure."  Her first measurement was correct--Abbey is just a tall baby.

For the record, here are Abbey's stats:

Weight:  16 lbs, 4 oz (90th%)
Height:  26 inches (98th%)
Head Circ.: 43 cm. (98th%)

(For comparison, at Luke's 4 month visit he was in the 50th% at 14.1 lbs and 24.25 inches tall).

On a social level, Abbey has such a sweet demeanor.  She likes to just sit back and take everything in.  Our household provides constant entertainment for her.  She really is more interested in watching the shenanigans at our house than playing with her toys. I love her giggle.  It is hilarious and Drew and I have so much fun trying to make her laugh so that we can have a good, belly-aching, laugh.  Her laugh is a low-tone, almost grunty sound.  I need to get a good video of it.  She also is a little chatterbox.   I am pretty sure she knows the entire alphabet, because she enjoys just going through all of the combos of sounds--consonants and vowels.  It is so funny, because she is such a laid-back baby.  But, when she talks, she speaks SO loudly.   I swear, sometimes when she is upset, it sounds like she says, "mama."  I know she doesn't know what that means, but I think it is funny that she says that.  I haven't taken many pictures or videos lately, but here is one recent video clip of our little girl:

On a physical level, our little girl is very strong.  The doctor was amazed at how strong she was.  I did express some concern to her, because Abbey has not been rolling over as much for the past few weeks. Shortly after turning 3 months old, she was rolling over both ways.   Lately, when I put her on her belly, she will play for a long time with her head up, looking around.  And then when she gets tired, she just lays down instead of rolling over.  The doctor wasn't concerned at all though. She said that her muscles are probably just trying to catch up with all of the weight that she has been putting on.

Luke is still so proud of his sister.  When we are out and about, he stays close by the stroller.  If another person attempts to go near Abbey, he is so protective.  He will often scoot between the person and the stroller and tell them "that is his Abbey". Of course, at home it is a little different.  Although he enjoys going to her crib in the morning and saying, "Good morning, Sunshine," when she awakes, he also still tells me "don't feed her mommy," or "please put her down."  He understands that his sister often takes away his "mommy time."  Still, I know that he loves his Abbey so much!