Monday, March 30, 2015

Focused Play: Easter Footprint Art


     We did a handprint art for Christmas, and I thought Easter would be a good time to do another hand/footprint art project.

     I decided that a footprint would probably be easier to do with a little one than a handprint. After seeing several ideas on Pinterest, I decided upon a footprint carrot. I thought the carrot needed a little extra something to make it more Easter themed, so I drew a little bunny to hold the carrot.

Materials:
     - cardstock paper or construction paper
     - washable (finger) paint

To Play:
     It took us a couple of days and a dozen or more tries to get good footprints. It's rather difficult to get a clear footprint from a round, wiggly foot! haha. So, we did a few attempts one day and then a few more another day.


      Eventually, we got some good prints! We made three copies: one for us and one to send to each set of grandparents. I really liked how it came out, and know I'll cherish having that sweet little footprint as a keepsake of this moment with him.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: Week 28!

Hey, hey. I actually got a 28 week picture at the 28 week
 mark this time! Yay! Haha
This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"


How far along: 28 weeks! Hello, third trimester!
"
Your baby is settling into the proper position for birth, with his head facing downward ... He's busy adding new skills such as blinking to an already impressive repertoire of tricks like coughing, sucking, hiccuping, and taking practice breaths. Your baby's sleep now includes the REM (rapid eye movement) phase — and that means he could be dreaming already" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition
 
Baby size:  "Your little work in progress is now about 2.5 pounds and almost 16 inches long.-What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition 

Gender: Girl!
Belly: Oh goodness, this belly. This baby belly is officially bigger than it was at the end of my first pregnancy. I'm entering new territory with beginning to really feel uncomfortable and a bit clumsy. Tennyson was really small and we didn't make it to term, and so I didn't really experience some of the third trimester discomforts. I'm getting my chance this time around!
 
 Sleep: Sleep has actually improved. I think my body is demanding it at this point. haha
   I started to prop a pillow behind my back as well so that I can lean back a bit on it and take some pressure off my sides and belly. My "pillow fort" (as David calls it) works fairly well, but anytime I need to roll over or get in or out of bed it is a grand effort. We're making it work though!
    
 Symptoms: Fatigue continues to be a constant struggle. Some days I make it through better than others. hah.
 
In general, I'm getting to be just rather uncomfortable.
 
 Clothes: Hello, spring! Okay, spring isn't quite here yet but temperatures in the 40s feel just as good. The warm up has allowed me to be able to wear some of my dresses. Oh goodness, I'm now even more ready for spring because the dresses are so very, very comfortable. I'm tempted to purchase several more. I could very easily live in them for the rest of the pregnancy and postpartum.
 
Movement: I thought back to when the belly was beginning to get more sizeable and the difficulty I was having adjusting my mobility. It was such an effort to hold or carry Tennyson. Now, I can do and be however I need to be. ...Unless, getting up from sitting on the floor, lying in the bed, or bending down to pick something up while holding Tennyson. Then, it's quite amusing!

Baby Movement: Oh, my can this girl get in some good kicks/punches (especially at night)! They'll make me jump and I'll feel  like I've done an ab workout! haha. David got to feel those powerful kicks one night. I think he was really enjoying getting to feel her move so much (or that she was kicking Mama so hard! haha). He agreed that she definitely kicks/punches much stronger than Tennyson did. Perhaps she's has more room than he did and is taking full advantage of it.
 
 Food aversions: Not sure. I still don't have as strong of a preference for meat and heavy meals, but that's pretty typical even when not pregnant.
 
Food cravings: I still love sweets far more than I should. Sooo good though! I could eat my weight in chocolate cake! hahaha

What I miss: Not much! I'm really enjoying this place in pregnancy.
 
 What I'm excited about:  I'm most excited about meeting her. Each time she kicks, I think of her and what she must be doing in there. I wonder if she'll be anything like her brother in personality or appearance. Most of all, I wonder the person she will become. My heart is so full to be her Mama. While I absolutely want her to take her time to arrive, I also am very eager to meet this little person.
 
    We have an ultrasound in a couple of weeks. It's a rather important one, and I'm excited and nervous at the same time. We'll learn her position. (I'm really curious because I get the feeling she may be in a similar position Tennyson was). We'll also learn her size, and if/to what degree growth restriction. (Growth restriction will be one factor for determining when to deliver). In general, we'll have a much better idea as to if to expect her in April or May (or June, but we're really not expecting to go this far, though that would be amazing). Beyond the numbers, though, I'm very eager to just see her again. Compared to the frequency of ultrasounds during my first pregnancy, it feels so strange to only have two this time around. I know that's normal, but I kind of miss getting visual updates. 
 
     I've been gathering items to take to the hospital with us (as well as an overnight bag for Tennyson in the event of an emergency he'll stay with some friends of ours). Today, I pulled out our bags and began listing all that I wanted to have with me and items left to purchase or pack. It's exciting to be making progress towards being fully prepared. I absolutely don't want to get caught unprepared again!
 
    
 
What I'm nervous about: I've actually been much better about being overly concerned about everything all the time. I've been working towards getting things ready as much as possible, which is helping considerably. For the most part, though, I've just been trying to remain positive and enjoy this moment.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Marriage Is More Than a Wedding Day

*Originally written Jan. 31, 2013*
 

     As a little girl, I would daydream about the moment that Prince Charming would ask me to marry him. The fall air would be crisp and I would be thankful for the long lace sleeves of my gown. My father’s arm would wrap around mine and with an single look we would exchange an understanding of the beauty of this moment. His little girl was to be wed, and soon begin the next season of life. The string music would play softly and the guests would rise indicating that it was time for me to walk toward my groom and our life together. Our eyes would meet and enormous grins would stretch across our faces. This is it. This is the most important day of our lives. This is our wedding day.

      Even in my childlike mind, I had my wedding day on a pedestal. I knew it was supposed to be a magical day in life, and every movie and message confirmed it. Best of luck to Mr. Charming because getting married to me would come with some high expectations.

      Interestingly, I never envisioned my groom. There was never a particular build, hair color or even personality type to go along with the physical presence that was at the altar. Perhaps those details were considered only minor elements to the big day, despite the fact that they belonged to the groom whom is a pretty instrumental for that particular event. My dream was all about the wedding.

     Life is kind of funny in how it rearranges our ideas. My actual wedding was nothing like what I had envisioned, and I am thankful for that contrast. It even now strikes me as humorous to compare the two. The proposal was not an elaborate production, but one more intimate. I am not sure if I will ever forget the sight of David standing in front of me while shaking and stuttering to get the words of the question out. It was the greatest and most life changing words he would ever speak, and his delivery was honest and heartfelt. I never imagined it that way, and now I can’t imagine it any other way. It was perfect. I, of course, said “yes!” I also suddenly became left handed as for some reason my right hand seemed inadequate in comparison to the left which now displayed a shiny ring.

     We kept our engagement short, and while this period is typically full of delight over dresses, colors and other planning my mind and heart were elsewhere. I just wanted to begin life with him. Instead of the orchestration of the wedding day, I dreamed of beginning and ending each day together. I was filled with excitement for even the mundane aspects of married life like grocery shopping and sharing meals. The little girl grew up and realized that there was more to marriage than a wedding day.  

     We chose to wed in private, and then celebrate with friends and family on separate occasions. No longer was it the day, but our day. We did not have to be concerned about details of the ceremony or the fact that we would be the center of attention (a position that is rather uncomfortable for each of us). The exchange of vows was the most important to us, and it was that aspect that we desired to be the center of our attention. They were intimate words of our love and devotion to one another. From this point forward we would become one in marriage.

     To my surprise, married life did not come as smoothly as I had expected. We experienced our most difficult times to date during our first years of marriage, but also learned a tremendous amount about love and marriage. I expected to enter the famed “newlywed bliss” season of marriage and eagerly assert that I had married my best friend. While we did marry as best friends, we did not stay that way for long. I grieved the close relationship we had while dating and lamented over the ways life had changed. I imagine that he struggled with a similar realization of the difference between the expectations of marriage and the reality of marriage. What happened? Where did we go wrong? Why was marriage not making me happy?

       The truth is that marriage will not make you happy if you were not happy before marriage. Depreciative feelings toward myself or my life’s accomplishments will not disappear and I suddenly become a happier person with a better life simply because I am married. In fact, to place a means of definition of myself and fulfillment of my life solely on my marriage is to weigh it down with far greater responsibility than it was ever intended to hold. Perhaps there is more to marriage than me and my state of being.

     In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Chapman poses the question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” The message is not that we will not be happy in marriage, because I assure you there is happiness in marriage. Rather, that marriage is a tool and not the end goal in life. God uses this tool to carve and sharpen us. Marriage teaches selflessness in that instead of my focus being on my happiness it shifts to the happiness of my husband. We are both going to experience moments of unhappiness in life, and it does neither of us any good if we are both focused on our own state instead of encouraging the other person. Marriage also teaches the meaning of love and grace regardless of them being offered in return.

  
     Marriage is a powerful tool, and I would miss these lessons if my focus had not shifted to God and His purposes for it. My life and love have been enriched greatly because of marriage. The truth is that my wedding day had little to do with reaching this end. Although it was a beautiful day and a memory that I will always hold dear, the greater joys in life are the marriage and the man with whom it is shared.  And so, may the child who imaginatively transforms a pillowcase into a veil and a Ring Pop candy into an engagement ring dream wildly, but also grow into a young lady who understands and cherishes that marriage is more than a wedding day.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Focused Play: Easter Egg Drop

 
     Easter is only a few weeks away, and so I wanted to begin incorporating some Easter themed activities for our focused play time. At this age (14 months), Tennyson loves putting things "in," which is great for motor skill development.
 
    This particular activity consists of dropping plastic Easter eggs through the cut out hole and into the container. He can very easily sit down and accomplish this activity independently. It's so fun to see his focus and determination in getting the eggs to drop into the container!
 
Materials: container with hold cut into lid (I've used an oatmeal container) and plastic Easter eggs ($0.88)
 
To Play:
  • Independent play- allow child to place eggs into container independently
  • Colors- name the colors of each egg dropped into the container (ie, "Yay! You dropped the blue egg in!"
  • Counting- count the eggs
 
video
(Sorry it's sideways. I don't know how to rotate a video within Blogger.)
(And from this video I've realized that I need to learn more praise phrases than "good job!" haha)
 
 
     Tennyson will play with this activity off and on. He seems to really enjoy it!
 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: Week 26!

{26 weeks was actually March 8, 2015. I'm about a week behind in posting an update. ...Maybe I should switch to doing updates on the odd weeks, then perhaps I can be on time for posting on the even weeks! haha}

This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"
How far along: 26 Weeks!

"this week, her eyes, which until now were developing under fused eyelids, start to open. Of course, there's not much to see in there, but if your baby spots a bright light (or hears a loud noise) near your belly, you may notice an increase in fetal activity. ... What accounts for that response? Her brain is more developed and sophisticated." --What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size: "now weighs a full two pounds and measures nine-plus inches." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition 
 
Gender: Girl!
Weight gain: I'm now up to 133lbs. That's an 8lb gain since last month! Whoa! And it's all entirely the baby belly.  
 
Belly: Oh goodness, this belly. This baby belly is officially bigger than it was at the end of my first pregnancy. I'm entering new territory with beginning to really feel uncomfortable and a bit clumsy. Tennyson was really small and we didn't make it to term, and so I didn't really experience some of the third trimester discomforts. I'm getting my chance this time around, even though I'm still in the second trimester!
 
 Sleep: Sleep is...well, sleep doesn't really happen anymore. I almost dread going to sleep at night because I know I'll get to the point of every part of my body screaming for rest, but then not be able to attain sound sleep. It's exhausting.
   I started to prop a pillow behind my back as well so that I can lean back a bit on it and take some pressure off my sides and belly. My "pillow fort" (as David calls it) works fairly well, but anytime I need to roll over or get in or out of bed it is a grand effort. Not only that, but all the pillows take up quite a bit of the bed space. Poor David has talked of sleeping on the floor or downstairs on the couch. That would really sadden me.
     Hopefully, I can eventually get some good sleep. If not, then hopefully we can just hang on for a couple more months.
 
Symptoms: Fatigue continues to be a constant struggle. Some days I make it through better than others. hah.
 
In general, I'm getting to be just rather uncomfortable.
 
 Clothes: Hello, spring! Okay, spring isn't quite here yet but temperatures in the 40s feel just as good. The warm up has allowed me to be able to wear some of my dresses. Oh goodness, I'm now even more ready for spring because the dresses are so very, very comfortable. I'm tempted to purchase several more. I could very easily live in them for the rest of the pregnancy and postpartum.
 
Movement: I'm slowing down a bit and not able to maneuver quite as easily. Caring for a toddler and the housework takes quite a bit of effort. If you want to see a funny sight, then just watch as I try to hold a toddler while bending down to pick something up. haha

Baby Movement: Sometimes she moves and kicks so much it's like she's trying to wiggle jiggle free! Some movements are strong and repetitive that I feel like I've done a full ab workout. haha.
 
     I'm beginning to get the impression that she's assuming the same position as Tennyson with her head fixed upright and her body simply swinging between a transverse position and a breech position. I can generally tell where her head is at most times. She also kicks in nearly the same spots.
 
 Food aversions: Not sure. I still don't have as strong of a preference for meat and heavy meals, but that's pretty typical even when not pregnant.
 
Food cravings: I still love sweets far more than I should. Sooo good though! I could eat my weight in chocolate cake! hahaha

What I miss: I really miss having midwife care. I was such a part of my own care and delivery last time (well...that is, up to delivery when it became an emergency C-section situation). This time is so very, very different under the care of a maternal and fetal medicine specialist. I really miss being treated as a person and not just a patient. But, I realize that my situation doesn't afford me the kind of care offered by a midwife. Our objective must be on preserving life itself, not necessarily personhood. I've got to remain focused on being grateful for being given the chance to have another child, and hopefully have a more full-term outcome.
 
 What I'm excited about:  I've got to number these because there are so many!
1) I feel her move inside of me all the time, and await getting to hold her in my arms. I'm so excited to meet her, and learn about the person she'll become!
 
 2) The shot countdown is down to just 8 more! It's interesting that when considering future child(ren), I feel less inhibited towards the idea by the major surgery involved in delivery than by the 20 weeks of shots. Perhaps time will heal, but currently I have a hard time conceding to go down this road again all because of the shots. It's been a difficult and painful road so far, and I'll be so very, very grateful to be finished with them.
 
 3)  The next ultrasound is scheduled for April 6th. This is a big ultrasound that will determine where we are in the pregnancy and where we'll go. I'm so nervous about it being scheduled so late at 30 weeks. I was already starting the labor process with Tennyson at 30 weeks! Eek! I'm very eager to see her, know her size, know her position and of course get a little better idea of delivery. Hard to believe that in only 3 weeks we're going to top the pregnancy peak and begin journeying towards delivery. Goodness, I'm excited! And so anxious!
 
4) There is a growing stack of items on the dresser designated for the hospital bag. So glad to be getting things prepared this time. Last time, we were caught by surprise and had absolutely nothing prepared and nothing in the hospital with us. I don't want to do that again!
 
5) Spring is almost here! I'm so ready to be done with being covered in cold and snow. I'm ready to spend the afternoon outside playing and taking trips to the park. When Annelise arrives (and I finally break down to buy a double stroller), we'll all get to enjoy a daily dose of sunshine during our morning walks around the neighborhood. I've missed those walks!
 
6) I finally finished the pregnancy journal book of Tennyson. I did blog posts like these during my pregnancy with Tennyson. I have been working off and on to create a photobook with those entries. It was so neat to read the entries from the first pregnancy that correspond to where I am or have been in this pregnancy. I laughed a bit at the part at 32 weeks where I wrote about having 8 more weeks. I thought, "Oh, honey. If only you knew. You don't have eight weeks. You have until next week!" haha. Anyways, now that I have the one book done, I can easily begin the second book (and hopefully have it finished before she's 14 months old. haha). I'm so glad I did all the weekly updates for each of them. I'm absolutely going to treasure having the books! Pregnancy is such a short and special experience in life.
 
What I'm nervous about: I'm "concerned" about just about everything lately. I'm definitely feeling a great need to have things done and ready. I want to get things done right now. Projects need to be completed. House needs to be clean. Shopping.. meal prep.. anything and everything is a matter of urgency. I've also thought more on the extended family we'll have come and stay with us to "help" following her birth. I know we'll need people to help us out at that time (ex- I won't be able to lift Tennyson for quite a while and we live in a three floor townhome). However, I also know that I will get very overwhelmed and frustrated having to tend to people.
 
     I think the issue with the feeling of urgency is that I'm deeply concerned about her coming really early. While the fact that there has been such tremendous growth by this point could be seen as a good thing, it could also be a bad thing. You see, Tennyson was so small and as a result was able to stay inside to develop longer. He didn't run out of space as soon because he was so small. Though he wasn't necessarily growing in size, but was continuing to develop physiologically. That's why I believe he has done so well for his degree of growth restriction. If we're already hitting that size so soon with her, I'm concerned that she'll run out of space sooner and come sooner, and thus not have that extra time to develop further. I'm really, really scared of having a micro-preemie.
 
     In my mind, I have the constant thought of "what if she came now?" Am I ready with a well-managed home (ie clean)? Meals prepared? Hospital bags packed for us? Overnight bag packed for Tennyson? Are there any projects that I will have wanted to have completed before her arrival? Etc. etc. Poor David, it's only going to get worse. haha
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Focused Play: Lid Fit


     Tennyson has recently been highly entertained by placing lids on containers. I have a bag of breastmilk storage bottles and lids from when he was an infant, and they seem to be the perfect size for his little hands to manipulate. He will sit for quite a while placing the lid on the bottle and then taking it back off. It's great to watch how he'll work with the bottle and lid to get them each in the correct position and then aligned with one another. I also enjoy watching his big grin of accomplishment when he successfully places the lid on.

     I have a feeling that very soon he'll also learn how to twist the lids on and off these bottles as well!

Materials: Various containers with lids (Use kitchen items! Hello, free!)

To Play: Allow child access to a variety of lids and containers. Show the child how each lids fits onto the container. Say "on" when placing it on, and then "off" when removing it. Ask child to take the lid off or put it on. Of course, clap and cheer when he/she accomplishes it each time!


 
Warning this activity could lead to mischief!
 
I was washing dishes and noticed Tennyson had gotten quiet. I looked over to discovered that he had pulled the raisin container off the pantry shelf, opened it, and was casually helping himself to a snack. It was such a cute moment! (And now I know that he loves raisins! haha)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Forward!

      Daylight savings time has arrived! Tennyson actually did pretty well with the time change, and even slept in a bit. I, on the other hand, was restless during the night and decided to get up with my alarm at 6:30am 5:30am. I use my phone as my alarm clock and it didn't change over to the new time, so I ended up getting up an hour earlier. The extra time was kind of nice because then I could go downstairs to get some laundry in the wash and even made some whole wheat blueberry muffins for us for breakfast.


Breakfast smoothies! A certain little someone
decided he liked mine better. haha!
     By the time we were ready to go to church, however, my sleepless night hit me hard. The time change also interfered with Tennyson's normal morning naptime, and he ended up skipping that nap all together. He was a bit of a handful in church to say the least. His activity was probably a combination of his increasing mobility and sleepiness. We made it though!

    He later took a good afternoon nap. Meanwhile, I tried to nap a little as well but didn't have much luck. I just couldn't sleep and then Miss Annelise decided to be a wiggle worm. So, I decided to get up and try to get working on some things around the house. David was already busy helping with the housework and taking care of the oil change for the Yaris. So grateful to have those two tasks finally marked off the list!

     It always feels like a giant load lifted when the house is clean(er). My spirits were also lifted today by some much missed sunshine! My biggest grievance of living where we do isn't the cold or snow, but the constant gray skies. This is only the second time I can recall this winter we've had some sunshine. I need some more sunshine in life! It just does wonders for one's spirit. The addition of birds singing and grass becoming visible again brought me into a better mood to where I wasn't as aware at how tired I was. I'm ready for spring! I can't wait for stroller walks with the kids and afternoons spent playing in the "backyard" or at the nearby park! Those days won't be too far away. I did a quick check on our weather forecast to see upper 40s-50s - yippee!

    This evening we joined a couple friends of ours for dinner. I always thoroughly enjoy visiting with friends in each others' homes. I could chat all night, especially on the subject of kids and parenting. That was the topic of choice for the evening as one of the couples has now joined the parenting club! So exciting! It's incredible to think that just two years ago, we were three couples who wondered if we'd ever have children. Here we are today with two children present and three on the way!
Daddy is the best! Love these guys! :)

    I think they were surprised by how big my baby belly has gotten. I continue to be amazed myself! It's incredible to think that I'm as big now as I was with Tennyson when he was born at 33 weeks! I'm only 26 weeks along though. haha.

    Tennyson did really well during the gathering. He behaved as expected by being rather reserved in the beginning. He later warmed up enough to crawl around and talk. He did well in eating the potato soup provided. I'm so grateful that he's not a picky eater and we can take him places for a meal without a fuss. He wasn't too sure of the little Yorkie dog. He wanted to touch her, but wasn't too sure. He's not been around pets much at all. He ended the night with a massive poopy diaper. Oh, goodness. Good thing I skipped the cloth diaper and had him in a disposable. I certainly wouldn't want to try to clean that one up while away from the comforts of our home diaper sprayer and pail!

     Although, I've been quite tired today it's turned out to be a pretty good day. If I can stay awake I may try to get in a couple pages in the book I've been trying to read. Then again, I may just go to sleep while I can. :)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Focused Play: Animal Matching

 
 
     Tennyson is beginning to demonstrate understanding of word sounds in association with objects. On occasionally, we will ask him to find and bring us a ball, block or other familiar object, and he will. (Not always, though, as he's only 13 months and just beginning to develop this skill). This emerging skill is the beginning of the concept of matching!
 
    This particular matching activity is still a little advance for him currently. However, one of our goals for focused play is exposure. (One of my goals in creating this now is to have it one hand already fully prepared for a future use).
 
To Make (cards):
     The cards are fairly simple to create and very cost effective! I started by taking photos of the three animal toys. I then created a collage template in PicMonkey and inserted each image into the template and changed the text. I had them printed as a 4x6 photo ($0.20 each!). I learned by trial and error that they really need a layer of cardstock on the back to increase durability. I then "laminated" the cards using clear contact paper.
   I thought this method for creating flashcards was rather brilliant. I have more ideas for cards and will definitely be using this idea again.
 
To Play:
     Lay each animal* in front of child. Hold cards and ask child to find the animal picture. I would ask Tennyson, "(point to card) Look, it's an elephant! Can you find the elephant (point to toys)?" I then repeated with the other cards.
 
Variations: For an older child,
 
     1) Lay each animal and the cards in front of child. Hold up an animal and ask child to point to the corresponding card.
 
     2)Lay each animal and the cards in front of child. Ask child to match the animals to the cards by placing the animals on top of the cards. This can be done without assistance for independent playtime.
    
 
    Tennyson mostly enjoys playing with the animals. Although he wasn't quite ready for matching, he did gain exposure to the concept and enjoyed playing with the new toys. We'll bring this back out again soon.
 
*I found the toy animals in the toy department at Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree. They're only $1 each!
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