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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Goals

 When I was younger I always made New Year's Resolutions and pretty much never kept them past the first week in January.  So, I gave up making New Year's Resolutions a few years ago.

One of my best friends sent me an email about a week ago with a list of her goals for the new year.  I thought that was a good idea.  A goal seems more achievable than a New Year's Resolution which we all know don't usually make it very long anyways. 

Here are my goals for 2012:

1. Be consistent about doing my devotions and spending time with God everyday.

2. Exercise at least a few days a week.

3. Add new products to my boutique using the new patterns I purchased.  I will also continue to grow my boutique and hopefully will show a profit by the end of this year.

4. Blog at least once a week and continue to do reviews and giveaways to attract new followers.

5. Organize my craft supplies and inventory so it's not such a crazy mess.  This means clearancing certain products that haven't sold very well.

6. Save up for a new camera to replace mine since it's slowly dying.

7. Spend time at least 4 mornings a week doing Montessori-style preschool with Princess. 

8. Potty train Little Man.  *Gulp*

9. Do something special with the kids this summer (The zoo, maybe?)

10. Stay on top of bills and paperwork...for once.

Are you making any resolutions or goals this year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How I Messed Up Christmas & Why I'm Glad I Did

Typical girl, Princess was excited to receive clothes as gifts. 
We have 11 nieces and nephews to buy for at Christmas.  In the craziness of making and buying all those gifts, I thought I had gone overboard on my kids' Christmas gifts.  I was feeling a little guilty about buying my kids so many gifts until Christmas day.  We let the kids look in their stockings before church at 10 am, but we didn't open gifts until that evening, after naps. 

More clothes!
 That evening, we sat on the floor by the Christmas tree and listened as Hubby read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  When that was done, I dug the kids' gifts out from under the tree (we hadn't celebrated Christmas with either side of the family yet so there were lots of presents under the tree yet) and passed them out.  There were four small packages for each child.  Hubby looked at the rather meager offerings and asked with a frown on his face, "Is that all you got them?"  I rummaged around under the tree again, but came up emptyhanded.  "I guess so."  I said, puzzled, as I was still sure I'd gone overboard on gifts.

Little Man really got into it, as you can see by his excited expression.
The kids eagerly tore into their presents.  Actually, Princess tore into hers.  Little Man poked a hole in one of his, realized that there was something in there that played music, and sat there pressing the button through the hole over and over until I "helped" him finish opening his gifts.  

Finally got a smile!
When all was said and done, they had each received two shirts (one from Baby Bug Boutique and one from Little Towheads), one book from Barefoot Books, and one small toy. 
We gave Little Man this toy cell phone.  Less than $10 at Target since it was on sale.

Princess received this toy microphone.  Also on sale at Target and I think I paid under $10 for it. 

At first, I felt bad.  Weren't we supposed to give our kids a ton of new toys to unwrap at Christmas?  Clothes and books were just supposed to be "extra" gifts, right? 

But then I saw how thrilled Princess and Little Man were with their new toys.  And I remembered last Christmas when they each got 5 or 6 toys to unwrap and how they didn't really play with any of them very much.  It's been four days since Christmas, and they're both still carrying around their toys and playing with them all day.  Neither child has said anything about how stingy Hubby and I (ok, just me since I do all the shopping) were with their gifts this year. 

A realization struck me.  I don't have to give my kids so many toys that they don't know what to play with just because so many other parents do.  And besides, we have a lot of relatives which means a lot of other gifts for the kidlets. 

So yes, I messed up Christmas because I didn't buy my kids as many gifts as I had planned.  And it was the best mistake ever.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Man

When Princess was a baby, I thought she was difficult.  Several things contributed to this belief.  One being that it was such a huge "culture shock" if you will, to go from life being all about me and Hubby to being all about this tiny screaming baby.  Another was because Princess had problems breastfeeding.  Another  was the traumatic labor and delivery that took almost two months and a lot of pain pills to fully recover from.  The biggest was the post partum depression that I didn't even recognize as such until someone pointed it out to me later.

I survived and when Princess was two years old, she was blessed with a baby brother.

And he made her look like a perfectly angelic baby.

He was born screaming, which most babies are, but his was a different scream.  It was an angry scream that even took the doctor by surprise.  Especially when he didn't stop.  When I tried breastfeeding him, he almost turned blue from screaming so hard.  The experienced lactation consultant who came to help me figure out how to feed this baby boy was amazed at how violently opposed to nursing he was.  Extremely frustrated, she finally left my hospital room with a parting, "I don't know what to tell you, but good luck."

The first night in the hospital after Little Man was born, Hubby and I sent him to the nursery so we could get some much needed sleep.  The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a baby screaming so hard that I'm surprised the poor thing was still conscious.  As I came out of my groggy state, I recognized the scream (not cry) and nudged Hubby.  "That's our baby.  You better go get him." 
Hubby looked at me in disbelief.  "That has to be another baby in a room close to ours.  We wouldn't be able to hear ours so well since he's in the nursery."
Nonetheless, I sent Hubby down to the nursery to bring back Little Man and sure enough, I was right.

At this point, I thought about asking the hospital what their return policy was for babies.  I refrained.

When we brought Little Man home, things didn't exactly improve.  It took almost a month to figure out that the only way to get him to sleep was to swaddle him so tightly that he couldn't move a muscle, throw a light blanket over his eyes, give him a pacifier, and bounce on an exercise ball until he finally stopped fighting and screaming and fell asleep an hour and a half later.  Due to the amount of sleep new babies need, I spent most of my day bouncing relentlessly.  His only redemption was that starting at 5 weeks old, after I'd gotten him to fall asleep at night, he would then stay asleep in his crib all night.  I really looked forward to bedtime. 

The breastfeeding situation didn't improve either.  Because he refused to nurse (still screaming the whole time) my milk supply decreased.  When he was 3 1/2 months old, a nasty bout of mastitis put an end to breastfeeding and I reluctantly decided to bottlefeed.  I was pretty bummed about it at first, but as you can see by the pictures, it was obvious that Little Man wasn't getting enough to eat from nursing and, once that stressful issue was over, things got a little bit better.

Little Man at 3 months old when he was still breastfeeding.  Scrawny little thing, but he still had those kissable, squishable cheeks!

Little Man at 4 months old a few weeks after we switched to bottles.

Around 4 months old, Little Man finally fell asleep in the infant swing.  I had swaddled him, given him his pacifier, covered his face with a blanket and bounced him for almost three hours and he was still screaming.  Finally, I put him in the swing (still swaddled), turned it on, and went outside to get some air before I lost it.  When I came back inside 10 minutes later, he was sleeping.  I was so happy, I cried and I might have also kissed the swing.  Maybe.  After that, I was able to swaddle Little Man, give him a pacifier, and put him in the swing to fall asleep.  I got several lectures from well-meaning friends about how I was teaching him to be dependent on the swing for sleep.  I didn't care.  If I had to special order a swing that would still fit him in kindergarten, I didn't care.  He was sleeping.

Between 4 and 5 months old, Little Man slowly started to improve.  By 6 months old, he was the easiest baby ever and a joy to have around.  It was like he'd had a complete personality change and I was finally able to enjoy being his mommy.

If you are struggling with a colicky baby, have hope.  It will end eventually.    

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One of Those Days

You know it's going to be a bad day when you go to the silverware drawer to get a spoon to stir your hot chai latte with and the drawer is empty.  So you go to the dishwasher and dig through the (thankfully) clean silverware caddy and still no spoon.  When you give up on real silverware and open the closet to find a plastic spoon, the whole shelf full of paper plates, styrofoam cups, plastic silverware, and assorted loose napkins falls on your head. 

Yup.  It's one of those days. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Traditions

We mistook Princess for the Christmas tree and started decorating her instead. 
We decorated for Christmas this week.  A little later than usual, but I've been so busy that Christmas decorating had to be put off.  Don't even ask about Christmas baking or wrapping presents. 

I told Princess to put her arm around her brother.  Notice how she isn't quite touching Little Man. 
The kiddos' Christmas outfits made by Moi.  They can be purchased here.  Photography by DianeH Photography

I've always been a big one for tradition.  One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was our family Christmas reading party.  Yup.  We had reading parties year round and loved it.  Everyone would pick out a book (at Christmas time, we picked a Christmas book), grab some snacks and find a cozy spot in the living room to read.  My kids are a little young for that yet, but I give each of them a Christmas book as a gift each Christmas just as my mom did.  

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas books from when I was a child.  When I moved out, my mom gave me the books I'd received over the years at Christmas to start a collection for my own children.
Here's another very special book.  I received this when I was 6 years old from the ambulance crew in our town after they saved my life when I stopped breathing due to a severe asthma attack.
The captain of the ambulance crew wrote a special note in the front of the book.
My mom liked us to learn about other cultures as well so one year, this is the book I received for Christmas.  It's another of my favorites.
These are some of my favorite Christmas books to read now that I'm an adult.  If you haven't read anything by Karen Kingsbury, RUN to the nearest library or Christian bookstore and get one of her books NOW.  You won't regret it. 

Our landlady/friend gave Princess this book for Christmas a few years ago.  Lisa Tawn Bergren is such a wonderful author and has a whole series like this for kids.
I keep all the Christmas books in a box under the Christmas tree along with several Nativities for the kids to play with during the Christmas season.

I found this plush finger puppet Nativity set at the Christian Book Store for half price after Christmas a few years ago.  The figures fold up inside the barn and the barn itself plays Silent Night.  Very cute and the kids LOVE playing with it. 
I keep the other Nativity set (a miniature one like what I played with as a child) in a music box tin.
 In addition to giving each of the kids a Christmas book each year, I also give them a Christmas ornament that reflects back on the past year.  For instance, Princess has received a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament, a "Big Sister" ornament, and a ballerina ornament.  Little Man is only on his second Christmas so last year he got a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament and this year he's receiving a guitar shaped ornament because he loves guitars so much. 

What are some Christmas traditions you have with your family?

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