Friday, April 03, 2015

Evelyn is 2

2 Years Old
Likes: Mickey Mouse, being outside, dolls, riding her bicycle, chocolate, singing, Walmart, medium rare steak, grits, tapirs
Dislikes: washing her hair, sleeping alone, going to the doctor, swimming
Our sweet and lively girl turns 2 today. She has been so excited for her birthday and talking about it for several weeks. She has had her birthday plans made for a while. One night during her bath about a month or so ago, she decided she would "eat chocate cakes with Bobbie Jo, Jamie, and Audrey at a restaurant" for her birthday. This week we've been talking about her party at the park with her friends and chocolate cupcakes. She also informed us that she needed to go to the zoo to see the tapirs for her birthday. So that's what we'll do.

This has been a busy, fun, emotional, and exciting year. Evelyn made two trips to Illinois, two trips to Mississippi, a trip to Texas, and a trip to New York City this year. I am thankful for a good traveler (as long as she is thoroughly entertained) and for the excitement when it's time for a trip. Living away from all our family is very difficult, but I am thankful for opportunities to travel.
Bike riding through Central Park
New York City Skyline
New York City - June 2014, Evelyn 14 months old
Thanksgiving in Illinois
First experience with snow at Thanksgiving in Illinois - Evelyn 19 months old
Thanksgiving with Cousin Lily
Crouse Family at Christmas
Christmas 2014 - Evelyn 20 months old
She has developed a love for going to church and often asks if we're going each day. She is learning how to act during the worship service and some Sundays are better than others. In the past few months we've really been focusing on starting teaching her the discipline of worship and why she has to sit still and be quiet. We've been focusing on less toys and playtime during the worship service. I'll be honest, this is very difficult and I want to give up often. But, I remind myself of the importance and the long term implications.

All dressed for church - February 2015, Evelyn 22 months

One of the big events from this year was our car accident and Evelyn's broken leg. I am still amazed at the mercy of God through that situation. She handled the 6 weeks in the cast like it wasn't a big deal and has no lasting problems. I show her pictures and videos of her time in the cast and she always asks "what happened to Evelyn?"
Learning to crawl with her cast - August 2014, Evelyn 16 months old
Last day of the cast!
I am constantly amazed at Evelyn's thirst for knowledge and how she takes in EVERYTHING! She is a very fast learner (except when it comes to discipline) and has a memory like I've never seen. She will remember a person/toy/event months after the fact. When we were in Mississippi for Christmas, she enjoyed playing with a singing Rudolph. When we got to my grandparents' house for this last visit a few weeks ago, it took her about three minutes to look where the Rudolph was and ask what happened to it. She loves to ask names of people when we're out and about. If she learns a checkers' name at the grocery store, she will ask for that person by name the next time we're there.

I have a feeling she will keep us on our toes and be very challenging to keep engaged when we begin schooling. I'm looking forward to that time, but also a little nervous. She's not one to play with toys much, but loves practical life and learning activities. She loves to do puzzles, but gets bored once she's mastered them. She loves to read books and read to her dolls. Her baby dolls are one of her favorite toys. I believe she currently has 9 dolls, each with names, and she knows them all by name. It makes my heart happy to see her taking care of her dolls and role playing with them like I take care of her. She will repeat conversations that I've had with her. It is sweet to watch. It's also eye-opening to see how she views different scenarios.

On a skills level, she knows all her shapes and colors. She can sing her ABCs and can identify about half of the letters. She can rote count to about 15 and has recently been doing 1:1 correspondence with more consistency. She helped me prepare treat bags for her birthday party and when we finished, she pointed to each bag and counted 12 of them. She can also sort objects by color. She loves to look at seek and find books. She loves to sing and has recently started enjoying playing "Name that Tune." We will take turns humming a tune and naming what the other person has hummed. Her favorites (and ones she usually picks to hum) are "Twinkle Twinkle," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and "Nothing but the Blood."

Evelyn is constantly busy, constantly moving, and constantly talking. She is curious about her surroundings and always has a lot of questions. She is very sensitive to feelings and gets concerned when someone is sad or sick. She loves to give hugs and kisses. I have no doubts she will be a loving and helpful big sister.

I am thankful for a wonderful year with my girl. I enjoyed recap the year with her before she went to bed last night. I reminded her of all the big events of the year. The days are long, but the years are short. It's a sweet time and I'm thankful for our sweet girl. She is a blessing from the Lord.

Happy Birthday, Evelyn!
17 months old
At the zoo with Mum - September 2014, Evelyn is 17 months old

Visit with Pop - September 2014, Evelyn 17 months old
Christmas - 20 months old


Friday, March 27, 2015

Updates and Baby Number Two

 It's been brought to my attention by a couple of faithful readers that I've been negligent in my posting responsibilities. I do apologize. Life has been busy the past six months! Let me try to update you quickly...

After our car accident in August, Evelyn had a spica cast from her chest to her ankles for six weeks. She did so well during that time. I was thankful for my mom being able to be here to help out and mainly keep Evelyn entertained. Thanks be to God, she doesn't have any lasting difficulties from the break. She started walking the afternoon after her cast was removed and was back to 100% in two weeks.

During the time that Evelyn was in her cast, I started babysitting a little guy from church. He's now almost 10 months old. Evelyn loves having him here and playing with him. It has given me a good look into life with two kids. Some days are quite interesting!

We drove to Illinois for Thanksgiving. It was great to be with my family. Evelyn did very well on the LONG drive. Just a few weeks later, we drove to Mississippi and on to Texas for Christmas. Again, Evelyn was an amazing traveler. It was fun to be with Chris' family for Christmas and also be able to spend time with my grandparents in Mississippi.

Merry Christmas!

2015 has been a whirlwind so far. In addition to still babysitting, we've started the process of finding a home to buy. We've been renting since we moved to Florida and we're ready to find a place of our own. The house shopping process isn't really something I enjoy. I'm not good at making decisions,  especially when there are a lot of options. We currently have an offer in on a short sale house, so we're waiting patiently for word from the bank.

Evelyn is growing and learning faster than I can process. She will be 2 next week! She is very excited for her birthday and likes to tell everyone "I'm going to be 2. On April Terd. I have chocate cakes." She keeps us on our toes, keeps us laughing, and makes me just shake my head sometimes. I do believe she is a perfect combination of Chris and me.

The biggest news is we're expecting Baby Number 2 in August! We found out just before Christmas and had a lot of fun sharing the news with our family over Christmas. Evelyn is excited to be a big sister (well as much as she can process). We found out last week that Baby is a GIRL!!! Chris and I were both shocked to find out, but that's what Evelyn was asking for.

I'm currently 19 weeks and feeling pretty good. This pregnancy has been completely different, for so many reasons. Obviously, I have so much more going on in life than when I was pregnant with Evelyn. I'm not completely absorbed in the pregnancy. Honestly, I forgot I was pregnant for the first several weeks. The first trimester was pretty typical...extremely tired, a few weeks of all-day nausea, and noticing little changes in my body. The second trimester has brought a relief from the nausea, but the exhaustion continues. I have a new appreciation for my bed and bedtime.

I'm not promising weekly pregnancy updates like I did with Evelyn, but I will try to do better!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sweet, sweet morning

I'm enjoying a quiet morning, sipping my coffee and doing whatever I want. My girl is still in bed with Daddy and I hear the garbage truck outside. Today is the start of a new routine, a new "normal," a new challenge.

I am a morning person by nature. I love to get up at sunrise and enjoy the quietness. Chris isn't a morning person and Evelyn isn't an early riser, so I've fallen into their patterns. But today, I'm starting a routine of getting up early and starting the day. This is mostly out of necessity, but also for my benefit. Next week, I start caring for a cute little guy in our home every day. He will be arriving at 7 each morning. If I get up and have my coffee and quiet time before little guy gets here, the morning will go much better! I'm excited for the new challenge.

What makes this morning extra special is that Evelyn has stayed asleep for an hour after I've gotten up. She is a light sleeper, especially as the morning grows, and she typically will wake up as soon as I attempt to get out of bed. But she is enjoying some sweet sleep next to Daddy. Happiness.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Church Mama

I knew this time would come and I've been trying to prepare for it mentally, but I don't think that's possible. I have had my first (and second and third) experience with what I call "Church Mama Syndrome." Do you know what I'm talking about? It's that experience of carrying your child to a long church weekend and feeling discouraged at the end of the weekend. Hear me out....

As I sat with my wiggly and sick toddler on my lap for our fifth church service in three days, I selfishly asked the question "What's the point?' I had barely heard any of the sermons, I know my daughter can't understand the sermons yet, and I really hadn't been able to fellowship with many folks. It probably would have been better for me to just stay home, or so I thought in my discouragement. I had become the person I despised seeing at church meetings. 

So what is the point? Why do we carry our children to church when the kids and Mama are just exhausted by the end? How do I worship when I'm taking my child out for correction 5 times in a service?

I realize there is a major fault in my thinking. Worship isn't about me. Worship isn't about making sure I feel good at the end. Worship isn't about meeting my needs. Worship is about Jesus. Worship is about putting my needs aside and giving honor, glory and praise to my Creator. Worship is about pouring my heart out in praise.

Sure, being fed spiritually is an important aspect of worship, but it is secondary. Fellowship with like-minded people is vital, but secondary. Encouragement and renewing of the spirit is important in the worship service, but that is done through putting the Lord first in our hearts and minds.

But the question still remains of how do I, as a mama, worship while training my child? Honestly, I'm still working that out in my mind. I know it will be a weekly challenge, but one I'm resolving to face with a good attitude. I know that worship starts long before I enter the church building. Worship starts when I prepare my heart and mind to praise the Lord, regardless of how much or little I hear of the sermon. Worship begins when I have a servant's attitude about fixing a meal for church lunch, rather than approaching it as "another meal I have to cook." Worship begins when I admit that I am weak and I beg the Lord to give me the wisdom and strength to be the best parent to Evelyn. Worship begins when I show my daughter love through correction. Worship begins when I commit to carry my daughter to church and let her grow up under the sound of the gospel, regardless of what she can understand. Worship begins in my heart.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Parent Training

I recently saw this article  someone shared on Facebook and it made me laugh.  The funniest thing to me is that I had been composing a blog post almost exactly like this when I read this one. So I'll just add a few additions to the "parent training" from what I've learned in the past 14 months.

Here are the 11 steps from the article "How to Prepare for Parenthood in 11 Easy Steps" posted on The Huffington Post:
Step 1
Hire an actor to shadow you throughout your day. This person should remain no more than three inches away from you at all times. Pay them extra to sit in your lap should you attempt to get off of your feet. Bonus points if they trip you with their body when you're walking around your home. From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., let them jump on your body.
"Can I close the bathroom door?" No. Hire someone you feel comfortable with, because they will be supervising your waste elimination process.
Every 15 minutes, make this person a snack.
Step 2
Call all of your friends without children. Tell them it's been lovely knowing them, but you're going away. Let them know you'll see them on Facebook.
Step 3
It's important that you get used to completing simple tasks while being a parent. Obtain a pair of handcuffs or a zip tie. Affix one hand behind your back. Go about your day.
Step 4
If you plan on driving while being a parent, borrow three orangutans (ask for strong-willed ones) from your local zoo. Put them in rear-facing car seats. Keep your eyes on the road.
Step 5
Cooking is a big part of raising a family. Buy a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Visit your neighborhood specialty market and acquire the ingredients necessary for her famous beef bourguignon. Spend the next eight hours cooking. When the meal is done, quickly bring it room temperature. Throw the entire pot against a wall. Clean it up.
Step 6
Parenting may slightly affect your sleep patterns. To prepare yourself for this, find the most annoying ringtone on your phone. Ask a stranger on the street to set up 2-3 surprise alarms between midnight and 5 a.m. Live like this for months. If you think you'll be tempted to complain to someone, let them know ahead of time that their only response to you should be, "This is somehow your fault."
Step 7
A huge part of parenting is constant worry. Smart parents-to-be will get themselves used to living life with moderate to severe anxiety. Hire a skywriter to spell out your full name, social security number, home address and blood type over the nearest maximum security prison yard.
Step 8
Start watching children's television programming. You might hear a popping, crackling noise in your head. Don't be alarmed -- that's just the sound of your brain melting.
Step 9
You may be gifted a child who wants to sleep with you. Joy! Practice co-sleeping by having a carpenter craft a special bed for you. Tell him you want it one third of the width of a standard twin bed. Don't use a pillow or sheets. If this is too costly, you can also just sleep curled up in your bathtub.
Step 10
Turning your car into a parent-mobile is easier than you think. All you need are:
  • 18 individual non-matching socks
  • 6 clean diapers in three sizes
  • 2 balled-up pee pee diapers (you can find these in your community dumpster)
  • 6 cups of random crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of strawberry jam or any sticky substance
  • 18 broken toys
  • 2 handfuls of confetti
  • 2 empty juice boxes
  • changes of clothes for 10 children
Mix these items together on your lawn, being careful to get the jam on everything, then throw it all inside your car and mix thoroughly. Drive around in shame.
Step 11
Visit your local thrift store and buy 10 large garbage bags of clothes. Dump them in your living room. Bring in the orangutans and start folding. Enjoy.
You're now ready. Good luck.  

And now my additions:

Step 12
Train for living in an obstacle course of random toys/household items/small children always scattered around the house. Empty everything out of your pantry and kitchen cabinets. Scatter them throughout the house. Make sure to place the colander in the bathroom floor, put your bag of potatoes in shower, and the pots and pans on the floor in front of the sink. Go about your normal routine for the day without picking anything up off the floor. You can kick things around, but don't bother picking them up. If you forget and pick something up, be sure to have your husband come behind you and put it back on the floor in a more annoying spot.

Step 13
Prepare for packing to go to the grocery store. Find a medium-sized duffle bag. Place 2 changes of clothing for each person going to the store, three mismatched socks, 1/2 package of gum, a handful of food crumbs, 8 random objects around the house, 4 diapers, makeup, a pair of shoes, a box of tissues, and a bottle of hand sanitizer in the duffle bag. If you can still close the duffle bag and lift it, gather random objects from around your home and place them in the bag. Once you can only zip the duffle bag half-way and need to hands to lift it, place the bag in the car. Go back inside to turn off the oven and get in the car. Go back inside again to lock the front door and get in the car. Go back inside once more to go to the bathroom, then get in the car. Go back inside to get the car keys and get in the car. Finally, you can leave to the grocery store.

Step 14
Train for "Mommy Brain." Make out a grocery list. Shred it and head to the grocery store empty-handed. Have your spouse write a to-do list, only writing half of each entry, then try to complete the tasks. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Start folding a load of laundry. When the timer goes off, switch to cleaning the bathroom and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, switch to washing dishes and set the timer for 5 minutes. Repeat until all laundry is folded, bathrooms are clean, and dishes are washed. When finished, dump all the laundry on the floor and fold it again.

Step 15
Prepare for your heart to be full. Find pictures of people, places, and events that make you happy. Scatter the pictures throughout your home. Spend the day looking through your wedding album and watching your wedding video. Watch a movie that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Now prepare to experience those feelings in tenfold (and more). There's nothing like the joys of parenting.

While these have all been true experiences for me, I wouldn't change it for anything. I love being a parent, but it is definitely unlike anything I've ever done before. There isn't any amount of reading or training that could prepare you for what it's like to be a parent. I am constantly amazed at what I find myself doing, just for the sake of sanity, productivity, or entertainment.