Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What A Wonderful Little Human She Is

I found this poem on a friend's Facebook page, and it so perfectly says how I feel about Bella! I'm sure I'll feel the same way about Evie, and I'm thinking of framing it on her nursery wall. A beautiful reminder to smile about the "wild" moments.

I am you PARENT, you are my CHILD
I am your QUIET PLACE, you are my WILD

I am your CALM FACE, you are my GIGGLE
I am your WAIT, you are my WIGGLE

I am your DINNER, you are my CHOCOLATE CAKE
I am your BEDTIME, you are my WIDE AWAKE

I am your LULLABY; you are my PEEK-A-BOO
I am your GOODNIGHT KISS; you are my I LOVE YOU.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why We Love Preschool And Miss Betty

Bella is absolutely loving preschool! She is much more verbal, speaks in phrases, and adjusted really well to taking turns, walking in line, etc. She always gets in the car chatting on and on about which animals she played with or what they did during craft time.

As a first-time mom, I especially appreciate how much she loves her teachers. Bella waits in the carpool line shouting "Miss Betty! Where are you?!" I love how much they pour into Bella; when I'm walking down the hallway towards her class, I can hear them singing songs or talking about the ABC's. Miss Betty is always telling Bella how much she loves her.

When I laid Bella down for naptime today, she folded her hands and started to sing the song, "God, our Father, God, our Father, we thank You, we thank You..." Of course, she was only pronouncing every other word or so, but it was so sweet!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jesus' Way Is Always Better

I've been convicted and encouraged over my parenting (again) in the last month. I'm in a Bible study for Beth Moore's study on James. It's an incredible study and she is a very in-depth teacher. On the day that we studied James 1:2 ("Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."), we were asked to list a trial that we were currently facing. I wrote down "frustrations as a parent."

This was about a month ago, and I was smack dab in the middle of feeling as though I spent 80% of my day exasperated at Bella and reacting to her in frustration. I was not disciplining out of love; I was doing it out of anger. I wasn't controlling my emotions, but was showing her my face of disappointment and annoyance. (Not a proud Mama moment)

My light bulb moment was when Beth asked us to write down three different ways that we could react to whatever trial we had listed in the question above. She suggested that the final option be "in joy," but we could write what we wanted for the other two.

For my frustration with Bella, I wrote down that I could either: A. Continue responding in anger and frustration, which often included yelling and inconsistent discipline, or B. Ignore her behavior and just go into survival mode, trying to convince myself that it wasn't a big deal. Neither of these options seemed positive or Godly. Then, Beth asked us to write down the results that we could expect to see in 5 years if we followed each of our own suggestions.

You can imagine how convicting it was to picture myself, my child, and my home in 5 years if I continued to act and react towards Bella the way I had been. It was a very humbling moment when I simply admitted that something had to change. I had to really step back and purpose in my heart that I was going to pray much, much more for wisdom in parenting, and also pray before I responded to Bella's behavior.

Throughout the baby steps (more good than bad!) that I've taken in the last month, there was also a wonderfully encouraging moment this past weekend. Our Children's Pastor holds a conference series every few months called 'What Rhymes With Orange.' It's just a few hours on a Friday night, and it kind of feels more like date night - there's childcare and dinner, and you get to talk with a lot other parents. We're going over different core values for families, and last night's value was "Fight For The Heart."

In other words, you want to win your child's heart and teach them Godly values instead of just insisting on a certain behavior for obedience sake. There are definitely times when I fall into the prideful trap of wanting Bella to obey me "just because I said so." And don't get me wrong, I still believe strongly that our children should learn the importance of obeying because we are the authority.

Todd's point, though, was to truly show your children that you love them, and to speak Scripture into them on a daily basis so that they begin to understand the "why" of your instructions. When kids (even little ones) understand the "why", they are much more apt to hold those instructions in their hearts as part of their own value system. I'm not sure if I explained all of that correctly, but it was very encouraging to Steve and I as we strive to be Godly parents for Bella.

I walked away from the evening extremely encouraged by God's desire for us as parents and how we can go about accomplishing it. I'm also going to re-read Don't Make Me Count To Three; it's a short book that is so encouraging to parents about how to discipline by using Scripture. The first time I read it, Bella was closer to two, and I felt like a total moron when I tried to discipline her by talking about Jesus and different verses in the Bible; she just wasn't old enough to understand. She knows about Jesus and the Bible now, though, and I've been trying to make it sound more natural as I speak truth and Scripture into her throughout the day.

I still get frustrated and exasperated, especially at 31 weeks into this pregnancy, but I have purposed in my heart to fight for her heart and to be an example to her of what a sweet spirit and a gentle tongue looks and sounds like.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Evie's "For Realsies" Pictures

Here are some of our favorite pregnancy pictures of Evie. I imagine we'll take a few "outside" pictures once the weather gets nice. Hopefully, we'll remember to include Bella in those!

I have an obsession with "bare belly" poses. I just can't help it.

Oh look! My shirt is finally down! Mom would be proud!

Evie Updates:

Our childbirth class is going great! Last night, we talked about the second stage of labor, which includes the hard pushing and the crowning. It did not sound like a pleasant experience, but Steve assures me that I can do it.

We asked Bella's preschool teacher, Miss Betty, if she would be willing to watch Bella whenever I go into labor. She was so sweet about it and immediately said she would absolutely love to! It is such a blessing having that "to do" off of our minds. We were running out of ideas for who to call if I go into labor at 2:00 AM. Or anytime.

The next big item on our checklist is getting all of our birthing supplies like the pool, towels, syringes, etc. I think our midwife will supply some of that, but I'm not sure which ones, so I definitely need to check with her.

We also get to have our "birthing meeting" soon where we invite the ladies over who will be there at the birth; they will get to meet Margaret and ask any questions. I'm sure that will make it feel more real to us, so I'm really looking forward to that!

I'll be at 31 weeks on Sunday! So close!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daddy's Day Off

Steve had Monday off for President's Day, which allowed us to spend some time together at the park after naps. We love having Daddy home!

Bella was incredibly trusting...

Down the fireman's pole!

She LOVED riding the tire swing with Daddy...

Love the smile on her face!

When Bad Pictures Happen to Good People

I somehow convinced Steve to take some "belly pictures" this weekend. Since I'm a documented control-freak, I'm impressed and amazed that he didn't laugh in my face and run away. Instead, he smiled, found the tripod, and submitted to wardrobe changes. I'm telling you, people, I married up.

This one goes in our "oops" category because we basically forgot to include Bella in the process at all. No cute outfits; no charming poses. We just forgot. The fact that she has the attention span of a squirrel and we were taking these pictures ourselves may have influenced our subconcious.

I've seen this picture done a bunch by other people. Our problem? It was raining too hard to go outside, and we're zoomed in too far to see my pregnant belly. We will definitely be begging Mel to retake this pose at some point.

Just. Plain. Wrong. This is Bella's impression of Mama's bare belly pose. I can't even look at it for too long without getting a little nauseous.

When you set your camera's timer for 10 seconds, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the toddler for at least 7 of those seconds. Otherwise, this happens...

This shot pretty much sums up our relationship: I have unrealistic expectations of what should be happening, and Bella is gagging! Okay, I'm kidding. She's a really fun kid 70% of the time.

I promise to post some of the "real" (meaning: edited) pictures this week! In the meantime, let this be a mental note for what not to do in your maternity pictures.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Girls Rule; Boys Drool

Once again, God has proven His wonderful timing (and sense of humor). This week, I found out from a friend of mine that she is having a boy. You will remember my lovely, embarrassing, sobbing meltdown in my doctor's office a few months ago when we discovered we were having a girl. At the time, I wanted a boy sooooooooooo badly!

I'm pretty sure Target's line of boy clothes, alone, had me convinced that boys are simply cooler. Not to mention, two of my friends, Whitney and Janna, have multiple boys, and they are some of the awesomest moms I know. They're just very laid back women. I mean actually laid back; not the "I swear I'm low-maintenance" vibe that I try to pull off while a mini-Martha Stewart is screaming in the back of my head.

All that to say, I'm pretty sure every, single pregnant woman I know is having a boy. I'm serious. I can name six right now. I don't know if they drank special water or what, but Evie is not going to have much female competition in our nursery this summer.

Don't get me wrong; I am now firmly on the "team girl" bandwagon. Our nursery is done, our little human #2 has a name that we love, and we already have a ba-jeezees amount of girl clothes. I also know that God chose a little girl for us. Plus, along the whole line of God's sense of humor, I'm pretty sure He owes me a few girls.

I was the over-dramatic teenage girl who wrote in her diary that parents were unfair and stupid, and cried while listening to Brian Adams' songs. I was convinced that braces would keep me from finding a homecoming date, and when I was 14 (14!!!), I told my mom that I was going to marry the 18 year-old boy that I had a crush on. I was dead-serious, and it's to her amazing credit that my mother didn't laugh out loud in front of me. Kudos, mom, kudos.

Pair that with the fact that I grew up with an older sister who thought much more about which boy she could annihilate in basketball rather than which one was the cutest, and you can see why God is chuckling over the fact that I will be raising (at least) two of these wonderful little bundles of joy who will one day become teenage girls themselves.

I'd like to think that my patient, calm, amazing husband has mellowed me significantly; hopefully that will serve me well over the next eighteen year. And while I have no doubt that God will truly see us through whatever those adolescent and teen years dish out to us, I'm also pretty sure that He and my mother are going to be smiling the whole way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love Valentine's Day! It's never been a day of extravagant gifts for us; we like the sweet side of it - having Bella pick out a card for Steve, getting a single rose - that kind of stuff. Last night, I came home from our church's Missions Study to find a vase with pink roses and a card from Steve. He also bought a rose and a butterfly card for Bella. She loved it!

Bella had a party at preschool that I really wanted her to go to, but she has another cold and cough (an unexpected joy of preschool), so we decided not to infect all of the other kids. We surprised Mel at her work and brought her a card and tulips! We also brought chocolate cupcakes to her front office staff. Then we took a field trip downtown and surprised Daddy with a card and a visit from his girls!

Tonight will be a "fancy" dinner at home...Bella will still be awake, but we're eating on our nice china and lighting candles. If toddlers have taught us anything, it's how to adapt.

Rex brought Bella and I valentines from Toy Story this morning, and they came with fake tattoos; Bella's is Rex, the dinosaur, and mine is Woody and Bullseye.

We didn't go to preschool, but we still got to wear Grandma's special Valentine's outfit!

Drawing a Valentine's picture for Mama!

Some of our "loot" from our day: a special card from Bella, my card from Mel, and Bella's card from Daddy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bella's Posse

Bella's group of close friends and associates has grown considerably over the last few weeks. Between Christmas, Valentine's Day, and a visit to the Disney store, Bella is well-stocked with play and nighttime buddies. I not-so-secretly love that she is equally attached to her dolls, animals, and Buzz. I figure we'll have plenty of years filled with doll-mania!

Her new posse: stuffed giraffe from Christmas, Princess Tiana, Mater and McQueen from Grandma Wires' Valentine's box, plastic safari animals, a Peruvian Barbie from Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Ben that we named "Maria" (I know, not very original of us), and, of course, a Buzz Lightyear!

How cute is Baby Tiana??? Whitney and all of the wonderful Sappling children gave Bella a Disney Store gift card for her birthday last year, and I finally got a chance to visit the store without Bella! I could have bought her one of everything in that store! The Disney princesses, especially, were all so cute!

"Don't mess with my peeps!"

Imagine all of these in bed with her! It was so funny to check on her last night and see her half-buried under her loot. I've always heard stories about kids who sleep with a ton of animals, I just wish hers were all soft and stuffed!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our First Fire Of Winter

It has been unbelievably warm here for winter, especially for February, but today we actually had temperatures in the 30's and a lot wind! We decided it was a good afternoon for a fire, so Steve started setting everything up. Of course, with anything new and forbidden, Bella was fascinated! She definitely wanted to "help" the entire time that Steve was cleaning out the fireplace, setting up the logs, and opening the flue. It was good fun to watch him work and be extremely patient at the same time. We now have a cozy fire for the first time all winter!

Watching Daddy clean out the fireplace and asking, "Bella help? Bella do it?"

Making sure Daddy did it right.

Bella was so proud to help Daddy carry in logs from the garage!

She was trying to get as low as possible while Steve was lighting the fire logs. We had to have a very serious talk about no toys or fingers in the fire.

Papa And Mimi's Visit

Last weekend, and the week before, we had my mom and dad and Rachel here for a whole week! Mel and Steve still had their normal work schedules, so we all spent a lot of time doing "normal" things: they got a ton of playtime with Bella, dad did some odd jobs around the house, and we ate a bunch of food! I've been getting better with planning menus and making real food instead of rotating grilled cheese and hot dogs. It was fun to use them as guinea pigs for recipes.

Reading with Papa

Playing with Mimi, and getting to snack on french fries. The bribing works both ways - we get kisses from Bella and she gets junk food.

Sneaking kisses while sharing marshmallows!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pregnant Women Are Smug

There's a YouTube video that I've seen a few times called "Pregnant Women are Smug." Minus a swear word, it's actually really funny! I'm sure I've had moments of being a smug pregnant woman, but I firmly believe I have a defense. Here's why...

Five Reasons I Occasionally Seem To Be A Smug Pregnant Woman:

1. The smug appearance is really just a permanent daze from being woken up by an almost-three-year old at 12:30 AM, cheerfully exclaiming, "All done naps!" And again at 2:00 AM, 4:15 AM, and 6:30 AM. After that, you just give up and let her play Angry Birds on your iPhone.

2. I'm in denial that it will be years before I even care to wear stilettos and pencil skirts. I love my high heels. I mourn the pencil skirts stuffed in the back of my closet. But knowing you'll have to chase a toddler around the church parking lot to make sure she doesn't get hit by a car or cause any variety of disasters tends to make one lean towards jeans and ballet flats.

3. It's really hard not to think you're the woman when you are able to carry a toddler in your arms, hold another one by the hand, find your coupons/money/store card for the checkout girl, and push the cart out the door - all while balancing an extra 30 pounds around your waist. I mean c'mon, give a girl some credit!

4. If I don't occasionally think I am super-woman/super-mom, I may have to think about all of the OTHER things I'm not doing "right": feeding my daughter a cornbread muffin and chocolate cupcake for dinner and not thinking it's a big deal, forgetting to exercise no matter how important my midwife keeps telling me it is, losing my temper when I should calmly be reading my daughter a Bible verse and then placing her in time-out, not drinking enough water, forgetting to make more homemade laundry detergent yet, and well, you get the picture...

5. In all fairness, I did push a live human being out of my body after keeping it alive for ten months with nothing but my bodily fluids. I think that should earn me some bonus points.

So, to all you single girls out there: you get stilettos, margaritas, total freedom, and the ability to sleep past 6:00 AM on Saturday mornings. Please excuse my occasional smugness; I'm just amazed I'm still awake and remembered to put on underwear before going out in public.

Bella Pictures

It's been a little while since I posted some pictures of Bella, so here you go! Bella and Daddy playing peek-a-boo a few nights ago. We're having a great time with my mom and dad this week and I'll post some pictures over the weekend.

Steve would count to three and then Bella would thow off the pillow and giggle!

There she is!