Monday, April 29, 2013

Being a Mom

I realized that my blog posts about motherhood are often spurred by the hard days. And the many good moments in between? They're not being recognized. I've been trying to apply some of the General Conference talks--particularly Sister Wixom's--to my life and I've come to realize that having peace in my home really starts with me. The way I react to my children's actions in turn shapes their reactions (most of the time, at least). I've also found that as I try harder to respond in patience, I've started to notice more good. I'm realizing how blessed I am for the many moments that make me pause. To others, these moments might seem insignificant. But to me, they are beautiful.

Like when I look over at Lila to find that Reed has joined her for tummy time:

And then he rubs her head and cuddles up to her:

Or when we go out to ride bikes or take a walk, and they all (well, okay, Reed and Asher at least) are so pumped.

Or when Asher stops eating to tell me, "Thanks for getting me this peanut butter sam! It's SO GOOD!" And how every time Asher walks by Lila, he wants to give her a "good morning hug" while saying, "Hi Why-wa Jae! Are you just the cutest ever? Yes you are!" And then later, when he comes out of the bathroom like this and asks if I like his "cute hat":

And then Reed will ask me to take a picture of him with Lila (on his camera, of course). And he'll want to show her the picture, too:

When I look over a minute later, she's fallen over, and he's playing his game, but still holding her.

Or when I'm feeding Lila and I look over at her feet and they are crossed, every single time.

And sometimes? Ryan will grab Lila and the boys in the morning and get them settled downstairs so I can sleep for a few extra minutes. And I come down to see this:

And sometimes, post-bath, Asher just feels the need to use Reed as a pillow. And Reed is totally cool with it.

I guess what I'm saying is that although being a mom comes with some ridiculously hard days where all I want to do is cry and where I feel so overwhelmed and, honestly, quite sure that I'm failing at every turn, being a mom also comes with the most wonderful and beautiful moments I've ever had. Being a mom gives me a chance to learn to love as God loves. Being a mom is a significant part of who I am, and, in many ways, defines me. Being a mom means I get to squeeze three little ones at the end of the day who I know love me and who I love so indescribably much. And that is worth any number of hard days.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pinterest Challenge Week 7: Crocheted Headband

A few days ago, the stars aligned: Asher and Lila were both napping (and would be for a while) and Reed had just barely started his quiet time. I had one hour ahead of me, kid-free. I also had a long to-do list. But, instead of accomplishing any of the more mundane tasks on my list (dishes, laundry, etc.) I was going to have a little "me" time. And I was going to crochet. I browsed through my pins and found this headband. And I made one. For myself. The next day I made a headband for Lila because I liked mine so much.

The Monthly Asher: 30

He thinks he should pick out his own outfits. If we're not leaving the house, I let him. 

Recently, Asher has started asking me what everything starts with. He'll come up with the most random words--things we aren't even talking about--and ask, "Mommy, what does Doggie start with? Mommy, what does pencil start with?" I'm not sure why he's so interested, but it's pretty cute.

Ashie loves to help with everything Lila-related. He likes to unvelcro the sides of her diaper for me and choose a new diaper (right now her diapers have Mickey on them, and he always chooses the diapers that picture both Mickey and Minnie. It's a big deal to him). He also likes to give her what he calls her "toot medicine," AKA gas drops. Throughout the day, he'll come over and tell me he wants to give Lila a "good morning hug." And every time he passes her, he stops and baby talks her, e.g. "Oh Lila Jae! Are you just the cutest in the world?"

The other day after I finished lunch, Asher told me, "You were such a good eater, Mommy!" He is great at giving compliments. He will often tell me he likes my shirt, he'll tell Lila how pretty she is, he'll compliment Reed on his skills during school, and he'll tell Ryan how cool something Ryan does is. He also always notices if I add a bow to Lila's outfit and comments on it. He's such a sweetheart!

Thomas track

Asher has really been enjoying our Thomas trains lately. We like to build a huge track, then he'll play with it for over an hour. His favorite engines are Rusty and Dash.

Asher is quite clumsy--mostly due to being 2 rather than any character defect, I think :) Anyway, he constantly has bruises, cuts, bumps, and general owies in several places at once. He's recently started cataloging his owies for me. Anytime he sees one of his "bops," as he often calls them, he'll tell me, "Mommy, the bop on my belly is gettin' better!" Then he'll proceed to check all of his other current bops and inform me of their state.

The boys know they're supposed to stay in their room until 7 a.m. They generally come in before that, we send them back, then they'll come in at 7:01 a.m. and tell us their clock says seven. For the past few weeks, Asher has started telling me his clock says seven after his naps (though it generally says something like 3:00)--because he knows that means he can come out of his room!

Relaxing with Bubba in the "digger" they made on the couch

Asher loves stuffed animals. He has a few very small animals that he calls "my babies." At bedtime, he always tells me, "I need my babies!" He loves to hold them for bed and is very protective of them. His babies include Winnie Pooh (a small yellow "teeny beanie" beanie baby bear that is most definitely not Winnie the Pooh), Monkey, Heart Bear, and occasionally baby quack quack (who is, incidentally, a giraffe). The other night Asher was feeling quite sick, so we included him feeling better as part of our family prayer at bedtime. He whispered to me (while I was praying), "And bless Winnie Pooh get feeling better, too!"

Asher wants to be super independent. He's started getting drinks of water for himself; can put his shirts, shorts, and underwear on himself; likes to start the dishwasher himself (we have the little pre-packaged dish detergents, which he thinks are amazing); climb into the Tahoe himself; and I could go on and on. Essentially, he wants to do everything Bubba does.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Monthly Lila: 3

Our Miss Lila Jae is three months old--or in other words, officially not a newborn anymore, which kind of makes me sad. (It also makes me a little bit happy, though, because it means sleeping through the night is {hopefully} near!)

When I go in to get Lila when she wakes up, she's generally crying or fussing. But as soon as I say her name--even if she can't see me yet--she smiles and starts cooing. Cutest. Thing. EVER.

 Just enjoying a little tummy time with Reeder.

Lila has started reaching for and occasionally succeeding in grabbing the toys that dangle above her on her monkey mat. Once she grabs them, she keeps a tight grip on them and is totally unwilling to let them go.

Trying to eat a few links, her rattle, and her hands all at once.

Lila has started bringing everything to her mouth. If she's wearing a dress or a shirt that doesn't have onesie snaps, she'll grab the hem and suck on it. If her blanket is lose she'll grab it and suck on it. If she's got a toy she'll suck on it. And if she has nothing else, she's always happy to suck on her hands.

 Rattles are so very fascinating.

Lila has become a lot more interactive, especially in the past two weeks. She "talks" up a storm to anyone who is willing to listen. I love her little noises--particularly her squeals, because they are so undeniably girly and are a noise the boys really never made. She loves when you talk to her and, between her noises, she'll reward you with huge smiles.

I'm still breastfeeding Lila--might I add, this is longer than I successfully exclusively breastfed either of the boys, so I'll pat myself on the back--and recently she's gone from taking 25 minutes to eat to taking 10-15 minutes to eat. The change wasn't really gradual, either. She's so fast now, which is especially nice in the middle of the night. The one aspect of still breastfeeding that is not exactly great is that Lila won't take a bottle. We tried for the very first time the day my sister went through the temple for her first time (4/13/13). A family friend was watching Lila and Lila flat-out refused the bottle--she wouldn't take a fast-flow or a slow-flow. Apparently Lila got quite worked up until they stopped trying to give her the bottle--then she started smiling again. Crazy girl. According to my phone, I've fed Lila 744 times since she was born for an average of 24 minutes each time and at an average of every 2 hours, 55 minutes.

 Playing with her tongue.

Lila has recently discovered her tongue and is ridiculously pleased with her discovery. She loves to stick it out and in and out and in, as well as to use it to make funny noises. Her tongue tricks result in a lot of drool. 

Lila is moving from 0-3 clothes to 3-6. The 0-3 clothes are all starting to get snug, but the 3-6 clothes are a little roomy. But she has been filling out a lot lately (you should see the rolls on her thighs--she's up to 4 rolls per thigh), so I'm sure she'll be there soon.

Figuring out the links (or perhaps the mysteries of the universe)

I've been reading a lot about baby sleep in an effort to get Lila to take better naps more consistently. I've learned a lot about baby sleep--information I wish I'd known with Reed and Asher--and have really worked with Lila on sleep training (not using cry-it-out--I'm fine with CIO, just not at such a young age). Anyway, knock on wood, Lila has gone from a baby who fought and refused sleep every single time I put her down to a baby who goes to sleep by herself in her bed within five to ten minutes of putting her down (usually with no crying) and from sleeping for 35-40 minutes at a time to sleeping for 1-2 hours at a time for naps. At night, she goes down between 7-8 (we're still fine-tuning bedtime), then sleeps until 2, wakes up to eat, goes right back down, wakes at 5 to eat, goes right back down, then wakes for the day around 7:20. Of course we still have some rough days and there are disruptions to her sleep (like when we run errands or go to story time), but overall, her sleep is great! So much better than either of the boys at this age (likely because I didn't "sleep train" them until they were 4 months old, old enough to CIO.) Hooray!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pinterest Challenge Week 6: Floating M&Ms

I saw this pin and knew the boys would love it--we just had to try it. And my realization that we already had M&Ms just sealed the deal. This pin was essentially the easiest I've completed. All you need is a flat, shallow dish (we used a tupperware container), a few M&Ms, and warm water. Fill the dish with enough warm water to cover the M&Ms, put the M&Ms inside ("m" side up), and wait for the magic. Go try it--this experiment is worth a few non-edible M&Ms.

Waiting for the magic to happen.

Sadly, Reed bumped the tupperware literally 30 seconds before I took this picture, which caused all our floating M's to break into pieces. But if you look toward the left, you can see a piece of one of the M's.

And because my picture of our poor, broken M's doesn't do the experiment justice, here is a picture from the original pin:


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunday Best

I'm not going to lie, one of the things I was most excited for when we found out we were having a girl was the clothes and accessories--particularly the tiny dresses. They kill me. Here are a few of my favorites:

Her first tiny Mary Janes.

Easter best.

I know, I know--Easter dress again. She's just too cute.

This dress might be my favorite--I love that it's not a super girly color.

A pretty one from Grandma.

She has already outgrown this one!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

{Book Review} Threads of Grace by Kelly Long

I grew up on a steady diet of LDS fiction--I'm pretty sure I've read every Jack Weyland novel written up until about 2005. I kind of harbor a nostalgic soft spot for religious fiction in general, so when I saw Threads of Grace by Kelly Long, a novel based in an Amish community, available on BookSneeze, I decided to try it.

Threads of Grace is the story of an Amish woman, Grace Beiler, who was married off at a young age to save her family's farm and livelihood. In the opening of the novel, Grace is the newly-widowed mother of a nine-year-old boy with autism, and has just moved to a different Amish community than the one she grew up in. We are also introduced to Seth Wyse, a handsome and single neighbor who apparently harbors quite the crush on Grace. During the opening of the book, Seth is trying to decide just how to woo Grace while Grace is trying to decide how to steer clear of Seth's advances. 

Soon, Grace's brother-in-law arrives and reveals that Grace must be married within six months of her first husband's passing, or everything she has--including her son--go to her brother-in-law. Six months from her first husband's passing happens to be the day after her brother-in-law arrives. Seth offers to marry Grace and Grace, with no other choice, accepts. Before too long, Grace's mysterious past starts to come to light, and she and Seth must learn to trust each other as they face difficult decisions.

Overall, I enjoyed this Threads of Grace. The book was a super quick read--I finished the book in two days and, with my three little ones, I have extremely limited reading time. I did find the character development to be a little weak, particularly for Seth's character; he went from being portrayed as the Amish-equivalent of a ladies' man to being devotedly and solely committed to Grace. I also felt a few of the ends were tied a little too neatly, perhaps because they were wrapped up too quickly. I found the story line to be original and entertaining, though, and the book was certainly worth the two days I gave it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Conference Edition

Twice every year, when General Conference is approaching, I think, "I'm going to be more organized this year and prepare activities before so I'm not scrambling on Friday night. Then suddenly it's Friday night and I'm thinking, "Oops." This year was no exception--but luckily, I had a few activities I'd used before and, of course, a few helpful pins to inspire me on Friday night. I went with a couple different activities, but I didn't do every activity during every session--each session we had a little something new. These activities were all quite successful and I found myself able to listen to the majority of all four conference sessions, which hasn't happened in about four years. (In case you're curious, my two favorite talks were by Sister Wixom and Elder Holland.)

First, I went with a few easy items: coloring pages. The boys used to not really be fans at all of coloring pages, but lately Reed is all about coloring. And Ashie likes to do whatever Reed is doing, so he's all about coloring, too. I found these cute color the speaker's face pages here and printed a dot-to-dot for Reed that I found here. Both were quite popular.

Next, I went for an oldie-but-goodie: our Conference flowers. I honestly don't remember where I got this idea--it was a pin at one point--but I didn't actually use their printable so I don't feel too bad about it. I found free clipart flowers online, printed them on colored cardstock, then cut out the pictures of General Authorities from a previous conference magazine and glued them in the center of the flower. A quick run through my laminating machine and voila! (I can't believe I just used the word voila.) Anyway, I made these a few conferences ago and they never disappoint. When a speaker comes up, we find their flower, then tape it up. Simple and awesome. We also tried something new this year that was even simpler. In the past, I've cut out pictures of various topics (the temple, scriptures, a person praying, etc.) and if Reed heard the word referenced by the picture he could get a little treat. Honestly, he usually forgot what words to listen for even with the visual reminder. So this year I told Reed and Asher they could get a sticker for ANY word they heard. If we filled a paper, we'd pick a prize at the dollar store. Totally worked. They were getting words left and right. I'm definitely doing this again. And the best part? Not so many treats and NO prep.

 I  also found a printable that was a listen-for-the-topic game. If they heard the topic referenced by the picture, they got to add the picture-egg to the basket. Basically, when they told me a word they heard from the game above that was one of the topics, we'd hang the egg instead of getting a sticker.

Aaaaand now I can't find the pin. Oops.

And finally, I found this fantastic printable that was perhaps my favorite activity. I've been wanting to make pom-pom magnets for the school stuff I do with Reed and Asher and I finally had a great excuse to: Conference magnet sheets. I spent some time Friday night superglueing magnets to pom poms (all supplies I actually had on hand...nice) and the boys had a great time playing with these sheets on Saturday and Sunday. (Pin here.)
Pinned Image
(photo via)

So thanks, Pinterest. General Conference success.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Instalife: March

Our instagram life from March...
The boys thought it would be funny to give Lila glasses. It was.

Some days, we all cuddle in bed together to start the morning. The boys gave Lila their stuff and she was pretty happy about it.

Our content baby girl

A school craft they were particularly proud of.

Serious conversations

Grandpa Jack came for the blessing. We had to take this picture like four times because she kept moving and making it blurry!

Meeting cousins

Reed's guy family.

Ashie drew Santa.

He's having a picnic.

The boys LOVE to put wrist rattles on Lila.

Trying out Reed's new scooter at the park. They were all so happy we played for almost 2 hours!

Batman in prison.

The boys built a house for themselves. It looked pretty cozy!

We accidentally went to another ward's Easter activity. Yes, seriously. There was a flyer about it in our chapel and there wasn't a ward listed on it--it said "bring your friends and neighbors" so I assumed it was just an anyone-come-neighborhood-thing. The third time someone asked me if we were new to the ward, I realized. Oops. The boys had a great time, though, and really enjoyed making these bookmarks.

One night we met Ryan at a park by his office and had a picnic so the boys could have a chance to see him that day. We had a lot of fun!

One day I went upstairs to put Lila down for a nap. I came down to find Reed under a blanket, using a bear for a pillow. I seriously thought he was pretending but he was totally asleep and napped for an hour and a half! When he woke up and found me napping, he was mad I didn't come play with him and didn't elieve that he'd fallen asleep!