Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30: 11 months old

Just one month away from Isla's first birthday!  It's so hard to believe.  She is such a fun, sweet little baby girl.  (Well, she's really not that little, and she is less and less of a baby everyday!)

She is still a  bit unsure about posing with Raggedy Ann in these pictures.
I believe she has seven teeth right now, but it looks like a few more could pop up any day now.  She is a teething fool, but fortunately not an incredibly grumpy teething fool.  Getting a new tooth (so far, at least) doesn't seem to bother her too much.

She is eating pretty much everything that we eat these days, and this girl likes to eat!  They always say that babies will let you know when they are full, but when it comes to eating food, it sometimes seems like she will never get full.  We usually just stop giving it to her eventually.
She still takes four bottles a day, which seems like too many for her age.  But she only drinks 4-5 ounces at a time (sometimes as little as three ounces!), so I can't figure out which bottle to cut out and still make sure she gets enough?  I need to be more diligent about giving her a sippy cup; she is starting to figure it out.  I just need to give her more opportunities to use it, as we will begin weaning from her bottle in just a month!!
 She is interacting with us more and more, and she says all sorts of things.  It is still hard to tell how purposeful her sounds are, but we frequently hear mama and dada sounds.  It also really seems like she is able to say "that" when you give her a toy.  She is starting to point at things and has been paying a lot of attention to lights lately.
She is very purposeful when playing with toys.   She loves to take toys out of baskets and put them back in.  She is so precise when she picks things up, it is really cute!  She also loves to move toys from one pile and put them in a new pile.  And sometimes she just likes to throw them across the room!  She still loves to play "pass" with Audrey and I, where we all sit in a circle and pass a toy around to each other.
I am pretty much ready to accept the fact that she is not going to crawl, at least not anytime soon.  However, that doesn't mean she isn't mobile.  She is never still anymore and is constantly moving around.  Here is how she gets herself around:
It looks like she is going to take off and start crawling, but she has been consistently doing this for a month now, without ever actually crawling. When on her stomach, she can only push herself backwards.  Scooting is her preferred method of travel.

I keep hearing the words of our physical therapist back in January, "Don't let her scoot."  And now she is scooting pretty much all the time.  Sometimes I think I should call our physical therapist and ask her if we should be doing something differently.  But at the same time, I really think she is okay.  I hear stories all the time from parents whose kids never crawled, and then they all grew up to be just fine.

Isla does seem to be close to on track with standing and walking.  While she is not quite ready to take off yet, she is making progress.  She loves to stand up, and always wants to hold your hands and walk around.  She is starting to do some cruising around furniture and has done a little bit of pushing a toy stroller around by herself.  She can pull up onto her knees, but she is not quite pulling up to standing yet.  (Physical therapist also warned us that if she doesn't crawl, she will probably be slower to pull herself up).

I think she is going to be okay, and I try not to worry too much that she is a little slow on some of these things.  She is still a very active and curious little girl who just wants to move in her own way!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28: Favorite Young Adult Fiction

I had fun writing our favorite picture book post recently, so I thought I would continue the theme with a different genre today.

Young adult fiction (also called juvenile fiction) is literature written for 12-18 year olds. Even though I am 31 years old, I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a fan of young adult fiction. Well, not all YA fiction, because a lot of it is just stupid and trashy. But among all the dumb trash, there are also some really great authors and books in the young adult genre...books that transcend age categories and are great reads for adults as well. Plus, since it is written for a younger crowd, these books are usually quick and easy reads!

Here are a few young adult books that I have read and enjoyed as an adult:
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling: I was determined not to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I refused to give in to all the hype. I would never read the books.   But my friend Kellie finally convinced me to read them, and I was immediately hooked, reading the first six books in about two weeks time. Then I had to wait forever for the seventh book to be released! These books really do deserve all the hype that surrounds them. They are just really, really good storytelling. Every time I read them I am in awe of the imagination and detail that Rowling put into creating the world of Harry Potter.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: I have already written some of my thoughts about the Hunger Games. A great story with good characters, a little romance  and thought-provoking questions about our society.  I put these books in the same category as Harry Potter...they are worthy of all the hype!

Divergent by Veronica Roth:  The huge popularity of The Hunger Games sparked an abundance of copycat books.  Young adult dystopian fantasies are all the rage these days, and I have read quite of few of them.  For the most part these books are predictable and similar and not especially great, but Divergent stands above the rest as a fair comparison to The Hunger Games (though I still like The Hunger Games better). Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series, will be released next week, and I am curious to see if I enjoy the rest of the series as much as I did this first book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I just recently read this book, and I loved it. It is such a sweet story, and John Green has such a great way with words and dialogue. Be warned: this is a story about two teenagers with cancer. It is sad but so very good!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This book has definitely transcended the young adult genre and is extremely popular with adults as well. My book club read it last year on my recommendation, and I can't say enough good things about it. It is about a German girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II. It is narrated by Death. It is sad and inspiring and unforgettable. Read it!

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27: Welcome Home, Daddy!

Audrey spent over an hour tonight creating a lot of signs to hang on the door for Daddy's return. We hung more signs up on the inside door, and then we ran out of tape.  So we hid the rest of the signs that she made around the house for Daddy to find when he got home.

Welcome home, Daddy!  We missed you!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26: Aaaugh!!!

I have been a blogging slacker lately.  The title of this post sums up the reason why I have been absent. It's possible that I am losing my mind. I have been a single parent for the past 6 days.  Last Friday, I took the girls with me to my mom's house, and then Daniel left for a conference in Florida on Monday.  He gets home tomorrow night, which makes exactly 7 days of me being on my own with the girls.

Literally, I have spent every single waking moment with the girls for the past 6 days.  In a normal week, I usually have at least a few minutes/hours each day when I am away from the girls, whether teaching piano lessons or running an errand or doing a little something on my own.  But I have done nothing without them for the past week.  While I love that I am able to spend so much time with my children, I am truly drained right now.  I'm trying my best to be patient with them, but my patience just about gone.

I had a bit of a meltdown on the phone with Daniel this afternoon.   Audrey was being grumpy and clingy and I just wanted a little space and silence.  I was just so tense and frustrated and exhausted.  I called Daniel to vent my frustrations, and it was not pretty.  But I feel much better after being able to get all that out of my system.  Now I'm counting down the minutes until he gets home tomorrow night.  I'm ready to get back to normal life!

So, after I had my meltdown, I dried my tears and took the girls outside.  It was a beautiful day, and it was nice to play outside and take some pictures.  Taking pictures always makes me happy.  Here are a few favorites from today.
Then Lindsey, Simon and Elliot came over for dinner tonight, as their dad is with Daniel in Florida this week too.  It was nice to have company for dinner.  Lindsey and Simon had to go to a meeting, so Elliot stayed to play with us for a little while.   It's kind of hard to have a bad day when this cute little guy is around!  =)

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23: Elisabeth's Baby Shower

The girls and I are at my mom's house in Iowa.  On Saturday, we had a baby shower for my sister Elisabeth. 

She is having a girl, so we had a "Sweet Baby Girl" themed shower, using these amazing free printables, as well as making some yarn ball ice cream cones for decor as used in that party.  It was very cute, and the cake pops were a big hit with everyone...especially the kids!

Audrey had been looking forward to this shower for days.  Every time she saw me working on the cake pops or the decorations, she would ask when we were going to Elisabeth's party.  The day of the party as we were setting up and getting the food ready, she was so eager for the party to begin.  Then about 15 minutes before the shower started, she fell asleep on the couch.  And she slept this way for most of the time!   

My sister's boyfriend has a three year old daughter named Sage.  She is one month younger than Audrey.  This was the first time the two of them had met, and I was nervous about how they would get along.  Audrey doesn't always get along so well with other kids her age.  She is so particular, that she sometimes freaks out when kids do things that she doesn't like.
However, the two of them got along great!  They would disappear for long periods of time playing together.  Sage is definitely more of a leader, and Audrey is more of a follower.  So Sage would tell Audrey what to do, and Audrey would do it.  It really was funny to watch.  Audrey called her "Stage" the whole weekend, and it was just too cute. Both of the girls like the Disney princesses and fairies, and I loved listening to them talk about it.

In these pictures, they are wearing the beautiful new dresses that Nana bought for them.
At one point, the girls were being silly and climbing on my lap while I was taking pictures.  They wanted to get as close to the camera as possible so I could take their pictures.  And Josiah didn't want to be left out of the fun either!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19: Cake Pops

Making cake pops always sounds like a good idea until the time comes to actually make them!I just finished a batch for my sister's baby shower this weekend. The process actually went fairly smoothly, and I only ruined one out of the whole bunch. (Pretty sure I ruined many more than that the last time I attempted these things). Now, I just need to figure out how to safely transport them to Iowa.

The girls and I are headed to my mom's house tomorrow. Looking forward to some time with family and a super cute baby shower!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18: My Girls

We had a quick photo shoot tonight, trying to get a picture to use on Isla's birthday party invitation. Just 6 weeks until her birthday! Her party theme: Pink Lemonade. It's going to be super cute!

I haven't decided yet what picture I'm going to use for her invite. Here are a few possibilities:

When we finished Isla's pictures, Audrey wanted to a turn as well. She is such a goofball. I don't know where she gets it, because neither Daniel nor I are very silly people!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16: Favorite Picture Books

In February, I said I was going to write some random posts about a few of our favorite things around here. So, here is Favorite Things Post #2: Our Favorite Picture Books. Well, at least it is some of our favorite picture books, the ones that I can think of off the top of my head. I have a hard time narrowing down my absolute favorites. All of the books on this list are books that Audrey enjoys AND books that I enjoy reading (those two things don't always go together!)

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox: This is close to the top of my list of all time favorite picture books. It is such a fun little book. I bought it for my niece when she was around Audrey's age. I was excited to find it at a garage sale a few years ago, because I remembered how much both my niece and I enjoyed it. It is a re-telling of the Rapunzel story told in a funny and entertaining way. We actually need a new copy of this book, because ours has been taped together multiple times and is still falling apart from all the times we have read it! We also have Waking Beauty, a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story, which is not quite as good as Rapunzel but still a fun read.

Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers by Laura Numeroff: I picked this one up at a garage sale on a whim, not even realizing that it was by the same author as all the "If you Give the Mouse a Cookie" series of books (we like those books too!). This is just a silly book, imagining a variety of situations where animals are doing things that they obviously do not do. Audrey's favorite pages are: "Fish don't eat bagels" and "Sheep don't take showers" and "Moose don't go bowling."

Leonardo the Terrible Monstey by Mo Willems: Audrey is a fan of monsters, and this book has several (non-scary) monsters in it. It is a cute story about a monster named Leonardo who tries unsuccessfully to be scary, so he decides to be friendly instead. We like it a lot.

Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak: Here's a classic that we don't get tired of reading. I love the way the run on sentence style of this book fits with the story of a little boy's imagination going wild. There's a reason why this one has been around for over 20 years!

The Golden Egg Book by Margare Wise Brown: When Audrey was pretty young, she began to recite one of the pages of this book and it was just so cute (the page where the bunny is speculating what's inside the egg, "Maybe a boy. Maybe an elephant..."). This is also a cute book about a bunny and a duck who become friends. If I judged books by their covers, then I probably wouldn't choose this one. But inside, this is a great book!

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone: I remember loving this book as a kid, so it is fun to see Audrey enjoy it as well. She just cracks up laughing every time Grover says "Please don't turn the page," and then she goes ahead and turns it anyway.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon: We read this book so many times that all the pages fell apart and I had to throw it away! We need to get another copy. This book is about a duck who rides a bike, and inspires all the other animals to ride bikes as well. It has animal sounds in it, making it a big hit with Audrey when she was younger and learning all of the animal sounds. Also deserving of an honorable mention here: No, David by David Shannon. That one is also good for younger kids, but Audrey still thinks it is a great book to read now, even though there are only a handful of words on each page (and they all basically say, "No, David!")

How do Dinosaurs say Good Night? by Jane Yolen: And really all the other dinosaur books in this series by Jane Yolen could be added here. We don't actually own any of them, but we check them out from the library frequently and enjoy reading about these mischievous dinosaurs!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14: 5K

The weather really could not have been more uncooperative this whole weekend. First the cold and yucky weather yesterday for the garage sale. Then, there was the cold, windy and very rainy weather for our church's Run with a Mission 5K this morning. The church hosted the race to raise money for some upcoming mission trips this summer. It rained the ENTIRE time, from set up to tear down. And it was cold. And windy. And very, very wet.

Despite the horrible weather, 75 runners showed up to run the race. One of those runners was Daniel! He finished in 15th place, an impressive finish for his first race, especially considering that he hasn't had a lot of time to train for the race.

I was there to help with the race (since I am going on one of the mission trips to Haiti this summer), and I was assigned to take pictures. Not too hard of a job, but it was made much more difficult in the rain. I was trying to hold an umbrella in one hand to keep the camera dry, and then take pictures with the other hand. Plus it was just really dark due to all the heavy clouds and rain, so there really wasn't much light for picture taking.

Then, I also had the girls with me (since Daniel was running the race). The plan was that they would hang out in the stroller and Audrey could run around and play with everyone, and we would all cheer on Daddy while he raced (and I took pictures). But then it jut kept raining, and I really didn't want to deal with having the girls in the cold rain all morning. So, I parked the van nearby, turned on a movie, and left them in their carseats. I took some pictures, then went back and checked on them, then took some pictures and went back and checked on them. They did a great job and were in good spirits every time I peeked in on them.

All of this happened before 9 am this morning! And by about noon, the rain stopped and the sun came out, and it turned into the most beautiful day. Where was all this beautiful weather hiding this morning and all day yesterday????

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13: Garage Sale Success!

My friend Lindsey and I had a garage sale yesterday. We have a garage sale every year, as we are both always eager to get junk out of our house and make a little money too. Last year's sale was a big success!

Yesterday was a cold, windy, rainy day. I was wearing my winter coat and gloves, and I was still cold. Really cold. I thought the garage sale was going to be a total failure, as no one would want to come out in such yucky weather. But I was wrong. So many people came!! And they bought so much stuff!!

My total profit for the day was $358. Not too shabby!

Now that I have managed to have a few successful garage sales, here are my best garage sale tips for you:

1. Have your sale on Friday. At least around here, Friday is the day for garage saling. Since our Saturday sales have been a flop for the past two years, we decided to do a Friday only sale yesterday. It was nice to have it all over and done with in one day.

2. Low prices! Price everything super cheap, and you will sell a lot more. Getting rid of a lot of things at low prices is much better than being stuck with everything because it was priced too high. If in doubt, mark it down!

This year we had 50 cents a piece on all clothing (mostly childrens clothing), with a few specially marked pieces. People were walking out with sackfuls of clothes. I know some of those 50 cent items could have been priced higher, but I just wanted to sell them. If people feel like they are getting a good deal, they will buy more. We had several people come to our sale today who have been to one of our sales in the past, and they remembered getting good deals with us. You can start to develop a good reputation among garage salers if you continue to offer good quality stuff at cheap prices. Then they will come back every year, and tell their friends about you!

3. Have your sale early in the garage sale season. I think this was a huge part of our success today. There were a handful of other sales in town, but we were not competing with any big neighborhood sales. Plus, die hard garage salers are eager to get out and find deals after sitting at home all winter.

4. Sell a lot of stuff. If you are going to price everything low, then you will have to sell a lot of stuff to make money. Therefore you need to have even more stuff available for sale. I am always eager to declutter my house and get rid of unused items, and I do not hesitate to get rid of stuff. I'm not sentimental at all when it comes to stuff and would rather pass it on to someone who will use it. If I haven't used something in the past year or I see no possible use for it in the future, I put it in our garage sale.

It also helps to include things in your sale that you know are popular with the garage sale crowd. We have discovered that small size women's clothing does not sell well. However, plus size women's clothing is actually a pretty good seller.

Baby items in good condition sell quickly at garage sales. We are not planning on any more kids, so we are getting rid of all of our baby items once we are finished with them. No reason to have them taking up space around here. I am also "retiring" from my Stampin Up business, so I sold a large number of stamp sets and supplies that were also popular sellers. Plus it is always amazing how much junk people are willing to buy! Our biggest sale of the day was a bowl full of (mostly worthless) pocket knives for $20.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11: Another Haircut

Today, it was Audrey's turn to go see Jenni for a haircut.

She looked so big and grownup while sitting in the chair. She loves getting her hair cut! She always has a long list of things that she wants to tell Jenni about. Today's list included: the two movies we checked out from the library yesterday (a Tinkerbell movie and the Little Mermaid), the names of all the fairies on the Tinkerbell movie, the names of her favorite songs from the Little Mermaid (Part of your World, Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl), all of her favorite things about Disney World, and the fact that we made energy balls (her favorite snack) today.My phone can't take pictures of anything in motion, and Audrey did not want to stand still. She was too excited about the haircut and the sucker that goes along with it.When we were back in the car, she told me, "Mom, my hair is awfully beautiful!"