Saturday, January 30, 2016

A New Year A New Routine

A few weeks ago, I wrote out this new schedule. 
It takes into account the morning nap put back into Ella's day. I shifted some things around, but the items throughout the day are basically the same. The morning nap has helped some, but I've been having to play around with her afternoon nap. Today, I'm trying 2pm instead of 2:30, and I'll take it from there. This new routine gives us lots to do, but it's the perfect amount of "things" for these little people. 
It also allows me moments throughout the day to get chores done (kitchen cleaned up while Jack has his 20-30 minutes of TV time and Ella naps, laundry started and switched over while they both nap in the afternoon, lunch started while Ella naps and Jack has learning time, etc.)  
I have lots of one on one time with each of them, too, which is a bonus. Even if you're not hope every day with your kiddo, I highly recommend a routine on your off days. It has been such a blessing to let our routine work for us (and not make us work for our routine). I've also seen it work wonders at helping them learn self-control (using crayons and paint and play dough and glue during learning time), and patience (sitting still for stories and waiting patiently for food to be put on the table), and perseverance (during room time they have to problem-solve all on their own if their toy doesn't work or the puzzle piece doesn't fit right or the blocks/duplo blocks just won't stack the way they want). 
Ella is in room time right now, Jack is down for a nap, and I'm about to grab the load of diapers from the dryer before helping her clean up her room, settle her down with a book or two, and get her in bed for a hopefully-great nap. 
I might even watch an episode or two of Battle Creek (a great show!) while I fold :)
Here's hoping your day has been as pretty as ours have been the last day or so. 
My view from our porch of the tree across the street yesterday afternoon. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thankful Thursday 1/28

Today, I'm thankful that even in the midst of trials, there are so many reminders of God's goodness if only I'm willing to look around me. 
I've been blinded lately, and I have really just sort of taken a step back from my faith. 
*Hope has definitely, and unfortunately, been on the back burner.* 
It's amazing how fatigue and disappointment are such a feeding ground for the enemies of God. I have felt spiritually attacked the last month, and instead of clinging to God, I turned away and replaced faith with fear and His assurances with my anger. I placed blame instead of seeking help and direction. 
But, just like a wayward child finding her way back to her home, I found my way back to Him. 
Grace
So thankful for that word and all it means. 

I'm also thankful for these two cuties who like each other (and books) a whole lot. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Little Bit of Success

I'm still working on getting Ella used to sitting on the potty each morning. She's doing well at sitting patiently and "trying."  
Day 4
Day 5
During breakfast this morning, she made her "concentrating face." As I rushed her to the toilet, I told her that she needed to have her bowel movement in the potty. She said, "yeah."
I put her on and a few minutes later I heard her tee-tee. We all clapped for her, and she got excited and clapped for herself. I went to lift her off and realized she had done something else, too! It was just a little bit, but we cheered her on. I showed her what she had done and told her she did well. She was happy, but she was even happier to get back to her breakfast :)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Potty Training - Round 2

So I started introducing the concept of sitting on the potty to Ella three days ago. Each morning after breakfast, I place her on the potty and explain what needs to happen. I read "potty" books to her while she sits. 
She has not accomplished anything on there other than sitting patiently without needing to hold onto me, which in itself is great. 
Day 2
Day 3
This afternoon after lunch, I had her sit on it again for quite a while. Jack needed to go, so he did his business on the little potty we have for emergencies. I applauded him in front of her for telling me he needed to go and for doing it in the potty. She clapped for him. 
I gave up and took her off. She walked to the living room and promptly peed all over the rug and the lower level of the coffee table before I could get in there with a diaper. I don't know how she managed to pee on the coffee table. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Two Naps A Day Keeps The Rocking Away

I hate to even type this up because of the likely jinxing it will bring, but since reinstitutiing the morning nap three days ago, Ella's nights have been so much better. The last two nights I haven't heard her once. Which means, I, too, have gotten two full nights of rest. Hallelujah! I'm like a new woman. It's been so nice to be this happy and far less irritable. 
That's pretty much it. A 45-minute nap in the mornings combined with a good 1 1/2 to 2-hour nap in the afternoons seems to have helped her nights improve drastically. We're still dealing with a little bit of rocking before she falls asleep, but we're staying on top of it. We remind her throughout the day that beds are for resting and not for rocking, and right before we put her in bed, we remind her again. We've also been snuggling with her more throughout the day, and I dance and sway with her often. She's been so very sweet (and far more obedient and helpful and loving) these last few days, and I attribute it mostly to the rest she's been able to get. The poor kiddo was sleep-deprived and could not fix it on her own. And her mommy was the one who caused it in the first place. Mommy-fail :/. 
Anywho, here's our happy girl yesterday morning. 
They both had a fun time hanging out with Grandpa after lunch. 
I cannot express how much I LOVE this hand-me-down outfit (hat, too!) and the girl who's wearing it, of course. 
And this shot of her right before she woke up from this morning's nap made me smile. So thankful things are getting better.
**Update**
I knew better, and I typed it up and posted it anyway. 
Last night, Ella and I spent an hour and a half awake from 2:30 to 4am. The rocking, admittedly, was far less violent (and there was no humming involved) than it usually is at that time of night, but it was enough to wake me. I went in, and I held her for a long time. Her little leg beat time against my own. She was very restless. I laid her down and covered her up. I had to go in three more times to put her back down, and the last time, I held my hand on her back and rubbed it gently for almost ten minutes while I prayed over her. Thankfully, Jack seemed to sleep through all of it. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

An Update on The Rocker

I got several helpful comments on yesterday's post, both on here and on the phone. I appreciate the feedback! I wanted to share with you some things we've tried today, most of which are based on the 18-month sleep regression article I read at 3:30 this morning.

1. I added back in the morning nap.  It took her half and hour to settle, but once she did, she slept for 45 minutes and woke happy and stayed that way the rest of the morning. 

2. We were consistent. Each time we heard her sit up and start to rock, we went in and told her to lie back down and that it was time to rest. Her daddy swatted her leg the third time (she had on thick pajamas, and she didn't cry, but it was a physical reminder to her that she was not being obedient), and we didn't hear from her again. 

3. I followed the same routine for her afternoon nap, and I had to tell her three times to lie down.  She woke an hour and a half in when police cars, a fire truck, and am ambulance pulled up lights blazing and sirens blaring two doors down, but I went in as soon as I heard the rocking start. I put her back down, told her quietly but firmly to lie down, and I tucked her puppy under her arm. I didn't hear from her for almost hour. Again, she woke happy and stayed happy the rest of the afternoon and evening, giving me hug after hug between entertaining our neighbors and running around the house with her brother. 
4.  For bedtime tonight, I put Jack and her in bed at the same time since her naps were great, and she wasn't overtired. In the 10-minute span after I left the room, I went back in 6 times. I expected that nights would be more difficult because the habit of rocking is so ingrained in her at that time of day especially, so I wasn't surprised or upset. I was firm with her, and I followed the same routine. An aside: she has not cried once today when being told she could not rock. 

Firmness and consistency. 

We have been so fortunate that she's been such a great sleeper since we weaned the night feedings around 9 months that this 18-month sleep regression just threw me for a loop. Add in the fact that I stupidly took away her morning nap too early, and it just caused chaos. I am crossing everything crossable that she doesn't do this at 2 years old, but I know it's pretty likely. We will stand firm and remind her lovingly but firmly that she is not the one in charge (although she has us both wrapped around every single one of her fingers and toes). ;) We know what's best for her, and if that means we will have to remind her that naps and sleeping at night aren't optional, then we will do that. Because the end result? A happy, pleasant child to be around. And, a happy, pleasant momma, too. Even one who has survived the day on 3 1/2 hours of sleep. Go me. And, go coffee. And, go half a can of Coke. 

Really, I know this is going to be a hard habit to break, just like thumb-sucking or pacifier-needing or nail-biting or cheddar jalapeño Cheeto-binging. Habits are habits because time and energy were spent making them so. It'll take time and energy to help her break it, as well. 

Now, if only I can remember all of my determination in the middle of the night when this feisty chica is having her own fiesta ;).
(P.S.  If you were one of the ones who prayed for us, I felt it. This day could have been craptastic, and it wasn't. So, thank you!)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Taboo Subject?

This girl rocks. 
Figuratively, of course, because she's pretty wonderful, and we love her lots. 
But, most certainly literally
You see, starting around her first birthday, she started rocking in her bed during naps and before bedtime.  She didn't do it a whole lot, but it was enough that we noticed it, as her rocking would get so rough (the sides of those things are springy!) that she'd practically bounce off the wall if the playpen was too close. She doesn't suck her thumb or take a pacifier, so this, for some reason, became her soothing mechanism of choice. 

When we moved her to a crib, the rocking became even more persistent. And far noisier.  I started to find her crib halfway across the room most mornings. I began putting grippy strips under the legs of the bed and little bumper pads on the backs of the side rails that touched the wall. None of that would have been an issue, except she's keeping Jack (and me) awake, which is not great. 

The grippy things only last for so long, and after a while, she ends up rocking the bed off of them and across the room.  Exhibit A from last night. 
Although she still does it a little bit before naps, and a lot before bedtime, the middle of the nights have been getting far worse, with her waking in the wee morning hours and doing it for hours.  Last night was a particularly awful night, and she rocked and hummed/moaned for 2 solid hours starting at 3am, her chosen time of waking. I don't know if it's an external thing with noises outside waking her or if it's strictly internal, but I know she's beyond sleep deprived. It's affecting her naps (which would typically be 2 1/2 to 3 hours and are now down to maybe an hour), and she wakes early and rocks the rest of the time trying to relax her body enough to go back to sleep (which rarely happens, so I get to listen to an hour or more of rocking in the afternoons, as well. Fun.). 

It's a really hard thing to listen to every. single. day (and during the night). Other than two nights ago when out of deep desperation, I put her in our room in the playpen, Jack slept in his crib, and I slept on the couch, I have not slept for more than 4 consecutive hours in months. Most days, I am a cranky, exhausted mess trying to deal with a cranky, exhausted toddler (or two because WHO can sleep through constant hammering and humming for two hours straight?). 

I have read countless articles like this one (it won't let me link it, so here's the website if you're interested http://sleepeducation.blogspot.com/2009/02/my-child-bangs-his-head-in-bed-as-he.html?m=1), and I have poured through all of the comments. Every single one says it's normal. They all say they'll eventually grow out of it (usually by 3-4....um, holy crap, my sanity will be completely gone if I have to listen to that for another 18-30 months, just sayin').  The comments are really what get me. I know they're supposed to be comforting, but they really aren't. A lot are from adults who rocked as children, and most rocked into adulthood. What the heck am I supposed to do with that??!  That means no one will be sleeping in this house for another 18 years at least. I am so sad. 

After last night, I decided that I was not going to let her do that anymore, especially during naps. She woke an hour into her nap (after getting way less sleep last night than her body requires on a normal basis), and I went in and laid her down to stop the rocking. She cried. She was furious that I wouldn't allow her to slam her body repeatedly into the bars of her crib. I held my hand on her back for 45 minutes, and she continued to cry because she wanted to rock so badly. I am now sitting outside her room on the very cold wood floor, and every time she rocks, I go in and lay her back down and more crying ensues. It's been a long hour and a half to almost two hours. I've gotten nothing done, including the two baskets of laundry on my couch. I'm frustrated and tired (because, obviously, I didn't get a nap either)

The reason I'm writing this (and also the reason for the title) is I feel like this is an unspoken thing. It's gotta be. We can't be the only family out there among my family and friends whose kid soothes herself by rocking her body so hard that she moves her bed and wakes the entire household every night. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about it? Why is it hidden?

I can't keep her in the playpen (which gives off the least amount of sound if pulled away from the walls) for the rest of her life, and I can't continue functioning on 4-5 hours of broken sleep each night while she "sleeps" in a hard-sided bed. 

So, come on, family and friends. Tell me we're not alone. Tell me that you've dealt with this, that you came up with some winning solution for everyone involved, that you survived, that your kid wasn't damaged. But, please, don't tell me it's going to be ok. I don't need it to be ok 10 years from now. I need for my children and myself to go back to sleeping well. 
I need this girl to sleep, mostly so I stop taking out my lividness on every human that crosses my path. True story: the day after I got that full night of sleep a few nights ago? I felt so good. Nothing bothered me...not even her hour-long rocking that afternoon. 
So, there's that. So speak up, people. Ask your friends if their kids act as nutty as my kiddo acts in those moments, and pass along the info. I'm desperate. 

*Edited*
While awake for nearly 4 hours this morning, I came across this article. 
Except for the crying at night, everything else (waking early from naps, fighting going to sleep, waking in the middle of the night, etc.) all sounds pretty spot on. So there's hope that with consistency in our part, this 18 month sleep regression will pass. Then we have the 2 year regression to look forward to, hah! Hopefully, we'll have the strength to be just as diligent. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

An Interview with The Boy - 2 1/2

I've seen lots of posts on Pinterest with questions people (probably mostly moms) ask their kiddos each year.  I would have started when Jack turned two, but since he wasn't terribly verbal, I just would have ended up with a lot of nods and hand gestures and sign language. He's very smart, and he understands so much, but he's still not as verbal as most children his age. That being said, I still wanted to attempt this because it's such a great idea and such a wonderful way of keeping track of "the little things."  I looked through and jotted down questions from many, many sources on Pinterest, and I decided that these 15 would do. I set up my phone to record his responses, and I had him sit at the table with me to conduct our interview. This was super unsuccessful because playing with his Backyardigan friends and beans was wayyyyy too much fun and far too distracting (and messy) to answer any of my silly questions. 
So, I waited until right before his nap while he was snuggling with The Husband on the couch. 

Me - Hey Bud, I'm going to ask you a few questions, ok?
J - Yeah 

Me - What's your favorite drink?
J - Blue 
Me - Blue? Um, but what do you like to drink?
J - Wa-wa 
Me - Oh, water. Yep, water is tasty. 

Me - What do you like to eat?
J - Ba -nana
Me - Bananas? Ok. Do you like anything else?
J - Pea
Me - Peas? 
J - Yeah

Me - What's your favorite color?
J - Blue
Me - Really? I thought it would be something else (purple because that kid requests purple paint, play dough, crayons, markers, blankets, etc. first before any other color is even considered). 

Me - What do you like to sing?
J - Pink?
Me - Hmm, but what's your favorite song?
J - Ah - eh - bun
Me - Hot dog bun? Oh, Hot Cross Buns?
J - *nods*

Me - What's your favorite thing to do outside?
J - ffffffffffffff *complete with hand motions* 
Me - The spray bottle? 
J - Yeah

Me - What book do you like the best?
J - Neat book
Me - The book with all of the colors? (Mix It Up)
J - Yeah

Me - What is your favorite animal?
J - Puppy. Blue puppy. (I could have sworn he'd say cats because he LOVES cats.)

Me - What do you like to do with Daddy?
J - *signs "read book"*

Me - What is something Mommy says to you? What do I say to you?
J - Ba-nana
Me - Haha, banana? Ok. 

Me - How old are you?
J - *one finger* *five fingers* Momma, *one finger* *five fingers*

Me - Who loves you?
J - Eya
Me - Yes, Ella loves you. Who else loves you?
J - Da-deda
Me - Who? Zaccheus? (We had just read the story of Zaccheus, and The Husband had just sung the song with him.)
J - *sigh*

Me - Who's your favorite person? Who do you like to play with?
J - Back-bard
Me - Backyard? No, not where. Who? Who do you like to play with?
J - *sigh*
Me - Ok. We'll skip that one. 

Me - What do you want to be when you grow up?
J - Back-bard
Me - You want to be a backyard?
J - Yeah

Me - What makes you happy?
J - *pretends to throw*
Me - Throwing things makes you happy?
J - Yeah

Me - What makes you sad?
J - *hits his daddy's legs*
Me - Hitting? Hitting makes you sad?
J - *nods* 
Me - Well, hitting makes me sad, too. 

Me - Ok, thank you. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I guess he was pretty tired from that intense questioning because he went to sleep not long after I put him in bed. 

I set an alarm in my phone calendar for around this same time next year to remind me to ask him these questions. I'll do the same for Ella next December when she's 2 1/2. I think my favorite part was his expressions. And the sighs. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All the Single Ladies (and Men)

I've been reading Kelly's blog for a really long time now, and I thought I would share her latest post. I think it's amazing that so many couples have found each other through a blog! If you're a single gal or guy and are interested in trying something new, click on over and see what she has planned in few weeks. It couldn't hurt! If you know anyone who might be interested, encourage them to check it out! Especially those great single guys!! ;)
Here's the link. And if you do decide to join in, let me know! I'd be so happy to share what you write and/or pray for good things to come, OR if you feel weird talking yourself up, I would be thrilled to write about you and post it on her page!

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Remains of a Tree

A few weeks ago we had a very large (and very expensive--ugh!) tree taken down. It was close to power lines, and the top didn't look healthy, so we decided it needed to go. 
Here's Jack watching them take it down while sitting with our sweet neighbor :)
Anywho, now we have massive tree pieces/logs/whateveryoucallthem lying in our front yard. We tried to sell them to people who would chop them up for fire wood to try to recoup some of that money, but there are no takers other than the ones who want it all for free. 
So. 

While staring out my window, I started to dream up ideas for what we could do with them in our own backyard. I clicked on over to Pinterest and found some cute ways to use them in the backyard. I typed in "large tree stump logs yard" in the search field if you want to check out the TONS of creative things people have done. 

I really liked these. 
And these. 
Even this one for the leftover stump in the front yard. 
Now, all I have to do is convince The Husband to ask some of his strong friends to help him roll these heavy suckers to the backyard, and we're all set. These two would love it ;) 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Keeping Busy(er)

So, it's been two full days now since I stepped away from and shut down my Facebook page. What I quickly realized was that I tried to compensate by reading articles online, mostly celebrity news. Nothing of interest and certainly nothing of value, so I'm going to have to quit that, as well. To help myself, I bought a book while doing a little window shopping at Target. 

I NEVER buy books for myself (A--because we don't have the space on our tiny bookshelf and B--because it seems absurd to spend $20 on a book I could check out at the library.), but I made an exception. It looked and sounded so interesting, and I justified the expense because it's Sunday and our library wasn't open. So. 

I'm about 50 pages in so far, and it's pretty good. I'm looking forward to reading it while I have down time (but not at night before bed because I will finish it WAY too quickly, and I need this baby to last!)

While looking around in the book section (my favorite part of the whole store, fyi), I saw this, and I decided to splurge and get it for Jack (Ella will enjoy it at some point, too.). 
He LOVED it tonight when The Husband read it to him before bed while I nursed Ella. The excitement and joy just poured out of him while he listened and followed the instructions. It was very cute to watch. If you have a toddler (2-4 year old), I highly recommend it. 

So that's it for today.  Here's hoping you're still sticking to any resolutions you might have made :). 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reevaluating

It's the first day of the new year, and while I normally don't make resolutions (because like the other 99.9% of the resolution-makers out there, I don't follow through), I'm making an exception this year.

My resolution this year is this:  
*I am going to give up social media for at least six months.*

I've done it before, so I know it's not an impossible task. I also know how it changes things for the better, at least for me. I can see the negative impact it has in my life, and I'm ready for a change. 

I read this article, and I realize that, given the outlet (a listening ear or reading eyes, as it were), I can be a really negative person, and I can honestly say, I didn't used to be. And I miss that gal. 

Unfortunately, for me, social media (Facebook) is a huge outlet for negativity. I read other people's grumbles and complaints, I view article after article listing the wrong things in this world, and my head and heart start to justify my grumblings. The voice I hear whisper softly to me says, "Hey. It's ok. Go ahead. Write a post about the bad day you've had. There's no reason you should find the tiny spark of joy and focus on that when others will understand your horrible moments. Post away." And when I give in and spew out my sucky attitude, I'm really saying that it's ok for others to do it, too. It's ok for us all to ignore that verse that I'm so quick to speak to my children. And, that makes my heart hurt because I've been such a hypocrite. Thank you, Lord, for giving me clarity. Help me change. 

Another thing I've noticed is that I am truly addicted to Facebook. Not in a "I'm going to die if I don't read one more political post or see one more picture of fluffy bunnies sleeping in glasses" way, of course. The reality is it's much simpler than that. Although I like the knowledge, the input, the pictures, and the videos, and I really like keeping up with my friends and family in such an immediate sort of way, at the end of the day, it's the "high" I get. Y'all, this article blew me away with every bit of truth it held, and if you haven't read it, at least skim down to the part about how a chemical is released in your brain every time something new is on your Facebook feed. I can't tell you how many times I click on the FB app to see what's up. What's new. What's happening. Instead of giving my children my focus when they're in the room, I'm clicking that refresh button to see if I missed something important. Something life-changing. Something funny or cute or irritating. It's an addiction, plain and simple, and I don't know about you, but for me, dropping something completely is the only way I can truly quit when it's necessary. "All things in moderation" is a fine and dandy quote, but it doesn't apply to me. Just ask The Husband about my love-affair with those jalapeño-cheddar-flavored Cheetos. Can't. Stop.  Eating. Them.  I just can't, y'all. :(
(Picture source: fritolay.com)

It boils down to self-control. And, I apparently have none when it comes to Facebook (or those Cheetos).

So, because I see the area I'm struggling in is affecting my attitude, which affects how I interact with my family, I need to give it up. I need to put it away. 

I do know myself well enough to see that I still need a verbal/creative outlet of some kind, so I will continue posting here on my blog all of my thoughts and ideas and questions and, of course, pictures of the kids (because I know that's really why people head over here ;)).  If you're interested in keeping up with the goings-on over this direction, bookmark this blog (or friend my mom on FB because she's kinda my number one reader and will pretty much share anything I write. Thanks, Momma, for always believing in what I have to think/say/write, etc.).

I wish you all a truly remarkable (in the best sense of the word!) year, and I hope we can look for the blessings more than the curses each day along the way. 

Happy New Year!