Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Giveaway and Our New Site

My mom, sister (Tarolyn), and I recently started a new web site for moms. We're just getting it going, so we're still working on some things, but basically, it offers tips for mothering, advice on keeping the romance alive in your marriage after children, and ideas for entertaining your kids. We have a main site and a blog (we post on the blog almost daily, and every week focuses on a letter of the alphabet, so each day, there are ideas/outings/crafts/games associated with that letter. You can use them to entertain your children throughout the week!).

Starting today, we're offering a giveaway at our blog that includes a few of my mom's books. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment saying one thing you love about being a mother (or if you're not a mom, say one thing you admire about your own mother or a mother you know well). Some of you may already have these books, but maybe you have a friend who could use them. Anyway, go check out our site and our blog when you get a chance, and enter the giveaway while you're there (there are also links to the sites in the sidebar to the right for future reference)!

And since it's part of the giveaway, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things about being a mother (this is, of course, only a partial list because there are so many, many things!):
I love the unconditional love--I don't have to look a certain way or be good at anything--Elle loves, wants and needs me no matter what! I love all the sweet hugs and slobbery kisses and cuddling first thing in the morning (Elle is not a morning person!). I love being able to see the world through her eyes and realize how wonderful and magical it all is! And I love watching her grow and learn and seeing how proud she is when she catches on to something new!


Even if you don't go to the other site, if there are any mothers (or fathers) reading this, I'd love to hear what you love about being a mom (or father)!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some of the things we've been up to this week...

Some dress-up (courtesy of Sam)--at least the colors are still red and black!



Playing with Elle's new favorite toy--a box--still not sure why we spend money on actual toys!



And until recently, Elle has not been a big climber, but now
every time I leave a room, I come back to find something like this:

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Why do I so often feel like, as a mother, the joke's on me?!?! Just when your child can walk and finally entertain herself for a few minutes, she starts doing things like this, so it's not safe to leave her alone at all! She sure keeps me busy though, and I love it!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Our very own little dictator

(Ispired by If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)
If you do something fun with your toddler, she will want to repeat the fun activity over and over and over again. And when you repeat the fun activity over and over again, she will squeal with delight and think you are fun and wonderful parents. But if you stop the fun activity (you know, to do selfish things, like laundry or dishes), your toddler will become very angry. And if your toddler becomes angry, she will yell at you in her very own toddler language (which makes no sense to you but sounds remarkably like she is cussing you out!) and stamp her feet.

And if you find a new fun activity to distract her from the first one, she will be very happy again and want to repeat the fun activity over and over and over again. And when you repeat this new activity over and over again, she will again squeal with delight and think, "These are the fun and wonderful parents I remember." But if you stop this new activity (delusionally thinking that she will entertain herself for a few minutes), she will become very angry again. And if she becomes very angry, she will again yell at you in her very berating toddler language.

At this point, you decide that with toddlers, you just can't win and decide that all this yelling and feet stamping must mean that your toddler is ready for the ultimate distraction: bedtime!

Here's the most fun activity of the night:

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On another note, since Kyle had a late meeting at work, Elle and I decided to stop and pick up dinner from that exceptionally healthy and nutritious restaurant known as Steak n' Shake, so Elle had her first experience with their cheese fries (which are actually just their regular fries with processed cheese for dipping--doesn't that sound soo good and healthy?!?). Anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves because, really, who doesn't love fried food with a side of processed cheese?!?...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Animal Sounds

This morning, Elle, Sam and I were reading a book with lots of animals. I walked away for a minute and when I came back, Elle was looking right at Sam, pointing to a lamb, and saying, "baa, baa." It was sooo cute--my little teacher! I ran to get the camera, but of course missed the moment, so I had her give her performance of animal sounds instead. It stopped recording before I could them all (seems my memory card is full again!), but it's at least a partial performance. Enjoy! video

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Toddler Mysteries

There are so many times I wish I knew what was going through my child's brain. She gets fixated on the strangest things sometimes and I'm so curious as to what she's thinking...
For example, why does she always feel the need to pick up things that are bigger than her (and then is surprised and frustrated when she can't do it, although many times, I'm amazed at what she can pick up)?

And why does she immediately put underwear on her head? I don't what it is about underwear that automatically says, "put me on your head", but apparently it's pretty universal because I've talked with many other mothers who say their kids do the same thing.

And now that she is getting into more and more things in the house, I am amazed by how quickly she can do things. I was getting readying in the morning, so she was playing in my room/bathroom, and I turned around to find this:She kept furiously dragging things into the room to get as many things as possible in there, and she wasn't too happy when I started to take them out. Again, what's she thinking with this one? And why does she now try to do this every time she's in my bathroom? Another time, I turned away for less than a minute to fill out something to put in the mail, and I looked into the kitchen to find this:
She had thrown every plastic bag in the cupboard on the the floor; needless to say, we no longer keep them in a cupboard she can reach. Are children born with the destruction gene? Why does a bin with toys almost always say, "throw me all over the room, please" and rarely say, "put me all in the bin neatly"?

"What mom, don't you think underwear looks best on your head? I don't know why you're so confused?"

Ok, you're right--you're too cute--I guess I'll have to just wait until you can talk!

On Being Obedient

Most days, I try to spend some time in the mornings (before Elle wakes up) with the daily readings, and I usually read the reflections at The Word Among Us online. They are very relevant reflections on the Scriptures, and I always seem to get something out of it, but, as a mom, yesterday’s reflection really spoke to me. So, I thought I’d share it will all 3 of you who read this on a regular basis! I won’t go into too much detail, but the first reading was from Samuel and focused on how King Saul had “improved” on God’s command to him on how to defeat the Amalekites. He did all seemingly good things, such as taking the enemy king hostage, rather than killing him, and offering the captured livestock as sacrifices, rather than killing them; however, this is not what God commanded of him. As Samuel said, “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” (1 Samuel 15:22).

What a great lesson! There are so many times, as a mother, that I do “good”, sacrificial things, but at a detriment to my spiritual life. Maybe it’s cleaning the house first thing in the morning, rather than having a good prayer time, or doing something nice for someone else but neglecting to do something for my family. Sure, I’m doing “good” things, and often, they are sacrifices—I don’t really like cleaning my house, but doesn’t it need to be cleaned? Isn’t that part of my role as a stay-at-home mom and wife? Shouldn’t I always be willing to help others? Of course! But, it’s so easy to get caught up doing all these things that need to be done to keep things running smoothly, that I forget to ask how/what God wants me to do. Even more than sacrificing for my family or others, He’s calling me to be obedient to Him. And as a mom, that’s often a hard thing to remember!

My Christmas present has finally arrived...

When Kyle asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, the one thing I could think of was not clothes or shoes or a new books, but a bookshelf to organize Elle's toys. This is how I know I'm getting old--I'm excited about a bookshelf! We found the perfect one over Christmas, but we couldn't fit it in our car, so Kyle's mom brought it to us this weekend when she came to visit. And, I love it! We've turned our dining room into an office/playroom for Elle (since we don't have a dining room table anyway), and after having random toys lining the wall for a few months, I really wanted somewhere to put away all the toys at the end of the day. It may only look like this a few hours each day:


but it makes me soo happy to be able to put everything up when Elle's sleeping! I know I'm turning into my mom--this is what makes me happy--having bins for each kind of toy and being able to organize everything! Before we had Elle, we had always wanted this same bookshelf to put up some modern accessories in our living room, and now, it holds boxes of stuffed animals, dolls, and blocks. It's amazing how things change! Anyway, if you're interested, it's from IKEA. And doesn't it go great with the Rose Petal Cottage?!?!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to get your busy toddler to eat more...


Elle is so busy sometimes that she doesn't want to stop and eat. If I put her in her highchair, she says "all done" and wants out almost immediately (well, unless she's dipping crackers in hummus!). However, if I put something on the tray when Sam is eating, she will walk up and start stealing his food, even if it's a food she doesn't usually like. So, I guess the saying holds true even at 1, "The grass is always greener on the other side." Anyway, it's not that interesting of a video, but I just wanted an excuse to post some more pictures of Elle because she's cute even when she's sad--look at that face--and because, well, she looks so old today!

video

Monday, January 14, 2008

If all the snowflakes were gummy bears and milkshakes....


This is what we woke up to this morning--our 2nd snow of the year! So, we sang one of her many favorite songs (see title) and watched the pretty snowflakes fall. It didn't stick for too long, but it was fun to get Elle all bundled up and take her out in it. Although, I think we spent more time bundling up than actually out in the snow--I don't really think she's a fan of the cold weather, but she does look cute in her snow boots!

Future Mothers of America...


I know there's a group for future farmers and future business people, but do they have a group for future mothers? Because I think my child needs to join. Right now. She is obsessed with being a little "mommy" to her friends and to all her stuffed animals and even tries to wipe my face and feed me Goldfish. I'm worried her friends will start dreading playtime with her because rather than let me eat their own snacks out of their snack cups, she takes the snack cups and tries to force-feed them (this is in addition to stealing their sippy cups simply so she can shove them in their mouths). It just makes me wonder if this is how she feels I treat her! I pity her future siblings!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

These are a few of her favorite things...


Putting things on her head--and I do mean anything...



Cute Clothes (Ok, maybe that's one of my favorite things, but seriously, doesn't she look adorable?!?!--Thanks Ryan!)










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Dancing and spinning and music of any kind (she wanted to watch these dancing elves on the computer over and over and over--unfortunately, the site is closed for the year because she still walks over to the computer everyday and starts dancing back and forth to let me know she wants to watch them again)

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Somersaults--She'll get into this position and just wait for one of us to flip her over. We're curious about how long she'd really wait for us (she doesn't say anything, just sits and waits), but we think it would be too cruel to find out, since it seems she would just let all the blood rush to her head and pass out before she'd get out of position!


And did I mention that she LOVES to talk, even if none of it makes sense (sorry, this video was too long to post straight to the site):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tej5ByDyIQs



And one of her least favorite things...

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Monkey Joe's

Over Christmas, we also went to place called Monkey Joe's in Augusta and Elle LOVED it. This was her favorite thing in the whole place:


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A Late Christmas Post

So, I have yet to post about Christmas, and I figured I better do that before this month is over! Elle had a great time traveling all over Georgia, seeing family and friends, playing with her cousins, and opening lots and lots of presents. We were in Macon for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then we went to Augusta for another celebration on the Friday after Christmas. Here are a few of the highlights:


All dressed up for mass on Christmas Eve



Christmas Dress #1



Apparently, it was a rough Christmas morning!



Christmas Dress #2



She fell asleep in the middle of an XBOX Halo game.



Christmas Dress #3

And here's a link to the full Christmas album (including pictures with people besides Elle!):

http://elleyoung.shutterfly.com/action/pictures?a=67b0de21b35e100ee45b


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mini-me

I feel like Elle is my Mini-me sometimes; she loves to copy whatever I do. One of her favorite activities is taking care of her baby dolls and Sam. She will "diaper" her baby dolls and attempt to dress them, in addition to feeding them, giving them hugs and kisses, and pushing them in her brand new baby doll stroller (Thanks Aunt Tarolyn!). She didn't see Sam for over a week during the holidays, but as soon as he came in last Monday, she ran to find his hat and chased him around the house all morning trying to put it on his head. She also chases him with his jacket or a Wet One (to clean him off, of course). I'm sure the poor kid has nightmares of a wipe-wielding Elle! Anyway, the other day, she was thirsty, so I gave her a sippy cup filled with water. As soon as Sam saw this, he started to fuss because he wanted one too. So, this is what Elle did:


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She's sure come a long way since this.

1st Post of 2008

I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted anything! I guess with all the craziness of the holiday season and traveling for over two weeks during the past month and a half, I've just let time slip away. And then when I think about how I really should post something and record all the incredibly cute things Elle has been doing these days, I start thinking about how there's just too much to say and there's no way I can remember it all. So, I don't post anything and the good stories I'm not writing down keep multiplying. It's like when you haven't talked to a friend in a while and you keep thinking that you don't have enough time to call because there's just too much catching up to do, so you don't call and then days become weeks and weeks become months and so on. Well, now that I've rambled way too much, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I hope to start this year by posting at least once a week (rather than a long monthly post) and also when Elle does or says something so adorable, I just have to write it down to make sure I never forget what an amazing little girl we have (which, warning--could be a lot! I know, I know; before Elle was born, we said we weren't going to be those parents. You know--the ones who think their kid is sooo great and who are always talking about all the cool things their baby does, but then we had Elle, and she is great. Not that other kids aren't great too, because they are. But, she's our kid, so if we don't brag about her, who will?!?). So, I won't send monthly reminders this year, but if you'd like to see how our little family is doing at any time, feel free to check the blog for an update. See--there I go rambling again. Anyway, here's a little update and then I'll do separate posts about a few things:

Elle has changed so much in the past month that I wouldn't dare to tell you all about it, but she is now communicating soo much more. She will try to repeat most things we say (although, we have to say, "You say it," to get her to do it), and even mustered her best "tank tu" ("thank you") for some of her gifts. Even if she can't say what she wants, she is really good at getting her point across, like bringing me her little snack bowl if she's hungry or pointing to the water dispenser on the fridge if she's thirsty. She's even picked up a few signs, including "more", "all done", and "help" (I pretty much teach her a sign if she starts whining a lot about a certain thing she can't say). She still loves books and puzzles, but she also loves to copy most everything I do, meaning she loves to play with baby dolls and/or Sam (the little boy I watch) and she loves to "cook". She will spend hours in her Rose Petal Cottage, stirring pots on the stove, putting things in the oven and taking them out again. She insists that everyone have a "taste" of what she's making, even her babies or stuffed animals.

She's still petite but has grown a lot over the past few months. Her hair is this crazy ball of curls most of the time, and I have no idea what to do with it! I have very straight hair, so I've never had to deal anything like this. She usually pulls out bows and rubberbands, so most days, it ends up looking like I haven't even brushed it (even though I do wet it down multiple times a day--I've even tried various hair products). And it seems that the hair in the front has taken a lot longer to grow in, which doesn't matter when it's curly, but a few days ago, it was really dry here, and Elle had her very own, Joe Dirt-style mullet. So, if anyone has any hair tips, feel free to share!