Thursday, May 24, 2012

A is for Abbey

Today we started Mommy School. I'm trying out this home preschool kind of setup to help get Abbey ready for preschool in the fall and to try my hand at home schooling and see if and how we both like it. In Mommy School, we're mostly focusing on letters and basic math. She's got most everything down and I'm confident she'll learn all that in her preschool. She has shown interest in learning to read and write so I want to foster that now rather than wait for her teachers to do it.
For our first lesson we learned about the letter A and the number 3. She worked on handwriting a capital and lowercase A, we learned a bible verse, we read a book, she worked on the number 3, and she made a book of colors. I'll put links below of my resources, but first here are some pictures!
The Mommy School Board. The letter A and the apple are connected using velcro and each week when we change letters and themes, I'll be able to quickly switch them out. The baggy in the upper right hand corner has popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners so she can practice building the letters.

Abbey's first attempt at building an A.
Handwriting Practice: Big and Little A
Apple Math: Painting 3 apples on the tree

We lasted about 20 minutes at the table, which is honestly more than I expected. Once she saw that we were painting, any patience I hoped for during handwriting was out the window. When she was done, she said, "I'm tired. Cake time?" Though she did not get any cake, we did go on a walk for muffins. I think it's going to be important to go at her pace for the first while so she doesn't start to feel like this is her job. I want this to be a fun experience for her and I don't want her to feel pushed. After today, I've learned a lot that I'll change for tomorrow-like hiding the supplies until it's time to bring them out. Gathering just 2 days worth of materials was a lot of work-I definitely have more respect for homeschool Mommas after just 1 day of doing this! It was fun work though, and work that I think will pay off. I'll post another update after Day 2 tomorrow!

Have any of you done at home preschool type things? What did you find worked best?

Here are the resources I used:
Book-I Am an Apple by Jean Marzollo
Verse-Psalm 17:8

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Summer of Judging Books by Their Covers

One of my favorite things about summer is having more time to read for leisure. This summer, I'm going to challenge myself to read at least 26 books. I'm going to work through the alphabet and read one book from each category. So, this week I chose a book from the "A" authors. Part of the challenge, is that I'm going to only pick books based on their covers. Going against the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover". 

The first book is The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake by Steve Amick.
When I'm done reading each book, I'll give a short review. This should be interesting. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Abbey's Birth Story

As a mother in the time of Internet and social networking, I see a lot of articles and tweets about peoples' views on everything from childbirth, to breast feeding, to parenting strategies. Even women who aren't mothers yet are posting their ideas. I know that these topics are often polarizing and I whole-heartedly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions. However, it is important that we mommies or mommies-to-be remember that what is right for one of us may not be right for the next. I have definitely felt mommy-guilt before after reading some articles. Truth is, I feel the pressure to have natural childbirth in the future, I feel guilty that I only breast fed Abbey for four months (more on that another day), I wish I could have kept going when we tried cloth diapers. But here's the deal: Abbey is now a healthy and happy three year old and she continues to grow everyday. Isn't that my main concern? God has blessed me exponentially with a healthy little girl, and I have to think that He was with me through all of my decision making.
I have decided to share my birth story because I think it's an important step in owning the decisions I've made. So, here goes.

Abbey was born on her due date on November 18, 2011. Somewhere in the middle of October I started having contractions while I was at work at a local day care. I left work, went to Rusty's work and together he and I sat in the break room and timed contractions. They started coming pretty strong at about 5-8 minutes apart. We called the doctor and she wanted us to go ahead and go to the hospital. We ran home and packed a few things but we were no where near prepared. Our families both live hours away so we made phone calls and people were on their way. The nurses were in communication with my OB but she never came to the hospital that night. After being hooked up to a saline drip my contractions slowed and the nurses sent me home. My family was about an hour and a half down the road, and turned around and went home. I continued to have contractions for the next few weeks and was told to get lots of rest.
For the next couple of appointments, my doc examined dilation (I was already at a 3) and "measured" baby by pushing on my tummy (I'm sure it's a bit more technical than that, put that's basically what she did). Baby was measuring around 6 pounds. Because our family all had to travel a minimum of five hours to be there, and because I NEEDED my Momma in the delivery room with me, we scheduled to be induced on the due date.
On November 17, 2008 (also my sweet brother's birthday) my Mom came up to be with me during the whole process. My in-laws had been there for a couple of days so I had a lot of help and support which was a huge blessing. I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 5 am and needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. So the time came and my husband, my mom, and I headed to the hospital bright and early. I was hooked up to an IV to start receiving Pitocin to induce labor. I remember feeling relaxed and comfortable. I had wonderful nurses who were very attentive and checked on me frequently. I felt like I was the only patient they had that day. I had opted to have an epidural and the anesthesiologists came in around noon to put the spinal catheter in. It took a while and the doctor kept telling me, "You have such a small back!" Not really what I wanted to hear while they continually poked me, trying to find a space. I remember the process of having the epidural being quite uncomfortable but once I was able to lay on my back and push my button that "refilled" my dose, I was comfortable and relaxed again. The next few hours are a blur of visitors, and laughing and excitement. I remember feeling the urge to push and telling a nurse so my doctor came in to check my dilation and told me it was time. She had me "labor down" for 30 minutes--a process that involves not actively pushing but letting your body push the baby into the birth canal on its own. I started actively pushing at 7:00 pm. Even having the epidural I felt quite a bit of pressure, and I felt very comfortable being able to push well. I had an amazing cheering team: the nurses were encouraging, my mother was soothing, and I even caught my sweet husband "pushing" with me. My beautiful girl was born at 7:50 pm. The nurses put her on my chest immediately and that precious girl looked right at me and grabbed my finger. It was the most amazing and emotional moment of my life. I felt very present. The nurses weighed Abbey and I still remember the shock the room felt when they said, "8 pounds, 15 ounces". The doctor even requested that they weigh her again. This time she came in at a solid 9 pounds. Rusty took Abbey out to meet people and the nurses prepared to get me into a wheel chair so I could move to my room. That's where things go fuzzy. As I was sitting up to get into the wheel chair, I got really light-headed and sick to my stomach. My mom said I turned green and I passed out. I came to, got into the wheelchair, and moved to my new bed. Meanwhile, Abbey was having her bath and getting snuggled by her Daddy. The doctor was concerned with how much blood I had lost and they were talking transfusion. I was monitored for the next while (time all blurs together) and my levels ended up going up so I didn't have to have the transfusion after all. That night, Abbey slept in our room for a couple of hours at a time and the nurses would bring her in to nurse. I felt much better the next day. My mom told me I would feel like I had been hit by a bus, and that's accurate, but at least I had much more clarity than I had the night before. I was so grateful to the nurses through our stay. Most of them were very helpful in helping Abbey and me get the hang of breast feeding and teaching me great techniques that I would use when we took our girl home.

So, do I regret my hospital birth? Absolutely not. If we hadn't induced when we did, Abbey would have gained more weight and I probably would not have been able to deliver her vaginally. I was thankful for my epidural and in the end, I think it calmed me down and helped me to stay focused and relaxed. If I had been stressed, it would have stressed Abbey. Also, we were not prepared for how big Abbey was. If I hadn't been in the hospital, with transfusions available immediately, it scares me to think what could have happened if I had needed one. However, are there things I would want to do differently with the next kid? Absolutely! I think I was meant to go into labor at that October date, I think my body was ready and I think Abbey was big enough at that point to deliver safely. Knowing what I know now, I'm more equipped to be an advocate in my own childbirth. I'll request more ultra sounds to check the weight and I would chose to induce again if the baby got too big to deliver vaginally.

With allllll this said, this is my story. Your story may be different. Let's all be respectful of each other's choices, let's educate ourselves so we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our babies, and let's hug our babies tight and be grateful that they are in our lives--no matter how they got here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Paper Dolls

I had a set of paper dolls at my grandparents' house when I was a young(er) girl. I remember really loving them. So, when I saw this calendar on Apartment Therapy, I couldn't help myself.

This adorable calendar is from Tiny-Us--a french company whose proceeds go to a school for handicapped children. As if this design wasn't adorable enough, there is a great cause behind it to boot. The calendar is available for purchase through donation and then you can print it out at home. We used a local print shop so that we could have could quality card stock since I planned on the paper dolls being played with.
Once we cut the girls and their first pair of outfits out, the girls played with them for quite a while. The girls are especially excited that they get two new outfits at the end of each month. They'll have quite a collection by the end of the year!

Princess Abbey gives her approval (in all her play-make-up glory).

You can purchase the calendar here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kansas Day 2012

This weekend, we celebrated Kansas Day. We spent our state's birthday outside with sunshine, friends, and buffalo burgers (of course).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Parties and Tablescapes

Today I wanted to do a post showing some of the tablescapes I've made and parties I've hosted. I love hosting and I love making a party center around a theme.

This was a baby shower for one of my friends who was having a boy. It was a bedtime theme and all the guests wore pajamas. I hung a clothes line that stretched from wall to wall and pinned jammies and blankets to it for my friend to take home for her baby boy. I also made little signs that said "You Hung the Moon". The tables were set to look like beds and each had a stuffed animal and a bedtime story that the Momma-to-be got to take home with her as well. I served milk and cookies and had a jar of marshmallow "pillows". This was also my first experience making a diaper cake! I topped the cake with a cute pair of baby slippers. I had so much fun with this baby shower!

As soon as my daughter hit about 9 months old, I began planning her first birthday party. The theme changed many times but ended up just being a "pink" theme. Sadly, a couple of weeks after the party I accidentally erased all the pictures we had taken from the camera. The few pictures that I do have are from various peoples' facebooks. So, this is the one and only picture I have of her tablescape. I served pink lemonade, pink snowballs, powdered donuts, pink cupcakes, chocolate dipped pretzels (with pink sprinkles, of course), and pink malt balls. I made big paper flowers that I had hanging in various places around the room. The party was a success, just wish I had more pictures to show for it!

Since my girl's first party was so time consuming to prepare for, set up, and take down, I decided to take it easy for her second birthday. She was (and still is) a huge Dora the Explorer fan so we did a classic character cake from Wal-Mart, bought some plates and napkins, and called it good. I did make some Explorer Stars (a Dora reference), but there was no tablescape. We had coloring pages on the table for people to color and hang on a clothes line over the table. We kept the pictures and are putting them in A's scrapbook.

For her third birthday, it was back to the tablescape! She wanted a Barbie theme, so Barbie theme she got! I only made a cake and cupcakes for our guests this time.

I recently hosted a wedding shower for one of my close friends. The theme was "romantic campfire". I served hot cocoa, apple cider, no bake nutella cookies, puppy chow (or "campfire crunch", as I called it), S'more-on-a-sticks, and Pirhouette wafers. I hung Christmas lights to give the room a twinkly feel, and set plaid blankets and pieces of fabric over bare table surfaces to give the room cohesion. The venue we used is the coffee shop on my college campus so it was very cozy and felt like a living room. I think the guests enjoyed themselves!

As much as I love planning, decorating, and hosting parties, my favorite part is being with friends and family and watching everyone enjoy themselves!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Puppet Theatre

Even though it doesn't necessarily feel like it outside, it is winter. I have a feeling things will start cooling down quite a bit and impromptu trips to the park won't be as possible. In light of beating the winter blues, I've been on the lookout for fun indoor activities for Miss A. I came across this idea on Pinterest (where else?).

1. puppet show theatre
2. the show begins!     
3. happy Miss A!