Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Every time we pass by a daycare center in our area, where children are outside running around & climbing upon playground equipment, I hear a wee voice from the back seat of my car uttering, "I go there." 

Talk about a punch to the gut. 

I believe deep down in my heart of hearts that we have made the right decision for our family-- by choosing for me to stay home with our babies. But with that said, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that every time I hear those small words coming softly from behind me, that I don't begin to question that very decision a hundred times over in my head. 

Should I put him in preschool? Should I enroll him in some program a couple of days a week? Does he need more interaction with kids? Does he need space away from me?  Is he lagging socially? Does his developing mind need more than I can offer him? Is staying home with my kids really the right decision in the grand scheme of things?

As moms, we all do it--question our decisions, second guess ourselves, look around at other moms & wonder if the way they are juggling it all is perhaps a better way than our own--perhaps the right way. 

I think it's good every once in awhile, to question & second guess myself. It allows for me to look deep within & weigh what I believe in my heart to be true. It causes me to look at my children & see things from their eyes, rather than assuming my way is best. It broadens my point of view on our family decisions & shows me where I should alter them when needed. Just because I thought something was going to work for our family way back before I ever had children {or even six months ago, for that matter}, doesn't necessarily mean it works for our family as of now. Nothing is set in stone. Everything can be changed & modified if it needs to be. 

Challenging my own ideas & beliefs also spurs something else inside me. It sometimes causes me to realize that if I already know it in the depths of my soul to be true, then to stop right there. Quit second guessing. Quit over-analyzing. Quit comparing. Quit beating myself up over a decision I know feels right in my gut. There are things I do know without a doubt I am doing right--and not some other mom's standard of right, either. My right.

Being a stay at home mom, having my kids home with me day in & day out-- it's right for us. And even though a comment from my sweet boy saying he'd rather be spending his days somewhere else & not at home with me {in so many words} can sure send a dagger of insecurity straight through my heart, it doesn't change what I hold to be true for our family. So for now, what right looks like for us at this very moment, is a momma that stays home with her babes. No daycare. No programs. No preschool. Not at two & a half. Not just yet. We'll tweak it when it feels right.

Glad that's settled.

Except...I still had on my hands a little dilemma. A little boy begging from the backseat to go to daycare & a momma not budging on her beliefs for her family.

What to do? What to do?

Insert "A-ha!" moment.

Momma just so happens to have access to the best daycare on the face of this earth {or so I think}. And I'm talkin' V.I. P. access, baby.

So Friday morning, we loaded up bright & early & we set out on an adventure to drop in on daycare. 

Marlene's Munchkins, here we come!

Jett was so excited. He talked about kids & toys & "Maw-neen" the entire two hour drive. But I'm pretty sure my excitement trumped his as we took that last turn & pulled onto Marlene's street. All of a sudden, a big grin spread across my face, giddiness filled up my insides & I was flooded with memories of my college days & the numerous times I had pulled up to Marlene's, ready for a two or three hour work shift. 

Calling it work never did seem right. While many of my friends groaned & grumbled about their pud, part time college jobs, I knew mine rocked. I knew I had landed a good gig & not once did I envy a single soul. Working at Marlene's never felt like work. It felt like fun. It felt like family. It felt like home. 

After all these years, still does.

Some things never change.

And speaking of some things never changing, let me just venture off on that topic for a bit.

We'll start with Marlene. The woman doesn't age. I'm not kidding. Years can go by & she remains the same adorable, put together, amazing woman she's always been. She became like a second mother to me in my years of working for her. She counseled during spats between girlfriends, she hugged tightly when she saw my heart hurting & she cried tears alongside me & offered words of wisdom when I seemed to need it most. I find when I'm in her presence, her "mothering" as she always called it--it still feels so comforting to me. I have always loved her dearly & that, for sure, is never going to change.

Daycare is still trucking along in the exact same fashion, as well--lunch around 11:30, everyone on their mats for nap shortly after, stinky diapers outside in the back trashcan, two college girls gently rocking babies in oversized recliners, children in the living room waiting for parent pick-ups around 4:30. Daycare looks just exactly the same as it always has...& I love that.

Wait a second. Let me backtrack. Daycare didn't look exactly the same as it always has on this particular day. There was one slight difference I noticed on our visit this time. Daycare seemed just a tad sweeter than it ever has before. That's because this time, it was my babies that Marlene was snuggling close to her. This time it was my children that she bounced on her lap & played puzzles with on the floor. This time it was my kiddos that she kissed the cheeks of.

Out of all the children I have seen Marlene love throughout the years, I must admit, my favorite sight was seeing her love on mine.

We closed daycare down that day. We said good-bye to each child who had so warmly welcomed Jett & Lulla onto their turf for the day & then we finally gave hugs & kisses to our Marlene before setting out on the road again.

And on the way home, right before little man drifted off from his adventurous day, he uttered from the back seat, "I go there again". And this time, for the first time, my heart didn't feel the pang it usually does. This time, I was able to utter right back to him from the front seat, "Oh, we'll definitely be going back there again." 

Thank you, Marlene {& all of Marlene's Munchkins} for making my Jett's daycare dreams come true. We will be back--& soon. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

two and a half

he's two & a half.

loves cookies

has a sweet tooth that's outta this world

gets a skinned knee every other day

loves his "wulla cate"

is obsessed with band-aids

counts to ten

knows his abc's {has yet to sing the entire song for me, but fills in every single letter i purposely leave out}

loves buzz & woody

giggles at peppa pig

asks for fries for breakfast, lunch & dinner

makes my heart stop because of his dare-devilish antics

gives me fits about eating meals {unless it's fries, of course}

would live outside if i'd allow it

tests my patience

causes my heart to melt

 is momma's helper

daddy's sidekick

hates to share

burps loudly

is 100% completely potty trained {can i get a what what?!}

loves cars, trains & motorcycles--anything with wheels & has the ability to go fast

runs naked after his bath

spends hours swinging on his swing-set

calls the tail on any animal "poop"

 keeps me on my toes

energizes my day

adds spice to my life

 lights up every single day of my life

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Circus

Sunday afternoon, Jared & I went on a little date...

with our boy.

We'd been seeing the commercials for weeks, we'd talked about it for days leading up to it & finally, Sunday afternoon rolled around & we were on our way.

To the circus!  

 This stance, with his hands on his hips, it's his newest thing.

This kid is more & more like his momma everyday. I had to laugh on the car ride to the circus. As excited as he was inside, that excitement was balanced with equal hesitation. New. Different. Unknown--it's all met with just a bit of anxiety. As he sat in his car seat, Monkey clutched tightly in his grip, thumb hidden in the left side of his cheek, he uttered not a single peep while I babbled on & on trying to ease his fears & really talk up the circus--the elephants, the clowns, the tigers, the fun. 

But really, who could blame his hesitation? A chick with purple hair & a cherry red nose--enough said.

An hour before the show started, we were able to go down onto the circus floor to see the circus up close & personal. We met some clowns, got a Ringling & Bros. tattoo & watched an elephant named Asia draw a painting.

Slowly, Jett's fears began melting away & the thrill of childhood rose to the top & stole the show. He clapped, laughed, hooped & hollered & his sheer joy fed Jared's & mine.

We settled into our seats, Jett sandwiched between Momma & Daddy, a box of popcorn in his lap so big he could barely see over & as the lights dimmed, his eyes widened. For the first twenty-five minutes, I can't count the number of glances Jared & I exchanged. Glances we could read without speaking a word. Glances that spoke--This is the good stuff. This is what it's all about--making & savoring these moments with our kids. 

And that all lasted for exactly twenty-five minutes. After that, Jett popped out of his seat & informed us, "I done."  Even after we coaxed him with an overpriced sippy cup of lemonade & even though we bribed him with one of the cheap toys they sell in the lobby, this kid was over it. He did manage to last the duration of the show & was even captivated a couple more times--the clowns taking thirty minutes to change a light bulb seemed to entertain him but the herd of elephants that were the highlight of the entire show? Yeah, he bawled through every bit of that.

It's always worth it. It just is. The tears, the overpriced junk. The massive crowds. The meltdown at the end. It's always gonna be worth it. Because nothing, no matter what, can ever take away from those first twenty-five minutes where we hit the nail on the head. Where our little boy experienced his first circus & we were on either side of him, drinking in each moment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lulla Cate {Three Months Old}

Late as usual, but here we go with a monthly update!

Lulla Cate at three months old:

Ruffle outfit was a gift from Grandma--purchased at ENVY boutique

Well, one thing's for sure--this little lump of sugar isn't lacking in the cute department. Just when I think she can't possibly get any cuter, I take another glance & boom--cuter. She is seriously a living doll & it takes every ounce of self control to not nibble her sweet little face right off!

She's my little routine girl. She loves a schedule as much as her momma does.  Overstimulation, naps on the go, an out of whack day--it just doesn't fly with her. 

I {loosely} follow the Babywise method of newborn parenting, which focuses on maintaining a three hour cycle of eating, playing & napping during the day. It has worked wonderfully for both of my kids & though there are some suggestions in the book I choose to not follow, I would definitely recommend it for establishing schedules--if you're a schedule kind of person like I am.

With that said, here's what Little Missy's schedule is looking like these days:

Wake up time at 9:00 am. {Most days I have to wake her up. Forget the 'never wake a sleeping baby' rule. I want a baby that sleeps at night. This chick gets a wake up call come morning time.} 

Eat. She is eating 4.5-5 oz every 3 hours--sometimes more if that doesn't do the trick.

Play. Our play time includes all kinds of various activities-- dress up, photo shoots, tummy time, snuggle time, reading, singing & whatever imaginative playtime activities big brother has arranged for the day. 

Naps: Her naps range from an hour to an hour & a half & a half.

She can be flexible--to a point. Some days we scrap our little schedule to run errands, be with friends, etc. & she does okay. But she has her limits. If the whole day has been turned upside down, you can bet there will be a meltdown on the horizon. Can't fault her. I'm the same exact way.

Bathtime: She gets a bath every single evening, just before her last bottle. Jett is usually getting his bath at the same time so Jared & I divide & conquer, switching between the two so neither one of us misses out on bath time with our babes.

Bedtime: She is still on a roll of sleeping through the night. She goes down for the night between 9:30 & 10 & sleeps until I wake her the next morning. She's still in her swing in our room but I am in the process of moving the swing to her nursery. And by in the process, I mean, I have only thought about it but haven't mustered up the strength to do it. What can I say? I like looking over & seeing that sweet angel face throughout the night.

We are beginning to see little bits of her personality blooming & it showcases itself in all kinds of different ways. 

For example, take her bottle from her mid-way & you're gonna see some sass like you've never seen come out of that little three month old self. Oh, she has herself quite a hissyfit when it's burping time. Give the bottle back, you're golden.

Startle her, walk past her without saying hello, bump her in the slightest {Jett recently bounced a plush ball off the side of her head} & you will see that tiny little heart of hers shatter into a million pieces. That bottom lip puckers, she shakes her head from side to side & then wait for it...wait for it...wait for explosion of wails & tears that cannot be contained. And once those floodgates have been flung open, good luck getting them shut anytime soon. She takes so long to recover from getting her feelings hurt--a tender heart in the making. Jared & I were laughing awhile back that she's going to be our little drama queen. The girl who has a broken nail & you'd think the world had just come to an end. We may be in for it with this one.

Daddy brings out her bashful side & it is quite possibly the sweetest thing I have ever witnessed. When he gets home from work & talks ever so gently to her, her whole face lights up & she turns to the side, burrowing into me as if she just can't contain her love for him.  She is most certainly, the definition of Daddy's girl.

She is quite curious of that big brother of hers. He's almost always got a set of eyes on him--& they aren't mine. This little girl is very interested in what big brother, Jett is up to. Her eyes follow him across the room, widen when he's being his rambunctious toddler self & soften when he talks sweetly to her. He has become her biggest form of entertainment & I find it to be completely adorable.

I'm not sure where my tiny newborn went, but slowly, I am seeing traces of a new baby appearing. That teensy newborn I that laid limp on my chest is being replaced with an infant who is really livening up & becoming her own.

Morning, Sunshine. She's our morning girl. True story--before her eyes are even completely open, this little girl has a smile on her face. And not just a smile. A smile that lights up your whole world kinda smile. When this baby grins, everything gets in on the action--eyebrows, nose, cheeks. She smiles with every ounce of her face. Talk about a great start to the day.

Giggle box. Jett gets credit for those first laughs. One evening he was jumping on Momma & Daddy's bed & out of the blue we heard a sound we'd never heard before--Lulla giggles!  Mercy me, talk about cuuuuuute! 

Belly laughs. Alright, I'm taking credit for this. I don't know what it is-- if I'm just funny looking or what-- but my little girl finds me to be hilarious. I'm the one that can get her cracking up laughing like nobody else can. Sometimes I'm just simply talking to her, no funny stuff at all & she laughs her pretty little head off. I don't know what it is & I don't care. It lights up my life.

On a roll. She has done both now--rolled from her tummy to her back & just recently, from her back to her tummy. 

Hands in her mouth. Those fist of hers are almost constantly balled up & in her mouth. We've even caught short glimpses of her sucking away on her thumb. Big brother was a full fledged thumb sucker by this age, so it could be that we might just possibly have another one in the making. Time will tell.

Happy feet. She grunts, she strains, then up they go. If she's laying on the floor, you can bet those little feet of hers are going to be waving in the air. 

Toy time. The toys that we not too long ago simply dangled & rattled in front of her face have now found their way into her tight grip. She holds them for dear life & has begun to bring them to her mouth. She especially loves her play mat, where she can bat & kick at the rattles.

Splishin & splashin. This gal is wild about bathtime. If you don't believe me, come over & check out the water spots on my bathroom mirror. She gets down right fiesty in that bubble water--kicking, splashing, squealing. It is, without a doubt, her favorite part of the day.

Her perfectly plump cheeks, those curly little eyelashes, that power-packed smile, the grocery trips that take twice as long because everyone has to stop & comment on how beautiful she is {I got stopped seven times in Hy-Vee the other day. No lie.} 

Life is just pure sweetness with our Lu-Lu girl.