Sunday, November 27, 2011


So much to be thankful for this year....

(Turkey dress courtesy of Mimi.)

We are so blessed, so lucky.  We have so much to be so thankful for.  At time, I forget it.  I let myself get caught up in daily stresses and little annoyances.  The busyness of our lives overshadows the small blessings.

This week, I will be busy finishing up my holiday decorating, getting ready for a big fieldtrip with my second graders, working on more homemade Christmas gifts, and checking things off of my weekly to-do list. 
But, my heart will be in Atlanta.  My sweet cousin Christine went home to meet Jesus this week.  She is my age.  Leaving behind her sweet son, her dear parents, and her adoring brothers and sisters.  My heart is greiving for each of them.  I am holding my own girl tighter, pleading to God that I never have to lose her.  Aunt Karen & Uncle Robby, I love you and am praying for healing and peace, and that somehow you will find comfort in the midst of unimaginable pain.

“For in our suffering, not apart from it, Jesus enters our
sadness, takes us by the hand,
pulls us gently up to stand, and invites us to dance.
We find the way to pray, as the psalmist did,
“You have turned my mourning into dancing” (Ps 30:11),
because at the center of our grief
we can find the grace of God.”

(excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s “Turn My Mourning Into Dancing”)

{9 Months}

My little lady is 9 months old!  Still the light of our lives and a complete joy.  We are loving watching her learn and grow each month.  I am continually amazed by how quickly she changes, how fast she picks up new things, how smart she is. 

The biggest change in our lives these days is Natalie's mobility.  She is now crawling and pulling up on things and it seems that she is everywhere at once.  She would kind of scoot and roll around before - but never did an army crawl or anything.  Then, one day, she's crawling.  Just all of a sudden.  It was funny to see how quickly she learned that she can get around...follow us around the corner...find what she's looking for in another room.  Now that she has it figured out, she doesn't slow down!

Most of our monthly photo shoot looked like this....
VERY hard to get her to sit still and get her picture taken.

Natalie has become really good at communicating what she wants.  She'll say "mamamama" at bedtime when she is tired and wants to nurse.  She always wakes up calling for "dada".  She is extremely vocal when she doesn't like something...squealing, arching her back, pushing things away with her hands, slamming toys on the ground.  Her little facial expressions tell exactly what she is thinking.  She claps her hands when she is happy and when she hears music.  She has learned to click her tongue, and likes to imitate us.  She reaches for people and things that she wants.  She talks to her toys and stuffed animals.  I absolutely cannot believe how intelligent and observant she is. 

Each month brings out more personality.  While she is doing better in the anxiety/attachment phase (no more crying when we leave the room)....she still has to "warm up" before she'll let someone else hold her.  She also is fearful of certain things - like the vacuum cleaner, Harley, dog puppets (don't ask...), and cats.  I don't know if it is a fear, or just an uncertainty about unfamiliar things.  I think she is more reserved; wants to observe and check things out before they get too close.  I will be interested to see if this continues as she grows. 

Natalie's favorite pasttime these days is EATING.  The child has taken to solids beautifully, and is loving eating table foods as well.  She nurses morning and night, takes a formula bottle twice a day, and eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  She has gotten really good at feeding herself and has really good fine motor skills.  She is great at feeding herself puffs, banana, peaches, mandarin oranges, green beans, carrots, pasta, scrambled eggs, and toast.  She had some baked ziti the other day that we had for dinner and loved it.  She'll clear her tray in no time, then hit her hands on it to signal that she wants more.  I want to start teaching her some sign language.  First I have to learn some sign language...

Natalie is growing - she weighed 19 pounds 4 ounces at the doctor's office last week.  50th %ile on weight and she's slowed down a bit.  Wearing all 9-12 month clothes.  Still sleeping like a champ - 12 hours at night with 3-4 hours of combined nap time during the day.  She also has learned to sleep in on the weekends!  Yay!  She'll sleep until 8:30 on those days, which gives Mommy & Daddy a couple of extra hours of sleep.

Natalie loves music and dancing.  She is not so good at sitting still to listen to a story unless she is really tired, but she likes to chew on the books while I read. :)

She loves, loves, LOVES her daddy.  He tickles her and plays with her and snuggles her and she just laughs.  It is the cutest, sweetest thing.  They have a very special relationship, and sometimes daddy is the only one who can calm her down.  I know he loves that, and likes to remind me of it from time to time.  They have their own little daddy-daughter thing goin' on, and it completely steals my heart.

She continues to be an easy-going baby.  Easily entertained, doesn't mind sitting on a blanket and playing alone while I get things done around the house.  However, now that she is crawling she makes a beeline for cords, magazines, and her diaper bag. 
Is this an ornery face, or what?!?

That seemed like a random collection of Natalie facts, but I just don't want to forget all of the little things at each stage.  Most importantly, I love this sweet little girl more than I could ever say.  She makes life wonderful and fun and beautiful.  She never lets me forget the plan and purpose that God has for me, and for her.  I am so thankful for her.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Things have been very BUSY around here!  Busy home, busy job, busy baby.

At Home:  My birthday is coming up on Wednesday, so I spent the weekend doing various birthday celebrations....Saturday with Mom & sisters.  We had a fun day of pedicures, shopping, dinner, presents, wine, and visiting.  We rarely get to spend time together anymore without little ones running around, so it was nice to have a girls' day.  Sunday Mark and I got up early, put the baby (still in jammies) in the car and went to Target.  We did ALL of our Christmas shopping for baby girl.  Feels good to get that done!  I am anxious to get my tree up and start decorating for Christmas, so I spent the afternoon taking down and packing up my fall decor.  Honey rearranged the living room for me in preparation for the tree.  Sunday evening birthday dinner with Dad.  Now I am snuggled up on the couch and saying prayers that my little lady sleeps better tonight than she has the past three.  She has a horrible cough that has kept her up the past few nights.  I'm sick, too, so the sleepless nights are doin' a number on me.

At Work:  I feel like school has been a whirlwind the past couple of months.  In the last 6 weeks I've had report cards, parent/teacher conferences, an inservice for the new teacher group that I co-mentor, Halloween party & parade....and then Open House last week.  If you are a teacher, then you know how much work it is to get ready for Open House.  Getting all of the kids' work and projects organized, completed, displayed.  It is fun - but resulted in a few late nights at work over the past week.
Here's our "Flat Stanley" display.  Have you heard of that story?  It's about a boy who gets flattened when a bulletin board falls on him while he's sleeping.  He is able to be mailed in an envelope to visit his family in California.  Each of my students made their own Flat Stanley and mailed it off to a faraway place.  Their family and friends sent back pictures and letters and souvinirs to show what Stanley did while he visited!

Our Veterans Day poppies on the door.

Our Corduroy bears sitting in each child's chair.  We made Pilgrim books for their desks and some fraction pies.  They also made some adorable little ceramic pilgrims in art class.

Look at these darling owls!  The kiddos wrote clues about themselves on the wings, and their families had to guess which owl was theirs.  Each child's picture was underneath one of the wings.

Whew!  So glad that is over with!!

Busy Baby!!!
Little sweetpea started crawling this week and she. is. EVERYWHERE!  It only took her about a day to figure out that she could go quickly from room to room - explore what is on the end tables and coffee table, follow me to the kitchen, pull up on the couch, and scoot over to the front door - which is her absolute FAVORITE place to sit. 

SOOO big!  Busy-ness is going to continue....a quick two-day work week, then off to Oklahoma to have Thanksgiving at my aunt & uncle's house.  First time traveling with a baby.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holiday Planner {freebie!}

Hi, friends!

Christmas is coming!!  I'm not gonna lie....I am really looking forward to the holidays this year.  I know that they will take on a whole new meaning now that our baby girl will be part of the holiday festivities. 

I am determined to plan ahead this year so that I can actually enjoy the holidays.  I may or may not have spent Christmas Eves in the past wrapping presents or making last-minute shopping trips the week before Christmas.  I have a two-week break from school this year for Christmas and want to spend that time enjoying my family, rather than trying to frantically finish up last minute preparations.

I've seen various editions of a "Holiday Planner".  I created one to use this year that suits my needs.  Maybe it will help you plan, too??  That's why I'm sharing it with you!  I am planning to print these pages and put them in a small 1/2 inch 3-ring binder.  That way I can add other page protectors with magazine cutouts, recipe cards, reciepts, etc.

Click here to download the planner!
Happy Planning! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Admist the busy-ness of the fall season, we've managed to find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a weekend with nowhere to go, nothing pressing to do.....just catching up on things around the house.  House-cleaning, baby-cuddling, leaf-raking, soup-making, nose-wiping, icecream-eating, game-watching, paper-grading, grocery-shopping, Christmas-planning.  It is heavenly.  And definitely much needed.

Weekends like this are recharging.  A welcomed deep, cleansing breath when it is just plain necessary.  Because, let's face it, the busy-ness gets to be kind of exhausting.  And even though the weeks ahead hold much to do and places to be and commitments and responsibilities and birthdays and holidays and travel.....all of that is forgotten about for 48 hours (well, 49 hours this weekend).  We can be at home and catch up on things just for us.   Not because we have to....but because we can.

(So, why not throw a cute baby with a pink hat in a pile of leaves??  We've got time for that!!)

I think sometimes I focus too much on what needs to get accomplished, what is coming on the calendar, what I need to plan for.  Then a little moment, something simple, comes along and surprises me.  Puts things in perspective.  Slows down my racing mind.  Reminds me of what is important

My sweet baby learned to clap her hands this week.  So simple and innocent and precious...I watched her and my heart swelled with pride like she'd just won a gold medal, and then I remembered this is what it's all about.  All the work and busy days and sleepless nights and unending lists of things to-do.....they aren't what matters.  My girl, my family....the loves of my life that make all the craziness of life seem worth it.
So, I'm loving this weekend of catch-up.  I'm finding comfort and happiness in family, fall breezes & warm sunshine, a Saturday night bubblebath, extra long time in the rocking chair with the babe, and a date night on the couch with my sweet hubby and a movie.

What are you doing this weekend to recharge??

P.S.  50 days 'til Christmas!  Get excited!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Baby Ladybug

Well, Halloween has come and gone.... and little Natalie was the cutest darn ladybug you ever have seen!

 The first home-made costume (of many, hopefully!) was a success.  She didn't know what to think at first, but warmed up quickly to the black and red ensemble.

We went to auntie's house for trick-or-treating and a yummy soup supper with the family.  And, of course, everyone thought that Natalie needed first Halloween presents. :)  She is spoiled rotten

Ended the night in ladybug jammies.  So cute!

Ready for the next holiday!! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

{8 Months}

Okay, so Natalie has actually been 8 months old for a week and a half now.  My poor little blog has been so neglected!  Things have been B.U.S.Y. around here with report cards, parent/teacher conferences, a family wedding, Halloween.....I thought I'd have a few days for a breather.  No such luck!  Open House/Curriculum Night is in 2 weeks, and I have a group of new teachers that I mentor that I need to plan an inservice for next week.  Whew! :)  Sick of my excuses?!  Let's get to the good stuff!

Now, without further ado....Natalie at 8 months old.

 At 8 months old, Natalie is a sweet little ball of energy!  She is moving more and more....though still no "official" crawling yet.  She scoots and squirms like a pro, though!  I am trying to enjoy her limited mobility for now. :)

 Natalie's schedule changed quite a bit this month as we upped her solids intake.  She's having three meals a day, two formula bottles, and nursing twice a day.  She is also learning to eat some "table food".  She likes Kix cereal, cheerios, puffs, noodles, banana, and green beans.  She has cut back to two naps a day, and sleeps about 12 hours a night.  Most of the time, she is a great sleeper!  She has suddenly taken to sleeping on her tummy in the past couple of weeks -- finally!  This makes her sleep more soundly through the night with less sleepy "fussing" in the middle of the night.

She has two little teeth on the bottom, but I suspect this week that she is working on more as the snot and drool production has increased in the past few days.  I don't know her "stats", but I know she is growing!

Her attitude and personality is growing too!  She whines and hollers if she doesn't like something.  She also has taken to throwing her head back, swatting things with her hands, and biting.  What a stinker!  I know she is just "expressing" herself.  A major problem this month has been Natalie's separation anxiety.  Thankfully, she goes to daycare just fine, and doesn't cry when I drop her off.  However, if we are somewhere besides home or daycare and someone wants to hold her or talk to her, she cries and reaches for mommy or daddy.  Leaving her alone in a room results in an all-out meltdown.  You'd think we are torturing the poor little thing with the way she cries!  I know this is on a phase and it will calm down eventually, but it is exhausting!  I just want her to be flexible and happy and able to adjust to changes in her routine/schedule. 

She is getting more interested in actually playing with things (rather than just throwing/waving things around).  She likes toys that make music or noise, or light up.  We need to get her some more interactive toys, as I think her "baby" toys are boring to her these days.

She is a sweet little snuggle baby, and my favorite time of day is still bedtime.  Bathtime, soft & sweet baby skin, clean jammies, blankie, paci, cuddles, singing, rocking, and that precious little body melting into me after a busy, crazy day.  Nothing better.

She is saying "mama" and "dada" often - when you can catch her in the right mood. :)  I'd like to start some basic sign language with her soon.  Other mommas - any recommendations for resources for this??

She is so sweet little baby is just not so little anymore. :(  ONE is going to sneak up on me, I think...
Love you, baby bug!

P.S.  Halloween costume pictures coming soon!