Monday, July 30, 2012

Annie: Seventeen Months








My baby is getting so big! Well, it seems that way to me anyway, even if compared to most other kids her age she is tiny. She understands so much of what goes on around her, and most of what we say to her. I love the look in her eyes when she "gets" something new. She is always excited about it and proud of herself. She is such a happy little girl and she makes her Daddy and me smile. She loves the nursery at church now, and playing with other kids. She is doing great with JJ. I think she likes being the big sister. She brings him toys when he's sad, it is very cute. Annie is almost fitting into her 12-18 month clothes. Still size three diapers, of course.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our First Placement

The phone rang at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. A social worker asked if we could take a 14 month old boy. I said yes and an hour later he was playing with Annie in the family room. He arrived with three diapers and a sippy cup, so after playing for a little while I loaded two toddlers in the car and braved Walmart for a few essentials. We made it through in 20 minutes with no meltdowns, which I consider quite an accomplishment!

"JJ" (I won't be sharing names or details about our foster children's circumstances; it is their story to tell, not mine. And you may not see any photos of their faces. I'm waiting for direction from our social worker about that.) has been great so far, especially considering the day he had yesterday (from mom to the police to a social worker to me, and I doubt he had a nap or a square meal). It took him about 10 minutes to settle down at bedtime, and he woke up a few times in the night but went right back to sleep. We had to wake him up at 7:30 so the social worker could pick him up and take him to his mom's court appearance. He has been sweet and cuddly and active (he's a boy!!!) this afternoon, and now both he and Annie are napping. JJ will likely be with us for at least two weeks, till his case goes to family court again.

Annie is adjusting pretty well. She is not happy about sharing her mama when they both want to be held, but they'll learn to take turns. They are both used to being the only child but I'm sure in a few days we'll find our groove.

Two toddlers can wreak havoc in a very very short amount of time. Here are a couple of photos of JJ and Annie playing while I made dinner last night. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012


We celebrated the Gent's birthday in style this year. The past three years we have been out of town for weddings on his birthday, so I decided to make it memorable this year. I planned a day full of surprises. The only thing the Gent knew ahead of time was that Annie and I were taking him to lunch and he needed to be home by 6 for dinner.

We had a family breakfast and started with presents.

For lunch, Annie and I packed a picnic and took it to his office (along with more presents). I made pimiento cheese spread and baked artisan bread for one of the Gent's favorite sandwiches, and we had banana pudding instead of cake.



Mom and Dad came over to babysit Annie and the Gent and I headed off to dinner, where we ate the best fried okra I've ever had in my life.

His final surprise was a night away, just the two of us. Lovely.

Happy birthday to my hero!

(I had so much fun planning his special day. And aren't you proud of me? At 17 months old I finally left Annie overnight!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zoo with Friends

Yesterday we went to the zoo with some sweet new friends. Their little girls are 2 1/2 and 1 and Annie loves to play with them! It is so cute to watch her interact with other little ones.

We checked out the petting zoo, the elephants, and the giraffes.

Then the girls decided it was snack time. And then they went for the mini splash park.




Annie was a huge fan. I thought she might be apprehensive, but nope--she's my water baby!



Monday, July 23, 2012

When Children Love to Learn

I recently read the book When Children Love to Learn.  It is a collection of essays on Charlotte Mason's teaching philosophy, which has been making a comeback over the last decade or so. Like most books I read, I didn't agree with everything 100%, but I took some great ideas away from it. I lean toward the classical education model myself, but I love Ms Mason's focus on "living" books, narration, and developing a love for nature and the arts. Check out the book if you're interested in learning more; it was a thoughtful but easy read. Here are a few of my favorite quotes, all from the introduction:

Children are best educated through careful relationships on the part of the adults—the parents and teachers—who are themselves in a lifelong process of learning and subject to the same duties and freedoms within a Christian worldview

This book soundly rejects the view that a child’s ultimate worth lies in either intelligence, material circumstances, what he or she might become through grooming or talent, or anything else except in this remarkable fact—that he or she has been made in the image of a personal and infinite God and is especially confirmed by Jesus: “. . . of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).

This guide attempts to follow a tradition of giving serious thought to what Christian education today means for all children everywhere, to enable them to be learning for life and everlasting life. This is education for a purpose and not as a status symbol. Of course it means having skills to earn a living, but it also means glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

Every child is created and uniquely gifted by God. They learn in their own ways and at their own pace. Forcing them into learning things they are not ready for leads to boredom, burnout, or feelings of inadequacy. In contrast, opening their eyes to learning and wonder in an appropriate way creates lifelong learners.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beach Days and Fostering Update

Honey, Annie, and I went to the beach last week. We enjoyed the beach time we got, which sadly wasn't much. It stormed every day for most of the day, so Annie spent lots of time playing with her beach toys inside. She did enjoy having our undivided attention. And Honey and I enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at Cosmo's and key lime pie from Publix.

There are not words to describe how much Annie loves the beach. She loves the waves. She loves the sand. She even likes seaweed. I think she would stay out all day if we let her.








And a quick fostering update--we were offered our first placement (a two year old girl or four year old boy) the day before we left for the lake. Since I was about to be out of town for a week, we decided to turn it down. We didn't think it would be wise to take in a toddler or preschooler who had just come through the trauma of being removed from family and immediately whisk them away for a week, introduce them to lots of new people, and have no structure to our days. We hated saying no the first time we were asked, but know it was for the best. Waiting on a second placement to be offered . . . hoping it won't be long!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ordering My Days

I need order in my day. I thrive on it. Annie is the same way. I want to spend quality and quantity time with her, and not be exhausted at the end of the day when the Gent gets home, because I want to invest the time we have to spend together wisely, too. So here's what works for me. I keep a Word document titled "weekly schedule." There are certain things on it for every day, Monday through Friday. I keep appointments and specific to-dos (such as schedule a vet appointment, host a dinner party, shop for a wedding gift for a friend) in my iphone calendar. I usually sit down on Sunday and fill in my weekly schedule with the specifics for that week.

There are three things I do each morning before Annie gets up (from 6am-7:30am): Bible reading and prayer, work out (about 30 minutes, usually weight training or yoga), and read (from a real, printed, grown-up book) while I eat breakfast. I also spend a few minutes feeding the dogs, cleaning out the roomba, and straightening the house.

Annie gets up at 7:30. She nurses and then we get her dressed and go downstairs for her breakfast. Then we take the dogs for their walk. When we get home, I have three chores/goals to accomplish each day. I do these in the morning while Annie plays independently or while she takes her morning nap. I also get dressed for the day at this point, and try to spend at least half an hour playing intentionally with Annie. We read a Bible story, read some other board books, and play together. We usually practice naming or identifying something, like fruit or letters, and work a simple puzzle or shape sorter. She takes a nap from 10am-noon or so.

Water plants
Laundry and ironing
Blog post

Brush dogs
Practice piano

Water plants
Clean kitchen and bathrooms
Blog post

Clean floors
Laundry and mending
Update budget and pay bills

Water plants
Blog post
Practice piano

After her morning nap, she nurses again and then we have lunch. We usually go out in the afternoon--to run errands, go to the park or the library, or see a friend. Something to get out of the house for a little while. Some days we just stay home and play (with every single toy she owns!). She takes another nap from about 3pm-4:30 or 5pm. I start dinner, straighten the house, sort the mail, and finish up anything left on my to-do list. Then I usually sit on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea or watch an episode of NCIS. When Annie wakes up, she nurses and then we feed the dogs and check on dinner. Then she plays independently if dinner needs my attention, or I play with her if we're having a casserole or soup or something else that is hands-off. The Gent gets home around 6pm and we have dinner at 6:30. Then he plays with Annie and gives her a bath, and we put her to bed around 8pm.

And at long last we have a couple of hours to ourselves and I get to enjoy adult conversation until we go to bed around 10pm.

So there you have it . . . that's how I manage. For now, anyways!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend at Sardis Lake

On our way to Sardis we stopped in Oxford for lunch. What a cute little town! We loved the Southern Soul food at Ajax, and Annie had fun exploring the square.

The handicap ramp was a big hit

She was less than impressed with Faulkner's statue. Mama, that is not a real person!

She really wanted to climb on this bench by herself--she almost made it without help

Showing Uncle Adam her letters

Reading books with Aunt Lindsay

My sweet little girl

Shapes with Papa Rick

Books with Bebe

Still sucks those fingers when she gets sleepy

This sand is a little different than what she's used to

Playing frisbee

Fun times with Bebe


The boys did lots of fishing

And built a bonfire for smores. Yummy way to end the weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding a Place to Belong

So, we've been in our new hometown for almost a year now. I don't think it is any secret that we've had a hard time finding our place here. Unlike the three previous cities we've lived in, this one is not easy to break into. The other hometowns were much more transitional, used to people coming and going and welcoming new folks with open arms. This hometown is not that way. I think at least 75% of the people we've met here have lived here their whole life. And that's not a bad thing. But it does make it harder when you're the new family on the block. Everyone seems to already have their circle of friends and there isn't much room for you, even though they aren't trying to be rude or exclusive--there is just so much social space in your life. I get it. But we aren't all lucky enough to have our best friend from kindergarten living in the same town.

We do have family here, which is awesome. And we have a couple of college friends and a few friends from the Gent's work. But no married couples with little ones. It would be nice to have some friends in the same stage of life we are in.

All of this has been compounded by not having a home church for eleven months.

We've finally made a decision on that. There were three churches we really liked and visited for a few months each, but we've finally committed to a community church of about 1500 people. Big enough for lots of opportunities but small enough that you can still get to know people. They have a great kids program for Annie and I am joining the worship team. Small groups will start meeting in the fall and we're looking forward to getting plugged in. I was really hoping to find a more diverse church, but after visiting all over the place I'm convinced that church just doesn't exist yet in our city. We'll get there. Our new home church is working on that--they really have a heart not only for the nations, but for our city. We're excited to be part of it.

A toast to finding our niche!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Miss Independent She's Not

First, some Independence Day photos for you. Then, a breastfeeding update.

We went with Honey and Poppa to our neighbor's weekend house up in the Appalachian foothills. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and Annie had a blast trying out her cheese smile.


She wasn't very interested in a family photo.


She just wanted to play!


Now on to the rest of the story. I mentioned in her 16 month update that we had dropped a nursing session and that Annie was having a hard time with it. After two weeks, she was still having a really difficult time without it, even though I replaced it with a snack (and she loves table food). Like 30+ minutes of fussing, whining, and climbing in my lap and rubbing her cheeks against my chest. Then she started biting during nursing. I followed the advice of the baby book. First I said "no," and put her down. This resulted in tears pouring down her little face. When that approach didn't help after a couple of nursing sessions, I tried giving her a startled "ouch! that hurts Mommy!" and removing her from my breast for several seconds. This led to a nursing strike that thankfully only lasted two feedings (and I waited till she was sound asleep, then nursed in her sleep so I didn't have to pump).

At that point I started wondering if she was ready to wean. I looked up "baby led weaning" on the LLL website and the experts said very rare for that to happen before the age of 18-24 months. So I looked up "nursing strike." Ah, ha. Of the possible causes of a nursing strike we hit at least half of them (teething, stuffy nose, out of routine, a strong reaction by Mom to a bite).

So the next day we went back to our old nursing routine and our problems were gone. There will be a time to drop that feeding but this day is not it.

(I'm thinking when she goes from two naps down to one will be a good time--changing up her routine should make it easier.)